THERE is nothing quite like the smell of bacon in the morning.

And for guests staying at The Nurse’s Cottage in the New Forest, only the best will do.

A keen supporter of local produce, proprietor Tony Barnfield has won many awards for his breakfasts.

But try as he might over the last decade, he failed to find a quality local bacon supplier for his restaurant with rooms in Sway.

So last October he issued an appeal to ‘bring home the bacon’ in the Daily Echo’s Eat Local Wednesday section.

His call to arms was answered by Chris Oakes of Oakwood Butchers, based in Setley near Brockenhurst.

Chris had recently purchased some rare breed British Lop pigs and offered to supply The Nurse’s Cottage.

So Tony devised a blind taste test to determine whether people preferred the taste of Oakwood bacon or the Dutch best back bacon he had been serving for years.

A judging panel of nine New Forest B&B owners, took on the honours with the Oakwood bacon winning by six votes to three.

It is now being served at breakfast time at The Nurse’s Cottage, with Tony ordering in eight kilos for the first month.

“I have been on the search for a local bacon supplier for years so I feel very pleased,” said Tony who runs a special Eat Local set menu every Wednesday.

“Even if it costs slightly more, it makes economic sense to use local suppliers because it keeps the economy afloat.

“If we keep farmers in business it will benefit everybody and we’re also getting the produce much quicker and fresher.”

For Chris Oakes and his staff it has been a cause for celebration.

“It’s quite an achievement,” said Chris. “It’s a team effort here and it’s great to see a result at the end of all of our hard work.”

In business for three years, Chris – a butcher by trade – originally intended to operate a cutting and packing service for local farmers and commoners from his farm.

But word of mouth soon spread and Chris – who rears both his own cattle and pigs on site – started selling his own meat.

“We sell exactly what a butcher’s would sell but we haven’t got a shop as such,” explained Chris. “People come in off the road, we open the fridge and they can choose whatever they want.”

A member of the New Forest Marque, Oakwoods supplies a host of other local businesses, including Fullers Inns, Carey’s Manor Hotel in Brockenhurst and Gordleton Mill in Sway.