Taste of Jersey - 10 ways to enjoy its flavours

by Julia Hunt

From famous potatoes to fabulous fresh seafood, creamy dairy produce, cider and even wine, Britain's most southerly isle is heaven for hungry visitors.

A mild climate, clean seas and a traditional agricultural system ensures Jersey produces a wide range of excellent local produce. Top chefs such as Jamie Oliver source ingredients from Jersey, while others like Marco Pierre White plan to open their own establishments on the island. Whether you want to sample food in island restaurants, buy it direct from farmers to cook yourself, or see it made at a traditional festival, there are many ways to taste Jersey. Here are 10 for all budgets to enjoy:

1. Go Gourmet – Jersey has two Michelin star restaurants which use local ingredients to create elaborate dishes. For a summer evening, Ocean at the Atlantic Hotel (Le Mont de la Pulente, St Brelade; Tel: 01534 744101; www.theatlantichotel.com) has the best sea views. Chef Mark Jordon’s tasting menu (five courses £70) includes items like roasted turbot from the bay below, hand-dived scallops with fennel foam and ravioli of Jersey Beef. In town, Bohemia (Green Street; Tel: 01534 876500; www.bohemiajersey.com) has a slicker atmosphere with a lively cocktail bar. Small groups can opt to sit in the kitchen and watch chef Shaun Rankin working on dishes like his signature Treacle Tart.(Three courses £49.50)

2. Seaside Sandwiches – You don’t have to spend a fortune to sample island produce. The Hungry Man, (Havre de Rozel, St Martin), sells fresh picked crab sandwiches (£2.95) from its bright painted beach house on the pier, while in Bouley Bay, where divers plunge for scallops, Mad Mary’s van serves Island-ground coffee from Coopers, and home-made scones and cakes.

3. Celebrate Cider – Apples were once Jersey’s largest crop and in the 1830s the island produced 300,000 gallons of cider a year for export to the UK. A few orchards have been replanted and cider is now produced locally on a small scale. La Robeline sells cider from a wagon, towed by a steam-engine, at farmer’s markets. At Hamptonne, (La Rue de la Patente, St Lawrence; www.jerseyheritage.org), you can see cider made the traditional way at the Fais’ sie d’Cidre festival, 15-16 October 2011.

4. Black Butter - Known as Nièr beurre, in Jèrriais, the Norman patois, Black Butter is another delicacy made from apples. You can join the community making this thick, spicy jam 20-22 October 2011 at The Elms, (La Chève Rue, St Mary; www.nationaltrustjersey.org.uk) where they use more than a thousand pounds of apples to fill over 300 jars.

5. Jersey Cows – With their long eyelashes Jersey’s pedigree cows are the beauty queens of cattle and the high fat content of their milk also makes unctuous dairy produce too. Jersey Dairy (www.jerseydairy.je) has a range of ice-cream which includes strawberry, dark chocolate and lemon meringue flavours, while for cheese, Classic Herd (Manor Farm, La Route de Manoir, St Peter) produces a wonderful creamy Brie which is sold in the Co-Op (£4.95) and appears on restaurant cheese platters e.g. for £10.50 at Sirocco in The Royal Yacht Hotel, (Weighbridge, St Helier; Tel: 01534 720511; www.theroyalyacht.com).

6. Tennerfest – Throughout October more than 100 restaurants take part in Tennerfest, www.tennerfest.com a food festival, offering fixed price menus from £10. Now in its 15th year, the six week festival, which runs from 1 October-12 November 2011, is a bargain way to check out sophisticated restaurants.

7. Visit a Vineyard - Set in the North of the island, La Mare is a short walk along pedestrian-friendly Green Lanes from St John’s Village or a pleasant bus ride on the Number Seven from St Helier. The vineyard produces over 40,000 bottles of wine a year, including traditionally made sparkling wine, along with still white, red and rosé which retail for about £8-10 a bottle. Tours of the vines and production areas (£8.25 for adults) are available all week from the end of March to end of October. ( La Route de Hogue Mauger; Tel: 01534 481178; www.lamarewineestate.com )

8. Jersey Royals - Grown on steep slopes facing the sea, fertilised with vraic (seaweed), Jersey Royals are as oceanic as potatoes get. Pick them up from roadside stalls across the island e.g. on the main road at l’Etaq, where you leave money in an honesty box, or from a farm shop like Farm Fresh Organics (La Bienvenue Farm La Grande Route de St Laurent, St Lawrence; Tel: 01534 861773 ; www.farmfreshorganics.com)

9. Lots of Lobsters and Oodles of Oysters – Jersey’s coastline is dotted with lobster creels while oysters are cultivated in Royal Grouville Bay. Good Seafood restaurants include The Bass and Lobster (Gorey Coast Road, St Martin; Tel: 01534 859590; www.bassandlobster.com) which has daily fish specials, and The Oysterbox (St Brelade’s Bay; Tel: 01534 743311; www.oysterbox.co.uk) which serves Jersey Royal Bay Noisettes and the larger Special No. 3s (six oysters from £5.50).

10. Genuine Jersey - Set up in 2001 to help promote local produce, Genuine Jersey is a useful label to help you identify seasonal food which is grown or landed on the island. Restaurants which are members of Genuine Jersey include the Castle Green Gastropub (La Route de la Cote, St Martin; Tel: 01534 840218; www.castlegreenjersey.co.uk), which serves international delicacies like hand-carved Iberico ham or truffle flavour chunky chips along with local items such as purple sprouting broccoli or island-reared beef burgers. Salty Dog Bistro (Le Boulevard, St Aubin's Village; Tel: 01534 747157; www.saltydogbistro.com)  also favours Genuine Jersey produce, transforming local ingredients with oriental flavours. Sea bream baked in banana leaves with coriander, lime, crushed peanuts and hot and sour sauce, is a delicious fusion-fest perfectly complemented by the view of the harbour.

Hotels with good restaurants include:

The Club Hotel and Spa: In the centre of St Helier, bedrooms at The Club Hotel and Spa carry on the slick lines of the Bohemia restaurant below. Rooms are compact but well appointed with Bang & Olufsen equipment, Frette sheets and granite bathrooms. If you plan on eating at Bohemia reserve your table when you book your room. Rooms from £215 including breakfast although spa packages and other offers sometimes available. (Green Street, St Helier)

The Atlantic Hotel: Overlooking St Ouen’s Bay, The Atlantic Hotel contains The Michelin-starred Ocean restaurant. Decorated in shades of blue and cream, the luxurious bedrooms and public areas have a chic Art Deco vibe. Facilities include a large outdoor pool, tennis court and landscaped gardens which lead towards La Moye golf course. Rooms from £150 including breakfast (Le Mont de la Pulente, St Brelade)

The Royal Yacht Hotel: With its glass walls and modern interiors it’s hard to believe the Royal Yacht is one of Jersey’s oldest hotels. Rooms in the new building are spacious and stylish with warm wood, sand and sea blue furnishings. Balconies look out onto the harbour and there’s an adult only spa with indoor pool for guests to relax after a day shopping or sitting drinking Champagne on the terrace. Rooms from £125 including breakfast (Weighbridge, St Helier)

Airlines flying direct to Jersey include British Airways from Gatwick (www.britishairways.com), BMI Baby from East Midlands, Cardiff, Manchester and Bournemouth, and Flybe from Gatwick, Norwich, Birmingham, Doncaster, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness. In addition, Easyjet fly all year from Liverpool and will be operating summer flights from Glasgow. [Note from editors: The flybe routes are now operated by Easyjet]

Condor Ferries sail from Poole, Weymouth and Portsmouth.