Nailsworth: your one-stop shop
PUBLISHED: 16:52 19 November 2015 | UPDATED: 16:52 19 November 2015
This year why not make like mother of three Hannah, and buy all your Christmas shopping in Nailsworth… you'll be spoiled for choice
If Nailsworth was tested for business health, medics would discover it has a strong pulse. This small but self-contained market town is ever evolving and changing. On the one hand there are the constants - the faithful family-owned enterprises who have been around for a while; whilst on the other hand there are the changers - entrepreneurs who move out to expand their businesses giving way to new ones who come with fresh ideas and services. Or indeed they might just move a few doors down the road into a bigger building. It makes it an exciting place to be and at this time of year when we are looking for inspiration for festive treats, bespoke gifts, stocking fillers and places to have a culinary treat to celebrate the Christmas season, Nailsworth is in a great position to offer something different for visitors and locals alike.
Two new food businesses are opening in time for Christmas. One is a wine bar and deli, complete with an impressive wine library and an exclusive ice cream range; the other is a vegan and gluten free deli and diner. The latter with its intriguing and unforgettable name Asparagasm, founded by Kate Lewis, has moved into Market Street and will provide an alternative eating experience proving just how delicious and creative vegan and gluten-free food can be.
Sushi with Season Greens and Avocado, Pretty Pad Thai, Primavera Beetroot Pie, Raw Chocolate Ganache with vegan Vanilla Pod Ice are just a taste of executive chef Paul Foster’s chef’s table menu. Since 2012 owner Kate has been piloting Asparagasm as a pop-up restaurant experience, featuring guest chefs and performers in unusual venues in London and feels now is the time to have a permanent base.
One of the things she stresses is “there will be absolutely no risotto.” But why I ask her? What’s wrong with risotto?
“If you eat out a lot and the choices are standard like risotto, it looks as if it is an add on, when I believe every dish on the menu should stand alone in terms of creativity, taste and presentation, “ says Kate, who also co-owns the Royal Oak in Tetbury.
“Nailsworth is such a brilliant town that is creative and changing. I felt I could contribute to community life here as well as contribute to the existing food and drink scene by bringing something original.”
Whilst running her supper clubs, Kate worked with Stroud Brewery to create a vegan pale ale, which won the London Vegan Beer Festival in 2014 and there is now also Asparagasm red and white vegan and biodynamic wine which will launch with the restaurant.
So what’s behind the name? “Asparagus is a seasonal vegetable which reflects the fact we cook with seasonal produce. Asm is Greek for a fearless warrior who bursts into song. Our avatar Asparagasm is the expression of a carefree pioneer who bursts with delight in her passion for vegetable love!” explains Kate.
Another enterprising venture is The Vault, a wine bar with a difference which will bring the empty HSBC building alive once again.
Husband and wife team, Greg and Caroline Saturley are no strangers to food and creating the right place to dine and socialise with their familiar rustic, unpretentious, retro style. They run The Canteen at Days Mill in the centre of town, and The Hog at Horsley, now an award-winning pub, a few minutes drive out of Nailsworth.
“We should be opening the doors in early December. As well as the wine bar, we will have a deli which will be an affordable luxury using products made by local people. We will have a salad bar, Mediterranean style (huge plateaux of salads) and a high end French patisserie,” says Caroline.
As well as serving an exclusive range of ice creams made by Clare Tyler-Sell, who set up a business, Sweethearts, with her sister in 2011; Caroline also aims to sell cheese made by Artisan Cheesemonger & Affineur Lisa Stephens, who owns her own cheese business Curds and Whey, in association with Woefuldane Organic Dairy. Live music is on the cards with a touch of jazz, as well as a creative way displaying their wines.
“Our wines will be stacked up on shelves right up the wall and we will be creating a wine library complete with a ladder you sometimes see in tall libraries. We want it to look quite theatrical with the deli bar extending from the open kitchen,” adds Caroline.
“When we moved to Nailsworth 15 years ago, the town was quite entrepreneurial and was still up and coming when businesses like Williams Kitchen and Hobbs came here. I think Nailsworth has a really good future and it feels safer to start a business here than in towns nearby.”
As for Christmas, there are a few plans afoot for the Canteen and The Hog.
“We will be having Father Christmas down at The Canteen to do Elfie Selfies and we will be serving a turkey-free Christmas meal. We believe turkeys are for the families to share on Christmas Day and we want to offer them something else leading up to the event,” states Caroline.
Foodies looking for a festive feast will find it in Nailsworth. The Olive Tree has a Mediterranean restaurant and pizzeria, Hobbs House Bistro offers fantastic breakfasts, lunches and afternoon treats; William’s Fish Market and Food Hall in Fountain Street is home to William’s Oyster Bar; Oldstone Restaurant run by Mike and Hilary Foster offers intimate dining with top class food; Nailsworth’s pubs such as The George Inn, The Britannia Inn, The Village Inn and Egypt Mill all have their own unique dining experience; and a number of cafes serve up delicious coffees and home-made cakes including Number 28 in Fountain Street and Nom Nom CupCakery. The latter, owned by Emily Murray, has an amazing range of sweet and savoury cup cakes. She will be baking festive recipes from December 1 which include Christmas pudding cup cakes with brandy butter, cranberry and white chocolate, After Eight brownies and gingerbread houses.
“I am always open to suggestions for new flavours, although there isn’t much we haven’t tried. This time of year our brownie and cookie mix jars make a great Christmas gift, as well as Rave Coffee pouches & Birchalls Tea to add to festive hampers. Christmas is a time for families and in the run up to the festive season, we often find people come in to buy boxes of cupcakes, cookies or mince pies to take with them when visiting family & friends,” admits Emily.
After enjoying one of Emily’s brownies, I pop into Wild Garlic, an award-winning restaurant boasting two rosettes, opened by Matthew and Hannah Beardshall eight years ago. Handmade stollen is Matthew’s must have ending whether diners choose the festive tapas including Festive Albondigas, made with pork and sage onion stiffing served with cranberry and port mayonnaise; the six course festive tasting menu or the more traditional three course dining celebration. There is also a Christmas Eve ‘Revellion’, a traditional French menu served at lunch and dinner and a six-course festive lunch on Christmas Day.
Mother of three Hannah, has set herself a goal to buy all her Christmas shopping in Nailsworth this year and thus pour money back into her local economy.
“The town always looks lovely at Christmas especially in Cossack Square where there is a large Christmas tree. Shopping in Nailsworth is brilliant as the town offers a personal shopping experience. Shop owners want to chat to you. They run their own businesses, care about them and want to provide a great service so that customers come back again,” says Hannah.
Marion Maas opened up English Heretic in Fountain Street two and half years ago, largely because she liked the ethos of the town, with its superb range of independent specialist shops.
“My aim was not to do shabby chic but rather concentrate on print, pattern, design and colour. I think Nailsworth is great, it has a wonderful choice of cafes and places to eat and traders are so friendly and supportive of one another.”
So then tips for that festive spree to find unusual unique gifts? In Nailsworth you can paint a dog bowl for your pet or special plate for a family member at Paint-a-Pot, now incorporating Colour Dancewear; buy some colourful yarns from Bobble and knit a hat, snood or wrist warmers as a handmade gift; tempt Santa with some marzipan, candy cane and chocolate tree decorations from Coco run by sisters Julie Fream and Monica Fowler; something wholesome from Shiny Goodness, a beautifully illustrated children’s book from The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop; buy a special bouquet from Jacaranda or book a needle-felt workshop for a creative friend at Mother Goose.
Originally in Market Street, Armed and Gorgeous and More Gorgeous combined shops a few months ago to take on a bigger premises literally doors away in Fountain Street. Owner Liz Gazzard says they have already noticed an increase in footfall and customers enjoy the spacious light lay-out.
“The new shop has some lovely architectural features and is a lot more spacious, allowing us to stock even more cutting edge jewellery. Many of our ranges are individual and handmade by British designers, other collections have been sourced from all over the world, so we offer customers a great choice. Alongside our leather bags and accessories, there is definitely something for everyone! I think Christmas will be wonderful in Nailsworth. We have free car parking and a lot of shops will be open on Sundays throughout December including ourselves,” says owner Liz.
As Liz and her shop manager Vicki Ruther moved out of Market Street, Kate Grunfeld moved in with her new womenswear and lifestyle business Honeytrap which stocks colourful fabrics and styles, clothing, handbags scarves, feather Kashmir ponchos and shoes.
Myles Robinson, Mayor of Nailsworth explains it a positive testimony of the town’s business health that empty shops are not left vacant for long.
“It is always sad to see one or two of our old businesses and friends leaving the town but it is always inspiring when new enterprises come in. This season is going to be no different in Nailsworth with new places to eat and drink and some exciting new specialist shops.”
As a regular cycling, running visitor to this town, I can testify that you can’t beat Nailsworth for its range of specialist individual shops such as Clobber, Buskin Shoes, Domestic Science, White Buffalo and Just Because. Clare Herrington, owner of Herringbone, who has a carefully curated collection of stylish fabrics, dressmaking patterns and quality haberdashery is proud to trade in Nailsworth.
“For Christmas presents, people want something a little bit different and because we have such a great choice of shops, there is no need to go out of town,” she states.
As I munch through my delicious vegan offerings at Asparagasm, again I am reminded of Nailsworth’s eclectic choice of eateries and restaurants. There is such a choice that one could dine somewhere different every day for at least 10 days. So being self-employed, with no colleagues to dine with, apart from my husband, I have no option but to do just that. I ask my boss where she will choose.
“Well,” I answer. “I think it is Wild Garlic on Saturday, Egypt Mill on Sunday, Asparagasm on Monday, Oldstone on Tuesday, The Olive Tree on Wednesday… and as for Christmas shopping, husband here is my wish list. Just go off to Nailsworth for the day.”