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Food & drink news around Kent

PUBLISHED: 17:28 03 April 2015 | UPDATED: 17:28 03 April 2015

Michel Roux Jr

Michel Roux Jr

Bernard ZIEJA

Talking parrots, a new ice cream bar, Thanet beer festival and introducing our monthly Kent Farmers' Markets column

Hop along for ice cream

Award-winning artisan ice cream producer Taywell has partnered with its neighbour The Hop Farm to open Hopper’s Cream and Ice Bar in Paddock Wood Family Park.

For a number of years, fans of Taywell ice-cream have turned up at its manufacturing base to find no retail outlet on site.

Now, just 250 metres away, The Hop Farm has the premises from which customers can sample such delights as rhubarb and ginger crumble, raspberry Pavlova, white chocolate and blueberry, all made from local dairy milk and cream.

Hopper’s has a retro 1950’s American diner look, with chrome, mirrors and chequered patterns and will be serving a range of ice creams, sorbets, sundaes and waffles.

It is open every weekend and through the school holidays.

Animal magic

Talking parrots, a South American racoon and meerkats are among the unusual new additions at the Fenn Bell Inn on the Hoo Peninsula.

The Shepherd Neame-owned 17th-century inn has just been completely refurbished at a cost of £75,000, and new licensees Andy and Kelly Cowell have moved in - along with more than 300 rescued animals.

The couple who previously lived on a nearby farm with their menagerie, are creating a mini zoo in the pub garden, which they hope to complete and open to the public by April.

Andy explains: “Kelly and I always loved animals so we began adopting unwanted pets, and the number grew and grew as more people approached us with animals in need of homes.

“They are all rescue animals who have been bred in captivity so they wouldn’t survive in the wild. Our aim is to give them a good quality of life while also allowing customers to view them and learn more about them.”

The couple also run an import business and will be using the pub profits to pay for the animals’ care.

Raise a glass

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Thanet CAMRA branch promises this year’s beer festival taking place on 2 and 4 April at the Winter Gardens Margate will be the best yet.

Showcasing products from brewers and cider makers from all over the UK and beyond, more than 200 different draught real ales, ciders and perries, including a specially brewed festival beer, will be there to enjoy.

Hot and cold food will also be on sale, as well as souvenir glasses, plus there is live entertainment and a giant pub-style team quiz on the Saturday at 5pm with a top prize of £100 cash.

● Open: Friday 12pm-9.30pm £5, Saturday 12pm-8pm £3 (free to card-carrying CAMRA members). Accompanied children are welcome to visit up to 7pm.

Kent’s Farmers’ Markets – it’s a growing thing

From the Oval Lawns in Cliftonville overlooking the North Sea to the historic setting of Penshurst Place in West Kent, there are more than 50 Farmers’ Markets across our county.

Michel Roux Jr, who was born in Kent and is patron of Kent’s Farmers’ Markets, boasts of the quality of what Kent’s markets offer. “I really want to encourage everyone in Kent to visit a Farmers’ Market. As the Garden of England, Kent has been renowned for centuries for the fantastic quality of its fruit and vegetables, and it now boasts a huge array of wonderful, skilled cooks, who are hand-making delicious products with great care.

“Markets don’t just offer fresh produce, meat and cheese, you’ll find stalls selling the freshest fish, speciality breads, deli-style pies, beer from the region’s growing number of micro-breweries, hand-made chocolates, vegetarian dishes and a wide range of unusual jams and chutneys.”

Since the stallholders only produce small batches, supermarkets cannot offer the same products. This might be hand-made cakes and pies; cheese from artisan dairies; fish landed only the day before, or less common meat like wild venison, pigeon and rabbit. While the precise range depends on whether you visit a bustling town-centre market or one focusing on the everyday needs of a village, typically you will find food which is more authentic, without colourings, additives or preservatives.

And by meeting the people who made what you will eat, it is a totally different experience, making food shopping fun again!

As the Garden of England, we should be proud of the high-quality food we produce here, and Farmers’ Markets give you the chance to join in this celebration.

● Find locations, dates and times and list of stallholder at: www.kfma.org.uk

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