Imagine sitting in a stylish restaurant overlooking the Atlantic ocean, while enjoying a meal of fresh seafood harvested that very day and cooked by a Michelin-starred chef. Be assured it is a simply glorious experience, but one I doubt if I’d have enjoyed had my journey to the Channel Isles begun at Heathrow or Gatwick rather than Oxford Airport.

Flights from Oxford depart for Jersey every day now, including Sundays. What a joy this is. It means you leave from a small friendly airport right on your doorstep and suffer none of the hassles that the queues at Heathrow entail, arriving in Jersey in time for a late lunch. There’s absolutely no stress and no parking or check-in problems. In just over an hour you are transported from one world to another. What’s more you don’t even have to worry about stocking up with euros.

I was there during the week-long Jersey Food Festival, where the emphasis was on the Jersey Royal potato and the island’s fantastic dairy and award-winning shellfish. While I only stayed for a long weekend, I returned home feeling I’d been away for weeks, thanks in part to the ease of travel and the lovely hotel in which I stayed. I chose The Atlantic Hotel, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World ( and known for its superb restaurant, The Ocean, which boasts a Michelin star and four AA Rosettes. Well, I don’t go away very often these days, so when I do I want to be spoiled and the staff certainly went out of their way to satisfy this need.

When you travel alone, it is comforting to discover that the staff, most particularly the restaurant manager, remember your name and accept your idiosyncratic ways when you dine alone. It’s also great to pull back the curtains first thing in the morning and be faced by the breathtaking view of the mighty Atlantic ocean and a bay of golden sand stretching into the far distance on the west side of the island.

But let’s talk about the food, as that was why I was there. In my youth I worked as a cook during the summer season in Jersey. That was many years ago, and the island was then filled with holidaymakers carrying buckets and spades and wearing kiss-me-quick hats. Cabaret evenings were the order of the day, fish and chips were the main fare. Gosh how things have changed.

The island has been totally transformed since then, thanks in part to the amazing amount of produce now growing in abundance in the island’s rich soil and the stylish family-run hotels such as the Atlantic, which celebrate this produce.

My first meal at the Ocean restaurant just had to include scallops gathered by divers who harvest them within the waters close to the hotel. There is something magical about eating seafood straight from the sea and cooked by Mark Jordan, a talented Michelin-starred chef who knows exactly how long to leave them in the pan to bring out their flavour. I didn’t think he could beat that dish, until I tried his shellfish tortellini with roasted island lobster — so succulent and tasty I doubt I will ever forget it.

The Food Festival programme included a visit to the island’s ormer hatchery, where a dedicated team of local enthusiasts are rearing these amazing little creatures. Ormers are known in Japan as awabi and in America as abalone. They are rather ugly ear-shaped shelled creatures with a tough fleshy foot that looks very unappetising. It was indeed a brave man who ate the first ormer as they have to be prised out of their shell, scrubbed trimmed, beaten with a mallet, fried in flour and then cooked in a casserole for several hours. Unfortunately they were decimated several years ago by a lethal bacterial disease. Those working at the hatchery aim to return these much sought after shellfish to their home waters soon.

No trip to Jersey would be complete without Jersey cream, much prized for its gloriously rich taste. Today there are just under 3,000 Jersey cows on the island. They are beautiful creatures. Their milk is used to create ice cream, yoghurts, cream cheese, crème fraiche, butter and cream.

Apart from an abundance of fresh fish, scallops and lobsters, Jersey also has its own sheep, Angus beef, tomatoes, salad vegetables, asparagus and watercress — add Jersey Royal potatoes to that mix and you have virtually everything you could ever wish for — and all but an hour’s flight away.