I was invited by Tenderstem® and Visit Jersey to experience the local foods that Jersey has to offer. After a successful visit to the Channel Islands last year, I was keen to return, and to experience Jersey from a foodie perspective.
Tenderstem® is grown in the UK from June to November, and Jersey is one of the main growing locations. We visited Devon Villa in St. Martin to observe the growing process first-hand. I learned a few things during our time at the farm. Perhaps most notably the story of how Tenderstem® came to be. A scientist in Japan had cross pollinated broccoli with Chinese kale in a bid to create a broccoli-like vegetable, tender enough to provide an edible stem. Although the project was just for fun, it was evidently a success, from which Tenderstem® was born.
Because Tenderstem® is related to Chinese kale, it’s delicate enough that it can be enjoyed raw. Whilst it’s refreshing to eat immediately after picking, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy it without cooking. After we’d collected some stems from the field, we watched as they were transformed into a vegetarian sushi filling, dehydrated crisps, and a topping for noodles.
You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to fresh seafood in Jersey. We paid a visit to Faulkner Fisheries Vivier, on the North West coast of the island. The Vivier is situated in an old German bunker, from the Second World War. In the chambers of the bunker, you’ll find live local shellfish, including lobsters, crabs, and oysters. One of the larger chambers forms the kitchen in which fresh seafood dishes are prepared. Sitting on a picnic bench opposite the bay with a local grilled lobster at hand is pretty hard to beat.
No Jersey food tour would be complete without Jersey Royal potatoes. We headed to Manor Farm to meet Christine and Didier Hellio. The Hellio duo supply seasonal veggies to a selection of outlets across Jersey. The pair wake at the crack of dawn and work into the night, but their passion for local produce more than keeps them going.
Although you can buy Jersey Royal seeds from the Manor Farm shop, Christine and Didier stress that you can’t match the taste of a true Jersey Royal by growing them elsewhere. The composition of the native soil coupled with the local seaweed fertilisation process make for a taste that is unique to Jersey.
Another necessity to a Jersey local food tour is the Jersey cow. These pretty little cattle produce a milk with a high fat content, making for some deliciously creamy dairy products. We stopped by at Classic Farm, St. Peter, to meet their herd.
Classic Farm is the only independent dairy farm in Jersey – they produce and pasteurise all of their dairy products on-site. Their 60 cattle produce milk for eight varieties of cheese, five flavours of yogurt and eleven flavours of ice-cream.
Black butter ice-cream is the most recent addition to the selection. Black butter contains apples, cider and spices. The ice-cream tastes a bit like a hearty apple pie, with a creamy and indulgent texture. You have to try it if you get the chance.
To accompany the abundance of local produce, there is delicious local wine. We drove to La Mare Wine Estate to see how it’s made.
The vineyard was planted in 1972, and quickly became a popular attraction. Today you’ll find a number of award winning beverages produced on the estate, including wine, cider, ale, gin and liqueur.
If you don’t get a chance to purchase local produce at source, there is plenty to be found in the markets of St. Helier. In the Central Market, you’ll find all things from florists to delicatessens, and butchers to spices.
A short walk down the street will bring you to Jersey’s Fish Market, where you’ll find a section of fresh catches, including those of Faulkner Fisheries.
Where I stayed
Finally, if you’re after a hotel with great food, I can recommend the Greenhills Country House Hotel. Their menu is locally sourced, their seafood is sustainably caught, and their eggs and poultry come from high-welfare birds. If you’re lucky with the weather as we were, the outdoor pool doesn’t go amiss either.
This post is brought to you in collaboration with Tenderstem®. As always, all opinions are my own.