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Bembridge FishHome-grown Isle of Wight produce is among Britain’s best and you can find out why in Wightlink’s new booklet, the Wight Taste Trail, which spotlights the top crops that flourish in its sunny climate.

Follow the Wight Taste Trail around the Isle of Wight and, depending when you visit, you might find some of the only apricots grown in the UK; the country’s earliest asparagus and largest crop of tomatoes; wild bass from the waters around Bembridge; 12 different types of garlic; or Isle of Wight Blue, which scooped the award for ‘Best British Cheese’ just months after first being produced – all of them fresh, full of flavour and home grown for fewer food miles.

The Garlic Farm CafeIn this new edition of the Wight Taste Trail for 2013, Wightlink not only introduces you to the Island’s leading food producers but also spotlights the places where you can taste local produce.  These include farm shops delis and markets where Island specialities are sold as well as the restaurants, pubs and cafés which feature local produce on their menus.

And how better to explore the Wight Taste Trail than on one of Wightlink’s Taste Trail Breaks: stays at Island properties that have a real affinity with Island food and drink. With seven properties to choose from, including the Island’s leading country house hotel, a long-established seaside favourite, a Scandinavian-style B&B and rural cottage stays, food-lovers can combine a trip to the Isle of Wight to taste test local Island produce with a holiday stay.

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New Taste Trail Break

When we launched Wight Taste Trail in June 2013 a new team was getting set to take the reins at The Hambrough in Ventnor. Now, a few months on, we are pleased to add this gourmet restaurant with rooms to our ferry-inclusive Taste Trail Breaks collection, joining foodie-favourites like Mersley Farm, Priory Bay Hotel and Seaview Hotel.

With an enviable position overlooking Ventnor bay, The Hambrough offers smart boutique accommodation with seven individually-designed guest rooms – six with sea views and one with views of St Boniface Down. In addition to offering fine dining onsite, there is a sister restaurant, the Pond Café, in the nearby village of Bonchurch. Food-lovers are in for a treat at both restaurants as the chefs are committed to creating seasonal menus with dishes based on locally-sourced ingredients.

Since arriving to run The Hambrough kitchen, Head Chef Darren Beevers has been busy working with a host of Isle of Wight producers, so guests can expect to find everything from local fish and Island-reared beef to Isle of Wight blue cheese and tomatoes on the menu. Originally from Hampshire, Darren returns to the area bringing extensive Michelin experience with him, most recently as Head Chef at the one-Michelin starred Club Gasgon in London. Watch this space for awards!

Taste Trail Breaks

Pond Cottage at Horringford GardensStay self-catering at Pond Cottage or B&B at Blandings, both run by Robin and Erica Oulton in the grounds of Horringford Gardens, and you will find a cottage industry in full flow. This is where Erica makes over 48 varieties of homemade jams and chutneys, many from Island fruit.  For the past decade Erica’s Homemade jams and chutneys have been available to buy at farm shops and Island stores but guests get to taste them over a leisurely breakfast looking out to mature trees and a delightful duck pond.

At the foot of Mersley Down Colin and Jenny Boswell have converted six barns and cottages on their farm into high grade holiday accommodation.  Mersley Farm is better known as the world-famous Garlic Farm and not only do guests have an onsite shop and restaurant selling local produce, but they are also likely to meet the resident Highland cattle and Buff Orpington chickens – not to mention a peacock or two.   

Further south Niton Barns treats guests to a Calbourne Classics welcome pack when they arrive.  That is because this eco-friendly complex of seven barns is run by Neil Simmons, a member of the Three Gates Farm family. Wife Jenny of the Dairy Deli  also provides Real Island Food hampers to order.

Chessell Pottery sits in a West Wight Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty just north of the Tennyson Trail and offers two luxurious barn conversions for holiday rentals. The Stables Cottages are spacious, light and airy – and right next door to the Courtyard Café, where guests can indulge in the ‘Ultimate Cream Tea’ or try one of the new mezze boards.

The Little GlosterPeople who like Nordic style will love The Little Gloster set on the beachfront at Gurnard.  There are two stylish rooms at this seaside B&B, a part of the flourishing restaurant run by chef Ben Cooke.  His Scandinavian roots are evident in the Danish minimalist design of the rooms, both with stunning Solent views.

Crossing to the east coast, there are three Taste Trail Breaks to choose from around the chic seaside sailing village of Seaview.  On its fringes is The Boathouse with light, bright rooms, one of the Island’s busiest pub restaurants and a peerless view of Puckpool sands.

In the heart of the village Seaview Hotel is one of the country’s most famous small hotels.  There are 29 individual rooms and suites in a style that combines classic with contemporary.  In its restaurants and bars you can eat food that is largely local and most of it comes from Seaview Hotel’s own farm.

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