Now, much as I like scooting off to our local shops every few days, seeing what’s in season and choosing the best of what’s on offer, sometimes it’s nice to let someone else do the hard work for you. Especially on a rainy day in February when leaving the confines of your cosy kitchen seems like such a chore.
So, having been a user of the Riverford veg box scheme for many years I thought I’d try some of the other delivery services a go. PRETTY LOCAL came to my attention last year when they applied for (and then won) the Dartmouth Food Festival Business Start-up Award. Since then the business has gone from strength to strength and has recently been voted Best Online Retailer 2018/19 at the Food and Drink Devon Awards.
Owned, managed and run by Andrea Wilson this online marketplace aims to connect local producers with local people. Being a one-woman band has been one of the biggest challenges for Andrea as the sheer mountain of work facing every lone business owner can sometimes feel overwhelming. But through trial and error and tackling everything with a positive attitude and sense of humour, PRETTY LOCAL, now has a solid, local customer base and is growing surely but steadily, just as Andrea intended.
From the basics such as meat, fish, fruit & veg, flour, butter, milk and cheese through to ready meals, crisps, biscuits, curry sauce, chocolates and flowers you really can buy your entire weeks shopping in one fell swoop. They even offer deli items such as olives, pesto and sun-dried tomatoes and for those of you with more exotic tastes a selection of Japanese inspired lunch boxes and bowls. You can also get live crabs delivered to your door – I would suggest you are in to accept that box as we don’t want the little critters escaping and causing any more accidents on Devon roads – or perhaps that’s just octopuses!!!
The website is super easy to navigate as it splits the produce up into logical categories, eg meat, dairy & eggs, bakery, pantry etc and within each category the pictures and the descriptions of each item are clear and concise, making it really obvious what and how much you are buying as well as who you are buying it from. Weights are pre-determined but you are able to choose between different sizes for some products, eg steaks and of course you can just up the units you buy if you want more.
All the sellers are situated within a 20 mile radius of Kingsbridge and the delivery area includes Dartmouth, Kingsbridge and Salcombe and the surrounding villages. The website gives information about each supplier and despite knowing a lot about the local food scene, some of them, such as Quarry Farm Organic Venison and Spindlebrook Farm Market Garden were new to me. Meeting suppliers is part of the job that Andrea really enjoys, and she’s met some incredibly inspirational people. Having spent lots of time in the early days seeking out new producers herself, she is now in the happy position of people approaching her, and always gets a buzz from finding that “special” something she knows her customers will enjoy, such as the latest addition to the website, Happy Bike Company peanut butter.
The pre-selected boxes such as the BBQ, Sunday Lunch or Weekend Breakfast hamper are a great concept as are the Welcome hampers specifically aimed at second home owners or holiday makers – a service which Andrea hopes will continue to grow – as do I, as I am constantly frustrated by the number of supermarket delivery vans clogging up the streets of Dartmouth on change-over days – we do have shops in Devon you know!!!
Orders are delivered directly to your door on a Friday (as long as you place your order before midnight on the Wednesday before) and best of all there is NO MINIMUM ORDER and delivery is FREE ! As my first order coincided with hubby going away for a long weekend I didn’t order a huge amount and plumped for some basic items including meat, sourdough bread and some delicious looking Seville oranges. I had been told by a sausage connoisseur friend that the Lidstone Butchers bangers were some of the best she’d ever tasted so of course I just couldn’t resist trying those.
Ever mindful of the environment Andrea gives you have the option to leave a cool box out if you know you won’t be in – otherwise chilled items are packed in eco friendly WoolCool and ice packs. Additional eco-credit must be given for the use of paper bags, compostable butchers wax paper and the option to return your delivery box the following week to be reused. I noticed that they are also selling beeswax wraps which can be used instead of cling and foil to cover food at home.
My order arrived as promised on a very wet Friday afternoon, delivered by a very cheery Andrea … and I can honestly say I wasn’t disappointed. All the produce was of a very high quality – the pork joint was the tastiest, juiciest roast I have had in a long time (I’m quite fussy about pork), the loaf fresh and crusty and the oranges shining like little golden suns on an otherwise dark afternoon. They didn’t last long and were soon made into a delicious Orange Meringue Pie.
Would I use this service again – absolutely.
And in case you’re wondering – yes the sausages were amazing …
TRY IF : you want to support local producers from the comfort of your own armchair
MDD LIKES : the recipe section on the website which gives you some great ideas for using that weeks’ produce