Ripley Farm Shop, Portsmouth Road, Ripley, Surrey, GU23 6EY
A farm shop with local and global foodie offerings.
Avoid: Thinking this is your average garden centre farm shop.
Is it worth the calories?: The free-range meat I bought made one of the best Bolognese sauces ever!
Tips: Don’t expect the same produce each time you go: they follow the seasons.
Ripley isn’t just famous for Steve Drakes wonderful cooking, it also has a great farm shop. A visit to this treasure trove isn’t a dull experience: it doesn’t conform to regular farm-shop protocol. The mainstay of their business is fresh produce but owner David Dadswell stocks his shop creatively.
A promiscuous buyer, David shops around for unusual products he thinks will inspire his customers. He drives to Croydon for Asian ingredients from Wing Yip and then pops next door to USA wholesaler Costco. So, in a back room you’ll find Hoi Sin sauce, Thai curry paste, Indian spice pastes, pink Himalayan salt and other Asian classics as well as a huge range of herbs and spices. There are store-cupboard classics like Heinz beans and soups and frozen products, including ice-cream and a good range of fish and seafood. However, I wasn’t expecting to see frozen soya beans (edamame) – delicious steamed and tossed in olive oil and sea salt – what a treat.
Produce is bought from local farms where possible; they buy most of their fruit and vegetables wholesale, as farms don’t like to sell direct to small shopkeepers. This also means they can pick up imports like bananas and pineapples. The day I visited there were baby plum tomatoes from the Isle of Wight too.
Meat and meat products are pre-packed: you’ll find beef, pork and lamb from Send Hill farm and sausages from Bangers Galore. If you can’t wait to eat a sausage you can always nip across the car park to sample one from the Grill Stop. Free-range hens and ducks eggs come from Chapel farm, fresh bread from Cavan award-winning craft bakery, and cakes from the Fatherson bakery.
David told me the family have been in the horticultural trade for years and opened the farm shop to diversify. He might not admit it but he’s a bit of a secret foodie and thinks about ideas for the shop even when on holiday. In France he bought 3 tins of cassoulet he thought might sell – but if they don’t he’ll have a lovely dinner sorted! As I was leaving David mentioned that he goes mushroom foraging in the autumn. Jane and I are really keen to come along – and David’s promised to call us.