Thursday, 9 September 2010

The Home Farm Shop - Bispham Green, Nr Wigan

The Home Farm Shop is a farm shop on steroids. Owned by Ainscoughs, the Parbold family that have been farming the area for the last 200 years and who have built up a 'group of select, pubs, hotels and restuarants' throughout the North West, the shop sells their organic and high welfare produce; plus a delicious selection of other goodies and is next door to their pub The Eagle and Child.



Home Farm Shop boasts an impressive meat counter selling the Ainscoughs' organic beef from their farm in the area (the 1600 acre farm converted in 2000), plus organic lamb and pork from Mansergh Hall and Matson Ground organic farms in Cumbria.

Although the meat is organic it is surprisingly good value and is aged for at least 21 days in the shop's chillers. Better quality, low food miles and better welfare is something I'm happier to pay a little bit more for (I think the two lamb steaks we bought turned out to be £1 more for the same weight non-organic at the supermarket).

Plus at the meat counter of the Home Farm Shop I (and more importantly the Boy) made the best discovery ever - home-made black pudding! The square pudding is made with fresh blood in store by the butcher (he's great) and has a lovely spicy flavour with not too much fat - a great find that the Boy (a true northerner) ensured I bought enough for at least three breakfasts. I would like to make a very controversial comment about this controversial product - it's better than Bury's.

Not only a great selection of meat, the shop boasts a cheese counter with such delights as Blacksticks Blue and Stinking Bishop, plus less well known cheeses - the staff are very helpful and will guide you to a cheese that suits, plus choose the right accompaniments - I had never thought of plum bread with blue cheese (it's a type of spiced fruit loaf), but turns out to be a great companion on my cheese board.

The rest of the shop is taken over by numerous jams, chutneys, oils, chocolates and other premium store cupboard products. It's hard to go in here with a budget and stick to it! They also sell my favourite chocolate - Montezuma's Dark Chocolate with Orange and Geranium; dark, slightly orangey with a lovely floral flavour, doesn't last long!



The Home Farm Shop also sells organic and non-organic locally produced fruit and veg. You can't plan your weekly shop before you come here as the produce is very much what's in season and what is available to them - this is the only place I have been able to pick up damsons when in season so it's always worth a trip to see what they have.

Being placed next to The Eagle and Child and being part of a hospitality chain, The Home Farm Shop makes good use of their alcohol sourcing. The shop is stocked with a good selection of wines, real ales and ciders, plus organic versions of all. The staff at the shop are again very good at pointing you in the right direction and we walked away with a very good Fleurie (we raised a glass that night to The Home Farm Shop).

The Home Farm Shop isn't cheap and you can't do your weekly shop here (unless you're talking about the meat and then you can), but as it goes it's the most well stocked farm shop I've come across with a genuine care for sourcing good quality products with a cracking butchers. Why not pop into the Eagle and Child whilst you're there (you won't be disappointed with the food their either).

Opening hours -
Mon-Tue: Closed
Wed-Sat: 10am-5.30pm
Sun: 11am-5pm

The Home Farm Shop, Bispham Green, Near Parbold, Lancashire L40 3SG - 01257 462624
http://www.ainscoughs.co.uk/The-Eagle-Child-Farm-Shop/welcome-to-the-home-farm-shop.html