Essex might not spring to mind when you think of foodie capitals, but I think it’s certainly got impressive credentials. Perhaps the most obvious reason why is its array of leading restaurants that mean you don’t need to travel to nearby London to enjoy a top meal.
Not everyone who works in London wants to live there, and a large number of individuals choose to purchase new homes in Essex by Countryside Properties and other developers and commute into the capital instead. As such, the county has built up an array of facilities and amenities to make it an attractive place to live, and that includes some fabulous restaurants.
Chelmsford is a popular place for families and couples to live, and one restaurant here that’s caught my eye is the Punch Bowl. With an Anglo-French menu, this eatery is particular known for its fantastic selection of wines – and it even offers trips to Burgundy, Bordeaux and Champagne!
Another part of Essex that is popular to buy new homes in is Colchester, which also has lots of lovely restaurants. The Rose and Crown is a pub set in the county’s pretty countryside and serves real ales and yummy local food – while the chef strives to use as many seasonal ingredients as possible.
In fact, the countryside is another reason why Essex is a firm favourite among foodies, as you know that in many restaurants and pubs, the meat, vegetables and other ingredients used in your meals will be from just a few miles down the road.
Essex has lots of coastline – 350 miles of it, to be exact. So, as well as locally-reared beef, lamb, chicken and pork, you can expect to see plenty of seafood on the menu. According to legend, the Romans were so enamoured by the Colchester Native Oyster that they even shipped them back home, such was its mouth-watering taste.
The shellfish was originally farmed off the Blackwater Estuary, and seafood remains a very important part of the Essex culinary scene today. Another produce in the county that derives from the ocean is Maldon Sea Salt. This has been made in Essex for more than 2,000 years, and you’ll discover that many chefs use this to season their dishes.
As well as eating in top restaurants, when you choose to live in Essex, you can spend your weekends browsing farmers’ markets. Breads, cheese, game and fruits are just some of the produce you can sample and take home with you so you can cook up a storm in your kitchen. My top tip is to get to the market as close to the opening time as possible – they are very popular and some stalls find all their stock is gone within a couple of hours.
A few of the best farmers’ markets can be found on Brentwood High Street, High Ongar, Southend High Street, Valentine’s Mansion and Station Road in Upminster, to name just a small handful.
Finally, another produce you can tuck into when in Essex is traditional Italian ice cream. The trade soared in popularity at the piers and pavilions of the county’s seaside resorts, with the Rossi family from Southend trading at the Marine Parade for around 100 years. I have a sweet tooth, so definitely wouldn’t resist their ice cream!