Lancashire is a land of contrasts.
On the one hand, it has some of the most urbanised and densely populated areas of the UK. The industrial revolution has left a legacy of dark satanic mills (most of which are now trendy loft apartments) and the town planners of the 20th century have left some fairly drab town centres and huge, unloved housing estates.
On the other hand, there is some of the most lush, untouched countryside in England. There are lovely villages, towns and a standard of living that those of us in London can only dream of. The combination of superb countryside and rich urban commuters have led to some brilliant places to visit to celebrate the local cuisine and culture.
As someone who grew up there and has since been a frequent visitor to the region, I get an increasing sense of regained identity in a region once so demoralised by the loss of many local industries since its industrial heyday.
At the weekend, I was lucky enough to be taken to one of the places celebrating Lancashire's gourmet culture, Bashall Barns. This is a farm shop and restaurant in a remote location near Clitheroe. As a dairy farm, they use their own milk to make their very popular ice cream, which is sold in the resturant and in tubs at the shop. Flavours that day included toffee, chocolate and vanilla, as well as seasonal British flavours such as gooseberry and rhubarb.
There is also a delicious selection of local specialities for which many ingredients are sourced in Lancashire, such as Goosnargh chicken and duck, Lancashire cheese and Bury black pudding. The food was served in generous portions, (as I have come to expect in the North) and the friendly staff gave a very warm welcome. Overall a fantastic experience. The farm shop itself had the famous ice cream, as well as local vegetables and beer brewed on-site.