The Eel goes to...Canterbury
Thinking of leaving the capital, yet don’t want to stray too far? Head to Canterbury with writer Sally Gurteen to discover the local food businesses thriving in the Garden of England.
It's sometimes hard to take the Londoner out of London yet shortly across the borders lies the city of Canterbury, beckoning to the ever-increasing crowds with its historical promise and unassuming foodie scene. So much so, the locals even have an acronym for it with ‘DFL’ standing for those that are ‘Down from London’.
The first thing you want to do when you arrive, is swing a left from Canterbury West Station. After a few steps you’ll find yourself approaching The Goods Shed. In-keeping with the theme of the train journey, the first stop is a disused railway building that has been home to the city’s best kept foodie-secret and local food hub for nearly 20 years. The old Victorian building provides a grand backdrop to the locally sourced produce. Inside you’ll find a daily farmers market, food hall and restaurant.
For the butchers, bakers and grocers, the day will have started early with a visit to the local farms to source the best of the day. By mid-morning the Goods Shed is buzzing with people sampling some of the county's finest wines with Clive (the wine merchant), visitors nibbling on sandwiches from Jonny Sandwich and DFL’s admiring the specialist cheesemongers and nose-to-tail butchers. All the while the smell of fresh bread floats through the air as locals and tourists alike browse the general stores.
While inside, you must visit The Restaurant. A no frills, rustic affair they create beautiful lunches and suppers sourced directly from the market ingredients. The chef changes the menu twice a day, three times on weekends when breakfast arrives on the menu. If your trip is of the romantic nature, wait until the evening when the food is served up by candlelight.
Those in need of a caffeine fix should head to Gill’s Delicatessen. Their speciality coffee is hand-roasted deep in the heart of Kent by Grant at Cold Blow Coffee and they serve a daily menu of light lunches. With a similar ethos but different style to The Restaurant, Kris and Simon, resident chefs and old friends, source their food from the local traders at the market.
If you’re looking for a refreshing alcoholic beverage then head over to Docker Fermentation. There you can sample a DFL, an aptly named local brew. Fans of all things fermented the trio sell their beer alongside their sourdough made in a shipping container down at Folkestone Harbour Arm.
PICTURE: Pig Media Centre
The explorer who likes to venture that little bit further afield will be justly rewarded. A short journey away lies the Pig at the Bridge. Their menu digs deeply into their kitchen garden and if they can’t grow it themselves, it’s sourced within a 25 mile radius. Their menu perfectly highlights ‘Kent's distinctive character and unique combination of ancient orchards, newly planted vineyards and history of hop growing, all within casting distance of the sea’.
Should you have the time you can book a wild food course with Forager. The Forager team run a variety of courses, including Wild Grains and Seeds where you can get a deeper insight into the ancestors of our well-known staple crops before experimenting with the grains, followed by a light lunch.
Speaking of foraging, it wouldn’t be a proper foodie visit without some foraged ingredients. For this the Wild Goose has you covered. Head back to the station via The Goods Shed for some hedgerow cocktails and small plates with big flavours.
Belly full of local treats you’ll surely be ready to relax and take in the Kentish countryside sunset on your short journey home to London.
If you want to find out more about good food in Kent check out 'Eel goes to the Seaside'