It’s Fathers’ Day this Sunday, 21 June ! At Apley Farm Shop, we are celebrating with a special offer from our very newly opened Apley Plant Centre, which opened last weekend. It has a number of wonderful offers, in particular Herbaceous Perennials £8 each or 3 for £20 – perfect for green-fingered fathers. The plant centre offers design, knowledge & inspiration to gardeners. It is a delight to visit – a feast for the eyes & imagination, perfectly complementing the other attractions at Apley. Visitors have a wide selection of garden plants, from small alpines to large specimen stock, plus unusual varieties.
Buying for men is tricky, so in the Farm Shop we’ve tried to make it easier by offering bespoke hampers (as in this photo) which start at £6 & contain Apley Ale, pork scratchings, gourmet licquorice, Apley cheese & No 1 Dad chocolate medal. In addition, Hobson’s beer is on offer at £12 for 6 bottles. You can’t really go wrong !
Especially for Fathers’ Day, The Creamery Café’s ever popular roast Sunday lunch will cost £29.99 for two courses for 2 adults & 2 children, with a free Apley Ale for fathers, made locally by Hobsons Brewery of Shropshire & a special Shropshire cheese board offer.
To book, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01952 730 345.
Last night, 77 attended a GWCT walk & barbecue at Apley Farm Shop. Our general manager has a very strong catering background, so as you can see, I’m delighted to say high standards are being set ! Apley Farm Shop, Apley Plant Centre, Lottie’s & Annie’s Reiki all stayed open late, until the group set off for a walk in Apley Park led by Gavin & Austin Weldon, before returning for a delicious Apley barbecue (which of course included Apley beef burgers).
Talking of beef, Gavin told me last week that Apley’s butcher will be stocking Oldington British White beef from mid July. Catherine & Paul Pennington are Apley tenant farmers who manage a herd of pedigree British White cattle at Oldington Farm, just down the road from Apley Farm Shop, so food miles will be very low ! For more info about the cattle, click HERE.
Julie is Apley Farm Shop’s Chief Cake Baker & does a fantastic job for us. She sent me this photo of one of her latest cakes. It looks totally delicious. Here’s the link to the recipe from allrecipes.co.uk. Being flour-free, in theory it’s gluten free, but as we use flour in other recipes in her bakery, we can’t technically call it that !
While Julie has been baking, AgWa Media have prepared a trailer of our Apley Summer film. Click HERE to catch a first glimpse. It portrays life on the Apley Estate in early Summer very well – I can’t wait to see the full film.
In the May half term, I shot this tiny film of barley in the breeze – it’s hard to believe it’ll be ready for harvest in only 8 weeks’ time ! Click HERE for a micro de-stressing experience !
Adrian, our Farm Manager, has in the meantime being bringing silage bales in from the fields with our team of 3 farm workers, spraying the thistles & nettles in the grassland with a herbicide, & replacing broken gates & gate posts around the farm.
Matt, one of our chefs in the Creamery Café kitchen at Apley Farm Shop, just emailed me to say he will be putting on an Italian dish in the café tomorrow – spaghetti con carciofi (using Apley Walled Garden artichokes). He says the simple pasta flavours showcase the artichoke tastes very well. He’s also sent me this artichoke recipe, which includes at the end away of preserving them in the fridge for up to a week:
Chargrilled artichokes with lemon
- 20 baby globe artichokes or 10 larger ones
- 2 unwaxed lemons
- 125ml white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp light olive oil
- 2 tsp mixed peppercorns
- Sea salt flakes
- 500ml bottle light olive oil
Set a bowl of cold water to one side & squeeze into it the juice of one of the lemons.
To prepare the artichokes:
Remove the outer leaves with a small sharp knife. Keep going through the layers until you reach the paler, greenish-yellow leaves, then proceed to trim the stalks to about 5cm.
Cut the heads into quarters. As you prepare each one, rub all of its cut sides with one of the squeezed lemon halves (this stops discolouring).
In a large saucepan, bring a few inches of water to the boil. Add 100ml of the vinegar & the artichokes & simmer for 15-18 mins, depending on the size of the artichokes.
When tender, drain & tip into a bowl, toss with 2 tbsp oil & a generous seasoning of salt & pepper.
Heat a griddle pan over a medium heat until hot. Griddle the artichoke quarters, a few at a time, until golden & charred at the edges.
At this point, you can eat them straight away with a lemon mayonnaise also available from Apley Farm Shop. If not, you can keep them for up to a week in the fridge after following these steps:
Zest the other lemon.
In a saucepan, warm the olive oil, lemon zest & peppercorns together until the zest starts to sizzle. Fish it out with a slotted spoon once it turns bright yellow. Warm the remaining vinegar in another pan until almost boiling.
Pack the artichokes & lemon zest into jars or heatproof containers, pour over the warmed vinegar first & then top up with the warm oil to cover. Seal while warm, & then allow to cool. Keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.
At Apley Farm Shop, we’re offering a super weekday (Mon-Thurs) shop promotion of 10% off for Playbarn & Café customers. Spend over £15 in the Café & over £10 in the Playbarn in order to get 10% off in the Farm Shop. Valid until 30 June 2015. T&C apply. More on that here tomorrow.
In the meantime, Gavin’s just sent me these photos of some of what’s available on our in-house butcher counter – we had pork green Thai curry this evening & will enjoy the chicken kebabs on Thursday. The lamb is from Apley tenant farmer Henry Yates, not far away near Bridgnorth.
Every year, Father’s Day seems to appear out of the blue & I always wonder how on earth we’re (more specifically the children !) are going to celebrate the day & thank Gavin for being a great Dad to them all. I love Midsummer’s Day (best day of the year, being rather a sun-seeker) & this year lots of friends are attending Waterloo re-enactments on 20 June – marking 200 years since 1815 – so close to the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta too. I know Brussels will be heaving with Waterloo-ers. A friend there told me anyone would have thought Napoleon won, as there’s hardly a mention of Wellington !
At Apley Farm Shop, especially for Fathers’ Day, The Creamery Café’s ever popular roast Sunday lunch will cost £29.99 for two courses for 2 adults & 2 children, with a free Apley Ale for Dad, made locally by Hobsons Brewery of Shropshire & a special Shropshire cheese board on offer (including Apley’s own Cheshire cheese of course !).
If you’d rather spend Father’s Day at home, but need your meat, our Apley butcher will tailor-make a tray of barbecue meats especially for you. Select your favourites from the 8 different varieties of sausage on offer, add in some Apley lamb koftas, Apley steaks or Apley beefburgers. It’s just for you – totally bespoke. Apley BBQ 4 U ! Finish off with English strawberries – we have a special offer (2 punnets & get your cream half price).
In the meantime, as we prepare for Sunday, we’ve been getting lots of calls from classic car owners about our Classic Car Sunday on 19 July which will no doubt be another great day for the men. Fingers crossed it’ll be a sunny day like last year ! Here’s some lovely feedback from 2014:
“We just wanted you all to know what an enjoyable day we spent at Apley Park yesterday. Everyone was so friendly and we were made to feel really welcome. What a lovely idea it was to supply Bacon Sandwiches to the classic car exhibitors. Lord Hamilton spent quite a while chatting to each exhibitor which was much appreciated. Everyone we spoke to said what a good day it had been and how much they had enjoyed the interest shown to their ‘pride & joy’! It’s a boys & toys thing, which we women don’t seem to understand. It was an outstanding success for you all and hopefully will become an annual event. We got a puncture about 15 miles from home, by then the rain was coming down by the bucketful, my poor husband got soaked to the skin changing the wheel, it did rather spoil the end to a lovely day, but that’s motoring and anyone can get a puncture regardless of the age of the car … Thank you for inviting us to bring our car along.”
Tina emailed me earlier to say “I have personally scraped in the kitchen sink some Apley Walled Garden Apache potatoes (the purple ones with white spots), cooked them & seved with sea salt, chives & drizzled butter. “ She then stood & talked pretty much all day to our customers about them as they taste fantastic (Gavin adores potatoes, so is Apley’s Chef Tasting Officer !).
The result was that she had sold out by 4 o’clock. Customers had been saying they were unsure about the appearance of these potatoes (how could they not see how pretty they are !?). Before they’d chatted with Tina, they may not have bought any, but after tasting them, they were snapped up straight away ! The same applies to artichokes. It seems many don’t know how to store, cook or even eat them !
Thank goodness it poured with rain all day as the grass on parks & playing fields is already looking very yellow. Friday was beautiful for Venetia’s Sports Day when she put on a Zola Budd style amazing finish (thankfully no-one fell over). But today made our riding event sooo soggy. At least there was no thunder & lightning, so it didn’t diminish the fun the girls had.
Favourites from Apley Farm Shop in our fridge this week have been the Apley Farm Shop handmade pate, Phil’s artichokes (just had them again this evening with our fish) & the first of the English strawberries – small but very tasty.
Francis made Asparagus omelette last week & then this evening decided he needed to make asparagus ice lollies ! We’ll see what they turn out like tomorrow !
We’re delighted to be selling the Shropshire Star, Bridgnorth Journal & The Farmer now – pick up a copy when you drop in for your basics – eggs, bread, milk, fruit, veg … & now, for the first time, we have biodegradable plastic carrier bags as well as our lovely trademark brown paper bags.
Matt in The Creamery Café at Apley Farm Shop sent me this Recipe of the Week earlier today – I’ll replace this with a proper recipe card next week, but at least this may give you a good weekend recipe idea ! I’m about to write about all our meat producers & suppliers, so our customers can know more about where their meat comes from. Apley’s in-house butcher, Craig Whitehouse, has plenty of pork with which you can get cooking ! This perfect pudding Strawberry cheesecake (which is Cake of the Week, made with our first English strawberries) is made onsite by Julie & is for sale in the Farm Shop. Phil’s Apley Walled Garden artichokes, are in season right now & also available.
Pan-fried maple pork belly, sweet cider jus & buttered colcannon potato
- 500g pork belly (sliced ½ inch thick)
- 2-3 Maris piper potatoes (or a good dry potato)
- 2 slices of smoked bacon
- 100g savoy cabbage
- 200 ml cider
- 2 tbsp. maple syrup
- 100 ml rich beef stock gravy
Place potato into a pan of salted cold water & bring to the boil 15-20 minutes or until tender when pierced with a knife, before mashing together with a knob of butter & seasoning to taste.
Place smoked bacon on a baking tray & into the oven for 10-13 minutes until crispy & allow to cool before slicing up thinly.
Take the slices of pork belly & pat dry with kitchen paper lightly season.
Preheat a pan with a drizzle of oil until hot & gently place the pork pieces. Cook on a medium heat turning after 6-8 minutes when they should be a good colour. Cook for a further 6 minutes then drizzle with the maple syrup. Remove from pan & keep warm.
Meanwhile in the same pan, sweat the chopped cabbage until cooked then add to the mashed potato along with the smoked bacon.
Add the cider to the same pan, reduce by half before adding the beef gravy. Keep on a low heat, until reduced by half again. Season to taste
Quenelle (make into meat balls) the colcannon* potato into the centre of the plate topped with the pork belly. Garnish with the cider jus.
*Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish mainly consisting of mashed potatoes with kale or cabbage. It is also the name of a song about the dish.
This week so far in Apley Walled Garden, Phil has given 1 private tour to a group of 30 today & is giving another on Friday. He is preparing for part 2 of his Three Season gardening course on Wednesday 17 June & has also been helping to create a woodland school at Woodfield Junior School in Penn, with the help of 2 other Apley Estate men.
He’s just harvested purple garlic & Apache potatoes are now in Apley Farm Shop. When I popped down for some more filming on Saturday morning, he spotted lumps on the peach leaves. He explained it’s called peach leaf curl, which is caused by rain splashing on the leaves between October & March. The raindrops also spread spores from the soil which splash up onto the stems, branches & leaves.
As well as planting 600 pumpkins which (all being well) will be ready for sale in October, Phil has been busy supplying the Creamery Café at Apley Farm Shop with 16kg of salad every 2 days – that’s a lot of lettuce !
Click HERE to see a mini film I made of lots of other recent photos taken in the garden.