Article - Local food can match anything round the world

As any reader who happens to glance at this column on a regular basis will have observed, I have often used it to celebrate the remarkable renaissance of good food that has occurred in West Dorset over the past couple of decades.

Nothing has done more to encourage this admirable trend than the 'Taste of the West' awards. These have acted both as a useful method of branding the best delicacies produced in the south west and also as a spur to the producers to achieve higher and higher levels of quality and taste.

I was therefore delighted to see, this last week, that makers and purveyors of fine foods in West Dorset have once again topped the charts in this year's Taste of the West awards. I have never personally tasted the winning sorbet from the splendidly named Baboo Gelato of Bridport or the savoury pastries from the equally brilliantly named Wobbly Cottage of Stoke Abbott, or even the apple juice produced very near to my own home by Marshwood Scrumpers; but I am now going to go and find examples of all three of these products, because I have ample experience from my tastebuds in the past that the winning entries in Taste of the West competitions are not things to be missed.

I was also delighted to see Dorset House in Lyme Regis, a representative of the new generation of hotels and B&Bs that have done so much to raise the standard of what we offer to tourists in West Dorset, has been recognised through the award of a special prize for comfort and aesthetic delights that include, but go beyond, what lands on the tongue.

But it was also reassuring to see that, amongst the prizes for so many new and exciting additions to the foodie scene in our part of the world the grandfather of all of these splendid transformations - Denhay - has once again quite rightly been recognised as a maker of meats that can match or outmatch anything produced anywhere in the world. I know this is quite a claim, but as someone fanatically interested both in travel and in eating, I have good evidence that the claim is true.

I still remember the time, many years ago, when a French bakery brought one of its ovens to Sherborne as part of a fair involving a dozen European towns, each displaying their wares and artistic productions.

There was a queue stretching halfway down Cheap Street for the bread made in those French ovens.

That wouldn't happen today. Now you can get marvellous locally made bread in Sherborne (and elsewhere in West Dorset too).

It may not sound that big a deal: but the fact is that, for bread eaters, the quality of your life and the quality of the bread you eat have a surprising amount to do with one another.