Just in case you hadn’t noticed, the food and drink produce industry in the county has never been so productive and successful.
Whether it be artisan goats cheese, spicy pickles or the ever-growing array of beers and spirits being produced across Northamptonshire, you can try a bit of what you fancy on your doorstep.
And what better way to sample some of those local delights than lunch at Beckworth Emporium?
For the uninitiated, Beckworth is a marvellous combination of farm shop, garden centre, gift shop and restaurant which has something for everyone.
And it seemed appropriate to make one of my family’s increasingly regular visits in the final few days before the Northamptonshire Food Awards.
Many of the producers and products up for those awards are either sold or served at Beckworth.
So, with six-year-old daughter and three-year-old son in tow, and knowing that Beckworth has always been family friendly, I ventured to Mears Ashby once more for Sunday lunch.
It should be noted that although Beckworth’s specials generally include more traditional Sunday lunch fare, the standard menu is based around hearty lunch food.
I have to confess that my mind about what to order was already made up before pulling into the car park.
With the two children alongside me, I had already decided that the always excellent deli platter for two could be shared by all three of us, if it was supplemented by a hot beef, mozarella and onion panini.
The platter is always a real treat.
It features Smoked Blacky ham, Wurst salad, your choice of mackerel pâté or Brixworth pâté, Stilton, Innkeepers Choice pickled onion and chive cheddar and Wookey Hole Cheddar, served with dressed mixed baby leaves, marinated olives, “Forest” Special Real Ale Chutney, fresh slices of Cox Apple & La Brea bread.
And it is wonderful.
The ham was a little too smoked for the children, but they devoured the olives, bread and much of the cheese.
The highlight, for me, was the mackerel pâté, which was marvellous.
The beef and onion panini was also wonderful.
The only thing left on our platter and plates at the end of the meal was the salad leaves.
Three scoops of county-made Gallones ice cream followed to complete our meal.
My only moan is about the price of the drinks. Beckworth is by no means unique in charging what I think are unduly high prices for soft drinks.
A child’s orange juice, an apple juice and a ginger beer came to a combined £7.25.
It’s almost enough to drive you to drink.
Especially when you see the product you have been served in the restaurant for sale much cheaper in the farm shop.
This aside, the meal, atmosphere and service was top notch, as ever.
The Beckworth ethos to offer “fresh, wholesome food prepared using meat, fish, seasonal produce and ingredients from our food market and local producers whenever possible, served at your table in atmospheric, relaxed surroundings” sums up the venue’s dining experience perfectly.
A word of caution though.
You cannot book at Beckworth and it has become so popular that you may experience a short wait to be seated.
But, trust me, it will be well worth it.
DISABLED ACCESS: Excellent
COST OF OUR MEAL: £33.60
NEIL’S STAR RATING: 9/10
Glebe Road, Mears Ashby
Telephone: 01604 812371