As part of our Food Glorious Food campaign, we spoke to the team at Ludlow Farmshop to find out about what makes the place so special, particularly at this time of year.
Thank you for speaking to us today. Can you start by telling us what makes Ludlow Farmshop so special?
We are passionate about food and aim to offer the best fresh, local, seasonal, and handmade food.
Much of the food boasts ultra-low food miles and this is down to not only our buy local policy but also because we sit at the heart of 8,000 acres of Shropshire countryside of which we farm in hand 6,500 acres. 98% of the animal feed is grown by the farm and the remainder is bought once the composition of the own produced feed is understood.
All of the beef, lamb and Gloucester Old Spot pork that we sell in our butchery, and use in our products and menus, comes from our own farms. There is also a herd of wild fallow deer that roams our Estate along with a bountiful supply of wild game at certain times of year. The farm dairy lies only two miles away, fresh milk is collected daily and used by the dairy team to make cheese, yoghurt and butter. A selection of fruit and vegetables are grown in our own Walled Garden, and when in season they are sold in the shop and in some of the dishes in Ludlow Kitchen and The Clive Arms.
How do you select/curate food and drink producers to sell and work with?
80% of the food we sell comes from Shropshire and its surrounding counties, and around half is made here in Ludlow Farmshop.
We have five criteria we apply when looking for producers to sell and work with. The first; is it great quality? The second; is it from Shropshire or one of the surrounding counties? This isn’t a deal breaker but is a question asked of every product before we spread the search out further. The third; can we/should we produce this ourselves? The fourth; is it sold in the major multiples, if so, ideally, we won’t stock it. The fifth; Does it have a real reason to be on the shelf, is it innovative, does it fill a gap in the offer, is it seasonal?
People may not realise who much you actually make on site at the Farmshop. Can you let us know about your own award-winning produce?
The shop has six units around the perimeter of the salesfloor which are visible to our customers to watch the products being made. In these departments we make: chutneys, marmalades and jams; butter, yogurt and cheeses; biscuits and cakes; everything you can think of for a deli counter; we have our own coffee roastery; and finally, our butchery delivers the meat requirements for the whole site including the Ludlow Kitchen and Clive Arms – everything from sausages to air dried hams.
Many of our products have won awards. In the last 3 years alone, we have been won over 50, including 5 for world and British cheese awards, 22 Great Taste awards and 20 for the Dalemain world marmalade awards.
Apart from shopping in the Farmshop, what else can you enjoy on site?
Ludlow Farmshop is at the heart of the site and upstairs you can find a gift shop with a wide range of gifts, from luxury handmade soaps, to eco-friendly blankets to beautiful greeting cards. Not forgetting a gorgeous range of hats, handwarmers and headbands to keep you warm this winter.
Our onsite café Ludlow Kitchen turns products produced in the farm shop into dishes for you to enjoy – from cakes, cheese and freshly roasted coffee to meat, pickles and much more. Our talented kitchen team then build wonderful seasonal menus. From hearty breakfasts to sandwiches, or a creamy latte and a cake – we have something for everyone.
The Clive Arms is our award-winning accommodation and restaurant, complete with 17 ensuite rooms and an exciting menu showcasing Ludlow Farmshop produce. Our chefs use seasonal ingredients to create food that is traditional with a modern twist.
During the Winter months our cabin is occupied by a local business and in 2022 this is Jane’s Tailor-Made Oils. There are lots of wonderful goodies and treatments – from essential oils to AromaTouch technique, as well as fantastic Thermomix demonstrations.
In our green surroundings you can also find our children’s play area and many picnic benches. If you’re in a hurry and prefer a takeaway option, Ludlow Pantry offers hot and cold drinks, hot food and sandwiches, and snacks and treats – great for a quick pit-stop!
You can also visit our onsite Plant Centre and Artists’ Gallery – there really is something for everyone.
What special products do you have for Christmas?
Whole free range bronze turkeys, free range goose, three bird roast, dry cured boneless gammon, glazed ham, 21-day aged beef, pigs in blankets… this is just a small selection of what our butchery team have on offer this year! If you’re looking for something a little different, our turkey cushion with a sage and onion stuffing centre and streaky bacon wrapping makes the perfect Christmas centrepiece.
Not forgetting all the Christmas essentials we have on offer too. Christmas cake, mince pies and Christmas puddings made in our bakery department, a special Christmas coffee roasted on-site, turkey and ham cutting pie from our production kitchen, delicious cranberry sauce made on-site, cheese for that Christmas cheeseboard… and so much more!
Are there any events coming up before Christmas that you can tell us about?
Here’s what you can look forward to this year…
- Chef’s Tasting Menu – Thursday 17th November. Curated by the Clive Arms Head Chef, Charles Westbrook, this 5-course dining experience features the very best seasonal and local ingredients. Paired perfectly with an accompanying wine flight.
- Fizz Night – Friday 25th November. If you love a sparkler, you will love our Fizz Night at Ludlow Kitchen. Explore a range of sparkling wines and champagnes with our expert, and who knows, you might find a new favourite too.
- Santa’s Grotto – Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th December. Listen to Santa tell tales of his previous visits to Ludlow before each child is invited up to tell Santa what they would like for Christmas and receive their very own special gift.
We will also have a whole host of supplier tastings in the lead up to Christmas.
We are busy planning our events schedule for 2023, with a few firm favourites already confirmed – Puddings Galore and our Steak Experience are back in January!
For anyone who hasn’t visited Ludlow before, what makes this place so special?
Situated in a beautiful part of England, close to the Welsh borders Ludlow is one of the most attractive market towns in the UK, we can’t argue with Visit Shropshire when they say the following… Ludlow is arguably one of the finest historic towns in England with a wealth of beautiful period buildings. Centrepiece to the town is the dramatic medieval Ludlow Castle, perched on a cliff overlooking the River Teme. Visitors should take some time to explore the numerous lanes and back streets packed with antique, book and craft shops.
Ludlow town is also renowned for its food excellence and here we like to think we are helping to uphold this reputation!
Head Chef at The Clive, Charles Westbrook, has created a very special recipe using our Betelgeuse Damson and Mulberry Gin Liqueur.
WOOD PIGEON WELLINGTON
Wood pigeon wellington, mashed potato, crown prince squash, braised salsify, mulberry spiced gin liqueur jus
- Serves 2
- 250g puff pastry roll
- 200g chestnut mushrooms, washed and dried
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 tablespoon picked thyme leaves
- 30ml Wardington’s Original Mulberry, Damson & Winter Spiced gin liqueur
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- 4 woodpigeon breast fillets
- 1 egg
- 50g flour
- 100ml milk
- 500g crown prince squash or butternut squash
- 2 sticks of salsify, peeled and each stick cut into 3 equal sized pieces
- 250ml full bodied red wine
- Sprig of thyme
- Clove of garlic
- 1 tablespoons honey
- 30ml oil
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 150ml Wardingtons mulberry, damson & winter spiced gin liqueur
- 1 rosemary sprig
- 1 bay leaf
- 400ml beef stock
- 1 tablespoon butter
Season the pigeon breasts with salt and pepper then gently sear for 30 seconds on either side in a hot pan with a little rapeseed oil and butter. Remove from the pan and chill.
For the mushroom duxelles, take the mushrooms and pulse briefly in a food processer. Heat a heavy based pan until hot and add 30g of butter, then the mushrooms, garlic, and thyme. Cook until the mixture is dry.
Deglaze with the gin liqueur and cook until dry. Season and leave to cool.
For the pancakes, beat the egg and milk together, then add the sieved flour. Season with salt, add the chives and gently cook 2 pancakes as thin as possible. Leave to cool.
To assemble a wellington, lay a pancake onto the cling film and smother it with a quarter of the mushroom duxelles.
Place a stack of two pigeon breasts into the centre of a pancake. Roll the pancake over the top of the breasts and into a cylinder shape. Roll tight and repeat for the three other stacks.
Roll the puff pastry out on a well-floured surface until it is around 4mm thick and 10″ squared.
Take the pigeon and place in the centre of the pastry and brush with egg yolk. Roll the pastry over the top of the pigeon stack until the puff pastry meets on either side. Overlap and cut with a sharp knife. Press the join firmly together.
Keeping the join side down on the work surface, press the pastry together on either end to form a tight fit around the pigeon, cut the loose pastry away, leaving an inch. Pinch the edges together and wrap the spare pastry underneath the wellington.
Glaze with egg yolk and place in the fridge for 15 minutes, glaze again with egg yolk before cooking at 190ºC for 20 minutes until crisp and golden.
For the salsify, take a heavy based saucepan and sauté the salsify in 20g butter, add the minced garlic, thyme and honey and cook until the honey starts to caramelize add the red wine and simmer for 20 minutes until the salsify is tender.
Diced the squash and cook in an oven at 170c for 25 minutes until soft then blitz in a food processor until smooth, with 50g of butter, season with salt and white pepper and pass through a fine sieve.
For the sauce put the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the shallots until golden and caramelised, about 10 mins.
Add the gin liqueur and herbs and simmer for 10 mins, or until reduced by half
Pour in the stock and continue to cook until reduced by half again, then strain, discarding the shallots and herbs.
Transfer the sauce into a new pan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, then season to taste.