I first came across Cumbrian Kitchen when I was sent a hamper of delicious produce one Christmas. Unlike the standard fare packed into most grocery-store hampers, it contained only produce from Cumbria, which gave it a really distinctive flavour (in all senses of the word).
I’ve since discovered that the company is run by Jane and Joe Mathews from their farmhouse near Penrith. Having supplied good food locally for 28 years, they decided to offer a hamper and gift-basket service (with overnight courier delivery, £12.50), so that anyone in the country can enjoy these Cumbrian specialities. Even better, they let you choose the individual ingredients that go into your hamper.
I’ve always found that certain items in conventional hampers lurk, untouched, since no one likes them. With Cumbrian Kitchen’s hampers, though, you can just pack it with your favourite produce. I’m planning to fill one of their attractive wicker picnic baskets (£15) or drop-handle shopping baskets (£8) with goodies and send it to a friend for a special family celebration this autumn. It will contain a Woodalls of Waberthwaite 1kg ham, £15.50, Morecambe Bay potted shrimps, £2.45, Burbush’s award-winning Penrith pork pie, £8.64, Saddleback Smokery’s Cumberland sausage, £4.90, Cumberland Farmhouse cheese, £6.80, Cumberland shortbread, £2.95, and toffee and fudge from Penrith’s Toffee Shop, £5.63. I’m also toying with the idea of including Romney’s Kendal Mint Cake, £2.73, just for fun. After all, it’s a truly Cumbrian speciality.