Top 7 foods and drinks you’ve got to try

Think about autumn, and no doubt that phrase “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” will pop into your mind – can you remember the rest of the poem? No me neither, but it does evoke that golden time at this time of year.

The days are much cooler but they can be so sunny and crisp. Today I went to a Harvest Festival for the first time in many years. This Harvest Festival was a little different. It was organised by Jolly Nice at Frampton Mansell between Stroud and Gloucester. It’s aim? To celebrate their local producers who create a fascinating range of products stocked in the shop.

The day was dry, thank goodness, after the torrents of rain yesterday. It was the perfect opportunity to sample, discover and indulge. So let me share seven producers you should really seek out. Many sell online and at local farmers markets in addition to Jolly Nice.

Top 7 foods and drinks to try this Autumn

Capreolus Distillery – Eau de vie and gin

Capreolus Distillery: Eau de Vie and Gin
Capreolus Distillery: Eau de Vie and Gin

Eau de vie is a colourless fruit brandy made by this new enterprise. It launched 3 months ago after 2 years spent creating its first batches of amazing fruit spirit. Head brewer Barney Wilczak at Capreolus Distillery was first and foremost a photographer who focused on conservation stories. Now he chooses fruits at the peak of ripeness, even down the very hour when they are ready, to create small batches of plum, pear or apple eau de vie. Some are aged in barrels. The taste is sublime, the finish smooth. Bottles have already been snapped up by a Michelin starred restaurant – if you are interested, don’t hesitate as there are very limited numbers available. For gin lovers, their Garden Tiger gin with its 34 botanicals is a must.

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M’Hencha Company – Moroccan Pastries

Individual and large M'Hencha - Moroccan deliciousness
Individual and large M’Hencha – Moroccan deliciousness

Sophie Browne swapped a career in sales and marketing to set up the M’Hencha Company in Bourton on the Water. M’Hencha is an exotic Moroccan pastry sometimes called a snake cake due to its curled shape. Sophie drew inspiration from 5 different recipes to create two flavours: Citrus, Rosewater and Pistachio and Orange Cinnamon and Date. Each has a base of almond frangipane and the filling is encased in brik pastry.

I loved both flavours. The first was light and refreshing, the second perhaps a little more autumnal with spicy, earthy flavours and very, very moreish. Not surprisingly, the product has won a Great Taste award. At Jolly Nice, you can buy an individual M’hencha with your coffee, or buy them whole.Sophie suggest pre-ordering to ensure you get the flavour you desire!

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Rocktails – Frozen mocktails

Fancy a mocktail? Rocktails will hit the spot
Fancy a mocktail? Rocktails will hit the spot

Are you going Sober in October? Just what do you drink when you go out? If Chris and Kate from Rocktails have anything to do with it, it will be one of their non-alcoholic cocktails. The flavours are based on 4 traditional cocktails and are served as a “slush”. At home you freeze for 5 hours before serving having allowed the mixture to warm a little. For use in bars, they’ve devised a retro granita machine.

The flavours are enticing, clean and fruity and you definitely won’t miss the alcohol.You can buy the pouches at Jolly Nice or online in Mockito, Thyme Collins, Sunset Sling and Coco Colada flavours.

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Go sober in October on Twitter

The Cotswold Curer – cured meats and salamis

The Cotswold Curer is based near Cirencester and produces a wide range of salami from local pork. Today I homed in on the Cotswold Air Dried Beef. The spicing is beautifully balanced, the meat soft. The beef is marinated in red wine and herbs for a week then air dried for a month. A perfect addition to a meal.

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Woodchester Valley Vineyard – English Wines

How wonderful to find a vineyard close by! It fact Woodchester Valley Vineyard have three different locations at Woodchester, Amberley and Stonehouse. It’s the busiest time of year for them, yet Fiona and Brendan took time out to let us sample the wines. I’d not come across the Bacchus grape juice before. I sampled the Bacchus 2014 and discovered a flavour similar to a Sauvignon Blanc. It was light and crisp with floral notes. Very drinkable and the result of much research by the couple on wines from other vineyards!

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Woefuldane Organic Dairy – Milk, cheese and cream

Perfect match: Woefuldane Organic Dairy's chceese and Woodchester Valley's wines
Perfect match: Woefuldane Organic Dairy’s chceese and Woodchester Valley’s wines

Having had a taste of these cheeses, I cannot wait to make a visit to their shop where unbelievably there is an even larger range. Melissa Ravenhill was quite apologetic saying that her range of soft cheeses is currently rather depleted. I can quite imagine why! The Forester was an instant hit. It’s described as “cheese how it used to taste”. It’s flavour has several different notes as you eat it – very satisfying. They are the sole supplier of organic milk and cream to Jolly Nice too both in the shop and cafe.

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Jolly Nice – Ice cream

Jolly nice ice cream - at an event near you or in the shop
Jolly nice ice cream – at an event near you or in the shop

You might think that it’s not the right time of year for ice cream. I’d disagree! You might see Jolly Nice‘s ice cream cart at a local show (we spotted it at Painswick Feast) but you can also buy tubs at the shop to eat at home with your freshly baked fruit pie.

The ice creams are gloriously creamy with flavours such as plum and star anise (my favourite), date, coffee and cardamom or rhubarb and custard. Definitely out of the ordinary! There are six core flavours – others change with the season.

Whilst you are at their café, don’t miss the Valhrona dark chocolate brownies – to die for!

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Find out more

Check for local outlets for all these products on their website and let me know what you think!

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