Somerset: A Wonderful Retreat For Foodies To Indulge

20 January 2022

With rich farmland, orchards, and spectacular views, Somerset is a rural county with a lot of English traditions.

It’s famed for its country towns, festivals, and isolated moorland but Somerset is also a magnet for quality food.

So, what will you find in this glorious county? Here’s why foodies should head to Somerset.

It’s full of cheese

Cheddar Gorge winds its way through the Mendip Hills and is an iconic part of the Somerset landscape. It’s a magnificent place to walk and admire the views, and the village of Cheddar is renowned for cheesemaking.

Head to the Visitor Centre in Cheddar for VIP guided tours and tastings, and don’t forget to buy some cheddar cheese as a souvenir.

If you’re a fan of cheese, we recommend a trip to Bath for a specialist cheese tasting walking tour, taking in several places in the city including a cheese deli and market. You’ll taste local cheeses and learn about ideal pairings.

Bath Soft Cheese Company is an award-winning local variety, and you can visit the farm and watch this famous delicacy being made.

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn the art of cheesemaking? The Red Devon Cheese Company runs weekend courses for hard and soft cheeses on the Somerset/Devon border.

Farm shops and farmers markets

One of the best ways to get a feel for the food in Somerset is to head to a farm shop or farmers’ market.

You can talk to the producers and get to see some artisan food and local produce including cheeses, meats, vegetables, and cakes.

Some of the farm shops also have excellent cafés. Kimber’s Farm Shop near Wincanton is simply divine and the Trading Post at Lopenhead is a quirky place to buy local food. 

Hambridge Smokery near Langport is another interesting place where you can pick up some smoked eels from the nearby rivers and other local delicacies.

Bath Farmer’s Market is superb and a great place to see regional specialties. Another wonderful market is at Langport.

Try Somerset cider

It wouldn’t be cider without Somerset – there are orchards all over the county using apples to make the famous drink. Many farms produce small batch cider using methods handed down through the generations.

There are larger farms too where you can watch cider being made. We think you should try Thatcher’s Cider or a tour and tasting session at Sheppy’s House of Cider near Taunton.

A small but very traditional cider farm is run by Roger Wilkins near Wedmore. At Burrow Hill Farm at Kingsbury Episcopi on the Somerset Levels, cider brandy is made.

Many orchards have a special wassailing ceremony during January where villagers and farmers sing to the apple trees in the hope of a good harvest later in the year.

Explore Exmoor

The wild moorland on Exmoor is wonderful for walking and wildlife. You’ll also find some delicious food specialities in the area.

Fresh Porlock oysters are a feature in many of the Exmoor restaurants in Somerset, and local rainbow trout is a popular choice.

Whortleberries are a local name for wild blueberry, and whortleberry jam is delicious! Many of the tea rooms serve a wonderful cream tea, a great pick me up after an action-packed hike.

Look out for Exmoor lamb on the menus and a range of beers and spirits crafted on the moorland.

Take a Vineyard Tour

English wine is having a moment and some of the vineyards in Somerset produce award-winning wines. You’ll find many offer tours and tasting experiences to choose from.

Oatley Vineyard in the Quantock Hills is renowned for its white wines and is nestled in a beautiful setting. Tours here are also available.

Wraxhall Vineyard is on the edge of the Mendip Hills at Shepton Mallet and dates from 1979. See if you can jump on a guided tour and experience the flavour at some tastings.

Learn a new recipe or technique

Somerset is brimming with culinary experiences including cookery lessons and masterclasses. In Bath, you’ll spot many choices of technique to learn.

Local baker Rickard Bertinet runs some fabulous masterclasses in the city where you can learn anything from bread making to creating a croissant.

There are also plant-free cookery classes at Demuth’s in Bath. Frogmary Farm near South Petherton has a range of cookery classes from game cooking to chocolate making.

Dining out foodie experiences in Somerset

Some destinations are all about food and celebrating wonderful hotels and restaurants. The Newt near Castle Cary in Somerset is a luxury hotel and working estate.

The restaurant serves the finest dishes, but the experience is also in walking through the orchards, seeing cider being made on-site, observing the beehives on the grounds, and simply chilling out.

Somerset has award-winning pubs too. Some of the best include the Pony and Trap at Chew Magna where vegetables are grown within the grounds. Another well-known foodie pub is the Talbot Inn at Mells.

Somerset is a truly delightful county full of artisan food producers and quality local food.

After you’ve explored the area and experienced all the foodie treasures, you’ll already want to start planning your next weekend trip.