One of the things we are most proud of, is the fact that our menus are created using seasonality as the theme. Locally and ethically sourced produce also plays a big part and we are passionate about it.
Because of our passion for local, we like to visit those producers who supply us daily with all the wonderful ingredients that are used in our menus. Recently we have returned from visiting one of our suppliers, Chegworth Valley.
Many of you will associate them to the award winning single variety and blended fruit juices they create – all of which are pressed on the farm using hand selected orchard ripe fruit, more often than not, within hours of being picked. The range includes pure apple and pear juices along with special blends using their own raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants and rhubarb to name a few. These juices are all unique in flavour and are all lovingly pressed and gently pasteurised to retain the flavour and nutritional properties of the fruit.
There is another side to Chegworth however, one that tenderly nurtures the growth of all kinds of salad leaves, tomatoes, beetroot, cucumbers, aubergines, squash, peppers, runner beans, fennel and much more, not to mention the large selection of fruits, all of which are picked by hand and carefully sorted and bagged for selling at the various market stalls and farmers markets across the county and into London.
Chegworth Valley is a family owned and run fruit farm. It was established in 1983 when David and his wife decided to give up work and start a farm. The site had previously been a dairy farm forming part of the Leeds Castle Estate. In the beginning, apple and pear trees were planted, which were followed by strawberries, other soft fruits and eventually salads and vegetables.
In the very beginning, the farm supplied fruit to supermarkets and large wholesalers, but it was soon clear that their interest was in the shape and size of the fruit only, not in the way it had been grown it or how it smelt and tasted. David and his family are passionate about producing real fruit with the best possible taste and smell that isn't full of harmful chemicals. They also wanted to deal with customers directly who had a passion for real food and drink and would prefer to support smaller produces than the big food manufacturers and supermarkets who some feel have devalued the great produce available here in the UK.
Their passion for the produce they supply to us is something our Head Chef sets out to capture and echo in all of the menus he creates, whilst adding in his own passion for food and Sussex and Kentish produce. Our Chefs work with the farms on a seasonal basis so we know we are getting the produce at its very best, where it has been grown in the best conditions and will have the best flavour.
If you are, as we can all be, guilty of the convenience of the supermarket, then we suggest you give your local farmers market a go. Use your local butcher and talk to them, find out exactly where your meat is coming from. Talk to the local fishmonger and make sure you are getting the best of the catch. Everyone of these specialists in local food will love nothing more than to talk to you about their passion – the produce they work with. Create your own passion for the produce grown and reared in Kent and off of the coast and cook with it, you will be amazed by the difference in quality and flavour. If you want to see for yourself, just how amazing this local produce is once it has been cooked, then come and visit us at Verandah Restaurant and let our Chefs turn these wonderful, local, raw ingredients into an experience to be remembered.
To see more photos from our visit and learn a little more about the workings of the farm, come and find us on Facebook and have a look at our album Supplier Visit - Chegworth Valley