Food Columnist Orlando Murrin discovers a taste odyssey in Ilminster
PUBLISHED: 16:12 15 January 2013 | UPDATED: 22:37 20 February 2013
Last October, however, the one-time butcher's shop in the main street (known as 'The Shambles') fell into the hands of a talented young couple, and they have rapidly transformed it into a gourmet delicatessen – Willows of Somerset.
Calling all foodies! Somerset Life food columnist Orlando Murrin discovers a taste odyssey in Ilminster
Until now, the principal reason to visit the pretty hamstone village of Shepton Beauchamp, near Ilminster, was to buy modern pottery and vintage glass at Richard and Sally Denniss marvellous Chinaworks. Last October, however, the one-time butchers shop in the main street (picturesquely known as The Shambles) fell into the hands of a talented young couple, and they have rapidly transformed it into a gourmet delicatessen Willows of Somerset.
Steven and Vicki Kiernan arrived from London last year, with their two-year-old daughter Willow (after whom the shop is named). Steven has impeccable food credentials, having been a protg of Gordon Ramsay; nowadays, however, instead of rushing out a thousand lunches a day to London diners, he spends his time crafting pies, preserves and pastries for the discerning inhabitants of South Somerset.
A typical mornings work for Steven will include knocking up a couple of dozen pork and herb sausage rolls, a hearty leek and feta frittata, steak and ale pies and a batch of sticky flapjacks (from 75p) all of which will be snapped up before lunchtime by loyal customers. In the afternoons he is busy bottling Awesome Tomato Ketchup, or Cider and Cranberry Chutney (2) and cooking a range of imaginative and super-tasty main courses for the freezer (from 5.50).
The shop also sells a small, carefully chosen range of cheeses, meats, olives and breads. My eye was drawn to a couple of rare English cheeses, including a soft rind cheese washed with Somerset Cider Brandy from the new range by Blur bass player-turned cheesemaker, Alex James. With so many temptations to choose between, it is good to know that a cup of freshly squeezed juice or coffee is available while you work through your shopping list. Do Steven and Vicki miss anything about London life? Id stay here forever, says Steven, without hesitation. I urge foodies to head to Willows without delay.
And during January, Steven is offering Somerset Life readers a free cup of tea or coffee (one each) on production of this magazine.
Willows of Somerset, The Shambles, Shepton Beauchamp TA19 0LN 079211 58955, firstname.lastname@example.org
Orlando Murrin is chef-proprietor at Langford Fivehead, a boutique hotel on the Somerset Levels. www.langfordfivehead.co.uk