This tiny island is a food lover's paradise – brimming with fresh seafood, great cider, and devishishy rich cream. Here's where to find its best bites...
“The hedgerows are alive with food,” says Tara of Wild Guernsey as she leads a group of wide-eyed city dwellers through the island's rolling green fields. She points out wild garlic, salad leaves and edible mushrooms, breaking off parts of the plants to nibble on. Food doesn't get much fresher than this, and it flourishes – free of charge – in Guernsey's fertile soil.
Whether you're drawn to the concept of living (and eating) closer to nature, or simply fancy an invigorating walk in the woods, an afternoon with Tara and D'Arcy of Wild Guernsey will introduce you to the fascinating world of foraging. They'll take you down to the coast, too, to gather bundles of seaweed and sea kelp (tastier than you'd think), and fill you up with home-made nature-fresh snacks.
Chef Tony Leck is originally from the Lake District, but you won't find anyone more evangelical about Guernsey's bounteous produce. He came to the island in search of the freshest, finest ingredients – and stayed to open The Pavillion, a sleek brasserie in St. Pierre Park Hotel.
25 years after Leck first came to the island, he's still cooking up a storm – and has even produced his own recipe book. Don't miss his hand-picked crab and local water scallops, complemented by Guernsey-grown herbs and potatoes. For desert, sample the island's rich dairy heritage for yourself: Leck's pannacotta of hedgerow rhubarb is a particular favourite – with Guernsey cream custard, of course.
Taste of Guernsey festival (Visit Guernsey)
The International Food Festival brings together some of Guernsey's finest food producers – from mushroom growers and herb farmers, to fruit juice blenders and gin distillers. It might be international by name, but the focus of the festival is very much on local grub.
The beach-front city of St Peter Port comes to life every September with pop-up restaurants, live cooking stages, and market stalls groaning under the weight of freshly-picked produce. The week-long festival attracts islanders and tourists alike – it's busy, friendly, and very very filling.
What do you do when your vegetable patch is overflowing with more produce than you can eat? You pop the excess in a box and leave it in a hedgerow, of course. Passing drivers or walkers can take whatever they fancy, and if you have an honesty box they can leave a donation too.
'Hedge veg' is a brilliant example of community spirit in action – and it has fed Guernsey families for decades. The possibilities are endless: from just-plucked carrots and windfall apples, to juicy blackberries and boxes of eggs. If you're in self-catered accommodation, look in your local hedgrerows before heading to the shops for supplies. You never know what you might find...
Golden Guernsey goat (Visit Guernsey)
Peter and Mandy Girard have kept Golden Guernsey goats since 2000, an idea that started as a hobby but blossomed into a fledgling business. “I wanted to give my grandchildren something to be proud of,” says Peter when he's quizzed about his unusual past time. “Golden Guernsey goats are endangered, so we wanted to help keep the breed alive – and show people how wonderful their milk is.”
They've certainly succeeded: their melt-in-the-mouth cheeses are flavoursome and fresh – some are blended with garlic and chili, while others are delicious in their simplicity. In spring, you can help to feed the goats too, and Mandy and Peter's enthusiasm for their farm is inspiring. Visit their Facebook page for details – you'll need to contact them directly to organise a visit. Alternatively, you'll find their Golden Guernsey goats' cheese at Tapenade deli in St Peter Port.
Cider afficionado James really knows his stuff: he grew up in England's West Country (famed for its apple brews), and he's now the boss of Guernsey's top cider producer. Rocquette Cider comes in two bottled varieties (6% and 4.5% proof), and a very drinkable draft version that's brimming with flavour. You'll find them in the island's best pubs.
Local people come to James's orchards to help out with the harvest and take part in the annual Wassail – a winter drinking ceremony to toast the new crop's success. Some even bring apples from their own trees and orchards, to be processed by the Rocquette brewery – and they're given cider and apple juice in return.
St Peter Port seafront (Visit Guernsey)
High on a hill above St Peter Port, Hotel Ziggurat is one of a kind. This new boutique bolthole is brimming with South American flair – think vibrant hand-woven wall hangings, ornate mirrors and golden lamps, and the most stylish tableware you've ever encountered (trust us – you'll be hankering after its mix-and-match style).
Meanwhile, the restaurant's menu transports you to the Middle East – for tasty mezze, tagines and platters of baklava. But the real star of the show? The view of St Peter Port, the sea, and Herm and Sark islands on the horizon. For the best vistas, snuggle up in one of the hotel's cute garden sheds (loaded with cushions, a sound system and heater), with cocktails blended by the bar's expert baristas.
The Old Government House has operated as a hotel since 1858, but its story dates back to 1796, when it was the residence of Guernsey's governer. The rather regal mansion overlooks St Peter Port, and is still the only five-star hotel on the island – with spectacular restaurants to match.
There's no finer spot to sample afternoon tea – a feast of Champagne, sandwiches, and scones topped with Guernsey cream. The Brasserie Restaurant is a sunny spot for a leisurely lunch, while The Crown Club lounge has all the charm and style of a London member's club. Whatever your mood or occasion, there's something to keep everyone happy here.
Main image: Alfresco dining, Guernsey (Visit Guernsey)
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