Saturday, 2 March 2013

Quex Park Farmer's Market

Quex Park is a new discovery.  As in I only discovered it today.  I have heard of it, knew it was in the area and had a vague idea what was there but had never managed to remember to visit.  After a busy morning going to the Whitstable Playhouse Theatre to talk risk assessments and sound and lighting arrangements for next week I met Steve at a friends' house where he was supposed to be making song decisions with his duet partner but in reality was playing darts in her dining room.  No raised eyebrows at all.

Steve and I had a couple of errands to run together and he suggested popping into Quex Park to have a look as we were already in Birchington.

Quex Park is essentially 250 acres of parkland and other buildings and there has been a house on the Quex site since the early 1400's.  It is a bit of a strange place.  It's a museum, public gardens, craft village, wedding venue, working farm, paintball centre, jungle jim, country house, maize maze, fine food store and boutique cafe.  And they do music concerts and festivals.  And have their own food range - Quex Foods.  It is huge and there is so much to do and see.

In the summer I am coming back and spending at least a day here.

Today though my focus was on food.  I was seriously hungry so we decided to have a wander around the Quex Barn fine food centre and have some lunch in the cafe.  One cafe is run at the Barn and the other, by the house, is run by Mama Feelgoods.

Mama Feelgoods is a well known local brand to me - I really like their cake shop, fine food shop and cafe at the Chalkpit Farm in Bekesbourne, not least because if I need something urgently to complete my latest baking experiment, they will stock it.  When you are feeling the need to channel your inner domestic god or goddess this place hits the spot.  Their cafe's aren't your regular cafes either.  They are ridiculously good.   

The Barn cafe food is all sourced locally and varies daily according to the availability of produce.

I know that you get fine food markets all over the country but we seem to have an abundance of good ones around here.  I've just added this one to my mental list.  Not surprising really when you consider it was voted Kent Foods local retailer of the year 2013 at the Taste of Kent Awards.

I'll let the pictures do the rest of the talking.
Oh I said we were hungry.   We ate in the cafe at the far end of the market.  In the summer they have doors that open out onto the patio, directly opposite the resident sheep and chickens.

The menu is simple but good.  Breakfasts (the smoked mackerel with poached eggs was tempting), deli sandwiches, tiger prawns, bruschetta, fish cakes, steak and a huge cake menu.  They even do a meringue cream tea.  The a la carte menu is full of ever changing, mouthwatering dishes depending on what is fresh and good at that time of year.

Steve had a full English.  I had a pork and apple sandwich on fresh baked brown bread with salad and chunky chips.  Neither of us could finish our meals.  We ate around 2.30pm.  It is now well past dinner time and I still can't face anymore food. 
This is another place that is off the beaten track but well worth a day trip for a morning or afternoon (with food.  Make sure you eat here).  In the summer I would think that it is wonderful, especially for families with children and I am looking forward to having a wander around their Secret Garden.

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