Gillian Cowburn is the PR/Marketing Manager for Country Harvest at Ingleton. Here she recalls the joys of being a former food journalist and what it’s like to now work in food heaven.
A letter from Rick Stein
When I decided to drop Rick Stein a letter, the last thing I expected was a reply. But within a couple of weeks of my missive praising his campaigning efforts on behalf of the nation’s ‘Food Heroes’, the great man himself not only wrote back, but said he needed my help; he was coming to the Lake District to do his programme and could I help with suggestions for people who he could feature in the film.
At the time I was a journalist specialising in writing about local food. The purpose of my note to Rick was simply to explain that, although my efforts where on nowhere near his grand scale, I was trying to do my bit to promote our wonderful food producers and encourage people to ‘eat local’.
The upshot of the letter was that, as well as pointing Rick in the direction of the fantastic food on offer in north Lancashire and the Lake District, I got roped into filming the episode of Food Heroes at Damson Day in the Lyth Valley. That was more than 10 years ago – if only I had a tenner for every time it’s been repeated on the telly since!
As it is, meeting Rick Stein and doing Food Heroes with him has to be one of my favourite foodie memories – although I have to say meeting Jean Christophe-Novelli probably comes a close second (swoon, swoon).
Surrounded by local produce
Of course, when I was approached about working at Country Harvest a few years ago, I thought all my Christmases had come at once, because as well as the gift shop part of the business, it also comprises a food shop and a traditional coffee shop, so I am surrounded by food glorious food every day. The Foodhall is packed to the rafters with deli delights including award-winning cheeses and olives, savoury pies and quiches, fresh meat, bread, cakes, fruit and vegetables, ready meals, wine and local beers and cider.
One of the highlights of the week for me is always doing tastings of produce made by our hard-working kitchen team, and, of course, all the meat products made by our butcher George Taylor who also happens to be the reigning UK Young Butcher of the Year. But most of all I like meeting our customers, sharing with them my love of good food, and suggesting recipes using some of the delicious products we have in the foodhall.
The perfect picnic all locally sourced
* George’s hand-made Scotch eggs
* Firecracker Pork Pie, topped with spicy cheese & chilli jam
* Ploughmans Pork Pie, with pork, pickle & cheese
* Silver & Green (Cumbria) Balsamic Onions
* Silver & Green, sweet baby red peppers stuffed with fresh cows milk cheese & marinated in a herby vegetable oil
* Butlers Crumbly Lancashire and Country Harvest sweet red onion chutney on our bakery’s white bloomer loaf
* George’s honey roast ham on our bakery’s Low GI multi-seed bread with Rosebud Preserves (North Yorkshire) Traditional Piccalilli
* A slice of Country Harvest Sticky Tea Loaf (made to our own kitchen’s special recipe)