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The importance of provenance

Cream Tea Provenance- is it important?

In all my years as a Chef in Dorset which is now some 36 years (how did that happen?) and the longer I have cooked, the more I feel that the provenance of the ingredients I use are of the upmost importance.
I was one of the first Chefs in this area to shout out ‘Dorset born Dorset fed’ which I have used as my business tag line for about 19 years now since I first started as a home-based business. Of course, since then and over recent years, every pub, restaurant, café and eatery likes to sing local.
My heart and soul are so deeply rooted in Dorset that to use local fellow businesses and suppliers is my lifeline. If you needed to restart my heart at any point, then I suggest a good hard thump with something that was grown in Dorset- it will almost certainly bring me back to consciousness and breath new life into me!

I think that my customers have learnt to trust my ‘Dorset born Dorset fed’ brand and know that I have a no compromise approach to my local sourcing.
In fact, last year I played an April fools joke and on social media told them that due to the cost of living and the hike of the cost of the ingredients that I would now be outsourcing my supplies further afield and in a much more economy aware way but in return they would see all my prices drop considerably. I don’t think a single customer fell for it! I think I gave myself away when I told them I would be buying cheap economy baked beans and opening tinned plum tomatoes for our breakfasts! (Just to clarify, we make our own baked beans and cook fresh tomatoes as our breakfast norm).
Joking apart, I am reassured by customers belief in me and my brand, it sings to my Dorset soul!

So, our Dorset cream teas…. There are only so many local ingredients we can source year round, right??
Well, you might be pleasantly surprised…
Lets start with our buttermilk scones….we use flour from Matthews millers from the Cotswolds, it is a brand of flour I have used for over 20 years now and I like the quality and consistency. Flour may seem unimportant but it absolutely is not! It is the difference between a good and bad scone!
We use butter not margarine in our scones, you wouldn’t believe the markable difference but it makes for a crisp outside scone but soft interior (rather like me), the colour more golden, flavour markedly improved and texture is superior.

We use buttermilk in our scones, this gives them a rounded, delicate softness and helps them keep softer for longer which is an important factor when mailing scones out as they are not being eaten the same day as they would in our café here. The buttermilk we use is sourced from local farms in this area and is made by Blackmore Vale Dairy a fabulous local company that again I have had the pleasure of using for a very long time now.

Strawberry Jam– unlike many cream tea companies we do make our own jam. Most companies outsource the jam and stick their own labels on or use terrible plastic sachets which offer minimum fruit traces.

I have been using New Forest fruit for years now, they are a fabulous company and their products so delicious. Amazingly you can get fruit from these guys almost 10/11 months of the year as they grow in poly tunnels. I love using their strawberries to make jam and the fact that when you eat our jam you get lumps of pure whole strawberry to pop onto your scone. Every part of a cream tea is important to achieving the end decadent result!

Our clotted cream hails from Weymouth, the cattle graze on the coastal hills of Southern most Dorset and the result is a deliciously rich Dorset clotted cream. So, when you dollop that cold cream with its deep yellow crust on top of the jam you just touch a part of Dorset heaven at its finest!

What you slurp in terms of your drink with your scone is of equal upmost importance. We have been using Reads Coffee Roasters from just up the road from us in Sherborne for about 12 years now.
They roast their coffee beans in a former farm building (just like our kitchen is) and the smell as you approach is absolutely divine! We use a Sumatra blend which you can pop into your cafetiere. If you prefer decaffeinated, then you can opt for that. It is a particularly good decaf and is not bleached in its preparation process but instead undergoes a Swiss water process of purification.
Of course, its Tea that is the traditional choice to have with a cream tea. Reads also supply us with their loose English breakfast tea which again has proven ever so popular in our café. It is a loose tea but don’t worry if you don’t have a tea pot or strainer for loose tea as we provide you with special bags to make your tea in and full instructions.

So as you can see, a cream tea may sound an altogether simplistic dish but there are cream teas and then there are Dorset cream teas and then there are, well, The Dorset Handmade Food Company cream teas!
Having ordered, tasted and trialled many cream teas by post leading up to our launch I know that I can put my hand on my heart and know I am serving the very best I can possibly offer you in every way.
I know that if you are planning a gift by post for someone as a gift then you will be proud to present this to your friend or loved one as a present as if you were placing it in their hand in person. Surely that is of upmost importance?

Margot x

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