Top farm shops and delis for Christmas food in Cheshire
PUBLISHED: 00:00 11 November 2020
We took a tour of some of our favourite farm shops and delis to get a sneak peek of their Christmas hamper offerings…
THE HANDMADE ONE
The aroma of wholesome, homemade breads, pies and meats offer a friendly welcome to The Deli at The Church Green, Lymm, where Aiden Byrne and his wife Sarah have been putting smiles on the faces of their neighbours and customers since the beginning of September. Smiles, which often come paired with, “I’ll be back”.
Aiden’s deli story started at home in lockdown, making pies for the residents on his street. It wasn’t long before he was making up to 400 a week. “My wife had the funny idea of putting it on Facebook, and it just went off the scale,” Aiden says. It was only while doing work to make the restaurant Covid-compliant, putting efforts into an outside dining area and introducing a new in-and-out traffic routine, that thoughts turned to converting their disused garage into a deli.
“The main inspiration behind it was the proof that there was demand for the products we were making to take away, which is how the deli was born,” Aiden says. “It’s homely, and everything that you see here (except the bottles and the cheeses) we make ourselves.”
The hearty counter is full of homemade pies, their famous pork pie, black pudding scotch eggs and sausage rolls, breads including Aiden’s signature Japanese milk bread, cakes and pastries, hams and salamis.
“What we are finding is that we are known for the products that we sell within the pub. This is an add-on, people already know the quality of the product and are almost looking past what is on the shelves and going straight to the homemade,” Aiden says. “And that’s where the hamper came from. It just makes sense that everything we produce – we do all of our own charcuterie, breads, the pies are ours – can be put together and enjoyed. People get to choose and build their own hamper because everyone has got their own favourite thing when they walk in.” And on Aiden’s Christmas table? “You can’t have Christmas without a turkey,” he laughs. “A Baron Bigod cheese: open it up, fill it with sliced black truffle, put the lid back on and leave it for about three weeks; it becomes a truffle cheese. That is always on the Christmas table. The honey-glazed ham, that is always on there, and needless to say we’ll be doing some kind of cold gala ham this year, which we haven’t done before. It’s really nice to have all of our own produce.”
TO SEE YOU THROUGH
Christmas cake production started early September at Cheerbrook, the homemade cherry and almond scones are sending social media into a frenzy, and the 52 varieties of speciality sausages, pork pies, sausage rolls and scotch eggs are giving the farm shop a bit of a reputation. Cheerbrook is a haven of homemade and local goodness, with its own butchery, deli and bakery and delights from a range of Cheshire suppliers.
“It’s very much a made here, sold here type set-up,” says office manager Zoe Baldock.
“You can’t go without our Christmas cake. We make them from the start of September; we soak the fruit and mature it in the back, feeding it with brandy. That’s definitely a nice little treat.”
Customers are encouraged to order anything they may need to entertain over Christmas, from gastro ready meals for an easy Christmas Eve treat to salads and homemade caramelised onion and cheddar pork pies for a Boxing Day buffet. There’s the shop-famous Angus beef, meats, cakes and local treats: Little Lodge Confectionery from Chester, Harry’s hot chocolate from Nantwich, and Alison’s Homemade cordials, made from her home in Winterley, near Sandbach. Cheshire Honey is one of Cheerbrook’s oldest suppliers, offering honey and honeycomb.
The Cheerbrook team offers pre-made hampers or ‘pick your own’ in baskets or cardboard trays. “You have got to have a bit of Clotton Hall clotted cream on your Christmas pudding,” Zoe says. “And pick up some of our cocktail sausage rolls for your Boxing Day buffet – free range pork and flaky pastry.”
FOR THE CHRISTMAS LOVER
The Hollies Farm Shop doesn’t do things by halves, and least of all Christmas. The holly, jolly festive cheer of its Little Budworth Christmas House is sure to crank up the countdown with an abundance of all things food, gifts (including its brand new clothing brands and man cave) and decorations – and you can even holiday in their lodges for a festive staycation.
“Christmas is our biggest season,” marketing executive Sarah Holland says. “We just love it. People come here for the experience of The Hollies Christmas.”
The Hollies Christmas gives its customers a magical idea of what can be created and enjoyed at home, both on the tree and on the table. The Hollies ultimate Christmas plum pudding is a particular favourite, with its light, sweet and boozily scrumptious taste (available in three sizes), as well as the butcher’s boned and rolled turkey wrapped in The Hollies treacle-cured bacon; the Tracklements cranberry, port and orange sauce, and of course, locally grown sprouts.
The farm shop supplies produce from 75 local suppliers, and has just won Best Non-Specialist Retailer of Gifts in the UK at the Greats Gift Retailer Awards 2020.
“All of our hampers are bespoke,” Sarah says. The treats are endless: there’s meats, chutneys, cheese and wines. “People can either come and pick their products and we’ll make up the hamper, or they can give us a budget and the team will create something to suit it. It’s a real treat to come here, shop local and have that Hollies Christmas experience.”
FOR EVERY OCCASION
A sausage roll wreath is just one of the drool-worthy festive items on The Lambing Shed’s Christmas menu, complete with a sage and onion stuffing and topped with cranberries. The farm shop and café, in Knutsford, has a wide range of tempting hamper choices from build-your-own to festive meals in a box – enough to see you right through the Christmas period.
There’s the Christmas Eve hamper, complete with a Lambing Shed ready meal and a selection of sides, a bottle of your favourite fizz or plonk, mince pies and cheeses; a Christmas Day breakfast hamper, filled with fry-up favourites including The Lambing Shed’s own sausages and bacon, local eggs, black pudding and bread from Williamsons Bakery and for the first time this year, a Christmas Dinner hamper, with all the staples including turkey, stuffing and vegetables – with options for two, four or six people.
Then there’s the Trimmings hamper, with items such as stuffing, pigs in blankets and pork sausage meat, all made on site. There are cheese boards and deli boards, with cold meats and buffet-style food. And for an effortless meal, there’s a range of The Lambing Shed ready meals and family pies, with everything from chicken and ham or steak pie to lasagne and beef bourguignon. Or if you’d rather make up your own hamper, there’s produce from more than 45 local suppliers.
Shop manger Lesley Sullivan-Jones says: “All of the beef and lamb comes from our own farm, our turkeys are usually from Macclesfield and the pork comes from about four miles away. It is all butchered on site and we make the pies and sausage rolls in house.
“We have our own pastry chef who bakes our Christmas cake, mince pies, gingerbread houses and gingerbread tree decorations.
“We love a really traditional Christmas.”