Local shops for local people

Anna Hedworth, aka The Grazer, is on a crusade to shop local. Here are some of her favourites…

Whether you want to get to know the people who serve you your sausages, you just like a chat, or you want to know where your food’s come from, the movement towards local shops and suppliers continues to grow.

Clearly, most people don’t want horse if they didn’t order horse and I definitely don’t want any of what they’re finding in that Ikea chocolate cake. And while the supermarket is sometimes cheaper, local quality and assurances that yes, your beef really did come from that cow in Co Durham are very important when it comes to what you eat.

I’m more than pleased with the opening of Charlotte’s Butchery on Ashburton Road in Gosforth, Newcastle. She hasn’t been there long, having recently returned from working in some high-flying butcheries of London Town. I haven’t tried a lot yet, but I have thoroughly enjoyed everything I have bought so far, which include haggis, bacon, sausages, and a veal tongue. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an uglier cut of meat. I’m not sure Charlotte knew what she was going to do with that until I took it off her hands; turns out it’s lovely in a chicken and bacon pie.

Richard Grainger Wines is tucked away at West Jesmond Metro station where he tells endless tales of wine properties by the river in south west France. I’m sure he is personal friends with every vineyard proprietor he mentions. Carruthers and Kent is another source of wine on Elmfield Road in Gosforth, and they also have pies and pots of tasty things from The Feathers Inn in Hedley-on-the-Hill, Northumberland. Pies and wine is a good combo!

Latimer’s Seafood Deli and Cafe in Whitburn involves a bit of a drive south of the river for me, but it’s well worth it for its huge counter full of every fish and crustacean you can think of and others you’ve never seen before. They have a lovely café serving crab sandwiches, hot-smoked salmon, cakes and coffee beside the beach. On Christmas Day we stocked up on their oysters, langoustines and hot-smoked salmon and stuffed our faces before lunch even began. The mere thought of those langoustines reminds me I need to get back there, sharpish.

The boys at the Ouseburn Coffee Company have been roasting their own artisan coffee in the Ouseburn Valley for nearly a year now. I work in the same building so live with the smell wafting through the floorboards. You can buy by the bag or the cup and I’m definitely drinking more than is strictly good for me. I also love 9Bar coffee on Grey Street, Newcastle; perfect for people watching over a hot arancini and espresso.

Archers ice cream has been on Acorn Road in Jesmond for over a year now. I don’t even have a sweet tooth, but they really know how to make ice cream and there are huge vats of it in this place, which is as pretty as a Roman gelato shop. I’m partial to the hazelnut and the black cherry, and if you just go for coffee you get a tiny cone on the side with a mini scoop of ice-cream so you don’t miss out.

It’s a bit of romantic view, I suppose, that we should be more like the French, popping to the local boulangerie daily, strolling through the market for fruit and flowers, but even they increasingly shop in big supermarkets, so I guess there’s a balance to be struck. Through organising my market and Supperclub events I’ve met lots of local food people over the past couple of years; too many to name-check here. The fact is that there are just lots of lovely folk producing and selling really tasty stuff right on our doorstep, and we need to support and enjoy them.

They’re too good to miss, after all.

Read more from Anna at the-grazer.blogspot.com

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