Coffee #1, Princesshay

Last week I went to Coffee #1 again which is situated at the back of Princesshay on Roman Walk.  A small chain of coffee shops across the West Country and Wales (28 to be exact), it specialises serving ethical and gourmet coffee and has been awarded Best Coffee Chain in the UK for the last four years running.  It is THE benchmark to aim to if you want to open a successful chain of coffee shops.

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Its not cheap coffee, but interestingly the prices are comparable to Starbucks and Costa‘s if not cheaper on some things.  It is a genuine alternative to the massive chain conglomerates that dominate our high street.

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Coffee #1 is all about wooden floors, mismatched chairs, intellectually stimulating quotes adorning the walls, lots of information about the coffee and a whole bunch of really friendly staff.  They give to charity, they are genuinely like the coffee shop version of the perfect neighbour, you know the one who has kids that go to all the after-school activities, who recycles everything and uses Ecover and does a bit of voluntary work at Help The Aged.  If a coffee chain was a person, Coffee #1 would be someone who I would describe as a ‘good person’.
But the thing is about these sorts of people, is that they have good karma and that can also be said for Coffee #1.  There is a good karma about the place, about the way you are spoken to by the staff and the feeling of goodness one gets from drinking genuinely lovely coffee.

The coffee is truly delicious, the house blend that they serve is a well put together combination of Arabica and other beans, which is for sale to the public who want to take the glorious taste back home.

But are they as good as Devon Coffee?

Nearly but not quite.

They are on Twitter and Facebook and YouTube too!

EE Recommends

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Buffet City, George St, Exeter (4/5)


IMG_0771Buffets, who loves them? Well a lot of people, which is why places like Buffet City and All Day 6 do so well in Exeter.  There are really only two choices and they couldn’t be more different if you tried.

Buffet City has never appealed to me, I have always seen it as being the more expensive cousin of All Day 6 (in Palace Gate, down the hill from South Street).  I don’t really want to spend much on Buffet food, no matter how nice it is, the cheaper option has always won me over.  But then Chinese food in Britain is by nature, greasy and mostly the same sort of thing where ever you go.  Samosas, Spring Rolls, Prawn Toasts, every sort of Chicken, deep friend stuff, sauces, rice, noodles etc.  And yes, Buffet City has the usual sort of things; but take the usual and add to it.

Add a Sushi Bar, a Chef’s Specials Bar, Tenkaippin Bar, Desserts with ice cream machine, Curry Bar and well, the usuals.  An absolutely amazing selection.

Its a funny place, especially when you know what it used to be.  St Georges Market used to occupy the large space that Buffet City does now.  I have distant memories of walking around with my grandmother, looking at the toy stalls and then later on walking around just before it closed looking at the last few sad looking stalls.  Then it became Foodeaze, a strange conglomeration of deli and restaurant that was overpriced, badly located and without direction, and a few years ago it ended up becoming Buffet City.

The space that it occupies is large and open, its not overly warm as there is a large ceiling space, and it is dark as despite the large ostentatious chandeliers they don’t emit quite enough light to let you  see what you’re actually eating.  But it is pleasant to look at generally, there are fish tanks and it does have a modern feel to it.
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The service is good, but the rather stern looking manager’s strutting around eyeballing the diners was quite off-putting.  The waiter who took us to our table asked if we had been before, he then explained how it worked and away we went. Simple.

Buffet City has its house-rules like any buffet restaurant.  The one thing, and certainly its biggest negative is the pricing structure.  Lunchtimes are cheaper, but a different menu.  Evenings are more expensive, but this varies on the day you go.  Saturday night prices are £11.95 per person (most expensive evening).  If it wasn’t for the fact that we came with a BOGOF voucher, I would not have been happy paying that much for buffet food.

I have given it 4/5 because as an experience it was a good one.  The decor was nice, the service was friendly and the food was tasty, but it looses my favour for the price of what they are serving.  Buffet food is essentially food that has been lying around and is not fresh, it has been fingered by strangers and is essentially canteen food, even though the taste is far beyond anything that you would get in a canteen.

Great as a treat if you love Buffet style food.  Correct at time of publication (March 2013)

Opening Times:

Monday: 11:45am – 4:30pm (£5.95 per person)

Tuesday – Saturday:  11:45am – 4:30pm (£6.50 per person)

Monday – Thursday: 5:00pm – 11:00pm (£10.95 per person)

Friday – Saturday: 5:00pm – 11:00pm (£11.95 per person)

Sunday: All Day (£8.95 per person)

Bank Holidays additional £1 per person.

Lunch: Gregg’s Pepperoni Pizza

Under the heat lamps it didn’t look too bad, but when the chap behind the counter put it in the bag it seemed to go about absorbing the bag in to it with the grease that bled out of it uncontrollably like some sort of skewered pizza shaped rat that cost £1.15.

Credit to Gregg’s, they do what they do really well.  Baked goods, cheap and hot.  The sausage rolls are delicious as are the new Breakfast Rolls (same as a sausage rolls but filled with greasy breakfast meats and egg), but the pizza’s have always been a bit of an unknown entity to me.
Anyway, what better day to try them as I had ran out of time to make my own lunch and needed some sort of quick Umami fix.

The pizza itself wasn’t disgusting. In fact, it was pretty acceptable and if I hadn’t taken it back to work, it most probably would not have gone a) cold and b) greasy.  Unfortunately the grease content of this product is quite amazing, covering me and everything within 2 metres with its flourescent orange blood.  The pepperoni is stingy though and there isn’t much evidence that it actually has cheese on it, it feels thoroughly mass-produced.

Verdict: Eat immediately, don’t save till later plus eat with a napkin and turn off the little voice in your head that says ‘stop eating such filth’.

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Hatherleigh: Ruby Country Market 30th March 9:00am – 2:00pm

Here is an idea for a day out!

 

On the 30th March, Hatherleigh Livestock Market hosts another Ruby Country Market bringing together a whole collection of stallholders, musicians and live demonstrations.  Set in one of the most scenic parts of West Devon, Hatherleigh really shows off its deep agricultural roots if you have a gander at the Wikipedia article.  There are so many different stallholders, including quite a few food producers!  If you are a food producer who wants to get involved then drop them an email or call  on 07855 187364.

Cheese in a market in Italy
Cheese in a market in Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Its a fair way from Exeter, and yes this website is ‘Eating Exeter’ not ‘Devouring Devon’, but markets like this need all the support they can get and its an opportunity for the foody populous amongst us to source and try out producers who might not get a chance to sell their stuff to us city folk!  It is one of the largest established markets in Devon of its type and its relatively young, only having started up in 2012

For more information have a look at the website.  They are also on Facebook and Twitter!

 

 

 

Powderham Castle: Chocolate & Candy Fortnight 29th March to 14th April 2013

Bit of fluff
Bit of fluff (Photo credit: twenty_questions)

This is a fantastic idea for the kids if you’re looking for something to occupy the little chiddly winks over the Easter Holiday.  Powerderham Castle is holding a Chocolate and Candy Fortnight thanks to Jonty Depp and the Pocketwatch Theatre.  The link is to the website is here, it looks lip-smackingly awesome.

I am not sure who this woman is in the picture, but WordPress provides copyright free images in which we can decorate our posts.  So, given this is a candy related piece of news, the expression on this woman’s face is classic. 

I do promise some reviews soon though. I have been laid up with the Mumps for nearly three weeks so soon I’ll be hitting my list of places I want to go to which will hopefully inlcude The Plant Cafe and Ruby Burgers!

Bar Venezia: New Spring Offer!

I love the number six. I love it when its connected to food too and given All Day 6 has appeared at the top of the list of grubbiest places to eat in Exeter, I might be getting my cheap food fix here.

Bar Venezia is located on the Quay, its a small sexy little Bar overlooking The Piazza and what was Exeter Maritime Musuem which is now some sort of Antiques place.

Not sure how large the Pizza’s are so let us know if this is as good a deal as it seems via the comment box below.

Darts Farm Cheese Safari with Mary Quicke: Thursday 21st March 8:45am – 2:00pm

The image in my head when I found out about this is one that I might leave to the pages of my memoirs.  But cows made of cheese and land rovers came in to mind.  Alas I feel that this is something that is going to be much less surreal and far more enjoyable.

Part of Darts Farm’s Food Club, this Cheese Safari with Mary Quicke MBE and Tutored Cheese tasting event is an absolute must for anyone with a passion for cheese.

Quickes
Quickes (Photo credit: twenty_questions)

Website blurb says:

“Join us for a ‘Cheese Safari’ to the award winning, world-renowned ‘Quickes Traditional’ in Newton St Cyres, Exeter. Mary Quicke MBE, makes cheese on her farm in Newton St Cyres, sold all over the world. She has over 500 cows grazing on the land that her family have farmed for over 450 years. We have been working with Quickes since the very first days of the farm shop, run by Ronald Dart in the 1970s. Today his sons, Michael, James and Paul Dart maintain a fantastic working relationship and friendship with Mary Quicke and her team. Mary is so passionate about her craft and we can’t wait to take you to visit her, for what will be an unforgettable day in the life Westcountry food and farming.”

 

Picture House Members get 20% off in Giraffe Restaurants

I reviewed The Giraffe Restaurant in Exeter years ago. I loved it I remember, but as with many things in that end of town it was quite expensive.  I also love The Picture House and so imagine my delight when I read this.

http://www.picturehouses.co.uk/cinema/Exeter_Picturehouse/News/item/New_Members_Discount_At_Giraffe/

I was dead happy.

Not that I am a member, but I knew quite a few people who are.

Giraffe Restaurant, Princesshay, Exeter
Giraffe Restaurant, Princesshay, Exeter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Opinion: Killing in The Name Of…Comic Relief?

This isn’t really the avenue, area or arena for me to start blowing my personal trumpet at food related issues that are happening nationwide, but this was something that I thought needed attention.  As this food blog is strictly neutral, and is ran by more than one person I have to put this disclaimer and say that this is purely my personal opinion.

There are two things that go really well together in comedy, death and laughter.  However slaughtering animals and Comic Relief are two things that really be kept separate.  Lily Allen however disagrees and has “asked her followers whether they wanted to save or kill one of her pigs.”

I am sure most foodies here reading this will agree that we all love a bit of free-range pork, some nice sausages made from a pig that has walked around and enjoyed a happy life eating, sleeping, oinking and pooping, which I hear they do in great quantity.  But there is something inherently wrong with putting the life of an animal in the hands of Twitter followers, and for the name of a great charity event such as Comic Relief.

The details are not fully out there though, was this a pig that was going to be slaughtered anyway? Is it sick? How many has she got? But despite what the details are, this 21st century-gladiatorial-arena way of doing things is really inhumane especially in the name of Comic Relief which is meant to be funny, killing things isn’t generally. Not even vaguely humorous.

I don’t believe this to be an overreaction but there are quite a few people who are getting quite annoyed about this and I would urge everyone to email and complain.  The complaint email address is complaints@comicrelief.com

As an update of sorts, her Twitter page has put an apology on it.  Thanks to Helen at Vegging Out Exeter for the heads up!

  1. ps, our pigs are kept in lovely conditions and live happy piggy lives.

  2. i genuinely just want to help a good cause. sorry if i have offended anyone, but i have never claimed to be a vegitarian.

  3. just want to clear something up, i am NOT slaughtering a pig for charity, our pigs were always going to be slaughtered, and eaten.

Exeter Food Festival 2013

Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink 2013 is rapidly heading this way, and I can’t wait!  If this post has jogged your memory, remember there is a website and the usual social media channels that you can use to keep in contact with the latest from the organisers.

It is destined to be huge, as ever. Just have a look at the site plan (its a PDF document so make sure you have the relevant software!)

And remember there is the After Dark party as there has been in previous years, this year working with the team from Mama Stones who’ll be helping to provide some awesome entertainment.

For ticket information, click away. If anyone wants to donate a couple of VIP all weekend passes to eatingexeter@gmail.com I wouldn’t refuse it! *nudge nudge, wink wink*

Only kidding. I strongly urge anyone who has a passion about food to consider going for even a day, you get so much from the event and it all boils down to supporting local food producers who need our support more than ever these days.

Magdalen Chapter Launches Signature Sausage Supper

Eating Exeter has some exciting and tasty news!

AJ Butchery's 'Magdalen Boerwors'
Food lovers are in for a real treat at The Magdalen Chapter in Exeter, which has teamed up with Devon’s leading sausage experts, Andrew James Butchery (was Turtons of Devon up to recently), to add a ‘Magdalen Boerwors’ to its bar menu.

The South African-inspired sausage has been made using a bespoke recipe created for the boutique hotel. It is the result of a new collaboration between head chef, Ben Bulger, and the local sausage specialists who supply top chefs around the country.

Packed with the highest quality beef and pork, guests can bite into the expertly spiced Boerwors – the name comes from the Afrikaans words boer(farmer) and wors (sausage) – and enjoy it with a bottle of locally-brewed Otter Ale from the Honiton brewery for just £10.

Head chef, Ben Bulger, says: “We are thrilled to be adding this new dish to our menu. The Magdalen Boerwors is big in flavour and Steve Turton at Andrew James Butchery has created this sausage especially for us, to our own specific design.

Head chef Ben Bulger (left) with Steve Turton of AJ Butchery
Head chef Ben Bulger (left) with Steve Turton of AJ Butchery

“We have worked with Steve since the day we re-opened in 2012, and it’s this quality service, which goes the extra mile, that makes us fiercely loyal to him. We know we are offering the best possible, locally-sourced meals to our guests”.

“I’m really excited to be cooking this dish and I hope and expect it will prove a real hit with everyone who orders it.”

Established in Exeter in 1962, Andrew James Butchery is a third generation family-run business based in Cullompton. Expertly creating sausages using authentic recipes, Andrew James Butchery supplies sausages with only the finest ingredients. All meat is sourced and can be traced back to Farm Assured UK farms.

Director and Master Butcher, Steve Turton, says: “We are delighted to be working with Ben once again and are proud to offer the people of Devon a dish that’s completely unique.”

“We only use quality meat, and this has been the family ethos since my mother and father started the business in the 60’s. The origin of our meat is of the utmost importance and that; combined with the talents of Ben and his team, means we can truly showcase a great Devonshire dish.”

Available from March onwards the Magdalen Boerwors meal and a bottle of Otter Ale can be enjoyed for just £10. Table reservations at The Magdalen Chapter can be booked by calling 01392 281000.

The Magdalen Chapter has a Twitter account too!

Restaurant Guide: The Salty Pigeon, Magdalen Road, Exeter

The latest restaurant that I have decided I desperately want to go to.  Newly opened in January the website says:

“The Salty Pigeon is a family run restaurant. With Tanya managing front of house and Tanya’s son, Ryan Mell, in his second year at the Michael Caines academy, building on his existing skills and experience under the leadership of our chef Simeon. Simeon started work at the Royal Clarence and has also worked for the Royal Family.”

A definite must, the website is clean and logical and they have a Twitter account too.

The Salty Pigeon logo

Magdalen Road is a foody paradise with Bon Gout just a few doors away, and Pipers Farm not much further too, this is the part of Exeter to live in if you care about your food and where it comes from!

Telephone: 01392 435883

Website: http://www.thesaltypigeon.co.uk/

Twitter: @thesaltypigeon

 

New on Eating Exeter!

This morning when I opened up WordPress in at the start of my quest to rejig Eating Exeter, I had great change in mind.  If you’re a blogger like me, you’ll know its nice to change things a bit and make improvements.  Tweaks here, adjustments there, and ultimately the aim was to bring Eating Exeter in line with other similiar blogs.  Show the RSS feed, the social media icons, etc etc.

But after playing around with some themes, bouncing some ideas for a banner around I realised that actually there was little that I could do to make it any better than it already was.

So here is a list of new and improved things that Eating Exeter now has.

1. Instagram account

Unfortunately for any business or website, the lack of a social media presence can effect viewing figures.  Ultimately Polly and I write this website for the love of it, but promotion and basic simple blogger ego stroking is nice too.  Social Media means that we open up avenues for people to read the content and benefit from whatever beneficial information therein.  This also means that Instagram which is still pretty popular, is a good idea if you want to convey more than you can with just words.  Visit the Eating Exeter Instagram account here. It currently has two photos on it, but this will grow in time!

2. Directories and Guides.

I have put a Directories and Guides section up which will separate any new banners and badges that we might get from being included in any directories or guides.

3. Recipes button menu

I intend to include more recipes on Eating Exeter.  Food cooked at home is just as important as the food you eat out, so although there isn’t much there at the moment, it’ll grow in time.  I am also eager to encourage anyone with a recipe to send it to our contact address eatingexeter@gmail.com

4. Announcements

This sort of post is an Announcement, and they’re rare and quite important so they get their own button too.

5. RSS feed

One question I get asked, as a techy geeky type, is What is an RSS feed?  I am not going to clog up my blog with a long explanation, but there are quite a few people who use RSS feeds to aggregate content through a reader like Google Reader or something similiar.  Here is a nice explanation as to what they are.

Eating Exeter has an RSS feed now, simply drop the URL of the feed in to your reader program and away you go!

6. Artwork

Tori Dee (www.toridee.co.uk) has created a fantastic piece of city artwork for us to use.  This wonderful illustrator is currently in the process of creating a new website, but you can catch her artwork at toridee.daportfolio.com too.

Changes to Eating Exeter

Hi everyone.

Eating Exeter is going to be experiencing some interesting and unique changes to its layout and appearance over the next few hours.  Please come back later to see the new design!

Cheers,
Chris

Recipe: Chicken Soup

I am currently ill. Yes, like a typical man I am happy to state to the nation (well the readers of this blog) that I am recovering from the Mumps and after a particularly pleasant visit to the doctor where he agreed with my own diagnosis, I have been signed off.  But I am bad at being ill, I don’t like the sensation of having to do nothing because every time I do I wear myself out and start sweating profusely like some sort of unfit roadie with his bum hanging out etc.

A homemade chicken noodle soup with bread
A homemade chicken noodle soup with bread (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The best thing about being ill though is the fact that you have to eat ‘ill food’.  Ill food being Soups and Broths, comfort food which you are only allowed to eat when you are an invalid, and the only thing you are allowed to do in terms of cooking is to turn on a microwave or a hob.  You can often get your loved ones or partner to wait on you with a little bell, and if you’re extra lucky you’ll get the TV moved upstairs in to the bedroom.

So given the lack of reviews recently in this blog, I thought I would write about Chicken Soup because ultimately someone somewhere will appreciate this as they lie in their bed, on death’s door or possibly in front of the television with Loose Women infecting their cerebral cortex.  Muchness of muchness if you ask me.

If you Google ‘Chicken Soup’ there is not one general soup recipe.  Nope that would be far to easy.  The thing that suprised me was that there are quite literally hundreds of different variations on one basic principal.  The basic principal to Chicken Soup is either one or the other.  Make it yourself or get it from a tin.

Get it from a tin or a box.

Campbell's dry chicken noodle soup
Campbell’s dry chicken noodle soup (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Face it, if you’re not culinary in the slightest there is nothing better than getting out a can of Chicken Soup from one of the big names, whacking it in a saucepan and starting at it blankly for 10 minutes.  Or putting it in a microwave and starting at that for 10 minutes.  Many days Tori (wife extraordinaire) whips up food (due to reduced mobility in my right arm and the fact she is an amazing cheffy-cook) but sometimes I am left to fend for myself.  Yes tins are convenient but you are at the mercy of the brand and quality of whatever ingredients they’ve decided to use.

Interestingly the closest I could find to a taste test was done by HuffPost‘s Taste website which I have linked above.  It is Chicken Noodle soup, but the principal is the same.  Personal experience tells me however that there is nothing nice about own brand Chicken Soup.

(what about an Eating Exeter taste test??)

Make it yourself

This, however, is the only way in a perfect world that one should even consider making soup.  So what if you happen to have a spare chicken carcass floating about that you’ve stripped of meat and useful bits? Well by boiling up a carcass, you can create a delicious soup that will last you for ages.
There are two ways of going about making a Chicken Soup from scratch, either you boil up a carcass (which is quite a popular method) some people simply don’t have a carcass they can/want to boil up.  So chicken stock be it from a cube or a Knorr Stock Pot, can be used instead.  The BBC has a nice recipe using ‘chicken stock’.  Be careful with your carcass though.  If you buy an in-store cooked chicken, it can be very greasey and tasteless.  You’re going to be better off paying that bit extra for a nice bird which will be reflected in the taste of the soup at the end

Recipes and quantities seem to vary depending on who you read but this is a very basic recipe that you can play around with and make your own.  The closest recipe to this that I found was from Netmums.

Ingredients:

1 Chicken carcass
2 Carrots
1 Onion
1 Leek
(Any root vegetables that you might have that can be thrown in)
Seasoning

1. Cook up the chicken for 1 to 2 hours in a big pot.
2. When the carcass has fallen to pieces, take a spoon and strain out the gristle and bones so that you have a nice chickeny stock with lots of meat floating in.
3. At this point you can either leave it until the next day (let it cool and put it in the fridge) or  if you’re eating it NOW then chop up a heap of vegetables, preferably root veg, and add to the chicken stock.
4. Boil until the veg is soft, then take a hand blender and attack it.  You can blend it to as chunky or as smooth as required.

Done.  Serve with bread and butter and a cup of tea/lemsip.

12 Restaurants To Avoid in Exeter?

12 Restaurants To Avoid in Exeter?

There is an argument here that avoiding places that get bad coverage isn’t  really deserved, surely if Environmental Health is on their backs they’ll never be cleaner?