This is the sort of place where you might find yourself buying direct from the farm, picking your own and meeting maker. Let’s start with Cotswold cheeses.
Cheese and Dairy
There are more than a hundred cheeses made in the Cotswold these days. The heavyweight champions of them all are the famous Single and Double Gloucesters but it’s easier to find a supermarket dud than a pukka Gloucester cheese. If you see the name Charles Martell, Smarts, Godsell’s Church Farm or Wick Court proceed with confidence. Either cheese is a welcome sight on a traditional Ploughman’s Lunch board.
Also look out for:
Blue Heaven - Weofuldane Dairy
Jess’ Ladies Milk Yoghurt
St Eadburgha from Gorsehill Abbey (Camembert-ish)
Weaver’s - makes an acclaimed Cotswold Brie and Blue Brie.
Windrush Valley - Goat’s Cheese with a citrus edge.
Pork: Old Spot Pigs are the local variety, overlooked by mass producers because they don’t really suit that way of production the breed has recently enjoyed a resurgence. Great flavour.
Lamb and Mutton: The sheep is the symbol of the Cotswolds and Cotswold lamb is a fine thing. Don’t be tempted to order too early in Spring though, the flavour comes through in the summer months.
There are now several charcuterie operations across the Cotswolds, including wild boar. Upton Smokery near Burford makes a delicious smoked venison.
All is definitely not lost in this basically land-locked area. For a start there are excellent daily delivery routes up from Cornwall and the South Coast. Severn Wye Smokery is highly rated, look out for high quality salmon and eel. Trout, in particular, is beautifully suited to the slow flowing clean Cotswold rivers and there are several excellent farms such as Donnington, Lechlade and Bibury.
Fruit and Vegetables
One Spring highlight is Evesham asparagus, which may well be the best in the world. Soft fruit is excellent too and the area down past Gloucester is ancient orchard country - in fact the Old Spot was said to have developed its trademark spot from apples falling from the orchards. Pear orchards survive too and there is culture of making perry - pear cider to a high standard. Minchews is one such maker, using ancient apple or pear varieties with evocative names such as Foxwelp, Tremletts Bittersweet, Butt, Red Horse, Sheep's Snout, Gin, Barnet, Rock and Huffcap.