Separated from UK mainland by the Solent, the number of Isle of Wight residents is often outnumbered by the quantity of holiday makers. It’s a lovely place for a vacation and there’s plenty to interest the culinary traveller – from a garlic farm through cream teas in thatched cottages to fine dining in a building once owned by Queen Victoria.
Isle of Wight Garlic – Farm and Festival
The Isle of Wight lies off the south coast of Britain separated from the mainland by a stretch of water called the Solent. Approximately 13 miles wide and 23 miles deep, it has an estimated population of around 130,000 – a figure which swells considerable in the summer as it is a favourite holiday destination for many Brits – some estimated 2.7 million tourists visiting the Island in 1999 according to the Isle of Wight Council’s website.
One of the best known culinary attractions is the annual Isle of Wight Garlic festival. Held every August, it was described by The Times newspaper in 2008 as Britain’s unlikeliest food event. It attracts some 300 stalls and around 20,000 visitors. It is organised by the entrepreneurs of the Isle of Wight Garlic Farm. The farm itself is open to visitors all year round.
Eat Cream Tea and Dine on Local Produce at Godshill
Not far away from the Isle of Wight Garlic Farm at Newchurch (actually, nothing is far from anywhere else on the Isle of Wight) is the chocolate box picture pretty village of Godshill. This is an ideal place to visit to admire traditional English thatched cottages and then settle down for a proper old fashioned English afternoon tea.
There are several cafés that sell cream teas such as the Hollies and the Old English Tearooms in this tiny village. There are also two historic pubs, the Griffin and the Taverners, both on the High Street and both of which offer more substantial meals. The Taverners, particularly, is very proud of the fact chef uses food produced on the island as much as possible.
Enjoy Fine Dining in Queen Victoria’s Cottage
The Isle of Wight is probably most famous for Cowes Week which is when the sailing fraternity meet every August for an eight day yachting regatta and Pimms and champagne flow. However, Cowes is also a delightful town for the culinary traveller to visit any time of the year, offering several fine dining experiences.
The Albert Cottage Hotel is one of those fine dining places which shouldn’t be missed. The Grade II listed building is located on York Avenue, East Cowes, PO23 6BD, and named after Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria as it once formed part of the royal Osborne estate. Its restaurant, named the Consort in honour of Albert, offers a typically delicious menu based on English cuisine.
With starters that have included chicken liver parfait and typically English desserts such as sherry trifle, diners can enjoy everything that is typically English culinary wise whilst dining in regal splendour. So remember the Isle of Wight whilst exploring the culinary delights of Hampshire – the Island is only a short ferry crossing away.