One of my enduring memories of Paris is eating lunch at a sidewalk café on the Rue Cler next to a table at which the most radiant French family was also dining. Their party included several small children, all wearing outfits that appeared to cost substantially more than the contents of my entire wardrobe, and all sitting politely and using utensils to do adept things like remove slices of buffalo mozzarella from a deconstructed caprese salad served in a jam jar. They were the embodiment of Pamela Zuckerman’s book, French Children Don’t Throw Food, and I experienced a moment of deep national envy.
But never fear: Even if the manners and tastes of your little ones are lacking the luster of my ideal French family, it’s no reason to compromise your own gastronomic ambitions on your next holiday in the Cotswolds. Granted, you’re probably not going to be dining avec les tout-petits at any Michelin-starred restaurants, although, for the record, there are four of them in the area, including the three-starred Le Champion Sauvage in Cheltenham. Instead, try one of the options in our family-friendly foodie guide, each handpicked to keep all ages’ palates pleased.
A gourmet guide
It’s the mainstay of childrens’ diets around the world, whether served on toast or atop macaroni. Luckily the Cotswolds is full of it, from Double Gloucester to goats’ milk varieties. Look out for offerings from the Windrush Valley Goat Dairy and CerneyCheese while shopping at the acclaimed Saturday Stroud Farmers’ Market or The Cotswold Table, a newer market with a growing reputation that takes place on select Sundays in Kingham. Alternately, if royal baby mania has drawn you to the market town of Tetbury—home to new grandparents Charles and Camilla—stop in the House of Cheese. It specializes in farm-made cheeses and stocks 120 types.
Let’s face it, you’re going to need some wine to go with all that cheese. The Ox House WineCompany in Northleach specializes in offerings from small producers around the world. Indulge in their great selection of wines by the glass while the kids enjoy a hot chocolate. Don’t miss the wine barn in the back for great bottles to take away. As an added bonus, the World of Mechanical Music is just across the square and offers and eccentric assortment of self-playing music and automata to keep the kids amused.
Why not make a day of gluttony at one of the many food festivals that take place throughout the Cotswolds? The British Asparagus Festival in the Vale of Evesham includes a mascot, Gus the Asparagus Man, and, this year, an asparagus-shaped soapbox cart, the AsparaCart. In other words, it just may succeed in making vegetables interesting to your kids. Other festivals to be on the lookout for include the Cheltenham Food Festival, and the Cotswold Food and Farming Festival in Bourton-on-the-Water.
Farm-to-table eating is all the rage, and there’s no better place to teach kids about where food comes from than the Cotswolds. Start with a visit to a working farm like Butts Farm in South Cerney, near Cirencester. The shop is open year round, and, from Easter until the end of September, kids can help bottle feed lambs, collect eggs, and milk goats. To up the luxury quotient, stop into Daylesford Organic near Kingham, the mothership of the eponymous outlets in London, Surrey, and Tokyo. The food produced for their shop and café doesn’t come cheap, but it does come straight from their animals, creamery and market garden and tastes divine.
End your visit to the Cotswolds on a sweet note with an evening at The Pudding Club in Mickleton, a lovely village
on the northern edge of the Cotswolds, close to both Hidcote Manor Garden and Stratford-upon-Avon. The lofty aim of The Pudding Club is to preserve the traditional English pudding, from Sussex Pond to Spotted Dick, but it’s really just an excuse to eat seven puddings for supper. For something simpler but just as sweet, try Winstones Cotswold Ice Cream Shop on the edge of the National Trust’s Rodborough Common.
Note: This post originally appeared on HomeAway.co.uk on the same date it’s back-published here.