Tucked away deep in the Surrey Hills, Holmbury St Mary is a village where time almost seems to stand still.
It’s an idyllic dream of a place, with its country lanes cut into the woods and climbing endlessly towards the horizon.
The sight of St Mary’s Church looming overhead as you wind your way into the village is straight out of a fairy tale.
Local Food Britain is visiting the Royal Oak, an independently owned pub in the village, for a showcase by one of Surrey’s growing number of smallholdings, Hill House Farm, which is found just 10-minutes down the road at Beare Green.
A family-run farm dedicated to connecting people to the countryside through food and rural experiences, their rare-breed Gloucester Old Spot pigs and Southdown sheep are free-range and home-reared.
Manning the stoves on our visit are Hill House Farm’s Ian Jones and Tim McEntire, who are both trained chefs. They are putting on a special menu for the evening, which celebrates their rare breed Gloucester Old Spot pork and combines it with Surrey produce.
Neatly encapsulating their ethos, mini ham and cress quiches created almost entirely from Mole Valley ingredients greet visitors to their tables on arrival.
These delicious little nibbles feature ham from the Hill House Farm herd, watercress from Kingfisher Farm in Abinger Hammer, raw milk from W Dale and Sons at Aldhurst Farm in Capel, eggs from Etherley Farm near Ockley and cases from Chalk Hills Bakery in Horley. It really doesn’t get much more Local Food Britain than that, does it?!
Pork sharing platters are served up next and the crispy pigs head, chorizo Scotch egg, bacon and liver parfait are all utterly moreish combined with Debbie’s Chilli Jam, Hill House Farm chutney and Chalk Hills Bakery sourdough. This dish is a perfect example of quality nose to tail eating.
For the main course, collar bacon is served with peas, greens, beans and mash with a cider jus. It’s a slightly more refined version of Hill House Farm’s farm to fork ready meals, which are available in a number of farm shops around Surrey. It’s the kind of food you could feed a gastronomic army on.
To finish, even the crème brûlée is given the local touch with local free range eggs and raw milk from a nearby farm. One satisfying crack of the spoon and you’re into a world of custardy delight.
Suffice to say, Hill House Farm’s Farm to Fork dining evenings are a fantastic showcase for Surrey food and drink, as well as the ethos of the farm itself.
The village pub setting is warm and welcoming, and the food leaves you longing to discover more about the stories behind each ingredient and the people working so hard to produce them.
- Hill House Farm will be hosting their next Farm to Fork dinner at The Royal Oak, Felday Glade, Holmbury St Mary, near Dorking, Surrey RH5 6PF on Tuesday June 4. Tickets are £22.50 per person. Call 01306 898010 to book.
local food surrey