Our Fabulous Farm Shops Review Panel never shy away from the tough jobs so when an intriguing box arrived at HQ, filled with nifty little cans of Gunner cocktails, we breathed in, dug deep and selected a blue one and a red one each, then watched the clock until it was home time.
Back in our respective homes, as soon as the sun went down (somewhere!), favourite glasses were filled with ice, Gunner cans were extracted from the fridge, selected garnishes were chopped and arranged and a collective PFFFSSSS could be heard as cans were opened and poured.
These eye-catching little cans come in two varieties. Choose your weapon depending on your mood or your taste or your dietary requirement. For the drivers, the dry-Januaryers, the over-indulgers and the non-drinkers…make a beeline for the red-stripe or the SAINT or the “classic effervescent mix of ginger, bitters and lime”
For the polite tipplers, the hardened boozers or pretty much everyone I know, get your mitts on a blue-stripe or the SINNER or the “classic effervescent mix of ginger, bitters and lime with a SHOT OF DARK RUM”.
So are you a Saint or a Sinner?
Let’s start with the Saints among us…
There’s a pleasing fizz when you pour the contents out of the can and the beautiful amber colour is worth noting. It looks very tempting in a glass…whatever shape you choose to wrap your hand around!
I loaded my fave (and appropriately emblazoned) glass with a tonne of ice, garnished with a wedge of lemon and poured. It looks good and the ice is a recommended addition – not just so you can feel like you’re on a cruise ship as the ice cubes tinkle together– but this drink is best uber-cold.
The first sip is good -a little buzzing around the lips as the ginger hits my skin and a little tickle up the nostrils. I want more but I am not tempted to glug it back. I can imagine taking my time over this, standing at a party making conversations and gradually sipping away, enjoying the tingle of the flavours between each anecdote.
Others felt the same:
“Wow! - what a lovely blend of flavours – slightly spicy. Delicious.”
"Ooh! This ginger brings the heat!”
"I would definitely choose this if I was out and was the designated driver. Makes a great change from the usual soft drinks and much more exciting than water. Make mine a Gunners!”
"Tasty..mmmmmmmm! My lips are buzzing!”.”
It was a resounding thumbs up from the review panel at Fabulous Farm Shops. Stock this in your farm shop and we think you will have a happy band of dedicated followers. You might even see a few of us in there too, stocking up, as one reviewer concluded:
“The Saint is my favourite go-to drink now. I really need to order another box"
So could the Sinner have the same effect on us all?
The website description tells us that the Gunner Original Sinner is mixed with a shot and a half of aged dark rum “for a little more punch”. They call it “the Dark & Stormy of the 21st Century, the perfect "sundowner" for an evening on the terrace, or in your favourite place”
Well, that sounds pretty tempting….
None of us were able to sip our drinks on the terrace as the outdoor temperatures had recently dropped to shrivelling so we made do with a tipple by the fire.
There is 4.5% alcohol in the can (no added preservatives) just dark rum, which adds a lovely scent to the liquid and the colour is as glorious as the non-alcoholic version. The first sip is warming and wholesome.
“The perfect drink for an autumnal day”
wrote one reviewer, and I know exactly what she meant.
“Lovely warming feeling. It builds in my throat and floods through my ears…”
I was less in tune with this one but I’m glad he was enjoying it!
The rum adds a subtle flavour, not too overpowering, but complements the gingeryness of the mixer and, poured over ice, creates a really tasty, thigh-slapping drink.
I think you could happily sip on a few of these over an evening in your own home, at a bring-your-own party or pop a few in your cooler box if you’re out for a bbq or beach picnic. I have to say I’m tempted to keep one in my handbag for the next kids' rugby match I have to watch. It might take the edge off my frozen toes.
So, it was a double success for Gunners on the night. The recipe may be from the 1800s but the very modern Fabulous Farm Shops’ team thoroughly enjoyed both the Saint and the Sinner and even a few who were not usually keen on rum were converted. Our red seal of approval was swiftly applied to the bottom of our review, and we all metaphorically clinked our near-empty glasses.
To order your Gunners Cocktail, just get in touch
Call or email Edward on 07516 741817
Our review panel, here at Fabulous Farm Shops HQ, is used to grazing on nuts, sniffing organic bath oils and knocking back (err, I mean, savouring) delicious aperitifs before we write our reviews, so when a pallet filled with Willoglow® briquettes arrived we pondered the best way to test them.
Deep in the middle of an Indian summer (remember that? Before Storm Ciaran had even begun to form…) nobody had even thought about putting on a jumper, let alone lighting their log burner, but we each lifted a pack of Willoglow® onto our shoulders and headed to our various homes.
I had done my research into these curious little uniform-shaped logs. Made from fast growing, British willow, compressed into cylindrical briquettes, they are incredibly dry and they burn hot. They are celebrated for being smokeless and eco-friendly and suitable for use in log burners, pizza ovens, barbeques and firepits. Warm in my flip flops and t-shirt, and not being a pizza oven owner, I decided tonight was the night to light the firepit and made a quick pitstop on my way home to buy a bag of marshmallows.
As the sun dipped behind the trees, I sat out in the garden and got myself organised to conduct my review. I scrunched up the newspaper, added a bit of kindling and my trusty dry pinecones and opened the bag of Willoglow® briquettes. If the name was anything to go by, I would be sitting by the firepit as the evening turned to night, warming my toes by the glowing briquettes.
The briquettes are packed in groups of 7, wrapped in recycled plastic. The company is deep in the process of investigating alternative wrappings which are more environmentally friendly whilst preserving the integrity of the briquettes.
I opened the pack and picked out a log. They are very smooth to the touch, slightly shiny on the outside, and, as a result, there are no splinters to worry about or dust to deal with. This is clean fuel without any glues, additives, or recycled wood. I could imagine throwing a few of these into my car, ready for a weekend’s camping, and not worrying about mess (or spiders!) - a big positive!
The logs are about 25cm long with a diameter of 7cm. They stack very neatly together and are not offensive when arranged neatly next to a fireplace or can easily be interspersed with logs for the best of both worlds!
The willow is harvested and then densely packed into these log shapes but they are designed to be easily broken up – no axe needed. They need a decent whack against the floor or a stone hearth…I used the edge of my patio…and they break into bite sized chunks, perfect for the firepit. I really liked this feature.
The last of the warmth had left the sky so I drew up a bench and decided it was time to light the fire. My match caught the newspaper, flared up the kindling and licked around the Willoglow® briquette pieces that were evenly spaced atop the pinecones. The flames flirted with their prey for a while but it didn’t take long for them to catch and I kicked off my flip flops and stretched out my toes in front of the warmth.
Wow – these logs burn hot! The fire in the pit was glorious. To start with, I burnt only one Willoglow® briquette to see how long it would last and what sort of heat it would produce. I couldn’t measure the heat in degrees but it was deliciously hot next to my feet and that single log burnt for just over 50 minutes!! Staring into the fire was extremely relaxing and the flames danced along the pieces of willow and then, eventually, the log disintegrated and turned to an orange glow, perfect for my marshmallows.
For a camping trip or a firepit in the garden, I can wholeheartedly recommend these briquettes and the feedback from others on the panel was very similar:
“These are perfect for my chimenea; no mess, break to size, burn hot…and I mean REALLY hot”
“I’d take these camping every time – easy to transport, clean and easy with a fab, long-lasting burn and very little smoke. Perfect!”
" We used the logs on several occasions [in our pizza oven] from lighting up to maintaining the fire to keeping the heat. They were a nice product"
That’s a great big warm glowing thumbs up for Willoglow® briquettes on the firepit, chimenea and pizza oven.
As the weather turned cooler, the review panel were keen to stoke up their indoor wood burners and try the briquettes inside.
All the same advantages that were discovered outside, held true for indoors. Clean and dust free, easy to break to size, uniform shape for stacking, smokeless alternative to logs and more environmentally friendly – but how did the heat compare to a bag of conventional logs?
My own wood burner is fairly small and I laid my usual newspaper, kindling and pinecone welcoming committee, broke up one Willoglow® briquette and got the party started. Flames leapt into action and the bits of willow caught quite quickly. Once there was a healthy flame, I threw in another briquette and watched the temperature gauge on the wood burner climb.
The heat was phenomenal. With traditional logs, it can take a good 30 minutes for the wood burner to get to the desired “best operation” temperature of between 300 and 400 degrees F. With Willoglow®, it was nudging 350 after just ten minutes. These briquettes certainly bring the heat.
Other reviewers were similarly amazed at the heat coming from their wood burners:
“Little dry blocks of willow, easy to store and break - clean, no splinters and OH THE HEAT. These burn way hotter than logs…! I would use these in amongst my traditional logs. They look nice in my log basket arranged with a few real logs and I like the look of both of them in the fire. ”
“hot, hot, hot! Excellent heat output – burned far hotter than my usual logs”
Inspired by the experience of these domestic wood burner reviewers who like to sit by their fires with a glass of something tasty in hand, reading or knitting, we thought we should crank it up a notch. One reviewer heats his entire house (3 bedrooms, 2 receptions plus a separate annexe and hot water system) from a wood burning range with a capacity of 27KW.
He took a bag of Willoglow® briquettes and an equivalent-priced bag of logs home for the day and set up a time test to see which would go the distance. His findings were interesting:
"The STANDARD LOGS were of mixed variety. They took a while to get to a good temperature but then burnt hot. We used three logs to start with then topped up with two at a time, the fire maintaining good temperature for 2.5 hours. During this time, we were also able to cook our dinner in the oven and on the hob. "
The WILLOGLOW® BRIQUETTES lasted longer. We started with two briquettes, then 1.5 hours later added two more, then an hour later another log, and finally one more. In total, the fire maintained a good temperature for 4 hours. They burned with consistent, high heat but was controllable. Again, we used the oven and hob to cook."
"All in all, the briquettes out-performed the standard logs, and we love their eco credentials"
So, there you have it! Willoglow® briquettes are not only better for the environment (read all about it here) but they burn hotter and longer than standard logs. They are fabulous to sling in the back of the car for a camping trip, clean to keep in your house, create very little smoke (low enough to use in smoke free areas) and can be broken up easily to fit in a BBQ or a small wood burner.
They get the Fabulous Farm Shops' seal of approval and will be finding their way into our own log baskets over the coming chilly months.
If you would like to stock them in your farm shop then get in touch with Willoglow® here.
You won't find these fab briquettes anywhere but independent stockists as these 100% British-grown willow logs adhere wholeheartedly to the love local, buy local anthem that we sing daily!
The lovely people at Filbert's Fine Foods have been down to the Post Office again and sent us another box of snacks to review. I feel like Mr Filbert, with his rainbow selection of aprons (a different colour for each snack packet) is almost part of the family. Certainly, his exciting and varied selection of snacks has been making an appearance in my snack cupboard, the children’s lunchboxes and my weekend picnic basket with notable frequency… but here were three more flavours and textures which were new to the household.. and to the Fabulous Farm Shops Review Panel.
Café Espresso Coffee, Chocolate and Nut Mix
Spicy Barbecue Crunchy Corn
Moroccan Spiced Almonds
Café Espresso Coffee, Chocolate and Nut Mix
Mr Filbert’s pride themselves on seeking out new and delicious (and slightly unusual) flavour combos and these little packeted nuggets possibly top that list. Mr Filbert is on the front of this beautiful packet sporting a cappuccino-coloured apron and offering a “luxury trail mix”.
Forget boy scouts on a muddy hike, I’m immediately imagining a deluxe safari yurt with a pure white mosquito net draped over my luxurious king-sized bed. In my head, I’m a tad peckish, lounging like a maharaja across said bed, popping decadent snacks in my mouth - just to boost my energy levels before heading out to spot giraffes.
All this just from the words “luxury trail mix” - that and the beautiful, succulent, glossy photographs of gleaming “mixed nuts, chocolate coated coffee beans and caramel pieces” featuring on the front of the packet.
Filbert's Fine Foods do a grand job of titillating photography and the packet would be extremely hard to resist lined up on a farm shop shelf. These snacks get the juices flowing well before the packets are even opened and the contents poured into a bowl.
Can the taste and experience live up to my imaginary scene? Absolutely! There was a resounding “hell, yeah!” from the review panel for this snack.
“Fresh AND salty, with a lovely hit of coffee chocolate. I’m smitten” wrote one taster.
“The perfect combo of flavours ” scribbled another.
“Just what I love to have with a glass of wine! ” exclaimed another.
“This is my perfect drinks companion ”
I won’t tell her husband if you don’t!
Spicy Barbecue Crunchy Corn
So far, so good. That packet of trail mix had been an absolute, unanimous smash. Snack pouches were going on reviewer’s Christmas lists. Could the rave reviews last?
Step forward the Spicy Barbecue Crunchy Corn.
The packet looks clean and fresh and enticing with its close-up photos of crunchy corn kernels interspersed with some silver glitter giving it the jazz hands. The description is pretty tempting too…” crunchy corn kernels .. gently fried and tumbled in a spicy bbq sauce to create a gluten free deliciously high fibre snack!”
The pouch is the perfect size and the volume of kernels is very decent for a roaming snacker. As with all of Mr Filbert’s pouches, they are perfect for picnic or a lunchbox or just to pop in your pocket for a long journey, but they would be equally at home on the beach blanket or at a drinks party. They really have thought it through beautifully.
There was unanimous delight in the texture of the snack.
“When you bite down on the kernel, you get a fabulous crunch” raved one reviewer.
“Chuck a little handful in your mouth and you let your teeth get to work. Fab snacking” wrote another. “I’d take this to the cinema instead of popcorn”.
The taste of the kernels, however, somewhat divided opinion.
“Like teeny tiny doritos. I love these” wrote one panel member.
“Absolutely delicious – a fabulous, corny, savoury popcorn flavour” scribbled one, running out of room for anymore adjectives!
“Didn’t love these. A bit blah!” wrote another who is known to indulge in chilli-eating competitions on a night out. She was first in line for the Moroccan spiced almonds.
Moroccan Spiced Almonds
A little palate cleansing took place and the review panel moved on to the third and final pouch. It is worth noting how easy these pouches are to open. I have had my fair share of tussles with packaging in the past. I have sliced fingers on tough foil or, like a caveman, resorted to tearing plastic with my teeth. None of this with Mr Filbert’s. The pouches tear open like a dream and open up to pour out their contents with ease. A small point to note but it certainly adds to the whole enjoyment. No-one wants to work up a sweat opening their snack!
Back to the almonds….
These are one beautiful snack. The glossy nuggets shine in the light, a beautiful colour and shape.
“As soon as I poured them into the bowl, my mouth was watering” wrote one reviewer.
I knew what she meant. I was aware that a little happy squeal escaped me when I saw them nestling in their bowl. My neighbour popped in shortly afterwards, possibly alerted by the noise or perhaps the scent of “the warm chilli flavour with a contrast of cool mint” and she pulled up a chair to join in the tasting.
“Wow, these are gorgeous” she managed before taking another couple. “Not too spicy but just enough of a kick to make you want more” - which she obviously did because she put her feet up and tucked in!
“Crunchy and fresh in the mouth” scribbled another reviewer. I wondered if she’d also had a visit from the neighbours.
“Perfectly sweet and savoury with a lovely warming feeling from the spices”
“A kick with no heat. Aftertaste lasts. A perfect peppery pick me up”
Looks like the entire review panel, plus neighbours, had found their favourite. These Moroccan Spiced Almonds won a Great Taste Three Star Award last year and the Fabulous Farm Shops review panel are not going to argue with that. Their mouths are too full anyway!
So, if you’re a farm shop wondering whether there’s a space on your shelf for these pouches, we suggest you make a space. They are very hard to resist, look good, taste great and are refreshingly different and, just as it says on the logo, “a dash more delicious”.
The office was buzzing (pun intended) when a box of goodies arrived from Neve’s Bees ready for a product review. When the cardboard flap was lifted, it was like a summer meadow had been delivered to our doorstep, with beautiful little recyclable metal containers emblazoned with brightly coloured stickers. Everything in the box looks like it has been designed to bring maximum joy and certainly the review panel were excited to give these little pots a go.
Personally, I’m not much of a beauty product girl. Having suffered terribly, in the past, with eczema, I am very wary of what I put on my skin and my normal beauty routine comprises a warm flannel and an early night, but I had read up a little bit about Neve’s Bees products and understood that they are 100% natural, made using the purest natural plant oils and butters and beeswax. I didn’t hesitate to chose my trio of cute little pots.
Neve’s Bees Hand Salve
The largest of the trio is the Neve’s Bees Hand Salve which comes in six different evocative scents (again all naturally fragranced) or one completely plain and unfragranced. There is even a specific one for men with “a subtle fragrance of zingy grapefruit with woody cedarwood “. Grrrrr!
One reviewer made a beeline (pun intended) for the YlangYlang and Patchouli pot, broke the seal and got stuck in. The scent was fresh and dreamy. Her eyes closed as she inhaled it deeply. She smiled. We witnessed the beginning of a beautiful relationship as she commented on the deeply pleasing appearance of the salve in its little silver pot. It is smooth and tempting and seems a shame to sully the surface, but she couldn’t help but rub a finger across the top.
Slightly oily to the touch, one does not need much but it makes an immediate impact. She rubbed it into the back of her hand and it glistened for a moment and then began to sink into the skin.
“Easily absorbed. My hands felt softer immediately” she later scribbled on her review sheet.
I couldn’t wait any longer and opened my own little pot of Lemon and Lavender. The scent is subtle but very clean. The lemon keeps it fresh and the lavender is present but not cloying. I was transported back to opening my grandmother’s airing cupboard and admiring her beautifully layered and pressed cotton sheets, a gentle, flowery scent hanging in the air.
I swirled my finger around the pot and applied it to my thirsty skin. I could almost hear my hands thanking me for finally giving them a little care and attention.
Others felt the same.
“My hands feel young again” scribbled one reviewer. “A little greasy at first but it soaked in quickly and felt smooth and soft”.
“I’d recommend this to my friends” wrote another.
“Fantastic smell” wrote the tester of the Rosey Hand Salve “and the scent lasts for a long time”.
These little pots are the perfect size to slip into your handbag or purse, pocket or backpack and keep handy for daily use. They are made in small batches and without any preservatives, so their use-by-date (about a year) is written on the back of the pot.
There’s plenty of salve in a pot and a little goes a long way. And you don’t have to just keep it for your hands. I popped a bit on my knobbly old elbows and they definitely look less like walnuts than they have for a while! I can see this hand salve finding a way into my life and, I would go so far as to say, that I might have to add another step to my beauty regime:
1) use Neve’s Bees Hand Salve
Neve’s Bees Lip Balm
Next on the table was the lip balm and who doesn’t love a lip balm? I am frequently scrabbling around in the bottom of my handbag for something to ease the horrible feeling of a tight, cracked mouth.
Laid out on the table were the most adorable little tins with cheerful packaging and tempting flavours. We circled our prey, eyeing each other up, whistling the theme tune to a Western. Should we choose the honey vanilla, the buttermint, the lemon & lime, the sweet grapefruit or the rosey? It was more enticing than a trip to the ice cream parlour.
I shot from the hip and picked up the honey vanilla, broke the little paper seal and slid back the tin lid. The scent was lovely - subtle and pleasant – a suggestion of vanilla rather than a full-blown candle shop. The little cake of balm is smooth and attractive and, again, seemed a shame to blemish with a finger, but my lips were in need. I smoothed on a healthy fingerful and rubbed it in.
This is good balm! It felt wonderful.
Other reviewers had similar thoughts.
“Beautifully, silky lips” wrote one. “Slides on and makes me want to pout” wrote another.
“The smell lingers just under my nose and my lips feel amazing”.
“This is staying in my handbag”.
There was a slight debate about which flavour was the best but no conclusion was reached. Some love lavender, others prefer lemon. I was very happy with my honey vanilla. It’s just as well Neve’s Bees have come up with so many options, including unfragranced, for those who like it au naturel.
Whichever little tin floats your boat, you can rest assured that it is packed with pure, natural balm and, like us, you’ll be very happy with the way it makes your lips feel.
Neve’s Bees Cuticle Butter
Last, but not least, we each helped ourselves to a pot of cuticle butter. Similar funky, joyful packaging, sporting bright oranges on a blue background, covers a small round metal tin. This cuticle butter only comes in lemon & orange and what a smell!
Everyone’s reaction was the same – beautiful! My nostrils couldn't get enough and I became slightly light-headed as I inhaled hard. It really is a lovely mix of citrus and worth having in your pocket on a long journey just for the scent alone – to cover up any unpleasantness in your surroundings!
The panel of reviewers was a mixed bunch, some frequently indulging in manicures, others more at home with their hands in a compost heap than a salon, but everyone knew what to do. They rubbed a little bit of the butter onto their nails and cuticles and sat back to admire them.
I felt a bit like a 1950's housewife as I stuck my hand out to admire my shiny nails and watched my glowing skin slowly absorb the waxy butter. Slightly greasy at first, it softens the cuticle and allows you to gently ease them back away from the nail. It was a very pleasant experience - so good, I shared it with my toes!
“I love this stuff. It’s now part of my daily routine”, wrote one reviewer, adding a little heart to her scribbles.
“I used this before a manicure and it worked brilliantly” wrote another (no heart but lots of exclamation marks)
“Absolutely LOVE the cuticle butter. Handy little tin, beautiful spa smell and it feels like it is nourishing my cuticles”.
Wow – that’s a lot of love!
So, there you have it. It’s unanimous from the panel at Fabulous Farm Shops. These little pots of loveliness are worth giving a go. Buzz on over to the Neve’s Bees website to see all the gorgeous little pots for yourself and get some flower power on your skin.
Neve’s Bees is very keen to grow in the retail sector and offers excellent POS merchandising and generous margins, so if you are a farm shop looking for some flowery magic for your shelves then email Julie to find out more.
Interesting to ponder, for a minute, what you expect when someone offers you a snack. Are you imagining a monstrous, cartoon layered scooby-snack, a weighty slice of bread on the bottom balancing a slab of every meat you can think of, a ginormous slice of beef tomato, a hunk of cheese bigger than a small country and a gravity defying top slice keeping it all together?
Or are you, like my children, imagining a chocolate-laden Swiss roll - chocolate sponge rolled expertly around chocolate butter icing and all excessively encased in solid chocolate (because two types of chocolate in a snack can only ever be improved by adding a third).
We, at Fabulous Farm Shops, recently had the good fortune to review three of their snacks (Pitted mixed olives with rosemary & garlic, French rosemary almonds and Traditional beef biltong) and found them quite delightful (read more here). So another box of goodies was sent our way and the gallant review panel, arms twisted, stepped forward with their hands cupped and ready for the next round of tasting.
On the table this time:
Basil, garlic and coriander marinated olives (snack pack)
Sweet chilli rice crackers (sharing pack)
Peanuts and Hazelnuts with Italian herbs (snack pack)
Well, anyone offering me my own little packet of olives to snack on immediately goes on my Christmas card list so I, for one, was pretty happy to see olives on the menu again. This time they are marinated in basil, garlic and coriander which is a slightly controversial mixture. Some of the review panel members turned their nose up at the thought of coriander. I have recently learnt that one’s delight or revulsion at the taste of coriander is a genetic predisposition rather than a simple taste preference. If coriander tastes like soapy water to you, then it is just the way you were born!
Fortunately, Mr Filbert’s use of coriander in his snack pack of olives is very sparing and the light hint of herbiness across these olives is perfectly balanced. There’s a nod to the Mediterranean without an overwhelming perfume or flavour.
" a subtle hint of summer nights"
...wrote one reviewer. “Soft and scrumptious” crooned another and “Moreish” scribbled a third.
The word moreish was deliberated over for a while by the review panel. Meaning “so good it leaves you wanting more” it was certainly applicable to this little pack of snack olives. This was not a sharing pack. It was a small handful of the most succulent, gently flavoured green olives. Some were left desperate for more whilst others felt that the volume was perfect for a little one-person accompaniment to a cool beverage. I certainly didn’t want to share mine with anyone. They can have my last rolo but I’m keeping my Filbert’s olives.
Next in the bowl were the sweet chilli rice crackers. Now if you’re after a bag of goodies to share with your mates, then you’ve come to the right snack. This is a sharing pack and a generous one at that. The packaging is fantastic as the resealable pouch can be easily closed and keeps the rice crackers gloriously fresh for the next bout of the munchies and there weren’t many who could have finished off this pack all by themselves. They pack a serious punch of chilli sweetness which knocks some sense into you. Often a sharing pack is just an excuse to eat three times more than you know is sensible but here we had a snack you want to take your time over.
The crackers are small and intense, a glorious orangey colour with a fabulous crunch. Pop a couple in your mouth and the sweet chilli gets the juices flowing then a powerful kick of flavour demands your attention. It was slightly unexpected on the first mouthful, eyes opened wide and a few coughs escaped but everyone, and I mean everyone, came back for more.
"Fabulous explosion on the tongue!!!!"
... was one comment, followed by a liberal sprinkling of exclamation marks. “WoW” shouted another. “Ker POW” added another (who thought he was in a Marvel comic and not writing for an extremely respectable and serious review panel).
Our third and final treat for the day was another smaller snack pack containing a pleasing mixture of peanuts and hazelnuts with Italian herbs. Everyone noted the packet and were in favour of the realistic and attractive picture on the front. Knowing how hard it is to photograph food and make it look enticing, the consensus was that Mr Filbert’s have got it just right. The packaging gives you a good indication of what your senses are about to experience. Light and colourful but with a cleanness to the presentation which only makes you want to snack more. Excellent work.
Now for the taste test. Again, eager hands were held out for a good sprinkling of nut magic. And no one was disappointed. An even distribution of herby flavouring was noted and the taste was a “just right” on the Goldilocks’ scale of appreciation.
“ooh, a real change from the norm”
...wrote one nut-lover. “Perky” suggested another and the word “moreish” was rolled out again by various reviewers. One wrote a full essay on the pleasures of enjoying Mr Filbert’s peanuts and hazelnuts whilst watching a game of cricket with a cold beer. It was an excellent essay despite the awful handwriting and the unsightly beer stains on the paper but the message was clear…
“I will be buying these snacks in the future”
- accompanied by a very good doodle of a wicket keeper.
See! - snacks beyond expectation.
“Work Hard, Snack Often” could be our office motto here at Fabulous Farm Shops HQ so when a box of goodies arrived from Mr Filbert’s, bearing their wonderful strapline “REALLY INTERESTING SNACKS”, there were some mild palpitations amongst those lucky enough to be on the review panel.
Up for review were three different snack pouches holding an exotic assortment of yummies:
Pitted mixed olives with rosemary & garlic
French rosemary almonds
Traditional beef biltong
And the first thing to mention is the concept. These fabulous little pouches are crying out to be poked into the side of a picnic basket or a lunch box or a cooler bag. Imagine packing a picnic for a day at the beach and all you need to do is chill the wine, make a thermos of coffee and open the cupboard to an array of pouches. Hmmm today I’ll have almonds lightly dusted in rosemary!
Where were these pouches when I was struggling to find interesting snacks for my children’s lunch boxes (is a box of raisins ok for the fifth day in a row, darling?). My son would have been very excited to have a packet of biltong in his lunch box instead of another solid and stinking peperami!
The packaging is lovely too. Fresh and enticing pictures of the product adorn the front of the pouches with a cute little colourful drawing of Mr Filbert in his apron all beautifully coordinated with the title on the packet. I know one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, or a snack by its packet, but if the picture on the front sets one’s juices flowing then it needs a mention. Good packet, good expectations and farm shop customers are much more likely to pop one in their basket. Hoorah!
So let’s get down to business and tell you what we thought of the pitted mixed olives with rosemary & garlic!
Well, personally I’m an olive fiend. Having spent the first 25 years of my life doing whatever I could to avoid the little blighters, something flicked a switch in me whilst on my travels, I welcomed olives into my life and have spent the next 25 years trying to make up for lost time. To find a pouch of olives which is RESEALABLE (thank you Mr Filbert for thinking of everything), lightly bathed in rosemary and garlic and created without excessive oil… well Hallelulah!
The packet tells us that this is…
No stones, no oil, no mess
And they are right about that. These olives are well-behaved and could accompany you anywhere. Equally at home on a bohemian beach blanket or a starched white table-clothed dinner table… they are deliciously UNmessy. You could stick these in your backpack, nibble on them whilst traversing the Camino de Santiago and still shake hands with the pilgrims on arrival - without making them greasy.
The general consensus from our review panel was that there was just the right amount of flavouring. The garlic and rosemary are present without being overpowering and add a smattering of interest whilst letting the olive be the star of the show.
The only question that divided opinion was of the texture of the olive. Some loved the slightly soft consistency of the pitted olives and couldn’t get enough of them whilst others wished for something a lot harder which requires proper robust nibbling!
Almost all reviewers could imagine themselves on a foreign balcony, with a glass of something cold in one hand, a handful of Mr Filbert’s olives in the other and the warmth of a Mediterranean sun warming their skin. Now THAT is a good snack!
Next to be poured into our little hors d’oeuvres bowls were the French rosemary almonds and they made quite an entrance. These are very pretty nuts! Not a phrase I have written before, but a large proportion of the review panel mentioned the glaze on these almonds and how good they looked before they made it into any mouths.
Words like “enticing” and “gorgeous” and “attractive” were being banded about and they weren’t talking about me! One reviewer went so far as to scribble “tempting little brown nuggets of nuttiness” which makes me happy just to type!
The smell of the almonds was also celebrated. A slight dusting of rosemary had one reviewer turning poetic and imagining themselves “brushing through a herb garden” and another “smelling sunshine”.
But it was the glorious act of snacking on these beautiful nuts which brought the most accolades. The “perfect combination” whispered someone in hushed and reverential tones. “Beautifully moreish – I never want to stop,” said another. “Dangerous” scribbled someone else, as they reached for another. “I would SO buy these”.
The firm crunch is just right, the dusting of herbs is perfect and the sugar/salt ratio is bang on. This little “light aromatic snack” is a unanimous hit with the Fabulous Farm Shops Review Panel and we can see why the packet is the proud bearer of a Great Taste award rosette.
These almonds were always going to be a hard act to follow and the Traditional beef biltong was going to struggle to compete in these conditions. A little palette cleanse was called for, a walk around the block and a taste reset.
The field was divided into biltong eaters and non-eaters which always makes the process slightly trickier. Some were self-proclaimed aficionados whilst others were biltong virgins and the results were equally extreme. For some, the biltong was a bit too "interesting", a step too far, but then a rallying cry could be heard from the back of the room. “This would be lovely with red wine“ chirped someone….”beautifully moist with a crisp edge” chimed another. “Mouthfuls of aromatic wonder” mused the poet.
“You can’t please all the people all of the time” scribbled the scribe and made a mental note of how successful marmite has become despite half the world being less than supportive!
So there you have it… three of Mr Filbert’s fabulous snacks and our humble opinions. There are other flavours and other products available on their website at mrfilberts.com and some wonderful combination snacking selections from “indulgent” to “vegan” to “tapas” to "for him" collections.
All the snacks are created in Somerset with carefully foraged ingredients with an emphasis on healthier and delicious snacks which are, as their advertising suggests, truly
If you would like to stock these fabulous little snacks in your farm shop then get in touch with Filbert's Fine Foods:
by phone 01458 833744
by email firstname.lastname@example.org
or online mrfilberts.com/pages/trade
Our review panel like to think they know a thing or two about jam. Several of them make their own every summer and, not wishing to brag, wonder if there is anything out there that could equal or even top their homemade pots of love.
Step forward Boddington’s Berries. A large box of jars arrived at the Fabulous Farm Shops HQ with a smorgasbord of offerings. Strawberry, raspberry, blackberry jams, marmalade, red onion relish, apple chutney and strawberry vinegar. Mouths started to water.
We take our product reviews seriously here at HQ. A frenetic bout of photography was followed by some earnest sourcing of tasting accompaniments. Our wonderful local bakery, Lavender Blue (www.lavenderbluebakery.co.uk) was happy to supply us with some scrumptious scones, of the savoury variety to accompany the chutneys and some delicious plain ones for jams (more on that later!) and the excellent Trewithen Dairy www.trewithendairy.co.uk/shop) couriered us some clotted cream. We could only allow genuine Cornish clotted cream to grace the top of Cornish jam.
Just on the outskirts of the beautiful fishing village of Mevagissey, Boddington’s Berries have been growing strawberries for over 75 years and making preserves for the last 20. This part of England has the perfect climate for sweet, plump strawberries as the fruit ripens gradually, allowing the sugar content to increase as much as possible.
But… the proof is in the pudding, as they say, so we settled in to an afternoon of tasting. A reverential hush descended on the room as we warmed the scones, applied the strawberry jam (jam before cream, of course, this IS Cornish jam and cream) and dolloped on the cream. Eyes rolled in heads, crumbs fell, small noises of pleasure escaped from various corners of the room. Heaven had come to earth.
The scones were incredible, seriously delicious, and the cream was thick and dreamy and the jam, oh the jam! This was strawberriness personified. This was summer in your mouth. This was fruity sweetness at its most alluring.
The smell of the jam took me back to my childhood and picking strawberries at our local farm with juicy fingers and itchy legs and the glorious juice of the stollen berries bursting into your mouth. It has a good body to it as you sink the spoon into the jar but gloopy enough to drop with gravity onto your toast.
The feedback was unanimous. Incredible strawberry jam!
“A taste of summer on a cold February mid-week evening - I can almost hear the birds singing, and 'almost' feel the sun on my face!”
“It is loaded with strawberries. “
“Consume within 1 month of opening it says. Who are they kidding? This will be finished within a couple of days. I’m spooning it straight from the jar into my mouth”
The jam-makers amongst the review panel were particularly vocal. And several had even scribbled down “I’D BUY THIS” which was all they really needed to say. It is homemade, made in small batches with no preservatives, just sugar and lemon juice added to the many, many berries. And it tastes just like that. Home-made but without the palaver. No-one was surprised when it was revealed that it has won awards (Taste of the West gold winner 2022). It certainly gets the Fabulous Farm Shops seal of approval!
Loosening our belt buckles, we moved on. Could the raspberry jam and blackberry jam be this good?
Both have an exceptionally high fruit content and are made in the traditional way with no added setting agents. The raspberry jam is simply berries and sugar. The blackberry jam has the addition of lemon juice. And let me tell you, both are delicious.
The raspberry jam is pure fruity fabulousness, tasting the way a raspberry does when it is picked straight from the cane and popped into your mouth, a slight tang but then the sugar - a wonderful viscous burst of joy!
It conjured up visions of staying in a beautiful B&B by the seaside, coming down from a blissful night’s sleep to a table in a bay window, with white cotton table cloths and a toast rack…and Boddington’s Berries raspberry jam, decanted in a little cut glass jam pot. But I digress…
Hard to believe but the blackberry jam was my favourite, just inching ahead by a nose. Perhaps that’s because I’m the one who loses herself in the hedgerows in Autumn, fingers purple and smudged, reaching for those plump, dark fruits amongst the brambles. There was a definite hint of the lemon juice to the flavour, which I loved, and the colour of the jam as I spooned it onto my bread and butter was jewel-like and regal.
“It’s going in my basket”
...were amongst the scribbled comments from other panel members. Another winner!
Could we take much more? Fearless reviewers, we plunged on. This time into a pot of marmalade. Described as “fine to medium shred” and again made only with the purest ingredients and no suspicious additives. This is simply oranges, sugar and lemon juice.
The colour is magnificent. Think stained glass window with the sun shining through or golden syrup topping vanilla ice-cream. And the taste is tangy and sweet all rolled into one delicious, tongue-twisting mouthful. It’s quite runny – you have to have your wits about you when getting it onto your bread and butter – but that makes you get it into your mouth quicker. The marmalade I currently have in my fridge is set so hard, I almost need a chisel in the mornings, so this made a welcome change.
“reminded me of my grandma – she’d have put this in her cakes”
“not usually a marmalade fan but I actually really enjoyed this”
...were some of the sticky scribbled notes I received to collate. Another success!
Time for some savoury treats. The cheese scones from Lavender Blue were warmed and cut (light and fluffy with a delicious texture), a selection of cheddar was sliced and we cleansed our palettes with water before settling in for some chutneys.
The apple chutney was first up. The jar tells us it’s light and fruity and not overly spiced and bingo! – that’s exactly right. It has a subtle hint of spices which complements its accompaniments rather than over-powering them like so many chutneys.
“I could have just kept spooning the apple chutney long after the scone had gone!”
One panel member often finds relish too sweet but found this one a perfect pitch of spice and sweetness. Another often finds relish too scented but, again, this one hit the spot. The Goldilocks of chutneys…just right!
The red onion relish did it for me. I loaded it on in a most un-ladylike manner and became quite gluttonous for a few minutes there. No-one was allowed to talk to me whilst I savoured the experience and it was tough to leave the jar at HQ and not snaffle it up my sleeve or “accidently” drop it into my bag.
Others agreed with me.
“does just what it says on the label - Delicious and Versatile"
“I dream of it spread over cheese, cold meats, bubble and squeak, sausages (mmmmm with sausages), and even on toast, pork pies, sausage rolls the list goes on.”
“Beautifully spiced and not at all vinegary, a wonderful accompaniment”
..and that’s from the lady who makes her own.
Boddington’s Berries – we salute you. You have done things with berries that most of us only dream of and preserved things in jars that our grandmothers would have been proud of. Thank you for sharing these delicious pots with us and with the general public.
If you have room on your farm shop shelves, then stock these beauties...and if you don't, then make room! You won’t regret it.
Get in touch with Boddington's Berries online at
The review team here at Fabulous Farm Shops takes its job seriously but when a new product arrives in HQ exclamations of "ooh" and "aaah" , even squeals of "eeeek" and, on one occasion, a little Irish jig have been witnessed at the unboxing stage. This is particularly so when an innovative product arrives, something none of us have ever seen before and, may we say, something we did not know that any of our lives were missing....but, ooh aah and eek, things change.
The good folk at Sizzll love their sausages and have been pondering for years how to stop a banger rolling about on its tray, wallowing in its own grease. We know what they mean - that annoying sausage which will not turn over and cook its undercarriage no matter how nicely you try and coax it over with your tongs.
And after you have cooked, eaten, rubbed your belly with satisfaction, you then have the pain of washing up the grill pan or tray and scraping off the baked on grease in a sink which is rarely big enough to accommodate the pan.
If these things have been putting you off your Sunday breakfast, then may we introduce you to the Sizzll.
Unboxing the trays from their packaging, we were struck by their ergonomic beauty. Perhaps that's a funny thing to say about a tray to cook sausages in but they are hard to resist. "Strokable" was a word that emerged from one member of the team. "Ooh shiny" was another response (she does have rather magpie-esque tendencies!)
Coming in four choices of finish, there is one for every kitchen and just on looks alone, we would recommend them as a fabulous gift for the cook who thinks they have everything! Shiny stainless steel for the minimalists out there and three different coloured enamel finishes for the country kitchen enthusiasts among you (cream, racing green or black).
Pre Christmas and yet to fill up on turkey and pigs in blankets, we chose our weapons and each took a Sizzll home with us to try out.
One of our wonderful local farm shops, Kimbers' Farm Shop in Charlton Musgrove, Somerset, had provided us with some of their delicious, free-range pork sausages for us to use in the Sizzll pans, so we were all set to ready, steady, cook.
There is room in the tray for eight sausages and each one sits in its own perfectly formed little bed. The shallow grooves hold the sausage in place and make it exceptionally easy to turn them once whilst cooking. These little built in walls are shallow to allow even cooking and the sausages are held slightly higher than the rest of the basin so that the fat from the sausage (should your sausage have a high fat content) sits in the depressions and is held away from the meat, making the sausage healthier. "More fun. Less fat" is the first half of Sizzll's slogan!
In our separate kitchens across the South West, we all stared through the glass of our ovens (you can use a grill too!) and watched our sausages sizzle on their Sizzlls. And we all, unanimously, thoroughly enjoyed turning them over half way through their cooking time. A quick flick-over was simple. Not a single stubborn sausage rolled back and refused to turn, not a single expletive was uttered, not a single sigh heard. The Sizzll certainly solves the rolling sausage issue.
When the cooking time was up, the sausages lifted easily out of the pan. Again there was a unanimous verdict that nothing stuck to the tray, not a sausage (do you see what I did there?!) One reviewer went so far as to say:
"After being quite sceptical about the Sizzll tin, I was really pleasantly surprised and, can I say, almost excited by the outcome. The sausages looked beautifully plump, and nicely browned; most importantly they weren't sat in their own fat, and didn't stick to the tin, pulling off the all important crisped skin. The sausages looked like very smart uniformed soldiers, all lined up in the very attractive Sizzll tin"
It's a tough job but we managed to eat the sausages up (thanks again to Kimbers' for our delicious teas) so that we could test the Sizzlls for their third and final claim...Less faff. Washing up time!
Washing up the grill pan is one of those jobs that everyone in my house fights over...fights over avoiding. "Sorry mum, I have so much homework tonight." "Sorry mum. My fingers are really sore from watching tik tok". "Sorry darling. I'm rushing out to...do anything that's not washing up".
Well, this pan is a joy to clean. Let me tell you that this could be the new THING...staying in to wash up your Sizzll could be the new going out.
Every member of the review panel said how incredibly easy it was to wash the pan. The grease pours away easily and then a bit of a soak and a brush and the grease lifts away from the tray leaving it completely, and I mean completely, clean... none of that baked on brown stuff that seems to linger on anything else I put in the oven. Beautiful! Obviously, they also go in the dishwasher too but, trust me, you might actually choose to do it by hand, it's so good! A great example of British-made quality. Hoorah.
SO there you have it. More fun. Less fat. Less faff.
We are living proof that the slogan is correct. These innovative pans make cooking your sausages a very, very pleasant experience and they look good in your kitchen. They are also suitable for one pan cooking so you could throw in your mushrooms, tomatoes, parsnips and carrots with your sausages to cook together and save time and washing up.
They have a fairly substantial price tag (retailing between £24 and £35, depending on the finish you choose) but 95% of the reviewers said they would absolutely love to receive one as a gift (even the vegetarian!) and the other 5% doesn't like sausages and never does the washing up!
To take a look at the Sizzll website click here
You can order your own Sizzll pan direct here
or get in touch here if you would like to stock Sizzll pans in your own shop
The lovely people from The Good Zest Company up in Staffordshire sent us a fabulous selection of body wash for our review panel to sample. (Either that or they were hinting it was time for us to wash!)
The first impression of the bottles and the gift box itself was unanimously approved of by the team here at Fabulous Farm Shop Headquarters. The bottles are very attractive in their brushed aluminium finish, slightly shiny and beautifully heavy. They are fully recyclable and embody the ethos of the company that makes them - organic and waste free.
The presentation box was attractively decorated (and easy to wrap if you are thinking about presents... 6 weeks until Christmas - just saying!) and nestled inside were five bottles with names to make your mouth water: sweet orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, lime & bergamot - oh and a lovely little hessian wash mitt to make your skin come alive.
First impressions were great and we unscrewed the tops and passed them around for a good sniff. The Good Zest Company regularly mention that smell is the sense that is most conducive to evoking memories and emotions. Taking off the lid of these bottles is a real treat. As you inhale from the bottle, a delicious citrusy perfume reaches your nose and it really is a delight.
This is no overpowering manufactured scent but rather a freshness and lightness which is very appealing. Imagine squeezing a fresh orange and the delicate aroma that comes off your fingers when you have finished.. or chopping a lime up for your cocktail (just me?!) and the waft of citrus freshness that escapes from the knife. These are the smells we got from the bottles even before we got anywhere near a shower or a bath.
The good folk at The Good Zest Company hand-zest all their fruits to extract the oils that go into these body washes. What a wonderful job! We were all looking forward to washing with these products.
In our own bathrooms, we poured the body wash out and made mental notes ready to share on feedback day. The consistency is excellent. A slow, viscose pour which allows you to wash with the right amount and adds to the anticipation as you wait for it to come from the bottle. Also available on the website are the pump action nozzles, if you can't wait for the pour!
Some preferred the scent of the orange, some preferred the scent of the lime but we all agreed that the lather was perfect. Add a little water and the suds appear but they are light and completely non-greasy. The citrus hint is still there but it is not overpowering and the body wash is delicious to use.
I hate feeling "coated" in a product but this was quite the opposite .. a fresh and fruity experience.. and I didn't leave the bathroom smelling like a fruit salad. The citrus scent doesn't linger after you have washed. This was a positive for me. I felt clean and alive , non-greasy and ready for the day...and, another plus, the bath was left clean with no slippery residue.
One reviewer (known for his potent aftershave) wished the citrus scent had lasted throughout the day but others among us felt that it was great to feel invigorated in the shower or bath but leave the perfume in the bathroom. The majority of us felt the lightness of the body wash was attributable to its organic credentials and therefore rejoiced that we were not putting harmful or unnatural products on our skin, in our water and down our plugholes!
Luxury set of 6 plantable christmas crackers
All in all, our review panel gave a hefty THUMBS UP to the team at The Good Zest Company and will be recommending the beautiful products that they offer to their friends and family and to you, our readers.
The Good Zest Company is offering all readers of the FABULOUS FARM SHOPS' blog the opportunity to get 10% off* any order. Just use code ZESTY10 at check out via the website or quote this code in an email when ordering via Rose.
*offer expires 31st January 2023
Here, at Fabulous Farm Shops Headquarters, we regularly receive products to taste, try out and review and it’s always a pleasure…but when four beautiful (and I mean really beautiful) bottles of gin arrived on our doorstep, the excitement was palpable.
Ribble Valley Gin is a small batch gin distillery based in Lancashire in, you’ve guessed it, Ribble Valley. I am sorry to say I have never been there, but the pictures of the valley took my breath away. Somehow, they have managed to capture the essence of their home and incorporate it into the labels that adorn their bottles and again on the gift boxes which can be purchased when gifting these gins.
First impressions were excellent, and we were looking forward to easing out the cork stoppers and pouring the fragranced liquid into our gin balloons.
Our tasting department had done its homework. We knew we should keep the gin at room temperature before tasting so as not to distort the flavour. We knew that it’s important to choose the right glass so that the scents could easily reach the nose. We knew that we should be patient and before guzzling, swirl the gin around the glass and inhale the aromas. We knew that we should try it neat before adding any tonics or other mixers. We knew that it was going to be a good night!
Helpful too were some tasting notes that I had filed under G for "Gin", showing the possible range of adjectives describing the profile of each batch. A wonderful graph was waiting to be populated showing how savoury, earthy, spicy, bitter or crisp our first taste would be… and could we detect any citrus, juniper, fruits or herbs. Just let me at it!!
The first bottle we were drawn to was the Country Market Gin described by Ribble Valley as:
“our vegetable gin, which pays homage to the simple vegetable patch & the traditional country market for a contemporary take on a classic gin”.
We all agreed that we had never tried a “vegetable gin” before but something about the label with its beautifully painted hare, green wellies and allotment-styled basket of freshly picked vegetables had enticed us in.... and our glasses were ready.
We all agreed there was a definite savoury aroma and a warmth to the flavour that was slightly unexpected but quite comforting. I could definitely detect tomatoes and felt an earthy undertone to the aftertaste.
Words like “herby” and “woodland” and “brambles” were also whispered, as well as the less than helpful “gin-ny”! The botanicals used in the making of this small batch gin include beetroot, peppers, basil and wild thyme so we weren’t too far off the mark.
Warmed and raring to go, we moved on to The Winter’s Night Gin.
Perhaps I was influenced by the pouring rain outside the window and the howling wind, or the beautiful indigo-blue of the label and the silvery writing, but this one was my favourite.
The painting of the little cottage under a frosty roof and the wintry juniper berries watched over by the Christmassy robin red breast made me feel all festive and cosy. I can imagine sitting by the fire with my slippered feet up, being offered a glass of Winter’s Night Gin and tonic.
A definite peppery first impression with a subtle aftertaste of Christmas (think cinnamon and cardamon).
Suggestions are to serve with a garnish of orange or accompany it with some heated apple juice and cloves for a Ribble Valley take on a mulled gin. I will certainly be trying this with the small amount that is left in the bottle after our tasting session.
This would also make a perfect Christmas gift for the person who has everything, and Ribble Valley have thought of that. Available on their website are some stunning gift hampers with a selection of smaller (25cl) bottles or the 70cl bottles in their beautiful cardboard boxes. I’d be happy with either poking out of my stocking this Christmas.
I had to be dragged out of my reverie of chestnuts roasting by an open fire to try the next two gins. It didn’t quite seem fitting to try the Garden Party Gin on such a foul night, but I managed to get myself in the mood somehow. The label helped, with its delicate pastel tones and evocative impressions of a cottage garden, complete with bumble bee and bunting and copper writing flanked by butterflies. I could almost imagine myself barefoot and sinking my toes into the grass at a summer party.
We agreed that the smell of this gin is really very pleasing. Some caught raspberries drifting up from the bottle, others strawberries, one even mentioned elderflower. Everyone offered “fruity” and “floral” and some shouted “summery” (it was getting a bit loud by this point!)
The official consensus from the Great Taste Awards feedback of 2021 was:
“This smells like a dry gin with citrus, juniper and lots of botanicals. It is sherbetty yet with a touch of sweetness and the spice complements it beautifully. It is a good well rounded gin made with care, love and affection.”
And none of us would argue with that. It certainly makes us hanker after the long and heady days of the not-too-distant summer and dream of late sultry evenings without the need for jumpers and socks.
There was a freshness about this gin that made us sit up and take notice. I had done my homework and realised that it is probably down to the water used in the distillation process. Apparently, it is locally sourced organic spring water from a private estate, as rich in minerals as it is in history when it was discovered by a King over 500 years ago.
It’s often said I’m a bit of a princess!
Our final taste was of the original Ribble Valley gin known as Little Lane Gin. Again the label needs a mention as it depicts a gentle, English country scene of hedgerows and meadows painted in a calming hue of greens and purples.
The scent of the gin itself conjures up heathers and brambles. We detected blackberries and pine leaves. One was certain she could smell lavender and one was jubilant in her discovery of nettles.
On reading the description, she realised she was right! Nettles were apparently introduced by the Romans, who used this painful plant to rub on their skin to stay warm in Northern Britain. We would certainly rather warm up by drinking this bottled version. It is mellow and soothing and green in flavour.
The suggestion to float a few blackberries and a wheel of lime in the glass is spot on.
So that’s it… our tasting complete, and a happy group of tasters called it a night and went their separate ways, pleased to have discovered this small batch gin company nestled in the Ribble Valley.
Thanks to the lovely Justine and Luke, who converted their stone outhouse (built in 1888 and originally used as a piggery) to a distillery, and launched their first gin in 2019. Four award winning gins later, they have been welcomed into the world of craft gins and have certainly found a spot in the Fabulous Farm Shops HQ drinks cabinet.
The Fabulous Farm Shop review panel have a bit of history with those excellent people at Filbert's Fine Foods and every now and then they ship us a little trio of new snacks for us to crack open and review. It’s always a good day when we open a box to find Mr Filbert peeking out and this time was no exception.
Like a lucky dip (but without the annoying sawdust), I plunged my hand into the box to see what goodies we were going to try this time.
Salt and Pepper Cashews (pocket size)
First out the box was a cute little packet of Mr Filbert’s Salt and Pepper cashews, “oven roasted to perfection then tumbled with sea salt and black pepper for a perfect savoury snack”.
Gosh, I love a cashew! I think of it as the perfect nut. To start with, the shape is ergonomically pleasing, as if the creator was really beginning to loosen up and let his imagination run a little riot. And the flavour - never quite what you’re expecting when you pop it in your mouth. The texture? Slightly oily but solid and reassuring.
Anyway, I love them just the way they are. So, when I realised that the good folk at Mr Filbert's have dared to play with perfection, I was slightly concerned. I needn’t have worried. Of course, Mr Filbert, in his dashing black apron with his shock of carroty hair and winning smile, can be trusted to enhance any snack he turns his wooden spoon to.
This time, he has rifled though his condiments and chosen two beautifully complementary flavours, as old as the hills: salt and pepper. What could go wrong? Nothing! Quite simply a brilliant enhancement. And it wasn’t just me that thought so. Listen to the joy from the panel of Fabulous Farm Shop reviewers:
“Delicious! Salty and extremely tasty. Ideal with drinkies!”
“Oh yes! That little peppery addition. A bit of heat…a bit of vavavoom”
“Salt and pepper…the winning combo, the perfect pairing. Just enough flavour to make you sit up and notice.”
The cashews retain their creamy, satisfying bite. They still sit in your hand like little magic beans, tempting you to put them one by one into your mouth but now they pack a tantalising punch, urging you to have another as soon as the first one is chewed up and swallowed. I didn’t think a cashew needed anything to take it closer to heaven, but Mr Filbert has done just that.
And the snack-pack size must also be mentioned - 40g of nut-tastic joy in an attractive little pouch. Pop one of these in your pocket if you’re hiking up a mountain, kayaking down a river or just taking the dog for a walk. There is enough in there to give you a fabulous, savoury boost of energy, whatever activity you’re undertaking – and you don’t need to share it with anyone.
Salted Caramel Chocolate & Nut Mix
Next up, this little packet of joy announces that it “combines salted honeyed nuts with chocolate and Cornish caramel fudge to produce a scrumptious sweet and salty snack”. Now on paper that really doesn’t sound like it should work. Where in the world would you put chocolate covered raisins, salted nuts and nuggets of fudge together?
I want to know how they came up with this one! I like to imagine that two busy executives at Mr Filbert’s were both snacking en route to the boardroom, hurrying down the corridor when they crashed into each other. Executive A spilt his bag of nuts on the floor whilst executive B dropped her fudge and chocolate. In a scramble to pick up all the bits, and get to their meeting in time, the snacks got muddled and EUREKA! the mix to end all mixes was born.
However it happened, it’s genius. Everyone who tasted it on our panel of snackers, loved it.
"I love the surprise of flavour in each bite, not knowing exactly what you are going to get. I try them with my eyes closed and sneak up on my taste buds."
Mr Filbert describes them as “deliciously indulgent” and he’s not wrong. There is also a really generous serving in each pouch. Pop a packet of these in your picnic basket or backpack and your snack time will reach new heights or put a bowl of these out for nibbles at your next drinks party to get the conversation going. Better than charades!
Mr Filbert’s Artisanal Salami
Last, but not least, our tasting session ended with a snack-sized packet containing two little sticks of chorizo/salami or “premium tender pork with paprika and spices”. The packet also informs us that “the traditional salami is carefully handcrafted and naturally cured to produce an authentic Iberian snack that is high in protein, low in sugar and totally gluten free.”
There is also a rather welcome suggestion that they are best enjoyed with a glass of IPA beer or Rioja wine. Well, it would be rude not to follow such a piece of advice, so we cracked open a bottle of red and got down to the nitty gritty.
The packet contains two sticks of salami each about the size of a Sharpie and considered just the right size for a hit of flavour and substance. My son is a salami snack oficionado, having craved serious, strong flavours from a young age, and when he saw these on my table he fluttered around like a moth to a flame.
His eyes lit up when I suggested he gave them a go and one disappeared into his mouth before anyone could shout “what’s for tea?”. He tore into it like Zorro and declared:
“great texture – dense and satisfying”
He chewed for a while and murmured:
“Nice little hit of spice. Who’s the other one for”?
Well, that went down well! Other reviewers were similarly pleased with these little sticks of Spanish sausage. One wrote:
“Fab flavour! Brilliant with a pint”
“Reckon I could bull fight after a couple of these”
wrote another, who had obviously picked up on the tapas theme (and perhaps enjoyed more than a snifter of Rioja!)
“I would put these in my lunch box or my pocket when going fishing”
suggested another -rather specifically, but equally helpful!
I have to add that it was the smell that pleased me the most. I have a nose like a bloodhound and sometimes a really meaty salami can put me off, but this snack has the heavenly scent of paprika, warm and enticing.
So, it was a resounding “Olé” from the Fabulous Farm Shops panel for these savoury delights.
All in all, another fabulously successful trio of snacks from Filberts Fine Foods. We have yet to try a bad one from these makers and can recommend, hand on heart, stocking a selection of these well-packaged snacks in your farm shop.
To read previous reviews click here
We were very happy to receive a rainbow stack of little Pocket Mountains to review and they made our mouths water and our imaginations fire at the possibility of adventure.
The size is absolutely perfect for slipping in your handbag if you are taking your children on a day out or into your backpack if you are more of a rambler. The covers of these special little books are covered in beautiful illustrations, highlighting a particular gem for the relevant county, so Somerset shows Glastonbury Tor, Dorset has a glorious Durdle Door painting, the Yorkshire Dales a village nestled in the hills … tempting you to open the guide and dive in.
Inside you’ll find a very generous selection of town and country walks each with an illustrated map (usually a circular route) and very clear instructions of how to get there, where to park and which way to turn but the highlights, for me, are the nuggets of interesting facts which accompany your walk whether it’s a blast of history or a fabulous factoid which will make your visit come alive (and keep those accompanying you following happily!)
These are beautifully accessible guides and genuinely written to appeal to all ages. The language is succinct yet inspiring and the variety of walk lengths means there really is something for everyone included in each edition whether it’s city visits or countryside rambles that are your thing.
Pocket Mountains started their range of books back in 2003 and have sold over 150,000 copies of their Scottish range. Since then they have published cycling, easy walking, wildlife and running guides to various parts of Scotland, England and Wales. Over 50 guides are now available written by a variety of authors and their love for their chosen part of the country is apparent in their books.
Given the current times we live in, the desire to stay local has surged and we think that having a couple of these guides on your bookshelf can only be a positive step (excuse the pun). I would be inclined to keep a local one in the glove box of my car to whisk out when the time allowed. The team also felt that they would make glorious gifts or stocking fillers and they won’t break the bank. Why not pop one in your basket next time you’re at your local farm shop?
image from www.stufftheireyeswithwonder.com
If you have a farm shop product and fancy a review then please get in touch with the team.
Have you ever had a job where you have had to pinch yourself because you can’t quite believe how great it is? I had that feeling last week when I was told that we had been sent a beautiful box of 3 different rums from a small artisan distillery in Cornwall (Rosemullion Distillery) and it was our job to taste them and write a review… darn it… and I was washing my hair that night!
Not much of a rum-drinker myself, I deferred to our team of seasoned tasters and together we created a mini questionnaire to try and keep us to the job in hand. I ordered a few mixers, filled the freezer with ice and polished all the wine glasses we owned (who knew that sipping neat rum from wine glasses and swirling it around the glass helps to distinguish the look and smells of the rum? Have I mentioned how much I love my job?)
Sunday night, the group gathered and the rums were unveiled. I am not exaggerating when I say that there were loud exclamations and even a couple of squeals when I lifted the lid of the box to show the exquisite bottles that Rosemullion has created in which to store the rum. These bottles are literally breath-taking.
The shape is truly caressable with a hefty cork stopper that makes a very pleasing pop when opened. The beautiful logo whirls around the front of the bottle with the liquor glistening behind it. Immediately your mouth begins to water at the very sight of them and I can imagine such happy noises emanating from any lucky recipient of these bottles at Christmas or a special occasion. They would look enchanting lined up on your shop shelf with the light glinting through them.
First up was the DARK RUM.....
Neat this rum is powerful and warming. The first sip rather takes your breath away but not unpleasantly so - it simply paves the way for a second, kinder more flavoursome sip as your taste buds acclimatise to the alcohol. It was warming and delicious and conjured up images of log fires and warm toes, a Caribbean holiday or a hip flask on bonfire night with some magical fireworks popping in the dark sky.
I’d say it was a good start!
Some mixed it simply with ice, some with coke and some with ginger ale and the unanimous verdict was “very drinkable”. All hands went up for buying it as a gift (and most secretly hoped they’d be getting it in their own stockings this Christmas).
A bit of bread to clear the palate, fresh glasses and we moved on to the next beautiful bottle - the WHITE RUM.
Clear and crisp and 43% ABV, it’s not surprising that the smell of this rum when neat is pretty strong. We picked up slight floral tones but most of us needed a mixer. This is designed as a mixing rum and so it was my absolute pleasure to whip out my trusty sugar syrup, squeeze a few limes and get all Tom Cruise with my cocktail shaker. Mojitos all round with mint and more clean glasses (the washing up was EPIC)
That’s the way to drink it… this rum conjured up images of summer evenings, salsa dancing in Cuba, sandy toes and lapping waves, first kisses and calypso (that’s some rum!)
Pulling out the stopper and pouring it into our glasses, we could see that the liquid was rich and inviting with a buttery orange colour. The smell was lush and smoky although not many could grasp the chocolate hues. Rich and dark, one taster was thrilled by it neat, exclaiming that he had found a superior substitute for dessert wine. We tried it with a side offering of dark chocolate and this went down very well.
A couple of us added it to black coffee which warmed us from the inside out but mixed with coke and ice was probably the winning move. A simple rum and coke and we were transported to a Caribbean sunset, sitting by the dock of a bay, everyone smiling!
I can sum up the tasting as a joyous affair.
The rum was delicious, the presentation exquisite and the washing up extensive.
If I was choosing what to put on my shelves this month, I would certainly be making a space for these beautiful bottles of Cornish pleasure but, if you still need help deciding which to stock, then can I direct you to the miniature gift box - one for every day of the week (and two for Friday!)
To buy direct then click here.
Variety is the spice of life as they say,
and it’s great to see a company with so much variety.
This month, we were lucky enough to have a fabulous range of sauces, chutneys, pickles, pastes and soups delivered to HQ, that we just had to try.
The Karimix product range is impressively versatile and inclusive, with tons of gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian and vegan options.
We encourage you to get inspired by the vast range of mouth-watering recipes
available on karimix's website
With their high quality ingredients, locally sourced where possible, Karimix don’t use artificial colours or preservatives, so you know your meal, whether with the family or with friends, is in safe hands.
Karimix is a UK based independent, BRC accredited food manufacturer.
NPD enquiries are welcome.
In addition to their glass jars and bottles intended for retail use, they offer packaging for foodservice in 1kg and 3.5kg recyclable polymer jars or 10kg buckets.
It's so important to try and reduce food waste but do we all succeed at it?
SYM Fresh bags are here to help you to achieve this.
Over the past year we have all been mindful of our food shelf life, trying to make it last that little bit longer, shopping less often and eating as healthy as possible for our body and minds.
Keeping your money in your pocket too, has never been more important.
So, by using SYM Fresh bags to store your fruit & veggies in, allowing your fresh foods to last you up to 40% longer than normal, then it's got to be a good move, right?
SYM Fresh bags are made with a d2p ethylene adsorber technology, developed to reduce spoilage of fresh fruit and vegetables (which continue to ripen after they have been picked).
They have a microporous structure which will absorb and trap ethylene inside the film, effectively delaying ripening and regulating moisture, slowing down the drying out process and conserving the nutritional qualities, crispness and flavour of fresh fruit and vegetables. SYM Fresh bags are proven to extend the life of produce by up to 40%.
The bags come in a brightly coloured box (which is obviously recyclable and each box contains 10 rather large bags. So plenty big enough for most purchases and they have a press 'n' seal top.
To the more organised members of the team they found these super handy to keep your fridge or freezer looking clean and organised and they have a strip to write and date your products. It's just those little things...
I must say we had our doubts at first, as from the untrained eye, they looked like normal plastic bags but being fully reusable and recyclable, we took on the challenge and were pleasantly surprised,
We tried these products over a period of a week with various different fruit & vegetables and found that the extended life was quite a surprise. The peppers had not gone slimy, after being cut and kept for a few days in the fridge.
The crispness of the lettuce and other salads remained crisp and the blueberries were as fresh every day, as they were when 1st bought.
The bags themselves have a long shelf life, as they are easy enough to rinse and reuse time and time again.
So, if you find yourself throwing out your fruit, veg and salads, or even just never eat them quick enough and want to prolong all their nutrients and goodness and have them tasting as fresh as the day you bought them, then we say, go on, give them a try.
Samosa Wallah's samosas really are a cut above; bursting with tasty ingredients, it's safe to say that, when you need a snack, Samosa Wallah's samosas hit the spot!
Samosa Wallah, the Artisan Samosa company, have been based at the farmers market in Melton Mowbray since 2017 - their mission? "to make Melton Mowbray as famous for Samosas as it is for pork pies".
We were lucky enough to receive a ready to eat selection of their chicken, lamb, and vegetable (vegan) samosas.
Our verdict? YUM! (or TASTEE, as they would say!) Their light pastry and fresh ingredients, make them a fabulous accompaniment to dinner, or satisfying snack to help you through a long day.
You can really taste the quality in Samosa Wallah's samosas, making them a sure fan favourite and artisan delight.
Can't wait to stock these little beauties? then get in touch with them NOW!
Healthy body, healthy mind!
When you think of this saying, you might think about what you eat or drink but, what about your skin? This is just as important to help your body feel comfortable and happy.
We love products that make us feel good, and Goats of the Gorge are here to help with just that.
In the world we live in today, cleaning your hands has never been more important so, after all we're putting them through, that extra level of care to keep your hands moisturised is the least they deserve.
Goat's milk contains the nourishing vitamin A, which helps break down dead skin cells allowing the skin to be rejuvenated.
Goats of the Gorge use the finest quality milk, from the award winning Chew Valley Kerborne dairy herd in Somerset in their products. See the full range here.
Goats of the Gorge products have beneficial ingredients with no harsh chemicals, just natural ingredients that have helped numerous customers with conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. The natural scent of the products brings a sense of relaxation by making you feel at one with the beautiful world we live in.
When buying skin products, we want them to work for us in day to day life, provide value for money, and work to the best of their ability. Using this combination of bath, soap, and cream, we found each product helped our skin feel healthy and moisturised. The team feel not only is this a great treat to give to friends or family, but also to allow yourself that extra bit of love and care that you deserve.
Retailers can benefit from great margins, display stands, samples and after care; everything you need to help keep your customers happy, relaxed and coming back for more.
Find your nearest stockist or buy direct here: https://goatsofthegorge.com/
PREMIUM BOTANICAL LIQUEURS
INSPIRED BY NATURE'S LARDER
What a wonderful way to say hello to spring with these beautiful, premium, botanical
liqueurs with fresh flavours, offered by The Whimsical Forager.
The Whimsical Forager use nature in its purest form to allow its unique flavour to be
enjoyed through drinks, cocktails and even in recipes and deserts whilst the inviting and
elegant branding show the pure craftsmanship that's happening in Cornwall.
Distilled in Cornwall and free from artificial sweeteners, colouring & flavouring.
Whimsical Forager take their inspiration from the Cornish countryside. You can see the
vision and inspiration of their surroundings shine through within their range of artisan,
botanical liqueurs, all created using high quality fresh fruit and
Cornish Spring water.
The team were lucky enough to sample all 3 of The Whimsical Forager's range!
From when we opened Whimsical's Lemon and Basil liqueur, we were met with a beautiful strong citrus scent and upon tasting, the fresh tangy lemon flavour comes right on through.
Two and a half lemons are used when creating this sophisticated tipple and with its
wonderfully refreshing zing it's simply delicious served either on its own, over ice, as a
spritz or the perfect refreshing liqueur between meals.
Upon taking a sip of the Orange and Tarragon liqueur we were instantly met with the herby fresh tarragon quickly followed by the fresh sweetness of orange.
This really is a beautifully balanced, hand-crafted liqueur which would work really well in a
Truly delicious was our overall thought. This delectable tipple went down well... too well,
even on a school night!
Before our lips even tasted the simple, pure flavours of the three ingredients within the
Nettle, Honey and Ginger liqueur, we savoured the deliciously sweet aroma of honey and
ginger. This soft, warming, earthy and incredibly versatile liqueur has the most
delightful ginger finish.
There's a place in everyone's drinks cabinet for this botanical beauty or perhaps with a
generous splash, you could give your cooking the edge that is needed!
If you don't fancy taking the plunge and simply want to sample or experiment, all of
Whimsical Forager's botanical liqueurs are available in not just 70cl bottles but 20cl too!
Indulge in Whimsical Forager's Gift Pack
Before we end our review, it would be mad of us not to mention the gift box!
Now, this is a gift your recipient won't forget in a hurry.
Arriving in a smart branded box, our 3 handsome bottles were nestled in a well thought out inner case and nicely padded with natural straw.
A lot of thought has gone into this design and we absolutely love it!
Everything about Whimsical Forager says, NATURAL and QUALITY.
Whimsical Forager's goal is to create surprising & progressive liqueurs that capture the
essence of good taste.
Fabulous Farm Shops feel they have already accomplished this and have hit the nail on the head with their completely natural and quite exceptional, handcrafted liqueurs.
If you have a farm shop product and fancy a review, get in touch with THE TEAM
McLaren's Kitchen is a company with family at the heart.
With the encouragement of her farmer husband and budding entrepreneurs (2 young
daughters) founder, Tory McLarens' dream of launching her own business has recently
become a reality.
With the focus on delicious treats and foods that have a healthier twist and with their ethos
being all about cooking from scratch, using good quality ingredients, McLaren's Kitchen
McLaren's Kitchen has certainly worked tirelessly on creating ways for us to enjoy our food
whilst encouraging good gut health. This is achieved by McLaren's creative ways of
implementing alternative flours. Today, McLaren's grow their own Spelt Wheat which is
processed locally and gives a wonderfully natural and nutty taste to their range of cakes.
The team received McLaren's NEW bake at home, Chocolate Brownie mix in a rather
smart, glass Kilner jar and immediately thought, what a great way to store your homemade
cookies, once made - if they make it that far!
Eggs and butter are all you need to add as everything else you require to bake gorgeous
gooey chocolate brownies are already measured, weighed and packed neatly in this jar and
that includes Wheat Spelt Flour and a generous amount of Dark Belgian Chocolate chunks!
If you're unaware, Spelt Flour is a fabulous and healthy alternative. Ground from an easily
digestible ancient grain, it's high in fibre and gives you a lighter texture in baked goods.
And that makes these healthy chocolate brownies... right?
With just having Mother’s Day, the team thought that this easy-peasy bake at home kit,
would make a lovely baking project for mothers to do with their children. The little people
can follow the simple and straight forward instructions without much measuring (as long
as they don’t eat all the mix before you bake it) and there's very little mess to have to
deal with afterwards. Big bonus!
It’s safe to say after baking McLaren's Gorgeous Gooey Chocolate Brownie mix, the team
were MORE than keen to sample our creation.
The mouth-watering chocolate smell filled our kitchen and it was clearly very difficult for
some of our team members to restrain themselves.
Suffice to say, upon our first bite, WOW!!
These incredibly delicious brownies offer quite a delectable and moreish mix of a firm
crisp texture paired with the gorgeous gooey chocolate chunks within. So good, that the
cute Kilner jar will not be required for storage.
What a brilliant gift for any chocolate lover to enjoy and if by chance they can refrain from
devouring them all at once, they can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
This is a company with a heart and with family at its core. The team are excited to see
what McLaren's continue to create!
If you have a farm shop product and fancy a review, get in touch with the TEAM
Inspired by their surroundings of the North Cornish coast, its sunnier climes and its lush
green grass pastures ensures Davidstow's high-quality Cheddar cheese is naturally rich in
With a loyal team of expert cheesemakers, Davidstow Cheddar have been meticulously
crafting their cheddar for over 70 years, never rushing the process as 'Taste Takes Time'.
Davidstow allow their cheese to slowly mature and develop into the rich & flavoursome,
award-winning cheddar they're rightly famous for.
This company not only cares about their customers taste experience but also their local
rural & farming communities, through its partnership with the Prince's Countryside Fund.
We received Davidstow's new range of six exciting cheeses to review, specifically for farm shops, with maturities ranging from 12 to 60 months...
We started with Davidstow's 12 Month Classic with it delighting our senses with a full
flavoured, creamy cheddar. This we felt would be our 'go to' cheddar, perfect for your
everyday bubbling cheese on toast topper or in a simple sandwich.
The team were genuinely surprised at how, even by moving onto Davidstow's 24 Month
Crackler, the noticeable difference in this mature Cheddar.
This firm textured cheese is strong and tangy in taste and will definitely add some va va
voom to your Ploughman's.
By this time, we were all pretty keen to sample Davidstow's 36 Month Reserve Cheddar!
Now THIS packs a punch and really gets our taste buds going.
This is a mighty strong, robust cheese and with its punchy, full flavour and deliciously
crunchy texture, you really don't need to be a genius to figure out why this has won multi
Moving onto Davidstow's good looking and high-end, wax-enrobed ingot range.
We began with Davidstow's 20 Month Crackler.
Made with exacting care, using 100% Cornish milk, this extra mature ingot, delivers a
smooth flavour with a fabulous texture. We found this a perfect all-rounder and with its
slight crunch, this cheese would perform well at any cheese night!
The 40 Month Reserve waxed ingot is simply divine and hit us with its distinctively rich
flavour, intense creaminess and superb crunchy texture.
Unsurprisingly, yet another multi award-winner!
Which then lead us on to Davidstow's 60 Month Special Vintage Reserve.
Where are the awards for this one we asked ourselves?
The gritty texture of this special, SPECIAL cheese is nothing but excellent and its intense
flavour offered us a long-lasting after-taste and left us wanting more... much more.
Yes, we nibbled through this entire block in one sitting!
Every one of Davidstow's cheeses are beautifully matured and well presented and our
review was not only a wonderful experience AND an education but a privilege too and we whole heartily recommend Davidstow's scrumptious range of Cheddars for any cheese
If you're a farm shop looking for something special, why not enquire HERE?
If you have a farm shop product and fancy a review, get in touch with
The idea of Gattertop's beautiful craft vodka products came from growing up in and
around nature, where childhood days were spent fruit picking from their historic,
Herefordshire family farm.
Gemma Standeven the founder of these inviting drinks has experimented for many years,
with various spirits until she finally found her award-winning recipes.
Gattertop isn’t just about making wonderful drinks, the importance of sustainability is
clear to see.
Being environmentally responsible, Gattertop hold a Soil Association certified organic
license and implement organic methods within their organic orchard. Even Gattertop's
labels and marketing material are thoughtfully created using recycled paper.
The team began their review with Gattertop's Botanic No7 and we were all really impressed
with its simple, yet elegant design.
Gattertop have clearly worked hard to get this drink just right.
This 100% British made grain spirit is balanced perfectly; infused with seasonal damson
blossom, apple blossom, elderflower, basil, lemon, rosemary all foraged throughout the
year from Gattertop's ancient orchards, hedgerows, fields, woodlands and gardens.
Traditionally distilled in small batches in copper pot stills, this earthy & crisp, yet
completely natural vodka was a real treat for the team when paired with soda water.
From Branch to Bottle
The team were intrigued by the dark colouring of Gattertop's Damson No12 craft Vodka.
We served simply over ice and this didn't disappoint!
Home-grown damsons are steeped in quality British Vodka for an entire year to develop its
incredibly deep and nutty, yet fruity character... a perfect after-dinner drink.
With its delicious fragrant aroma and sweet smooth taste, it comes as no surprise to the
team that Damson No 12 has won multiple awards AND is an award winning Great Taste
Well, who doesn’t love to receive a gift box?
Gattertop not only produce amazing tasting vodka's but create fantastic gift boxes too!
Arriving in a handsome box and beautifully packaged, there's no doubt that Gattertop's gift
boxes would make a brilliant present...
Gattertop's 'Entertaining at Home' with Botanic No7 Vodka gift box includes a 70cl botanic
No7 Vodka, French rosemary almonds, natural light tonic water, soda water, lemon and
thyme olives as well as a timeline classic game.
The team were delighted with the innovative gift selection. Gattertop have certainly
thought this through and we feel this gift box is a 'fun night in' winner!
As the team continue to enjoy the flavours and delights in this gift box, all that is left to say
is cheers, bottoms up, we hope you enjoy Gattertop's award-winning drinks as much as
If you have a farm shop product and fancy a review, get in touch with
Whenever the team get to receive an award-winning food they are instantly excited.
Bottlebrush Ferments produce live, raw and naturally fermented Kimchi's and
Sauerkraut's which are not only great tasting but help improve people's gut health in a
quick, easy and convenient way.
Fermented the traditional way using ‘wild’ lacto-fermentation to encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria, that when eaten regularly, Bottlebrush's ferments can boost gut health, as well as all-round health and well-being.
Bottlebrush Ferments co-founders Ben Payne & Hesh Daud have 30 years of experience in
their fields of personal trainer/health coach & chef and their passion is clear - HEALTHY
LIVING - which they feel, starts with the live products they create.
The name of the brand Bottlebrush is taken from is a flower which was grown in both their back gardens when growing up in Australia and even when miles apart, this flower was able to show its adaptability and resilience just like this amazingly talented pair!
Fabulous Farm Shops received 4 generous sized jars to review
Starting with the teams favourite!
When opening this jar of Kimchi, we were hit with the most wonderful aromas of garlic
When they say 'bursting with flavour' then this is IT!
Bottlebrush's jar of Kimchi is packed with super fresh Chinese cabbage, spring onions,
garlic, a pop of chilli and a zing of ginger. It's delicious, different, crunchy & definitely
moreish so it wasn't too long before this jar was devoured.
The Yellow One's aroma was beautifully sweet with a scent of ginger and turmeric.
This live, raw and unpasteurised Sauerkraut is zesty and fruity, reminiscent of a summers day and would be a pretty perfect and, let's not forget, HEALTHY topping to your burger this BBQ season.
The White One is Bottlebrush's 'plain and simple' Sauerkraut.
We don't feel that way though!
The distinct flavours of the Horseradish and dill within this healthy jar of goodness brings it to life and will add a zing and a crunch to any dish you wish.
The Purple One's aroma is dark, rich and earthy and we feel this versatile vegan Sauerkraut would be a good (daily) all-rounder by livening up your chicken or fish dish or even your predictable ploughman's.
Worth remembering... there's nothing nasty added to any of Bottlebrushes ferments, just all natural goodness.
There's a reason why Bottlebrush have bagged so many Great Taste awards.
Their 100% natural Sauerkraut and Kimchi range tastes amazing & will love you from the inside out, helping us all to eat well & look after our gut!
If you have a farm shop product and fancy a review, get in touch with THE TEAM
What a delightful package to open especially given the lockdown; our team were so excited
to try the vibrant, colourful and elegant designed alcoholic canned drinks from Sipful!
It is nice to see, with the whole world changing its view to become more sustainable and
environmentally friendly, that Sipful Drinks have taken this on board.
The company's founders Darius and Emily have really touched upon how people love to
socialise and these drinks make the perfect company for any such occasion with a touch of
sophistication. By using organic wine and 100% natural fruits, shows us the sense of care
& thought gone into creating these products.
Cocktails in a Can
Not only being vegan, gluten and dairy free, Sipful's range come in recyclable cans. In fact, each can you pop in the recycling bin can be back on the shelf within 60 days!
It's worth mentioning the wonderful design on the cans too, which we feel tells you
all we need to know about the exciting flavours that await!
We sampled Sipful's current range which consists of Organic Bubbles, Peach Bellini and
both the Orange and Blood Orange Mimosa’s.
100% natural fruit and flavours
The sweet and 100% REAL Peach Bellini was temptingly intense & before it even hit our
lips our mouths were watering, and our senses filled with summery peach delight.
A bubbly & refreshing tipple with a superb tangy aftertaste which clearly has been expertly
mixed using selected organic bubbly.
The Blood Orange Mimosa came out on top with the team...
The exceptional flavours and the deep fruity taste made us think of those summer evenings kicking back and having a get together with friends & watching the sun go down
(remember those evenings?)
This quite delicious, totally natural, yet alcoholic cocktail, is delivered in a recyclable can,
and we're impressed!
Let the Party Begin!
After lockdown, we believe Sipful's premium range of cocktails will be spotted on
numerous picnic tables, at BBQ's & festivals across the land.
Sipful's drinks have a real honest favour and certainly a product our team would be happy
to review again... and again!
Having received a beautiful package from Bumble Wrap we were all rather excited to try
these environmentally friendly, plastic-free, food wraps.
Located in York, this incredibly enthusiastic and passionate company have created a
vibrant and versatile range of handmade, 100% cotton and beeswax food wraps that will
not only keep your food fresh but are non-toxic & 100% biodegradable too!
But, before we even try these eco-friendly wraps, it's pretty amazing to know that Bumble Wrap are helping towards a sustainable world by creating this natural alternative to cling film that you can wash and reuse time and time again.
Bumble Wraps are mouldable, so even odd-shaped foods can be wrapped meaning you can use them in a number of different ways, there's even have a 'how to' section on Bumble Wraps website where you'll find simple instructions on how to make the most effective sandwich wrap or even a gift box!
One of our team has recently had a baby and felt Bumble Wrap's snack pouch would come in very handy in the future when she's out and about with her baby, not only because it's
completely natural, but pliable too and so easy to clean and reuse.
The teams final say is... we're converted!
After trialling Bumble Wraps, we agree that there's absolutely no need for single use plastic
food coverings, so we're ditching the cling film and making the change!
You should too.
Thank you Bumble Wrap!
Located in Somerset, family run Ebdon Firewood Ltd supply kiln dried and seasoned hard
wood logs, kindling, eco logs & firelighters and the ethos of this fabulous company is to be
as environmentally conscious as possible.
The team at Fabulous Farm Shops had a right old burn up this week after we received
Ebdon's NEW 'handy' bags of firewood along with Ebdon's kindling and natural
Firstly and importantly, Ebdon's firewood is Woodsure accredited (the UK's ONLY
woodfuel quality assurance scheme) which means you can be super confident that all the
firewood supplied by Ebdon is top-notch, high-quality wood and nothing else!
Have you always struggled to light a good fire?
I have and appreciate there's a knack to it but never questioned it could be the quality of
the wood that I was using. So, I've spent many disappointing hours poking and blowing but never have I managed to copy the iconic roaring fire I'd always hoped for.
So when I was asked to try Ebdon's wood, kindling and firelighters, I thought, hmmm...I'll
give it a good go but I'm not holding my breath! It's just wood, right?
I began like I always do by using a handful of kindling and then added a couple of Ebdon's
dried logs, lit a firelighter, popped it between the kindling and wandered off. So used to
the disappointing and time wasting fires I usually create, it didn't occur to me that this
would be any different!
Within minutes, I was being congratulated by the family for the wonderful roaring fire I
had taken time to make and how warm and cosy the living room felt!
Of course, I couldn't accept the compliment's...clearly this was all down to Ebdon's quality
wood. So impressed I am, that I've ferreted away enough for Christmas Day.
We all love the fact that Ebdon avoid single use plastics and instead use jute sacks.
These jute sacks are 100% biodegradable, recyclable and reusable and with 50p off their
next Ebdon purchase, will certainly encourage customers to return to your farm shop.
We believe that Ebdon's smaller 'handy' sized jute sacks of firewood are pretty darn perfect if you're short on suitably dry, storage space.
If you're interested in stocking excellent quality firewood, you can email Ebdon
If you have a farm shop product & fancy a review, get in touch with The Team!
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