Wilmslow, Alderley Edge and Prestbury - Cheshire's tasty triangle
PUBLISHED: 00:00 09 October 2013
Wilmslow, Alderley Edge and Prestbury are home to some of the county's best places to find high quality food and drink. Paul Mackenzie tucked in
A former editor of Cheshire Life was very fond of telling anyone who’d listen, and quite a few who wouldn’t, that there was more champagne drunk in Cheshire than in the rest of mainland Europe and that there were more millionaires in the county than there are grains of sand on the beaches of Wirral. It was something like that anyway, I was in the group who wouldn’t listen.
And if it wasn’t actually him who first used the phrase ‘Cheshire’s Golden Triangle’ to describe the area between Prestbury, Alderley Edge and Wilmslow, then he certainly did more than most to propagate the idea that this is the place to be.
But while not everything he said was strictly accurate – such as his claim that a ball kicked skywards here would come down in a footballer’s garden – he did make a few salient points about this part of the county which epitomises much of what the outside world knows about Cheshire.
It is beautiful, almost impossibly beautiful in parts. The pretty villages do have some lovely historic buildings. Many people here are very wealthy. They do drink champagne. And some of them do play football. So he was right about a lot of things.
But what is less widely known is that these three towns are a food lover’s paradise. In some areas that falling ball would be most likely to come down outside an elegant restaurant, in the garden of a classy pub, between the tables of a stylish café or in the grounds of a lavish hotel. Failing that it wouldn’t have far to bounce and roll before it hit the door of a deli, patisserie or specialist food boutique. You get the picture.
There is no shortage of places to eat good food and many of the established hotels and restaurants are famous far beyond our county borders. So here we present, in no particular order, a guide to a few of the smaller gems on offer, small independent stores selling wholesome meals, naughty treats and, yes, champagne.
This food trail is by no means exhaustive – to include everywhere would take a magazine even thicker than Cheshire Life – and we encourage you to pay a visit to all three points of the Golden Triangle and find your own favourites.
Prestbury Farm Shop is run by actor and former Coronation Street star, Charlie Lawson and his partner Debbie Stanley.
The shelves are crowded with jams, chutneys and preserves: there are boxes full of proper veg with the soil still on and the chiller cabinets contain plump pink meat – almost all of it grown, reared or made locally.
Debbie said: ‘I love my little shop. All the fruit and veg we sell is grown nearby – apart from the citrus fruit – and it’s going very well. We’ve got plans to develop as well and to get more of a deli in here.’
And just a short stroll away is Kate Nuttall’s Chocolate Box café which she runs with her sister Angela O’Leary. As well as homemade chocolates, they serve a range of soups, quiches and cakes, all of which is cooked on the premises. Their speciality is the ever-popular Prestbury Rarebit and the menu also includes a champagne breakfast.
They opened two years ago and Kate said: ‘There are some wonderful places to eat around here and our hope is that Prestbury will become a destination for people looking for high quality food and drink. We want to help attract more people to Prestbury.’
Up the road in Wilmslow, at the northern-most point of the Golden Triangle, there are scores of places to eat and among the newest is Cook and Baker which stands near chocolatier Simon Dunn’s now sadly closed shop (although his creations are still available online).
Rob Holt is both cook and baker and opened the café with his wife Amanda in July, having run a patisserie in Manchester for the last 15 years which supplies hotels and restaurants around the region.
From behind his counter, laden with freshly-made salads, sandwiches and cakes, he said: ‘Not many other places will offer the range we do, we have 20 or 30 cakes every day, all hand-made and fresh. We had been looking for the right place for about four years and we think we’ve found it.’
And if you’re looking for sweet treats, head for Judy O’Brien’s shop in Alderley Edge. Judy’s parents ran a sweet shop in the town when she was young and, after a decade spent teaching, she has followed in their footsteps with Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shop standing across the road from the shop she knew as a girl.
Her shop is an Aladdin’s cave of sweets, with jars from floor to ceiling, many of them filled with things you’ve not tasted since you had 10p to spend on a Saturday morning.
Judy marked the shop’s second anniversary last month and said: ‘I had been made redundant and was walking past an empty shop and it struck me that it would look good as a sweet shop. Thankfully, people seem to agree with that.’
And for more adult flavours – and more of the champagne the triangle is so famous for – head along the high street to the newly refurbished Corks Out where there’s one of the most impressive collections of wines you’ll find under one roof.
And since the shop and wine bar reopened last month, they also now offer coffees, snacks and cocktails. But it is the wine that steals the show and if you’re umming and ahhing about whether to splash out on an expensive bottle, you can even try it before you buy it thanks to a tasting machine which keeps open bottles in perfect conditions.
‘I don’t think there are any other tasting machines outside London,’ John Storton said. ‘It means customers can sample 16 wines and can try nine different champagnes by the glass. You can be taking a chance if you spend fifty or sixty pounds on a bottle of wine, but if you’ve tried and liked it, it’s not a gamble any more.’