Island Life Magazine Ltd December 2008/January 2009 - Page 114

life LOCAL BUSINESS Beauty in stone at Sydenhams Ice cream excellence wins national plaudits You’re browsing through a lifestyle magazine, or watching a garden makeover show, and see some fabulous stone tiles. But where on the Island are you going to get anything similar? Sydenhams is an independent company, and with its 16 branches throughout Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset and the Island, is large enough to command excellent deals, while maintaining the flexibility of a privately-owned firm. We see the name on many of the timber-framed houses which are erected on the Island. But how many of us are aware that Sydenhams is a one-stop shop for any hard landscaping needs? And that it is open to the public as well as to trade. “We keep abreast of all the new stuff that comes out, so if someone comes across an innovation we can get it within a week,” says Kevin Clarke of Sydenhams. The firm is one of the big success stories of the Island, having expanded threefold since it arrived eight years ago. “We’ve now got 114 extensive landscaping displays at our branches both in Newport and Ryde,” he says. The exciting thing is the sheer range of stone to choose from, from budget right up to top end materials. “We have stones from all over the globe,” says Kevin – “Turkish travertine flooring, which is like marble; Mongolian slate; Indian sandstone.” The firm was founded, in 1875, on a site in Dorset where timber is still imported today – and that remains a strength of the company. “If you’ve got an idea of what you want in your garden, bring in some measurements and have a look at what we’ve got,” says Kevin. “Tell us what size your garden is and we’ll price it up for you – there’s no obligation to take it any further. You might not have the Groundforce team coming in, but we’re friendly local guys ready to tackle any challenge.” Sydenhams, Nicholson Road, Ryde, PO32 1BD, tel: 566922, and Forest Road, Newport PO30 5QW, tel: 532320. Gioia Minghella is still reeling from the success of her family firm at the recent Great Taste Awards. Minghella’s was awarded nine trophies for its ice cream and sorbets. “I kept a tally and no other firm achieved anywhere near as many,” she says. Given they’ve only been entering since 2002 and in that time they’ve mustered 53 awards, the result is not only amazing but totally unprecedented. She puts their success down to the fact that while their tubs sit alongside the likes of giants such as Ben & Jerrys and Haagan Daas, Minghella is still in outlook the artisan firm it was when her father and mother, Edward and Gloria, began. It’s a hard circle to square: the firm employs no more than 14 people, yet Minghella’s ice cream is as much a part of the Isle of Wight as the Needles and Cowes Week. Indeed its reputation for excellence is not confined to the Island – it sells in Harrods and Fortnum & Mason, and on airlines. Ingredients are key. “We pasteurise on site raw milk and cream from Isle of Wight cows, which graze in relatively unpolluted pastures. The ingredients reflect that freshness – and unlike commercial ice cream we don’t use anything which mimics real flavours.” Most of the recipes were developed by Gioia herself. “I’m addicted to cookery books. If I read a lovely Mexican recipe I try to imagine what I’d like to eat to follow.” Family favourites like American Apple Pie rub chilly shoulders in the freezer with the very adult choice of (award-winning) Gin and Pink Grapefruit. Indeed, if you or I have a whim that cardamom, white chocolate and cherry would be nice together, Minghella’s bespoke service will produce your very own ice cream. The sorbets use a high proportion of fruit and little sugar, and the results are award winning. And is there a downside to their success? “We have 175 flavours on our list but can’t ever delete one,” says Gioia. “There’s always someone who says: “But I particularly liked . . . “ Minghella Ice Cream, High Street, Wootton Bridge, PO33 4PL The Island's new funky radio station www.wightfm.com