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Discover the hidden delights of Wiltshire. 

Our members represent a rich community of independent local businesses providing quality and unique products and experiences.

Find local artisan food & drink, original products, art, local shops, events, local accommodation & experiences.

  • Pythouse Kitchen Garden Café & Shop

    Many of today’s visitor’s to the Pythouse Kitchen Garden remember running around the Victorian walled garden as children...»

  • Sophie's Barn

    When Sophie Edme-Waite first started making soaps she didn’t expect it to turn into a business. “My children have sensitive skin so I decided to make some natural, gentle soaps ...»

  • Complete Interiors

    In 2014, after more than 20 years working on high-end interior design projects in London and Surrey, Laura Colla launched her new shop, ...»

  • Mimo

    Sally Ballard has always worked with interiors. For a time she ran an antique shop and then her own interior design business. Discover her shop, Mimo...»

  • Rushall Manor

    Rushall Manor is a delightful Georgian house that dates back to the end of the 18th century. It is currently owned by Caroline Larken...»

  • Clementine's Shop

    “My mother ran Compton Marbling for over 35 years and organized gift fairs in the courtyard of our family home. When I moved back, I realised it was the perfect opportunity to create exactly the shop I’d always wanted.”...»

Alfresco dining

Gastro Nicks

2 July 2015

Summer has arrived. Family bbqs or summer evening suppers - no matter what the occasion, nothing creates a more relaxed environment than eating alfresco. Enjoying good food outdoors with friends and family is what summer entertaining is all about. Whether your outdoor space is confined to an urban patio, or you are fortunate enough to have a country garden, there are a few ways to be sure of an ambient dining experience. Entertaining in your garden allows you to have some fun with what you serve. Experiment with aperitifs and canapés. It's all about colour and flavour! Summer Cocktails are always a hit. Even when kept simple for quick and easy preparation, a light and fruity cocktail never fails to make your guests feel like you have really made an effort for them. You can offer your own Prosecco Cocktails. Adding a splash of flavoured gin to your glass of fizz is an easy way to create a fresh and fruity welcome drink for guests. A summer favourite is Rhubarb and Ginger Gin added to our Canella Prosecco. Wild Strawberry Vodka and lemonade also makes a very refreshing long drink. And for the less adventurous who wish to stick with Gin and tonic, these can still be made with a difference. Try cutting lemons into segments and freeze them. Drop a couple into your glass to provide all the chilled zestiness required for a cool and refreshing intro to your party. Don't forget the drivers! Non-alcoholic cocktails are just as refreshing and ensure that each and every one of your guests is catered for. Rhubarb and Lavender Cordial or Strawberry and Mint Cordial mixed with sparkling water can be served in a tall glass with some chilled fruit and ice. Simple canapés can be easily prepared for serving alongside aperitifs. For a Mediterranean feel, opt for warm asparagus spears wrapped in Parma Ham dusted with grated Pecorino Cheese and lemon zest coupled with shavings of Parmesan Cheese topped with Balsamic Jelly. Both are perfect for a summer evening. Crostini with Bath Soft or Cornish Blue cheese topped with a spot of Fig Fruit Caviar or even a pastry cup filled with Caponata of Eggplant topped with Goats Cheese grilled for a minute or so also make quick, easy but utterly delicious nibbles. When it comes to the meal, keep the menu simple. Eating outdoors means you may have to contend with many unexpected elements. Presentation of food should be straightforward. You don't want a gust of wind to spoil a painstaking masterpiece of culinary artwork! Table presentation is key. If you are seeking a relaxed atmosphere for a BBQ, then bright colours make a bold statement. Bundles of coloured cutlery coupled with crisp coloured table linen can set the scene. Bright melamine plates and cups can serve as a practical alternative to your best China as well as fitting well with your theme. Salads should be prepared and served in glass bowls to act as your table decorations. For a more sophisticated feel, opt for white table linen, your best china and crystal. A centre piece of large floral stems can be used to add a splash of colour. Peppering the table with lightly scented candles can also add to the ambiance of any summer evening. Name places can be used outdoors too and remember to protect your table setting from the summer breeze by weighing down your linen with glass pebbles. Lighting is as important outdoors as it is indoors when it comes to setting the mood. Turn off any outdoor security lights and instead drape strings of fairy lights over some of you trees or shrubs. Tea lights in jars or mini lanterns are also a great way to light pathways when dusk sets in. The last thing to do for your balmy summer evening party is to enjoy it.      Gastro Nicks is a high quality delicatessen & wine merchant in Collingbourne Ducis near Marlborough.  Everything is available online and from their deli and this Saturday 4th July you're invited for a drink and samples at a garden themed party.  There's 10% off when you spend over £10.   http://www.gastronicks.co.uk/  


Posh Picnics

Gastro Nicks

3 June 2015

Winter is now firmly behind us. Open the windows, turn the central heating off and dig out your favourite flip flops. The long summer days play host to many wonderful music festivals, sporting events and fun filled occasions with family or friends. This can only mean one thing - the picnic season is upon us.  Relaxing whilst grazing over a mini feast for the whole day is a great way to spend some precious free time. Whether you are lazing by a quiet stream reading a novel or playing rounders with 16 children in a meadow, there is no arguing that food always tastes so much better when eaten outdoors. In true Great British style, I have heard some say that to be sure of a successful picnic, you need the weather. Not so. I have attended many amazing picnics where we held onto our hats or sheltered from the rain under the open boot of a 4x4. Obviously good weather is appreciated, as is good company but the single most important thing about a good picnic is having great food and drink. Whether you are planning a romantic picnic for you and your significant other or a fabulous feast for friends, choose your ingredients carefully. A romantic picnic with champagne, strawberries and dipping chocolate is fantastically indulgent. Your fizz should be cold and served in glass flutes always. A sparkling wine never tastes the same from a plastic beaker! The strawberries should be sumptuously sweet and the chocolate sauce for dipping, as if made especially for picnicking comes packaged in re-sealable jars. Perfect. Alternatively, preparing a Mediterranean feast for friends can be just as luxurious. Choose Italian flat breads and ciabattas. Forget butter, thinly spread fresh pesto or tapenade before layering slices of salami and cheese. Rather than wrapping in cling film, take some extra time with your presentation. Using a piece of grease proof paper to wrap around your bread, secure with string. I promise you, it is like opening up a little gift. If you prefer, everyone can make their own at the picnic. Have a platter of various cold meats and cheeses accompanied with chutneys and jellies. Crudités should be prepared for dipping in hummus, succulent olives stuffed with garlic or lemon are another great addition to the picnic. To satisfy your sweet tooth, prepare some pineapple, strawberry, kiwi and grapes. Again, bring along the secret weapon of dipping chocolate. You can always have some marshmallows tucked away too. All this can be served with a light cordial. My personal favourite is blackcurrant and basil. It's light and refreshing and can be mixed with still or sparking water. You can even add a dash to some prosecco. Summertime in a glass. Now preparing these fabulous picnics is all well and good however you cannot start planning without one key item. A plastic backed picnic rug. These are undoubtedly the single best 'picnic' invention. Doubling up as a barrier against damp ground and a cosy blanket to wrap up chilly children when the cool wind picks up, no picnic would be the same without one. Tupperware is another picnic must have. I am not talking about the ugly Tupperware you use to store leftover bolognese in your fridge (although this does the job too). I have discovered a whole new concept of picnic ready Tupperware. Coloured bowls with airtight tops available in every size, perfect for transporting and serving mouth-watering salads, dips and dishes. They look good on your picnic rug, prevent your fruit salad from ending up in the foot well of your car enroute to the picnic and act as the perfect deterrent for those pesky wasps. Hmmmm, all this said, I must dash. I am off to plan a picnic! Gastro Nicks is a high quality delicatessen based in Collingbourne Ducis near Marlborough - all their artisan produce is available from their shop and online www.gastronicks.co.uk      


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