Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Ice Cream Heaven at Winstone's

I recently had the great pleasure of visiting Winstone’s Ice Cream whilst up in the Cotswolds for the weekend. Perched on the top of the idyllic Rodborough Common in Gloucestershire, Winstone’s Ice Cream has occupies a glorious spot. Long horn cattle roam this land, owned by the National Trust, whose organic milk is used to produce Winstone’s wonderful ice cream.
Meet Ben Vear, fourth  generation ice cream maker, food writer and something of a prominent figure in the Cotswold food world.

Ben and his brother now play a pivotal role in running the business, alongside his parents and grandparents, who have passed the business down through the family, generation by generation. What I love about this company is its heritage. Winstone’s celebrates its 86th birthday this summer. The site, on which all 1.5 million litres of ice cream they now make every year, still stands in the same spot where the company started all these years ago. First of all by serving ice creams to the golfers on the Common in need of refreshment on the eighth hole, and which has grown and grown to how things stand today. A highly successful and popular company, well-respected in the Cotswolds and beyond.

As I visit, the car park rapidly fills up and scores of cars park along the lanes. People visiting from miles around to enjoy and ice cream whilst admiring the views across to Stroud and beyond.
Why am I writing so much about the location when this post should be focussing on food? Because Winstone’s ice cream and its spectacular site in Gloucestershire are intrinsically linked. The fruit for the ice cream is picked locally, some on the Common itself, and the rest from a 10 mile radius, as does the milk and cream used. This is one of the many things I really love about this company. Localism is a key part of Ben’s philosophy.

Tony and I paid a trip to meet Ben on a  Saturday. Our first port of call, naturally, was to try the ice cream. The gluten free options were immediately pointed out to us, leaving a wide choice of flavours to enjoy. I look forward to our next visit, as they regularly introduce new and original flavours to their range, whilst retaining their classics. Winstone’s also produce an excellent range of sorbets for people avoiding dairy and vegans, including a wonderful champagne and elderflower sorbet. I particularly enjoyed the strawberry and lemon meringue flavours. The long horn cattle’s milk is much creamier than standard milk, making a rich and exceptionally creamy ice cream.
Once we finished our ice creams, Ben showed us around the site where we saw where the ice cream is still made by hand. Ben’s grandparents’ house is on site. What is more, Ben has an exciting book in the pipeline. The recipes in the book are a modern take on those created and distributed by Ben's great-grandfather Albert, many of which date back to the late 1800's. I for one am extremely excited about this, and will be writing about it as soon as I can get my hands on a copy. 
Do follow me on Twitter @gofreecakes as I visit more exceptional foodies #foodiesilove over the coming weeks.
Find out more about Winstone’s here: http://www.winstonesicecream.co.uk/ourproducts.php and more on Ben here: http://benvear.com/
N.B. All photos are courtesy of TammyLynn Photography, Gloucestershire.

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