From farmers’ markets filled with locally grown fruit and vegetables to breweries that swear by centuries-old recipes, Dorset is home to some of the finest British produce. With abundant farmland and a long coastline filled with fish, the county is never in short supply of mouth-watering ingredients. If you’re visiting Summer Lodge or The Acorn Inn, you can experience the beauty of Dorset produce for yourself at their restaurants and the county’s many food markets, delis and seasonal food festivals.
Crumbly and deliciously potent, Dorset cheese is one of the county’s most beloved foods. The most popular variety is Dorset Blue Vinney, a hard cheese made from skimmed milk with blue veins running through it. In fact, it takes its name from its hue; the term ‘vinney’ is an old local phrase meaning ‘mouldy.’ Forgotten for decades, Woodbridge Farm resurrected the 300-year-old recipe, and today it’s Dorset’s signature cheese.
The tangy and ripe Wookey Hole Cheddar is another popular local cheese, aged in ancient caves. A curious cheese making practice dating back hundreds of years, the constant temperature and humidity of the caves makes them the perfect place to mature cheese. Find it at Ford Farm in Dorchester.
Indigenous to Dorset and taking its name from the Isle of Portland, Portland sheep were once in danger of becoming extinct. Thankfully, thanks to conservation efforts they are now thriving. Small and hardy, the lamb has a fine texture and excellent flavour due to the long time it takes for it to mature and the need for it to be hung longer than regular lamb. This enhances the flavour and tenderness.
After a long time in the food wilderness, veal is on-trend again thanks Jurassic Coast Meats. Their quality, ethically produced rose veal is found all over the menus of Dorset’s best eateries including Summer Lodge’s award winning restaurant. When buying rose veal, look for pink-brown meat that’s slightly moist but not wet.
Dorset’s seafood is so celebrated it even has its own dedicated festival. The Pommery Dorset Seafood Festival takes place annually in July at Weymouth’s picturesque Harbour. Tourists and locals alike flock to the hundreds of stalls brimming with locally made fishcakes, seared Lyme Bay scallops and West Country crab salads.
When dining out or eating at a seafront café in Dorset, look out for freshly shucked oysters from local beds, giant black razor clams and Weymouth Bay prawns.
Made in small batches using 100% Dorset cider apples and no sweeteners, Lulworth Skipper cider has won countless awards for its unique flavour, which comes from a 10-month fermentation in French cognac casks. Named after a local butterfly, Lulworth Skipper is brewed using a handmade press and is one of the finest examples of authentic Dorset cider.
Brewing award-winning ales since 1777, Hall & Woodhouse in Blandford St Mary are home to the much-loved Badger Beer. Despite being a brewery powerhouse, they remain independent with a distinctly Dorset identity.
The finest Dorset produce can be found at one of the county’s regular Dorset Farmers Markets. Held monthly at Poundbury, Bridport, Sherborne and Wimbourne, these are the places to visit to buy the best of the West.
Image Credits: Main image © iStock/MarinaRazumovskaya. Cheeses © Red Carnation Hotels. Cave aged cheese © Ford Farm Cheesemakers. Pommery Dorset Seafood Festival © Resort Marketing Ltd. Lulworth Skipper Cider © Ultra Violet Photography.