So we have just about made it through week two of lockdown… How are we doing ladies and gentlemen?! Hi, hi, hello – how are ya? It’s Thea here, Taste’s resident designer, but as it turns out, I like food, cooking, eating and talking about it just as much as anyone else so here I am.
I’m sure to many of you, it feels more like months rather than weeks and you’ve all fallen out with your relatives, flatmates and partners at least once by now. There will have been tantrums and tears, not just from the toddlers… I’m lookin’ at you grandma!!
Okay you guys get it! You’ve been living, it’s been looooong. I’ll get to the point. I basically wanted to put together a bit of a ‘Caulkhead Covid19 survival guide’ now that the reality is setting in that things aren’t going to go back to normal for a little while.
To help get you through, a little like James Acaster on the hit-podcast ‘Off Menu’ (check it out, who are we kidding you got time now!), I am going to be your spirit guide to preppin’ for the apocalypse Isle-style (lol jokes). Here are our top tips for how best to buy, and more importantly EAT, nutritious local food and drink during this crazy time.
Cos we all gotta eat, people! Another thing I will touch on later is how we can help others at this time, be it through donating to the local food bank, helping the vulnerable in our community by going shopping for them to stop their risk of exposure, as well as the people supporting and feeding our wonderful key workers as they face the frontline of this crazy old thing. I know there’s a lot of people feeling like they don’t know what to do to help right now and there are lots of ways you can – even from the safety of your own home, so stay tuned for that!
We Islanders are very proud, as probably the only island in the world whose residents refer to it as THE only island in the world, which is nothing new – it was something Jane Austen even mentions in her novel Mansfield Park. As proud Islanders, we should comforted in the knowledge that our little ‘sunshine isle’ is a bountiful garden full of produce to sustain us through the hard times, so now more than ever, is the time to shop local. Not only to support the local economy and your friends and neighbours but to feed yourselves and your family some nutritious produce and takeaway meals out there.
My first stop is independent shops: farm shops, delis, greengrocers, butchers and bakers. People joke we are stuck in a time warp down here but when it comes to having held on to some of the gems of the traditional high street, we are actually very lucky. So think about visiting Farmer Jacks, Brownrigg’s, Norris Family Grocers, Brighstone Village Shop or Briddlesford Lodge Farm instead of the supermarket – all open with social distancing measures in place. No contact sales are available from Farmhouse Fayre who are taking delivery orders over the phone, as well as It’s About Time in Shanklin and the Barrow Boys are offering orders for delivery online. The Island has at least one of these types of shops in each area, meaning that you do not need to wander too far from home to get all you need with a little care and extra thought. The benefit being over the supermarkets they are on different distribution networks and are often better stocked with essentials and, of course, our wonderful local Isle of Wight produce.
Second stop: straight from the horse’s mouth… or the producers themselves. Some of our Isle of Wight produce is actually famous – for example The Tomato Stall’s tomatoes and the Garlic Farm’s garlic and now even the IW Distillery’s Mermaid Gin – and all of whom stock their products online. These producers need you to support them during this time and in return they will feed you with their fantastic produce delivered safely to your door or posted to you when you order directly through their website. You can even order meat online fresh from the wild-west Wight from the Isle of Wight Meat Company. Island Roasted Coffee and Wight Label Tea are offering free delivery when you order just one bag of their coffee or tea. Also I think at this time it is very important to note that Yates’ Brewery, Goddards Brewery, Island Ales Brewery, Rosemary Vineyard, Adgestone Vineyard, IW Distillery AND Tipsy Wight are all still selling their drinks online with a lot of them offering delivery too, so they have well and truly got you covered in terms of drowning your sorrows right now! Not only that, but Wessex Wines’ Winebulance, created in the response to the current situation, is a stroke of genius!
Thirdly… missing eating out? Well, eating out was sooooo last month! Eating in has to legally be the new eating out with the current UK Government lockdown. BUT fear not! That doesn’t necessarily mean rustling something up from all those cans of corned beef you hoarded in those panic buying days in March. Many of the Island’s restaurants have adapted to now offer a takeaway or delivery menu. Chef Robert Thompson has created a weekly menu – all you have to do is heat up, serve and enjoy! Complete with its own video showing you how to finish off and serve the takeaway (if you need it!) – how special is that? Fine dining from your home cooked by a top Island chef. The Little Gloster have successfully proved a Little Gloster AT HOME menu for the last couple of weeks and it has gone down a treat – so much so they will continue with an ever changing menu subject to produce availability. New kids on the block, Craft Vegan Pizza, brought to you by the team behind Vegan Boys, are operating out of Ryde Pier Cafe. Orders must be made via their Facebook page, but they are operating a strictly social distanced collection service, as well as delivery to the Ryde and surrounding areas. Not only that, but they have come up with a range of Vegan Cheeze and do weekly vegan-friendly hampers too – what heroes, eh?
Lastly if you are feeling a little useless and now a bit full too after eating so well (you’re welcome!) you might want to know what there is you can do to help a little in the current climate. So here’s a few things you could try… Donate to the local food bank – that’s either with money safely from home online or when you are next going out to get supplies. Check the item list on the Isle of Wight Food Banks website to see what they’re low on and buy a few of them along with your shopping.
If you aren’t in a vulnerable group or self-isolating for whatever reason, then why not offer your services to your neighbours? When you are next going to the shop, check if they need anything. It is important to limit the amount of trips we are all taking to the shops, so we can pool resources together to reduce this by helping each other and being neighbourly. Cook for your community – it’s times like this we are really tested as a community as a great way to boost morale is to share food. Why not bake something to share or if you’ve got a spare pot of jam or chutney left from last summer crop, leave it on your neighbour’s doorstep. These times have already inspired so many acts of kindness and compassion and this spirit is what will get us through. Remember: shop local to support your fellow Islanders and feed your families with the beautiful bounty that OUR Island provides – stay safe and stay home.