Glowing praise for Stamford and its speciality produce came from 20 Spanish and Italian tourism operators treated to a ‘Taste of Stamford’ lunch on Monday.
Organised by South Kesteven District Council and hosted in the Town Hall, the lunch was the finale event in a four day familiarisation tour by VisitBritain to show overseas tourism operators the Midlands’ unseen visitor gems, including Chatsworth House and Lincoln castle and cathedral.
Guests started the day with a visit to Grimsthorpe Castle followed by a guided tour of Stamford with Blue Badge guide Jill Collinge.
Lunch fare came from four local specialist businesses – Grasmere Farm, Hambleton Bakery, The Cheese Cellar and Belvoir Cordials.
On their menu were local specialities such as Lincolnshire and Rutland sausages, traditional haslet and pork pies from Grasmere Farm in Market Deeping and vintage Lincolnshire Poacher and traditional Stilton cheese from Stamford’s speciality cheese shop The Cheese Cellar.
Hambleton Bakery, which has a shop in Stamford serviced by its Exton bakery, served its distinctive Rutland Pippin savoury combining ham hock, Stilton cheese, apple and local sausagemeat, individual ploughmans parcels, a range of its artisan breads and delicious cakes.
Belvoir Cordials supplied some of its award-winning fruit drinks produced on the Belvoir estate.
The district council’s business manager for spatial and economic development Roger Ranson welcomed guests along with Stamford Town Mayor Coun Susan Sandall.
Mr Ranson said: “This was a fantastic opportunity for us to show off not only Stamford as Britain’s best place to live but also to give our guests a taste of the very best from local food producers.
“Their reactions give us every reason to think they will be coming back and organising visits to Stamford and South Kesteven.”
For VisitBritain, Blue badge Spanish guide Jean Bailo said she thought the lunch had gone “brilliantly well”, adding: “Our guests have been really impressed by not only the food but also how friendly everyone has been.
“VisitBritain wanted to show them that there are other places to visit besides London, Stratford and York. This is the first time any of them have been to Stamford, and it’s my first visit too. I would like to have stayed longer.
“There are so many beautiful aspects to the town with its history, the number of churches and the shops. We shall be back.”