James Tanner's Isle of Wight

foodie adventure

James Tanner takes an Isle of Wight foodie tour

Maybe it’s the sea (we’re surrounded by it.) Or the sunshine (we regularly top the list of the sunniest place in Britain). Or all that fresh air.

There’s something about the Isle of Wight that results in food and drink of the highest quality – whether it’s from our farms, in our restaurants or in the kitchens, breweries and distilleries of the award-winning producers that pepper this island. Join chef and restaurateur James Tanner as he tracks down the best food and drink of the Island.

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About James Tanner

James runs and co-owns two award-winning businesses with his brother; the Kent gastropub The Kentish Hare and The Barbican Kitchen restaurant in Devon. James has gained a Michelin Bib Gourmand, AA Restaurant of the Year and much more along the way from the beginning of his career, honing his skills for the Roux Brothers in the USA and 2 Star Michelin Martin Blunos in Bath. Appearing on numerous television shows for now over two decades James is a regular to our screens celebrating all things food.

James Tanner Preparing a pizza on the Isle of Wight

James' tour

We sent James on a quest to try the Island’s best ingredients – from garlic to gin – in our exclusive video.

As James travels around the Island in an electric vehicle he meets a variety of passionate producers at The Garlic Farm, Calbourne Water Mill, Isle of Wight Cheese Company, Farmer Jack’s, Ventnor Haven Fishery, and the Isle of Wight Distillery. His visit culminates in him cooking a dish from the ingredients sourced.

Win a three-night foodie break on the Isle of Wight

Win a fabulous foodie break on the Isle of Wight, including a three night stay for four people in a beautiful yurt at The Garlic Farm, a £250 Wightlink ferry voucher to get you there and an exclusive bundle of food and drink goodies made up of:

  • Two signed recipe books by chef and restaurateur James Tanner
  • A signed copy of Historic Isle of Wight food by James Rayner
  • A farm shop hamper from Farmer Jack’s
  • An Isle of Wight Distillery spirits including Mermaid Gin, Mermaid Pink Gin and Mermaid Salt Vodka

For your chance to win, follow the link below and fill in the form to enter by 31 December 2021.

Enter competition

Try James' pizza recipe for yourself

Bake your own special Isle of Wight pizza by following James’ recipe on our blog. Grab your ingredients, pop that oven on to pre-heat and get cooking!

James' pizza recipe

Getting to the Isle of Wight

Getting to the Isle of Wight is easy with Wightlink. Day returns by car start at just £59* and you can get across on foot from just £14.80*, using one of our three conveniently-located routes.

Travel on our hybrid-energy vehicle ferry, which will get you from Portsmouth to Fishbourne in 45 minutes, take the scenic route from Lymington to Yarmouth in just 40 minutes or hop on one of our foot passenger FastCats, which will whip you across the Solent in only 22 minutes.

Follow James' foodie itinerary

You can follow in James’ footsteps with our foodie itinerary below. And, with more ferries on more routes going more often, Wightlink is your link to experiencing the foodie delights of the Isle of Wight.

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Start your journey

  • Transport used: train, FastCat, electric vehicle

James chose sustainable transport options for his visit to the Isle of Wight. He travelled to Portsmouth with South Western Railway and caught the Wightlink FastCat passenger service from inside Portsmouth Harbour Railway station.

On arrival at Ryde Pier Head, James jumped into an all-electric Volkswagen ID.4 from Esplanade, allowing him to get around the Island with zero emissions.

  • Location: Portsmouth Harbour FastCat Passenger Terminal, Portsmouth, PO1 3PS

Farmer Jack's

  • Ingredients used: Isle of Wight Tomatoes

Farmer Jacks offers a mouth-watering selection of local and speciality foods – so whether you’re looking for seasonal vegetables or deliciously fresh fruit picked straight from the field, hand-selected artisan cheeses or a tender cut of meat, Farmer Jacks is brimming with choice.

The nearby farms produce a host of seasonal delights, including asparagus, cherries, apricots, strawberries, pumpkins, squash and, of course sweetcorn, which is celebrated every September at their annual Sweetcorn Fayre.

James already uses Isle of Wight Tomatoes at his restaurants and was delighted to pick some up here, freshly picked in the fields next door.

  • Location: Arreton Old Village, Main Road, Arreton, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 3AA

Isle of Wight Cheese Company

  • Ingredients used: Isle of Wight Blue

In our film, James picked up his Isle of Wight Blue from Farmer Jack’s and went on to meet the makers at the Isle of Wight Cheese Company.

First made in 2006, this naturally rinded soft cheese is made with pasteurised milk. It is blue veined and is sold at 3-5 weeks of age. The moulds give the cheese bags of character and makes it stand out on any cheeseboard.

Look out, too, for other delicacies, such as the Isle of Wight Cheese Company’s Gallybagger, said to make soufflés so light they ‘evaporate on the tongue’.

Ventnor Haven Fishery

  • Ingredients used: Fresh Crab

James was lucky enough to meet one of the fishermen here, right off the boat, with crab and lobster in tow.

The team at Ventnor Haven Fishery run day boats into the bay meaning the fish you buy is the freshest it possibly can be having being caught and landed that morning. Ventnor is renowned for its quality crab and lobster, but the team serve up a whole selection of daily catches depending on the season.

  • Location: Eastern Esplanade, Ventnor, Isle of Wight, PO38 1JR

Isle of Wight Distillery

  • Ingredients used: Mermaid Gin

If, like James, you’d like a tipple to go with your evening meal, head to The Isle of Wight Distillery. Founded by friends Xavier Baker and Conrad Gauntlett, they laid down their first barrel of whisky in 2015, following it up with Mermaid Gin, a smooth, elegant, and complex gin made with locally foraged rock samphire and Boadicea hops.

Their Rock Sea Vodka and HMS Victory-branded Navy Strength barrel-aged gin – incorporating real oak from the famous warship – are worth a try, too. Find their products all over the island but especially at the distillery’s home, inside The Mermaid Bar, which is also their visitor centre in Pondwell Hill, Seaview.

  • Location: Mermaid Bar, Pondwell, Isle of Wight, PO33 1PX

The Garlic Farm

  • Ingredients used: Isle of Wight Garlic

The world-famous Garlic Farm which has been producing the pungent bulbs for more than 40 years. Try one of the garlicky dishes in their on-site restaurant or take something home with you – their shop stocks myriad garlicky delicacies, from smoked garlic to Black Garlic beer and vodka.

  • Location: Mersley Farm, Mersley Lane, Newchurch, Isle of Wight, PO36 0NR

Calbourne Water Mill

  • Ingredients used: The Watermill Flour – Strong White

Calbourne Water Mill takes pride in the fact that their flour is ground the ‘traditional way’. Using only the power of water, millers Neal and Alex produce approximately 50-60 tons of flour and oats each year.

Calbourne Water Mill supplies many shops across the Isle of Wight, but you can also visit the Mill itself alongside the Rural Museum and beautiful grounds. Flour and bread can be purchased at the Gift Shop here.

  • Location: Newport Rd, Calbourne, Newport PO30 4JN

The Island's food scene

The Isle of Wight food scene has exploded in recent years – you’re rarely ten minutes from somewhere selling fabulous food – and because it’s just 40 minutes by car ferry from Lymington and 45 minutes from Portsmouth, (22 if you take the FastCat), your next tasty moment is closer than you think.

Award-winning eateries, producers and distilleries cooking and brewing up a storm from local ingredients and produce? You’ll find them all here. You can even try a taste of the Isle of Wight before you’ve arrived at our Wight Taste cafes – on board and at our ports.

And remember to check out the Wight Marque, the Island’s own badge of your food’s quality and provenance on the Island.

Explore the Island's foodie heritage