Jersey has always been one of those places that I wanted to visit, but never quite managed to get there. Until last week. Last week, I flew to the Channel Islands, in a little propeller plane was blown away by the abundance and beauty of this magical little island.
I was invited by Tenderstem® and Visit Jersey to experience the variety of food producers that this small island has. From the famous Jersey Royal potatoes, shellfish and sea food found in the local shores to it’s own small vineyard. I couldn’t wait to taste everything.
Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands, 9 miles by 5 miles, it’s mix of pretty harbour villages and arable farmland, with beautiful views at every turn. Visit Jersey kindly booked me a rental car for the duration of my stay and I must admit I loved it! Whizzing around the small country lanes and exploring the beaches and pretty harbours. I felt I discovered every part of the island. To me, Jersey is a Cornish, Brittany mashup. With the coastline and small fishing villages very much like Cornwall but with the street names and a heavy French influence.
Our first full afternoon on the island, we were taken on a little tour of the local food producers. A passionate bunch of people who love Jersey and the work that they do in producing some of the Islands best food. The stop on the tour was the beautiful Victorian fish & vegetable market in the island capital, St Helier.
Then onto Christine and Didiers farm who are passionate about growing Jersey Royals. They happily explained that these potatoes will only taste like Jersey Royals if they have been grown on Jersey. In the unique sandy soil, in the warm temperate climate and in soil that has been enriched with Vraic, seaweed which has been harvested from the beaches that surround the island.
Next stop on our tour was to visit Faulkner Fisheries on St Ouen beach. Located in a disused world war 2 German bunker.
Faulkner Fisheries was founded by Sean Faulkner in 1980. As a young boy he learnt to fish the sea and farm the land at L’Etacq. Many years later he took over the old war bunker (the Vivier) and converted it into the cold water store for all the live local shellfish which include lobsters, crabs, spider crabs, oysters and much more.
During the summer months, The Vivier is the home to the famous seafood BBQ, where customers can selected their seafood of choice to be cooked over coals and eaten on the beach. I must return with the family to experience that.
Our third stop was to Classic Herd farm, the only independent dairy operating in Jersey. With a herd of 60 milking Jerseys cows they produce milk, creams, yoghurt, cheeses and ice-cream.
The rich creamy milk is pasteurised but not homogenised which means it is made safe but does not have the pressure treatment of homogenisation which breaks up visible fat to give the milk a uniform appearance. This small herd / farm produces 8 different cheeses and over 11 different flavours of ice cream – which are delicious, believe me!
Our final stop of our foodie tour was at the La Mare wine estate – the only wine and spirit producer on Jersey. The vineyard is a working 25 acre estate of vineyards, orchards and stunning grounds. Established in 1972, La Mare now produces delicious red, white and rose wine, gin, brandy and other flavoured liquors. I enjoyed the gin so much, that I bought a large bottle at the airport shop!
That evening our little group met for dinner at a local supper club, The Bean Pot, in Anna’s beautiful home. Anna treated us to a three course meal using local ingredients. Starter of fresh beetroot and blackberry salad. Our main was locally caught mackerel which was cooked over a BBQ on Anna’s terrace, served with Tenderstem® broccoli and quinoa, and for desert a delicious fig pavlova. Delicious food and fab company.
The next day was our trip to the main event, a tour around Devon Villa farm where they predominately grow Tenderstem® broccoli. Tenderstem® is one of the UK’s most favourite vegetables, a cross between Chinese Kale and traditional broccoli and for those of us who love a bit of Kale and know the benefits of these leafy greens, then Tenderstem® is a true superfood.
Touring the farm, we discovered that the growing season is from June until November, and because the long season on Jersey the farmers can grow the crop for longer later in the farming calendar. Making Jersey one of the key locations for growing Tenderstem®.
In the field, we learnt about the growing season, and then had a go at harvesting our own Tenderstem® which we nibbled on as we picked. The stems are so delicate that they can be eaten raw, and delicious too.
Back at the farmhouse, we were treated to a raw picnic by local caterer Wild Health. The delicious Tenderstem® was transformed into sushi, toppings for noodles and more. What an utterly delicious spread, it made me contemplate becoming vegan, if vegetables can be so versatile and so yummy. Tenderstem® is truly a real versatile vegetable it can be eaten grilled, boiled, steamed, roasted – or even eaten raw.
I’m still thinking about that amazing feast. Such wonderful food!
I have so much more to share about Jersey. I’ll be back with further posts, about where I stayed, and places I visited including the Botanical Gardens. But that will be another post.
Collaboration Note: Thank you to Tenderstem® and Visit Jersey for inviting me on this trip. All words, thoughts and images are my own. Thank you for supporting the posts that make this blog possible.