What’s Your Beef? Urban Burger’s burger competition winner announced. (via Beer, Burger and Beyond)

I was a little busy on Thursday night.  Not only was I working late, but I just had to go and judge a design-a-burger competition too.

Read all about it on Beer, Burger and Beyond



Darts Farm crowned Best Farm Shop in the South West (via Express and Echo)

After a nail-biting few weeks of public voting, Darts Farm was awarded Best Farm Shop in the South West on Monday night as foodies from across the region joined forces to celebrate the fifth annual Food Magazine Reader Awards.

Food Magazine readers voted in their thousands to secure Darts Farm the top spot in a hotly contested category with other finalists including Padstow Farm Shop and Bartlett’s Farm Shop in Honiton.

On winning the award, James Dart, owner of Darts Farm, expressed his delight saying “It’s always fantastic to be recognised with an award that is voted for by the public and it’s a great reward to our team who work so very hard”. He added “A big thank you must also go to our world-class local producers who keep this region at the forefront of the food industry with their expertise and passion”.

Read more: http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/Darts-Farm-crowned-Best-Farm-Shop-South-West/story-25935926-detail/story.html#ixzz3Q8CzBPh2
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Using a bottle to separate egg yolk

This is an inspired idea. Especially for compulsive meringue makers…

Using a bottle to separate egg yolk

This is an inspired idea. Especially for compulsive meringue makers…

Trill Farm opens its doors for 2015 with an inspiring programme of courses and talks to get you thinking, learning and eating!

Do you want to get your mind and body kick started this New Year? Trill Farm opens its doors for 2015 with an inspiring programme of courses and talks to get you thinking, learning and eating!

Trill Farm, near Axminster, is the brain child of Dr Romy Fraser OBE, the founder of Neal’s Yard Remedies. Set up in 2008, the 300 acre organic farm has become an exercise in creative thinking and living. Cattle and sheep farmers, market gardeners, carpenters, chefs and natural skin-product makers all share the farm and a common ethos; using the land and all it affords in a way that provides a living for its workers, a resource for the local community to use and benefit from and, most importantly, causes minimum impact to the natural resources that sustain the whole enterprise.

The farm also hosts the Trill Trust, an education charity that uses the beautiful habitats and wildlife on the farm, and takes advantage of the expertise and knowledge of those working on it, to inspire and engage others to think and learn about their own relationship with the natural environment and what it means to the them. The Trust organises a series of talks, events and family camps throughout the year and has just employed a new Director of Education, Jolyon Chesworth, who says “Trill farm is such an inspiring place, the rivers, ponds, woods and meadows are teeming with wildlife and I’m really looking forward to exploring it all, showing people around and helping to put on a diverse programme of activities with something for everyone; from those who want their first experience sleeping under the stars and watching badgers; to people who want to understand what grows around them and how it can be used to make delicious foods and herbal remedies.”

The Trill Trust has just released the first of its planned activities, with courses on everything from carpentry, where you can build your own table, to willow weaving and basket making, herbal remedies and homeopathy, bee keeping, foraging and cooking, including our upcoming course on marmalade making, led by the renowned ‘Pam the Jam’.

Jolyon continues:

“One of the things I’m most looking forward to are our monthly Supper and Conversations, these evening events include thought provoking talks from national experts on a whole variety of subjects. On January 30th we have Pat Thomas, an author, journalist and campaigner, giving her views on GM foods and how they may be creeping on to your supermarket shelves, and what it means for our environment and our health. These talks provide food for thought whilst our resident chef provides delicious organic food for us to eat, as we cogitate and discuss the important issues facing ourselves and our countryside.”

“All of our walks, talks and events are listed on our website at www.trillfarm.co.uk and more will be added as the year progresses. We are particularly keen to continue to develop our links with our neighbours, including local schools and colleges. Im really looking forward to helping develop Trill as a community asset, where people can come and experience the best our countryside has to offer through sharing, learning, eating and simply taking pleasure in being outside in the fields and woods, what better way to start 2015.”

Ancient Greeks invented the Mediterranean Diet, University of Exeter reveals…


Ancient Greek doctors were the ones who invented the infamous Mediterranean diet, as hippocratic physicians used rich flavors in food in order to treat their patients, a new study from the British University of Exeter revealed, according to the Daily Mail.

The experts at the University of Exeter studied texts of ancient Greek doctors and found that they believed rich flavors could improve the food’s nutritional potency, while one of them, Galen of Pergamon, prescribed food recipes containing garlic and onions to patients. According to the same study, their work laid the principals of modern Mediterranean cooking, considered among the world’s healthiest. At the same time, ancient Greek philosopher Plato wrote about the importance of food in health, while Hippocrates said: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

– See more at: http://greece.greekreporter.com/2015/01/15/mediterranean-diet-an-ancient-greek-invention-university-of-exeter-study-says/#sthash.01EZBEhp.dpuf

OPINION: Vote for the restaurants you want to see in The Guildhall Dining Quarter

Just had to stick my oar in with this one.  The Express and Echo have put this up on their website and I can’t resist having my two cents about some of the options.  You don’t have to agree with me, please comment in the comments box, it’d be nice to have a bit of debate going.

(image mercilessly stolen from The Express and Echo)

“Guildhall Shopping Centre is remaining tight lipped about which eateries will open in its new restaurant quarter – but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a guess.

As part of the £7m plans the existing Higher Market Ambulatory arcade and the former Poundland store will be converted into 13 restaurants of varying sizes, including a rooftop bar.

Those behind the scheme hope to attract a mix of national restaurateurs and “local food heroes” serving everything from breakfast to fine dining.”


But if there is any truth in this list, then here are the definitive reasons why you should, or should not, vote for the following restaurants.

TGI Fridays – Started in 1965 to help Alan Stillman meet women, it has a long history mostly made up of franchises and the usual things that chain restaurants get up to. Plymouth has one. Says it all really.  Focuses on an American themed casual dining menu with an emphasis on alcohol.  Was the first to have ladies nights.  Menu contains gluten free options though…

Frankie and Benny’s – No one truly knows who Franky is.  Some believe him to be a mystical figure from Sicily who appeared to travellers on stormy nights, others believe that it is the name of the dog of the CEO who feeds him on Lasagne’s and Pastrami.  One thing we know is that this chain of restaurants is as generic as you can get; we’re already getting one in Marsh Barton. Deep joy…

Pieminister – The grapevine has brought good words about Pieminister to my ears.  Read their story here  which in itself is quite entertaining.  They have won so many awards their shelves have buckled and they are currently stacked on a coffee table.  With a Bristol heritage, they are a success story the South West can be proud of.  Plus they sell pies out of a van too.. that is so cool!  They have strong ethics and support charities with their sales.  Would be very happy to have a Pieminister opening in Exeter.

Pret A Manger – I’ve always managed to avoid them if I’m in London after a few disappointing experiences.  One of my favourite blogs The London Review of Sandwiches has this entertaining post about an experience in a Pret. It doesn’t make me want one, its a faceless chain that started with good intentions but just seems like another sandwich shop.  Unfortunately Pret just doesn’t do it for me.

Chipotle – Gourmet Burrito anyone? With 6 branches in the UK already, could Exeter be the first place in the UK outside of London to have a Chipotle restaurant?  Personally I am a fan of Mexican food, so I would be quite happy welcoming one of these in to our fair city.  We need more Mexican/Latin food choice.

LEON – “We opened Leon because we wanted to prove that it was possible to serve food that both tastes good and does you good. We want to make it easy for people to eat well on the high street. We want to do this in every major city in the world” – Need I say more? http://www.leonrestaurants.co.uk

Aberdeen Angus Steak House – Forgive me for being a little scathing here, but my one time in an Aberdeen Angus Steak House involved a protracted argument with the manager who tried to convince me that tough steak was good steak.  I liked this quote from Wikipedia “In 2011, actor and comedian David Mitchell championed the cause of Aberdeen Angus Steak Houses in his Guardian opinion column, proposing that they be a nominee for a British World Heritage bid, citing them as being “unique to British culture” because of their “proud heritage of serving shoe leather with Béarnaise sauce to neon-addled out-of-towners.”

Spud-U-Like – Some of you might remember that Exeter used to have a Spud-U-Like in South Street years ago.  Spuds with stuff on, basic and cheap food which filled you.  Haven’t been to one in years, so can’t say if its cheap anymore.  Fun fact: Spud-U-Like was taken over by the British School of Motoring who expanded its franchise business.  Spud-U-Like is still going because people are driven mad for baked potatoes…haha.  I would quite like to see one open in Exeter, again, Like LEON, it provides a healthy alternative to High Street food.

Krispy Kreme – Specializing in early death and morbid obesity, Krispy Kreme donuts are expensive and over priced glazed donuts with interesting fillings and stupid price tags.  They are addictive and delicious and it is only after you’ve eaten them all you realise you spent £5 on clogging your arteries with a few bits of dough.

Gourmet Burger Kitchen – Go away… we have four burger restaurants already.

Wimpy – I remember Burger King before it was Burger King on our High St.  It was a Wimpy as far as I can remember and I can still remember the Beefeater cartoon mascot that would often come over and terrorize small children.  Great fun.
There is a great degree of nostalgia for this brand.  Now owned by a South African company, they have gone back to using the logo and colour scheme that was used in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. The menu is basic, the decor is unoffensive and its quite cheap.  It is a British classic, like the Mini Cooper and drinking tea.

Strada – Pseudo Italian average corporate committee created menus. No thanks. It closed for a reason.

So there you have it, I’ve had my two cents worth.

I still hope that we will have a balanced range of eateries in the new Dining Quarter.  It would be unrealistic to expect the whole quarter to be taken up with purely independent establishments all using organic locally produced food.  But if we are faced with the prospect of 13 more chain eateries without giving the little guy a chance, it will be a disappointing result for what I believe is one of the most exciting developments on the Exeter food scene in years.

TWO people from Bude are set to become “pie-oneers”


TWO people from Bude are set to become “pie-oneers” after scooping a place on a national panel to take part in a pie taste challenge.

Paul Langford and Sarah Clarke-Feltham have become two of just 100 proud “Pukka Supper Pie-oneers” from across the UK to be selected for the exclusive taste test hosted by the UK brand.

The challenge follows a survey commissioned by Pukka Pies that revealed that Brits are 60% of us are not eating a traditional meat and two veg evening meal anymore, and instead are swapping proper dinners for quick-fix snacks such as crisps, sandwiches, cereals and instant soup

Read more: http://www.northdevonjournal.co.uk/people-Bude-set-pie-oneers/story-25875609-detail/story.html#ixzz3Oz2IVwMd
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Twitter reacts to Juice guru’s rather sparse ‘My day on a plate’

She sounds fun…

Urban Burger | What’s Your Beef?


Just a quick reminder about Urban Burger’s competition to create a custom burger. Closing date is on 21st January.

Jamie’s Italian in Princesshay – The opening date is revealed

Jamie's-Italian-CREDIT-David-Loftus-WEBJamie’s Italian will officially open on Monday 2nd February 2015 at 12 noon in Princesshay. The restaurant is the first Jamie’s Italian to open in the West Country.

Jamie Oliver’s Italian mentor and celebrity chef, Gennaro Contaldo will welcome guests to Princesshay’s newest restaurant on Monday 2nd February. The Italian legend is said to have taught Jamie Oliver everything he knows about Italian food.

Jamie’s Italian has won thousands of fans for its delicious and affordable food and its friendly and welcoming service. The menu is based on dishes popular throughout Italy, made with care but delivered without fuss.

Wayne Pearce, Princesshay’s centre director said: “We’ve all been looking forward to the opening of Jamie’s Italian in Princesshay. The new restaurant presents visitors to Princesshay with a new dining experience. We would encourage all to try out the new tastes of Jamie’s Italian.”

Jamie’s Italian offers a relaxed way of enjoying and sharing dishes with family, friends and loved ones. The restaurant menu will feature pasta that is made fresh on-site every day, tasty grills and gorgeous seasonal salads, an antipasti station with Italian cured meats and an open kitchen, bringing the Italian family-style of dining to life.

The restaurant will be open for the lunch and dinner service from Monday 2nd February.

Image credit: David Loftus

Urban Burger | What’s Your Beef?


Just a quick reminder about Urban Burger’s competition to create a custom burger. Closing date is on 21st January.

Pieminister announces hopes to open Exeter restaurant | Exeter Express and Echo


This stunningly successful Pie Restaurant is a south West success story. And now they want to come to Exeter. Possibly heading to the Guildhall Dining Quarter?

CAMRA Exeter Winter Ale Festival: Next weekend

For the ale lovers amongst you, it is our local CAMRA Winter Ale Festival next weekend! More details here:

This year, due to a surge in popularity, more ales have joined the line-up, more space has opened up, and there are two bars, one with live music, the other left quiet for conversation.

The annual celebration of real ale is organised by the Exeter and East Devon branch of the Campaign for Real Ale group.

Read more: http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/Annual-Exeter-ale-festival-return-weekend-8211/story-25819992-detail/story.html#ixzz3OJfl6ABN
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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 73,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 3 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.