On My Doorstep

I live right at the very tip of North Oxfordshire, Warwickshire is just a few hundred yards to the north and Northamptonshire a similar distance to the east.

The nearest town is Banbury just four miles away and on my doorstep are a number of food producers, from home based jam makers to international producers.

Top of the list has to be the world famous Banbury Cake, first made in the town in the late 16th century and still produced in the area. Similar to an Eccles cake though a little flatter and more of a lozenge shape, best served warm the recipe is still a secret though mischievous locals will tell you the filling is dead flies !

The town also lends its name to a local delicacy , Banbury Apple Pie, again dating back many years there are numerous recipes available. Made with sliced eating apples and dried fruit in a short pastry crust it is delicious with a scoop of buffalo ice cream from the nearby herd of Napton Water Buffaloes.

In the 13th century may of the villages in the area produced Banbury Cheese, it figured strongly in historic circles as a gift to many significant figures of the day. Its production declined and it faded into history though it crops up in Shakespeares Merry Wives of Windsor where Bardolph insults Abraham Slender by calling out to him ” You are as thin as a Banbury Cheese” .

Beer has also played a big part in the area, Hunt Edmunds who at their peak owned over 100 pubs in and around Oxfordshire, absorbed by M & B in the sixties many of the former pubs are marked by plaques. Hook Norton on the fringe of the Cotswolds is a Victorian Tower brewery and brews the very popular Hooky beer.

Lighthorne Lamb is found just up the road to Warwick and back in Banbury we find Europes largest instant coffee plant, Fyne Ladye Bakery who produce much of the bread sold in the countries supermarkets and an industrial unit that is home to all the buns used by Burrger King.

A local lunch then today, a plate of local lamb chops with a pint of Hooky, bread and cheese and a slice of apple pie with a dollop of Napton Buffalo ice cream. Teatime I might mange a warm Banbury cake and a mug of Maxwell House Coffee.

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