Archive for July, 2012

Meeting Mark Diacono

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

The Urban Farm!

We haven’t updated our blog with any Urban Farm info in a little while (we’re ever so sorry). Its just as it had been raining non-stop for what seems like forever, much of our fruit and veg took a fair amount of a battering due to over-flooding, so we didn’t have too much to write about!

However, the sun is now shining his little face off, so we thought we’d get back into the swing of it. Plus we wanted to fill you in about a recent meeting of ours with a wonderful chap, Mark Diacono.

Many of you probably already know, but for those who don’t, Mark Diacono is the ex-head gardener of River Cottage. The brainchild of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall.

Mark also runs ‘Otter Farm’ a 17 acre farm down in Devon. Otter Farm is the UK’s only climate change farm. It’s home to lots of lovely stuff – dwarf kiwis, orchards of olives, peaches, almonds, chocolate vine, Szechuan pepper, apricots and Japanese wineberries – to name just a few. Mark also has a forest garden, a vineyard and a perennial garden.

We were lucky enough to be introduced to Mark through our friend Tim Sanders from Discover Dorset, have a little look here at what Tim does (we’ve been on one of Tim’s Discover Dorset Tours and would highly recommend it!). After our introduction to Mark via Tim, we invited Mark to come and see what we’re all about! So he popped to see us for a day visit.

Mark seemed pretty excited about the Urban Farm, our little piece of land out in Sopley the New Forest, and the opportunities that it provides us with – we plant the seeds, they grow and flourish, we harvest the crop, bring it into our kitchen and plate it up for our customers. We get our customers enthused with our story and they go on to spread the word about the importance of ‘growing your own’.

After having a little look around Mark suggested we should extend our piece of land. We had a chat about a potential acre of vineyard to start growing our own grapes for wines –the staff got excited at the thought of this! We then got thinking about other things we could start to grow out there, such as planting an apple orchard to be able to produce our own cider, plus growing some other more high value crops. We also chatted to Mark about some of the stuff people don’t usually eat, such as the flowers from broad beans – we’re not going mad, it actually adds another dimension to eat certain flowers as part of your food.

Alas, our time with Mark came to end, but we felt there is so much more that we’d love to be able to learn from him and discuss with him, so we’re planning to invite him back for a BBQ at some point. We’ll pick some veg from the Urban Farm and enlist his help to cook it on the barbie.

If you want to find out more about Mark, you can have a little look at his website: and you can follow him on Twitter ‘@markdoc’ He’s a great guy, so we’d recommend you check out what he’s up to.


A bit of something naughty!

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
White choc and raspberry cheesecake

Don’t know about you, but we’re fed up of this awful weather! We’ve heard sunshine is just around the corner and that next week we’re due, dare we say it, a heat wave! But until then, we thought we give you a little something to cheer you up.

If you’re looking for something to do at home on one of these dull days we’re having, have a go at baking Kay the cakes ‘raspberry and white chocolate baked cheesecake’!

This scrumptious, delicious and very yummy recipe will make you a cheesecake fit to serve 12 people. And if you don’t want to share it, no worries, just tuck in. No one will ever know ;)


For the top of the cheesecake:

-           1kg soft cheese

-           5 whole eggs

-           300g melted white chocolate

-           100g raspberries

-           1 vanilla pod

For the biscuit base:

-           1 pack of digestive biscuits

-           Block of butter

For the compote:

-           1 punnet of raspberries

-           1 cup of sugar

-           1 vanilla pod



-  To start you’ll want to crush your biscuits. We find it best to pop them all in a tea towel and give them a good old smash on the kitchen side – don’t damage your kitchen side mind ;)

- Melt your butter on the hob. Once melted, add your biscuit crumbs and give it a good mix.

- Next, get a cake tin and push all of your biscuit crumb mixture to the bottom. Place your mixture in the fridge to cool for approximately one hour.

- Melt your white chocolate on the hob. Then take your soft cheese, whole eggs and vanilla pod and mix together. Add your melted chocolate to this mixture.

- Fold your raspberries through the mixture and once everything is blended together, remove the biscuit base mix from the fridge and add your topping.

- Preheat your oven to 150*C and pop your cake mixture in for approx half hour.

- While your cheesecake is cooking, you can make your accompanying compote. Add your punnet of raspberries, cup of sugar and other vanilla pod together in a pan and cook on the hob over a low heat for approx 20 / 25 minutes.

- Meanwhile, once your half hour is up, remove your cake from the oven and check if it wobbles – that’s right, we said check it for wobbly bits ;) – If it’s too wobbly pop it back in the oven for a few more minutes, if it’s just a little wobbly, leave it on the side to cool down and set.

There you have it. Tuck in! You can find this recipe and lots of other lovely stuff, including a cocktail recipe, info on our new cube and balcony and a bit about two very worthwhile charities, in our July e-newsletter. Enjoy. X