Date and time: Saturday 2 May 2015, 11:00am
Name of Establishment: Marshfield Farm
Location: Chippenham, SN14 8LE
Reason for visit: An access all areas invitation to Marshfield Farm...a.k.a. An all-things-ice cream experience. Yes please!
Driving up the single-track road towards Marshfield Farm has become something of a pilgrimage for ice cream enthusiasts Nationwide. The demand for this top-end dairy ice cream (made since 1988, with organic milk produced each day from the farm's 200-strong herd of Friesians), generating the need for an ice cream parlour; one that opens its doors each weekend from April-September. This is a friendly, rustic space which focuses on the main event without the need for glitzy decor or gimmicky flavours. In essence, we're talking all the fun of the farm - ride-on tractors and scooters for the kids, a milking cow (affectionately named Howard by my eldest niece) and a chance to meet the latest additions to the herd...so cute! Ice cream can be enjoyed by the scoop – or as part of a sundae if you're feeling especially adventurous - and is also available to purchase to take home in various quantities and flavours...
More later on what is, without doubt, a tantalising array of flavours but for now...Trussed up in our white coats and hair nets, owner Dawn Hawking showed us around the factory. It's amazing how the entire process from milking to packaging takes place pretty much under one roof and with only 40 members of staff running the show, ice cream from Marshfield Farm can be enjoyed throughout the UK and beyond. For instance, we were informed that the ice cream served in the Sharm El Sheikh branch of the Hard Rock Café would come from the very room in which we were stood; which is pretty incredible given the artisan feel that emanates this rather modest space. We learned of the six-hour stabilising process to ensure that the ice creams' consistency remains intact and also how a food technologist scrutinises the ingredients in order to guarantee that they fulfill the criteria which underpins the company's all-natural ethos. Thus, chocolate brownies are sourced from nearby Marshfield Bakery, fudge pieces are from Devon and fruit from the Vale of Evesham. As a result, all products are created without artificial colours, flavours and preservatives and are free from hydrogenated palm oil. The perfectly pink appearance of ‘Succulent Strawberry’ for example, is derived from beetroot rather than any of the nasties you may well find elsewhere. Furthermore, all Marshfield products are suitable for vegetarians, most are gluten free and all are GM free – win! We discussed how new flavours are trialed and I can reveal that there are some fantastic flavours in the offing for this year's festive season, (watch this space!) along with some innovative creations - rich both in terms of texture and taste - intended to accompany dessert in a restaurant setting.
So now for those all-important flavours and it's fair to say that, for me at least, there wasn't one encountered that wasn't well received. That said, favourites included the 'Funky Banana' which was swirled with thick chocolate sauce and loaded with a generous measure of creamy fudge pieces and the 'Luscious Lemon'; a new addition to the range with a flash of zesty citrus...an ice cream with a palate cleansing quality which would suitably pair a rich pudding or, in our case, amply prep our taste buds for the next sample! My mum particularly favoured the ‘rich clotted cream’ and the variation of this which had been muddled with real blackcurrant pieces; confirming that the fruit here wasn't the usual freeze-dried variety that amounts to that unpleasant icy crunch! Of the flavours scooping a coveted 'Great Taste' award, the 'Mango Madness' proved a winner for us, the sweetness of the mango offsetting the tart of its raspberry ripple to perfection. The children, and the big kids amongst us (myself included) were also really rather taken with the Candy Floss Crush, it's strawberry milkshake style appeal reminiscent of sunshiney evenings from my childhood. In fact, this flavour was so unanimously enjoyed, that we took a whole 8 litres of it home between us...yes really! The frozen yogurt had been made with real yogurt rather than a powdered equivalent and established a vivid flavour and rouger texture as a result; tasty!
|Sundaes on a Saturday|
Rather than a second opinion, I will suggest that taming two under-fives with anything at all is quite an achievement. Consequently, the silence that ensued once they had a sundae each in-hand seemed to speak volumes...great stuff!
|Homemade Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich...yum!|