Just a few of the hip consumer’s favourite destinations at this time of the year...
Rowan's Delicatessen, Lavant Street, Petersfield. Great comestibles, drink and cigars, a cafe to put your feet up in and a particularly fine place at Christmas for stocking fillers, sweetmeats and fancy stuff. Gentlemen's Relish? Don't mind if we do... 01730 262600
Bran Tub, organic fruit and nuts, vegetarian and healthy alternatives... if they would only cheer up, it could be just like Christmas. Lavant Street, Petersfield. 01730 267043.
Petersfield Market Every Saturday up to Christmas, including Organick for your organic fruit, vegetables, fruit juices, eggs and honey, Bryants for as good a range of quality fruit and vegetables as you'll find in any of the supermarkets, some great South African ... uh... is 'delicacies' the word? Not just that, but an increasing range of arts and crafts, carvings, ethnic clothes and jewellery, Chinese paintings (to order if you ask - myPetersfield did) ... try it first before you shop for stocking fillers elsewhere....
Djangos Excellent coffee beans and freshly ground coffee for your machine from a list of boutique blends in a shop above our favourite Petersfield cafe - look out for Djangos' Bireli
Hampshire Farmers' Markets. Too many great stalls to individually list, but always on the hipster’s visiting list is · Ashmore Farmhouse Cheese · Bookham Cheese and Pasta (fantastic 'Farmer's Hand' which you won't believe isn't parmesan) · Bowtell's Farm Shop, meat and game and famous sausages · Dorset Blueberry Company, all year with pies, pastries, drinks and, in season, blueberries · Secrett's, amazing vegetables and salad leaves from Milford www.secretts.co.uk · Isle of Wight Tomatoes... and chillies, and aubergines, and tomato products... and garlic.. · Long Crichel Bakery, traditional breads and cakes... · Itchen Valley Brewery · Loosehanger Farmhouse Cheeses, medal-winning Ayrshire cowsmilk and goatsmilk cheeses... their garlic and nettle is seriously addictive... · Peter Mushrooms, fresh mushrooms + soups, pates, ketchups, and a hot mushroom roll as an alternative to the hog roast for all you vegetarians... · Pollen Organics, sauces, pestos, mayonnaises · The Garlic Farm, brilliant range of fresh, smoked and preserved garlic and garlic products. · Potts' Pantry, locally produced pastries, pattiseries and confections, absolutely wonderful... And much more, including most of the local good farmers offering more geese, chicken, turkeys, game and other meats than you can shake a festive stick at, to buy or to order. With a decent size freezer, you can do a big part of your Christmas food shopping right here. More about the farmers' markets here: http://www.hampshirefarmersmarkets.co.uk and at 01420 588671.
The General Wine Company, Liphook and Midhurst. By appointment to your hip correspondent, fabulous range of wines from all regions at all price points, with unfussy but well-informed advice thrown in gratis. Great range of spirits, cigars and beers too, plus corkscrews, foil cutters, glasses and other drinkers requisites (and gifts). There's just no excuse for buying at supermarkets or online - GWC offers a better range, keen keen prices and a stack more engagement and enjoyment. Main branch: 25, Station Road, Liphook. 01428 727744. Junior branch, High Street, Midhurst (just as good but half the size and stock).
Nick’s, Wyld's Farm, Liss. Nick and Sophia Rook-Blackstone's organic farm out west of Liss supplies great fruit, vegetables and other produce through their farm shop (9-5, Thursday and Friday), the Petersfield Saturday Market, the monthly Farmer's Market in Petersfield square and their home-delivery organic box scheme - and Christmas trees too. Warren Road, Liss. 01730 891490 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hammer Trout Farm and Smokery, Liphook. One of the oldest fisheries and smokehouses in England, producing not just smoked trout but meat, poultry, game, pates and more. Also at the Farmers' Markets. Hewshott Lane, Liphook, Hants. GU30 7SU. 01428 727508.
Rother Valley Organics wholly organic farmers and butchers near Nyewood, off the A272 south of Rogate. Beef, pork, lamb and mutton, chicken, duck and goose... fully traceable meats from grazing through butchery to plate. Online shopping and home delivery or you can visit, buy and collect during normal butcher's hours (9 to 4 or thereabouts during the week, 9 till 1 on Saturdays). Sandilands Farm, Rogate, Petersfield, Hants, GU31 5HU 01730 821062 GMAP.
Jeffersons, Midhurst (West Street). Organic butcher, and fishmonger too. Good range of sauces and pickles. 01730 813135
Harveys' brewery shop, next to the Bottle and Jug in Lion Street, Midhurst. Outlet for the excellent Harveys brewery in Lewes, East Sussex. Fantastic range of bottled beers, from low-alcohol to 8 and 9° winter specials. Draught beers to take away, good range of wines and ports, including a a great range of English wines. Glasses, gifts and Harveys 'breweryana'. Recommended. 01730 810709,
Durleighmarsh Farm, fruit, veg, meat and more. Fantastic range of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers to pick yourself or buy in the shop. Environmentally sympathetic farming methods. Good range of Christmas stuff (not before December 1, which merits praise in itself)) including poultry, holly, Christmas trees, mistletoe... lovely place. Find it between Petersfield and Rogate on the A272. 01730 821626.
Grange Farm, Grange Farm, Lovely farm shop at Empshott, signposted about four miles west of Liss on the Selborne road (B3006). Free range pork, lamb, chicken, geese, Aberdeen Angus beef, own products and local bread, fruit, vegetables and deli. Great at Christmas. Open Tuesday - Saturday 8.30am to 5.30pm, Sunday 10am to 1pm. 01420 538104. More here.
Mr Whiteheads Cider Company. Real traditional cider, scrumpy and perry without additives or preservatives. Range of strengths and flavours including interesting single varietal ciders. Sold in many local shops, pubs and markets but also direct from source, here, in bottles, barrels or polypins. Also local bottled beers and English wines. The Old Granary, Hartley Park Farm, Selborne, Alton, Hampshire GU34 3HS. Half way between Selborne and Alton. 01420 511733. Finally, if you must visit a supermarket (and let's face it, we all must at times), think about giving Budgens in Midhurst a try. They make a real effort to stock a proper range of local producers (and a full range of their produce) and deserve some encouragement... and you're likely to find a few pleasant surprises there.
Eating out... So many fine places to eat out at Christmas around Petersfield, but if you're looking for that Falstaffian, Pickwickian sense of replete rotundity, of all's-well-with-the-world and hail-fellow-well-met (and frankly it's what we want at this time of the year), we'd particularly recommend the following...
The Thomas Lord. Appearing in both pub and restaurant columns, it's a great place to drop in for a pint, but come back for a meal and be as amazed as we were at the quality of the food. Highly skilled but not madly ostentatious cooking, drawing on local suppliers and traditional English menus (in the best way), so anticipate game, fish, organic vegetables and old-fashioned puddings all prepared with great attention to flavour, beautifully presented and balanced. Excellent wine list with many available by small or large glass, half or full bottle. A real clubby atmosphere (in the best way) with roaring fires and big leather chairs, the Lord can comfortably accommodate anything from dinner à deux to large parties. Proper linen and heavy cutlery is a nice touch. Real value too - even the bill comes as a pleasant surprise. Just fabulous, and our dining pub of the year (Western front). 01730 829244. GMAP Also see our pub review here.
The Trooper Inn, Froxfield, 3 miles. Very much a dining pub and pretty much an out and out restaurant, with room for a hundred or more covers in two bars and any number of alcoves and annexes. The specials blackboard changes ever day and features a great range of genuinely tempting dishes, running from British classics delivered with imagination through modern European to a good handful of Asian-influenced dishes, backed up by a substantial a la carte menu. Shellfish features strongly. Excellent wine list is supplied by the General Wine Company. Place is warm and welcoming, a big fire going in the main bar and the walls dense with photographs and posters, hopbines and all that caper. The food enjoys an excellent reputation, it's a nice space to sit in, the staff know their onions and few visitors are going to be disappointed. Alton Rd, Froxfield. 01730 827 293 GMAP
The Keepers Arms. A finer and more consistent dining experience than it has ever been. Taken over and revamped in 2007 and given a design makeover appropriate to its shorter, sharper menu. Gets consistently great feedback, producing modern British food of an extremely high standard. Nicely balanced wine list and warm service. Undeniably more of a restaurant than a pub, but the generous lounging space in big leather sofas and armchairs by the fire give it a great, relaxed feel. Our dining pub of the year (Eastern front). 01730 813724 GMAP.
The Harrow, Steep, 2 miles; For lunch on a cold day within ten minutes of Petersfield centre, close to unbeatable. Beer strictly from the barrel, pea and ham soup that your spoon will stand up in and ye treacle tarte of Olde Englande. Who could wish for more? Tiny though, so get there early or late. 01730 262685. GMAP
The Hawkley Inn, Hawkley, 5 miles; everything you want a country pub to be; walking boots, wellies, horses, bikes, great beer and cider, rib-sticking pub grub, fire, moose, big garden. Seven beers change every week, always plenty of local ales. Get there: Follow signs for Hawkley from West Liss (Hawkley Road runs up the side of the Spread Eagle). 01730 827205, more at www.hawkleyinn.co.uk. GMAP
The Pub With No Name (aka the White Horse). Priors Dean, 4 miles. Big old pub in remote, appealingly bleak spot high up on the downs. Two snug bars inside, candle-lit and cluttered with old furniture have a dark, Jacobean feel which, in winter, warmed by open fires, is wonderfully welcoming. A brighter and lighter restaurant has been extended at the back, but we recommend eating in the bar. Food is traditional pub stuff but skilfully handled with excellent ingredients contributing to a good repertoire of standards backed by regularly changing specials. Excellent range of ales including its own No-Name bitter. Highly recommended. Check main listing for directions. Priors Dean, Hampshire, 01420 588387 GMAP
Three Horseshoes, Elsted. 7 miles. Ancient pub, great atmosphere, spectacular views over the downs, blazing fires inside, really very good. Food is classic British... Sussex lamb cutlets, Selsey crab, Scottish mussels, lobster salad, venison, Dover sole, and some extremely toothsome puddings. Beers are from the barrel, wine list is short but good. A local great. 01730 825746. GMAP
Shopping... Sick of the same old, same old? The press of the crowds, the soul-destroying homogeneity of the Christmas High Street? Here are some better places to shed your money and feel like you're having a nice time... and if they don’t do it for you, try Weald and Downland Open Air Museum Fabulous place to visit and a really nice shop too - really unusual stuff, worth a look at Christmas in particular, full of amazing stocking fillers. A Christmas favourite. Town Lane, Singleton, Chichester 01243 811363 brand. Good pitstop for coffee, chocolate, cake or lunch too... In Bakery Lane - the alley between Waitrose car park and Chapel Street. 01730 269847.
The go-to site for what makes life worth living in and around Petersfield, Hampshire, and some other stuff too. For flaneurs, bon vivants, indeed boulevardiers of every complexion - why go anywhere else?