F: Can you tell us about The Hambledon?
VS. I'm not a fan of the word, but we're a lifestyle store in Winchester (sort of a department store but just selling lovely things, and sort of a concept store but less conceptual and a lot friendlier). We're based in a four storey Georgian building overlooking the cathedral. We actually celebrated our 20th Birthday last year!
F. What made you decide to open your own shop?
VS. I was born into retail; my mum had a shop for years. I've done other things but I think my move back into shopkeeping was a kind of homecoming.
F. Can you describe or give tips on the best places to eat, drink, source ingredients in your local area?
VS. We cook a lot at home so I don't eat out all that often. I love a honey murug at the Ghurka's Inn, a Nepalese restaurant in town or a pizza at Pi if the kids are home for the weekend. For a drink, it's cocktails at Cabinet Rooms or old fashioned pub vibes at The Wykeham Arms. We teamed up with Hambledon Vineyard for the shop's 20th Birthday last year (we just thought the serendipity of sharing a name with an award winning sparkling wine producer was too much to ignore) and their classic cuvee is delicious. I love a Sunday coffee and cake at Winchester Coffee Roasters; a real treat after a bike ride.
F. Do you have any unusual food combinations you can recommend?
VS. Any sweet and savoury combination. Well, obviously not any combo but I love Christmas cake with cheese; any roast meat with apple jelly; and always fruit in a curry.
F. You sell Falcon enamelware in your shop. What’s the most interesting way you’ve heard a customer use our product?
VS. Pinch pots to keep kids' milk teeth. And one customer drilled extra holes in a jug to make a watering can. But this was not such a great success!
F. Is there a specific dish that you would make using any of our Falcon products? If possible, please do share the recipe?
VS. Tuesday night is pie night in our house. We're eating less meat these days and this is my easy peasy veggie pie. It is really just thrown together from whatever's in the fridge. I'm pretty cavalier as a cook...
Butter and oil
Onion (finely chopped)
½ Butternut squash, cubed
Kale or spinach
1 Tablespoon flour
Ready made puff pastry
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Fry the onions gently in a little butter and oil until soft, add the squash and fry until softish, add the mushrooms and fry some more, add the kale/spinach. Add a little more butter and a spoonful of plain flour, add enough milk and a stock cube to the veg to make a thickish roux to coat the veg. Finally add some frozen peas - because everything is better with peas- and allow to cool a little (so it doesn't completely melt the pastry). Grease a Falcon pie dish, roll out the pastry to make a base and a lid. Line the dish with the pastry base, fill with the veg mixture and top with a pastry lid. Seal the edges and brush the top with beaten egg. Cook for 30 mins until golden.