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The Kent foodie bucket list

© The Small Holding

7th January 2019

The Kent foodie bucket list

After some culinary inspiration for your New Year’s resolutions? We’ve got 2019 covered in the Garden of England…

Treat yourself to a tasting menu
Going out for dinner is one thing, but a tasting menu is a whole other kettle of fish. Comprising a larger number of smaller dishes, these extra-special events bring the theatre of dining to life. The Small Holding’s five-course Half and 10-course Full Acre menus can be paired with wine or beer; alternatively, Thackeray’s, The West House and Stark serve six-course selections, while The Poet at Matfield does eight.

Go on a vineyard, brewery or distillery tour
From Hush Heath Estate in Staplehurst, Biddenden Vineyards and Squerryes in Westerham, to Old Dairy Brewery in Tenterden and Westerham Brewery, Kent is full of tours and experiences to savour. Chapel Down in Tenterden likewise offer visitors a glimpse into their winemaking, or if juniper’s more your thing, Anno Distillers in Marden and Greensand Ridge Distillery in Shipbourne invite guests to see how their gins are created.

Cook a local recipe at home
Try your hand at a Kentish meal from your own kitchen! Last year, children’s healthcare charity Tree of Hope produced The Cook Book, featuring mouth-watering recipes from regional brands like Sankey’s, Whiting & Hammond, Basil Wholefoods and Fuggles Beer Café. Further afield, Slice of Kent focuses more on east Kent, with dishes from restaurants including The Wife of Bath, Angela’s of Margate, The Three Mariners and Wyatt & Jones.

Do some foraging
As the Garden of England, our county boasts an abundance of hedgerows, woodland, forests and fields to explore and root up your own fruits and vegetables. There are plenty of courses available where we live from Fergus the Forager, Rural Courses and Jack Raven Bushcraft, as well as Wild Feast and Brogdale Collections, so you can roll up your sleeves, put on your wellies and find your food in the great outdoors.

Shop at a farmers’ market
You couldn’t ask for a better place than Kent to take advantage of the abundance of independent traders we have on our doorstep. Kent Farmers’ Market Association champions all things from field to fork, encompassing weekly and fortnightly markets in areas such as Tonbridge, Shipbourne and Penshurst, plus Ashford, Whitstable, Cranbrook and everywhere in between. Packed full of passionate, knowledgeable producers, these unique, immersive shopping trips aren’t to be missed.

Give a cookery course a go
There’s no better time than right now to learn to cook – and there are lots of schools to show you how! In Tunbridge Wells, Rosemary Shrager’s Cookery School caters to a range of ages and abilities with hands-on full and half-day classes that are sure to inspire. Elsewhere, Ashford’s Kent Cookery School, Faversham’s Cookery Studio and Deal’s Chequers Kitchen are all well worth a visit for aspiring master chefs.

Embark on a food trail
Food trails are a terrific way of getting out and about, meeting new people and tasting delicious fare. Produced in Kent’s newly-launched Kent Food Trails is all about curating mouth-watering routes countywide; taking in an eclectic array of landmarks, producers, cafés, pubs, retailers, vineyards and breweries along the way, it covers favourites like Chartham Vineyard, Macknade Fine Foods in Faversham, The Ramsgate Brewery and The Foundry Brew Pub in Canterbury.

Dine at a supper club
Have you ever considered dining out in someone’s house? At the heart of local supper clubs is the opportunity to enjoy unique, home-cooked dinners in smaller, cosier, more intimate settings, surrounded by likeminded foodies. In Tunbridge Wells alone, there’s the world cuisine-inspired Ghana Supper Club, Emma’s Nomad Kitchen, The Calypso Kitchen and Sofia’s Colombian Kitchen, along with Hari Covert in Yalding, Passionate Food in Tenterden and Sulston’s Kitchen in Tonbridge.

Experience a wine tasting
You haven’t truly appreciated wine until you’ve been to a tasting. Unlocking the subtle notes and flavours of some of the world’s most celebrated bottles, these vino ventures are far from snooty. The likes of Kent Wine School help to demystify the complexities of wine for everyone, whereas Wine Garden of England’s collective of seven leading vineyards – encompassing Ashford’s Gusbourne and Canterbury’s Simpsons – makes it available, accessible and enjoyable to all.

Eat at a food festival
This summer, celebrity chef Tom Kerridge’s Pub in the Park returns to Dunorlan Park in Tunbridge Wells from July 12 to 14. There’s also the Royal Tunbridge Wells Food and Drink Festival in Calverley Grounds as part of September’s Food MonthThe Pantiles running two food festivals each year on May 11 and 12, and September 14 and 15; and Tonbridge Food and Drink Festival spanning May 25 and 26.

Pick your own
Kent is jampacked with fantastic pick-your-own farms, where you and the whole family can gather your very own fruits and vegetables, right off the branch! Downingbury Farm in Pembury is just the place for raspberries, gooseberries, redcurrants, apples, plums and more, or there’s Chilton Manor Farm in Sittingbourne, Lower Ladysden in Goudhurst and Stonepitts Farm near Sevenoaks, all of which provide the very best seasonal pick of the bunch throughout the year.

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