The Isle of Wight is the perfect growing area. Its low horizon line and reflected sunlight from the surrounding waters of the Solent are the vital ingredients for some of the most fertile land in the UK, contributing to the abundant crops of tomatoes, garlic and grapes, to name but a few. From millers to bakers, garlic growers to mustard makers, the IOW is blessed with local produce of sensational quality and remarkable diversity.
The Garlic Farm in Newchurch is home the IOW’s massive garlic production and has the widest range of garlic in northern Europe. They even export garlic to France! The café a great excuse for a quality lunch on the veranda from an award winning chef and you can buy bulbs to grow at home, fabulous pickles, mustards, relishes and smoked garlic honey (perfect for basting BBQ’ed sweetcorn!) as well as garlic bread made from the Island’s stone-milled wheat at Calbourne Mill, another must see attraction.
If ice cream is your weakness, try the Minghella Centre in Wootton. Though Minghella’s world face and gold award winning ice cream is sold everywhere on the Island (and in Harrods!) you can visit the factory shop, whilst on your Weekend Break Isle of Wight, and ponder over which of more then a hundred flavours you might want to try.
No Island is complete without seafood and for something less formal try The Boathouse in Steephill Cove where you can eat freshly landed seafood while watching the waves wink in the sunlight of the cove. The Crab & Lobster Inn, is the perfect location for freshly caught crustaceans, right on the beach at Bembridge. Accolades include the AA IOW Dining Pub of the Year and it is recommended by The Good Pub Guide and Les Routiers.
Afton Park & the Apple Tree Café near Freshwater, as the name suggests is great for all things ‘appley’, as well as local chutneys and preserves. Fresh apples, bursting with flavour, are available direct from the orchard from mid-August to October, while the home grown fruit, herbs and chemical-free vegetables all go in to the lunchtime meals available everyday. Afton Parks ‘Apple Days’ every September are a really different way to spend a day out and well worth the effort.
Finally no visit to the Isle of Wight is complete without a visit to the weekly Farmers’ Market held in Newport every Friday, Ryde every Saturday and the monthly Farmers’ Market held in Yarmouth on the last Thursday of the month, throughout the year. All products are reared, grown, pickles, baked, smokes or processed on the Island by the stall holders and it’s great opportunity to stock up on food goodies before you leave the Isle of Wight Accommodation. In addition not only do you increase your green credentials, but by buying local produce you are supporting the local farming community and helping to product the Island’s unique landscape
This is just a small taste of the ‘tastes of the Isle of Wight’, there is so much just waiting to be discovered, from wines that were selected for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Banquet to edible lavenders. All this is brought together once a year for one weekend every August at the World Famous Garlic Festival, an event not to be missed!