Friday, 22 June 2012

Yeo Valley Visit - Blogger Day

I was recently lucky enough to be invited by Yeo Valley Yoghurt to visit their gardens and farm in Somerset for the day.  That's a long way to go for a day so I thought I could take the train.  To get the train and be in Somerset for 10:00 am I would have to leave St Albans station about 06:30 am and change up to three times in London.  Liking my sleep as I do that plan didn't exactly appeal (up at 06:00 for Barbados but for yoghurt - perhaps not).  Mr R has a cousin who lives in Somerset and as it turns out only about 20 minutes from the Yeo Valley farm which presented an ideal opportunity to drive down the night before, stay over and have a good visit with family.

Boy do you get a lot of more house in Somerset than you do in St Albans!

Mr R's cousin in her beautiful kitchen

I left the house about 09:20 and a quick trip straight up Cheddar Gorge (!!) I arrived at Yeo Valley Farm and was greeted warmly with coffee and handmade cookies.

Gilded garden knomes make a unique frame!
As soon as everyone had arrived we got a quick talk about Yeo Valley and an outline of the day before we went off with the head gardener for an extensive tour of the gardens and grounds.  The scenery was majestic with lovely verdant green fields everywhere we looked. 
The view from the visitor refreshment centre

We even met 'the girls' who make the lovely milk that is made into the lush yogurts and rice puddings and all their other creamy products.

When we got back from the grounds tour there was a yoghurt tasting session by Ben (in charge of marketing and more - as this is a small family business everyone does their job and whatever else needs to be done!) giving us the chance to sample all the flavours of yoghurt including Raspberry and Passion Fruit, rhubarb, Blueberry, Lemon Curd and loads more and small pots of greek yoghurt with honey and rice puddings. 

Ben showed us how to taste the yoghurt hygienically

Then we were let loose to try all the flavours and varieties
Chef Jamie showed us some great recipes featuring yogurt, cream, milk etc like a homemade ricotta cheese that is simple to make and ultra useful in tarts and more.  We watched as trout fillets were tea smoked in a homemade smoker and sourdough bread was made. 

As soon as the cookery demonstration was over we sat down to a sumptuous lunch of tomato salad, mixed greens (all from the property) tea smoked lake trout, ricotta and spinach tart, sourdough bread,

and for dessert a simple yoghurt based cheesecake - absolutely yummm.

Easy cheesecakes in jars perfect for a pic-nic
A further talk about the kitchen garden,

including the perfect compost

followed by a cup of tea and then it was time to wend our way home.  I would have liked to spend a couple more days there but instead started the long 3 hour drive home.  The plus point being the very generous goodie bag we were given filled with all flavours of yoghurts.

A sample of the yoghurt we were given to take home
I look forward to visiting Yeo Valley Yoghurts again soon!

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