Product Review: Piper’s Farm Unsmoked Back Bacon 5/5

Bacon. Breaker of vegetarians, maker of Full English Breakfasts and very hard to cover the smell of. Supermarkets sell it, normally injected with water or treated with chemicals which help it stay preserved for longer so its refreshing to be able to tuck in to what I consider ‘proper bacon’.  And who better to have bought these from.pipers-farm-awardsPiper’s Farm are award winning. Just look at them all!  And there is good reason.  The farm, located in Mid-Devon is entirely grass fed.  The rich nutritious red soil means that the animals need no additional supplements. The taste of the meat has been commended over and over again; in 2011 Pipers Farm was listed as one of The Times’s top 10 butchers and was awarded Best Food Producer in 2007 by the BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming Awards. Not to mention the countless Taste awards and regional awards that they have earned.

Pipers Farm also do meat boxes.  The range is extensive and you can start with one-off boxes or order them regularly.  They start at £30 or you can do a ‘Meat for the week’ for £15.

How much? 
I bought 10 rashers for £4 at the Exeter Food Festival yesterday.

Where to can you buy it from?
Piper’s Farm have a butchers located at 57 Magdalen Road in Exeter, or you can buy them online

The Verdict:
The taste is immediately evident.  From first bite there is a stronger taste which resounds through the whole mouthful.  Piper’s Farm use Saddleback pigs for their bacon, they live in an old cider orchard and feast on grass, acorns and windfalls.  The meat is hung for three weeks and then cured traditional brine cure and smoked over oak chips.

The texture was nowhere near as tough as supermarket bacon, it became flakey and for lack of a better expression ‘melt in the mouth’.

We crisp our bacon and found that there was a bit of shrinkage but nothing that detracts from the taste.  Crispy bacon shrinks, its the nature of the beast and these beasts were absolutely delicious.

Bacon is an easy recipe ingredient.  What sort of things can you do with bacon? Have a look at this suggestion from Pikalily for a Chorizo and Bacon Rosti 

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Exeter Food Festival 2015: An epic write-up

Its the time of year that the whole of Exeter descends on Northernhay Gardens to experience a celebration of South West food and drink, and Eating Exeter (i.e me) was there to experience it in its spectacular tasty glory.  This is a long post so scroll down for photos, more writing and an Eating Exeter first…a photo slideshow.

There were producers showing off their amazing food, chefs demonstrating their highly tuned culinary skills and musicians playing to crowds of people swilling local ales & ciders until late into the night. This is not really a festival, more of a party and this year I was lucky enough to get a press pass for the Friday, so with my new-found VIP status I headed to Northernhay Gardens after work to see what was happening.

Ask any Exeter Food Festival veteran and they will tell you that there are good and bad times to go. Friday is a good day as its quiet and relatively fresh.  Sunday is also a good time to go as its..well…Sunday.  Should you go on Saturday? Hell yes…naturally it is the day people tend to drift in to Exeter so its going to be a bit busy. But don’t let that put you off.  There are performance stages in the Castle and in the Gardens, two demonstration areas and a plethora of stands to get food.  You could easily spend the entire day here.

As I was destined to go on the Friday, I wasn’t too fussed about crowds. But by the time I got to the festival many of the producers were packing up or had packed up (there was only half an hour to go) so I decided a Saturday revisit was needed.

If you do go on a Saturday, here is a handy tip. Get there early. I was half an hour early as I had convinced myself that the gates opened at 9:30am. They didn’t (so I consoled myself with a Bacon Bap and Tea from Oggy Oggy for £1.25 which was amazing value and kept me company).  I had a couple of hours where the crowds were at a nice level and it was enjoyable to be able to just amble around and take in the gardens too.  I left just as the crowds started to pick up, but also as the rain started to look more threatening. Unfortunately the festival organisers don’t have control over the weather!

As this is the Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink, there were producers that were local and not so local.  I couldn’t possibly cover every single producer that I met or took leaflets from, but I will mention a few that stuck with me.  There were some new names and some classic favorites too.

Eat The Smoke –Eat The Smoke and their products
http://www.eatthesmoke.co.uk/ (Twitter https://twitter.com/EatTheSmokeBBQ)

I am quite biased with these guys because I love BBQs, red meat and beer. To taste a BBQ sauce that had a smokyness made from genuine American liquid smoke and really good local ingredients was refreshing and exciting.  It had a deep rich colour and a scent that reminded me of Deep South cook-outs and red-necks.  Not that I have ever been to the Deep South or met a genuine red-neck, but I imagine they’d be eating this stuff if they could get their hands on it.

They are based in Exmouth and occasionally run Pop-up restaurants so its worth hooking up with them on social media for more goings on. They have a nice little blog too which I hope they’ll add to.

This brings me handily on to the subject of BBQ’s and meat. I can safely say that this year’s Festival was definitely meat friendly.  The highlight of the Saturday was watching the Piper’s Farm team take it in turn to man their open air mega-BBQ.


Pipers Farm –
http://www.pipersfarm.com/
(Twitter: https://twitter.com/pipersfarm)

Pipers Farm is a success story for Devon produce.  Have a look at the raft of awards that they have managed to pick up and you’ll see why they are one of my favourite meat producers/retailers. Pipers Farm itself is based near Cullompton, and they have shop in Exeter at 57 Magdalen Road .

As I’ve always been a bit of a Piper’s Farm fanboy at heart, I just had to pick up some Unsmoked Back Bacon for breakfast.  I am endeavoring to start doing product reviews on Eating Exeter, so prepare for a product review of Piper’s Farm Bacon in the immediate future!

Pipers Farm are also very aware of the importance of social media, they use it actively and effectively across many different platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a few others. Follow them and see what they’re doing as its really quite impressive.

Cherry Tree Preserves –
http://www.cherrytreepreserves.co.uk/

When we were last at the Exeter Food Festival we picked up a jar of Spiced Red Onion Marmalade, but unfortunately we just hadn’t been anywhere that had sold it.  This meant Tori-wife-unit had gone without it for nearly a year and could we remember the name? Nope. Not a chance. I was under orders to track down and purchase a jar of this stuff, so imagine my happiness when I Spicey Onion Marmaladefound that they were at the festival this year as well.  Some delicious Marmalade and extra browny points!

Cherry Tree have won themselves a Taste Of The West Silver award which is well deserved.  I loved the sheer range of products that they are able to come up with and the fact that they have a Cherry Tree Club that lets you register to get a whole heap of benefits such as a Free Jar with your first order, newsletters and discount on new products.

They are not local-local, the website gives you information about becoming a Franchisee but I like the stuff and it appears that Michael Caines and the Festival Committee like them too, so thats good enough for me.

Well Hung Meat Company –
http://www.wellhungmeat.com/
(Twitter: https://twitter.com/wellhungtweet)

I had a lot of conversations with various producers this morning, and I really felt the chap I spoke to on the Well Hung Meat company had a passion for what he was doing.

From their own herd, their animals are butchered by Artisan Butchers (…they’re better than non-Artisan butchers because they have videos made about them) and delivered to your door via their online meat box service.

Had I the resources and the patience I would be signing up right away as their meat is completely traceable and guaranteed to have had a good life in nice big fields next to the sea.  Completely guilt-free meat eating.

IMG_1828
Stapleton Yogurts – http://www.stapletonfarm.co.uk/

Produced in North Devon, Stapleton makes yogurt from the milk of a herd of Jersey cows.

There is nothing artificial in their products and they are the perfect remedy for having too much Bhut Sauce…lucky for me they were right next to the Dartmoor Chilli Farm stand.

There are lots of flavours and they are available from Tescos and a few other large supermarkets too.

Dartmoor Chilli Farm –
http://www.dartmoorchillifarm.com/
(Twitter: https://twitter.com/DartmoorChilli)

Each time we come to the Exeter Food Festival it is now a tradition that I go up to the stall and decide that the Bhut Jolokia sauce is perfect to try with a large dollop on their tasting crackers. Each year the heat takes me by surprise and each year I think about the fact that I did it last year…

Dartmoor Chilli Farm is a low-carbon footprint business, producing organic and natural products with no use of pesticides.  They produce chocolates, sauces, relishes and sell chilli seeds and even plants themselves.  I bought a plant at the last EFF that I attended and it managed to struggle on for a year until I killed it accidentally (was more manslaughter than murder).  They have won various awards and their products are available online.

Hunter’s Brewery –
http://huntersbrewery.com/

“Hunter’s Brewery is a family-run microbrewery crafting top quality, uniquely tasty cask and bottled ales in Devon using only the finest ingredients” and yes I might have pulled that from their website.

I have liked Hunter’s Brewery for a while and been a massive fan of Crispy Pig, a session ale that was sold by Wetherspoons (which is how I discovered it).  It has been a bit of a hit, and with Hunter’s Brewery appearing on The Fixer (some sort of televised program-mabob?) which I haven’t seen, they appear to be going from strength to strength.

Unfortunately my interaction with the chap on the stall today was rather awkward as I think I must have interrupted him as he was talking to someone else; so I had a sample of Crispy Pig and ran off.  But that won’t stop me from buying some next time I see it for sale.


Kenniford Farm Hog Roast –
http://www.kennifordfarm.co.uk/hog-roast

On the Friday night we needed food and the After Dark party was lucky enough to have a fantastic selection of street food stalls.  One of them was Kenniford Farm’s Hog Roast company who provided us with some tasty pork and even tastier crackling.

Whilst sipping on Otter Brewery’s finest ale (which is imho Otter Bright) we were treated to a demonstration by Tom Cull of Tom’s Pies.  It put me in the mood for pork belly and that need hasn’t quite shifted.

“Tom Cull is creator and director of Dartmoor Kitchen; a bespoke outside catering company recently awarded the impressive title of National Caterer of the Year following 4 years running of being the ‘West Country Wedding Caterer of the year’, and Tom’s Pies; producers of a range of delicious multi award-winning artisan pies made using only the best free range and farm assured ingredients, locally sourced where possible”

I can’t quite remember what Tom was making but it seemed something like this, which is described by A Fanatical Foodie which Tom demonstrated a few years ago. I might be wrong? It was an interesting demonstration and despite wearing my VIP badge I was quite happy sitting somewhere in the middle.

The South West food scene is vibrant, well promoted and exceptional in quality and the passion that goes along with it.  I’m proud to be able to write about it and was even more proud to talk to some of the most enthusiastic and passionate food people that you are likely to find.

There were quite a few producers who didn’t make it in to the post: this blog post is already over 1600 words!

Portlebay Popcorn – http://www.portlebaypopcorn.com/

Fussels Fine Foods – https://www.fusselsfinefoods.co.uk/

Chunk Pies – http://www.takeachunk.com/

Mr Filbert’s Inventive Snack Company – http://www.mrfilberts.com/

Topsham Chorizo – http://www.good-game.co.uk/our-story/

Big Pot Kitchen – http://www.bigpotkitchen.co.uk/

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VEGANISM PROPELLED ON TO POLITICAL AGENDA

Vegan issues have been catapulted into the political spotlight by The Vegan Society, whose supporters have been using its General Election Tip Sheet to challenge prospective MPs on vegan-related topics ahead of UK polling day on 7 May.

“Thousands have already accessed our Tip Sheet, many of whom are now calling potential MPs to task. The level of response from the politicians has been remarkable, too” said Amanda Baker, Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer of The Vegan Society.

“The leading parties are being pushed harder than ever to be clear on these issues. The office of the Conservative Party Chairman (on behalf of Grant Shapps), for example, responded to us re-stating their intention to ban wild animals in circuses, and a wish to encourage other countries to follow the EU’s lead in banning animal testing for cosmetics.

“The Green Party set out their plans to end the badger cull and introduce CCTV in slaughterhouses in their Animals Manifesto, and the Labour Party have stated their intention to abolish the badger cull and defend the ban against hunting with hounds. The Animal Welfare Party (fielding four candidates in London) seeks a world in which animals are not exploited, and plan to end the badger cull, phase out animal testing and move farming subsidies from animal to plant-based methods. The Lib Dems have signalled their intent to also end the badger cull, and set a new legally binding target for a zero-carbon Britain by 2050 – which would have to address the huge greenhouse gas emissions from human farming of non-humans – while UKIP say they will abolish the live export of animals for slaughter.

“Vegan issues are climbing up the political agenda faster than ever before, in line with the increasing prominence of veganism as a mainstream belief in society,” added Baker.

The Tip Sheet probes ten policy areas around animal use, plant-based nutrition and equalities, as well as plant-based solutions to global climate change and food security, with specific questions to put to Parliamentary Candidates. It is a platform to inspire debate, and encourage discussion of vegan issues which have, in the past, been so frequently missed off political programmes.

Source: http://www.pressat.co.uk/releases/vegan-issues-propelled-onto-political-agenda-4429d7ac784da722b42e69ac47cb3ca3/#ixzz3YAdeX9TD

The Nutwell Lodge Hotel, Lympstone (4/5 – Off Season)

I don’t normally do ‘lucky dip dining’ as I call it.  Find a place, look at the menu and go in. Don’t research, don’t investigate or go online and have a look at reviews or anything.  Just have a go.  It can sometimes be fun to see what happens but sometimes it can lead to trouble.

But on the knowledge that I had been here back in 1999 for a friend’s 18th party and couldn’t remember anything negative about the experience, I thought ‘well heck it can’t be that bad…’

The Nutwell Lodge sits on the A376 on the way to Exmouth. We’d just been down to our nearest weird little coastal town on the spur of the moment and faced with a sunny day to ourselves, why the hell not… Generally we go to Exmouth and have a walk followed by some inexpensive grub at The Bath House but given the last time the service was so horrific, I didn’t feel like running the gauntlet again.  Initially we’d decided to have a go at The Saddlers Arms over in Lympstone but we were faced with a sign that said ‘Cash Only’.

Quickly moving on I decided to try The Nutwell Lodge; but knowing it was a bit grim and given the last time it’d been looking quite dated even back in 1999 (that I can remember), I was interested to see what it was looking like in the heady days of the 21st century.

The Nutwell Lodge is a family trough-feed-your-face-let-your-kids-scream kind of place.  Its cheap, there are kids everywhere and to those sorts of people that moan about kids screaming here is a piece of advice. DON’T GO TO THE SORTS OF PLACES THAT MARKET THEMSELVES AT FAMILIES. Sorry I know that was in capital letters, but come on.  I don’t have kids, but I know if I go to a place that has a playground at the back, you’re coming in to the child friendly zone.
A quick scoot through Trip Advisor gives The Nutwell Lodge a very mixed set of reviews, but thankfully not clustering towards the very bad side of things. There are a lot of Excellents as well as a lot of Terribles, and from what we saw today I would be happy to say that it was Very Good.
But be warned if you go here during season/peak times, it might be a different experience.

There are two entrances, the Pub Entrance and the Restaurant Entrance.  This is bad if, like me you are easily confused.  If you go in the Pub Entrance you can get to the Restaurant but you need to go to the Restaurant Entrance so that you can be seated.  Once you are seated you are asked if you want drinks, you say “no can we have a look at the menu first” and they say that they’ll be back in two minutes.  Our waiter did come back in two minutes, which was a positive start given in some restaurants they have a strange tendency of forgetting you until 10 minutes later when you’ve decided what you’re going to drink and order.

I had originally opted for a Burger not being the world’s biggest carvery fan, but our waiter James told us that there was currently a 45 minute wait on normal food (which is odd as they really didn’t seem that busy…) but we could just go up to the carvery as there wasn’t a queue.  He popped back with our carvery tickets and boom, off we went..

I can’t even start to imagine what a Large carvery would look like, most probably with more meat? not sure. But I had some lovely beef and very nice ham and lots of veg including perfectly cooked carrots which is a rarity for a carvery.  I didn’t go for whatever local ales they might have had. In fact the overwhelming need for food overrode this and I ended up having a San Miguel (which was £3.65??) which complemented everything nicely.

The Nutwell Lodge comes under the Great British Carvery brand which is part of Orchid Pubs. Orchid pubs runs a number of sub-brands but is owned by Mitchells & Butler.  This mega-conglomerate owns such brands as Harvester (The Malt House anyone?) and Toby Carvery (Norovirus anyone?? lol), and get this…Vintage Inns too is a Mitchells and Butler owned company; they happen to run The St George and Dragon which is the next pub up the A376. All a little incestuous.

The service was without fault, friendly and attentive and the food for the most part was worth the £5.95 per head. Whole thing came to £18.80 for two adults who went away stuffed and happy.

Address

Nutwell Lodge Hotel
Lympstone
Exeter
EX8 5AJ

Tel01392 873 279

Opening hours

Mon – Sat 8am – 11pm
Sun 8am – 10.30pm

New Features Inspire and Engage at Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink 2015

Friday 24th – Sunday 26th April
Exeter Castle and Northernhay Gardens, Exeter

The 2015 Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink, taking place at Exeter Castle and Northnernhay Gardens from 24th – 26th April is introducing brand new features for visitors in search of the ultimate foodie weekend. Each year, the Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink – Exeter’s only city based foodie festival, brings together a host of south west producers, activities for all the family to enjoy, live music and plenty of delicious food and drink to enjoy.

New for 2015 is Festival Question Time, hosted by Radio Devon taking place throughout the 3 days of the festival with 9 slots in total covering a variety of themes. Visitors can drop into the Festival Question Time marquee to join live Q&As on ‘of the moment’ topics in the world of food hosted by BBC Radio Devon presenters Michael Chequer, Fitz and Bill Buckley. Foraging, making the most of garden grown produce and sugar free recipes are just some of the areas to be aired as well as those common tricky areas such as encouraging children to eat well and dinner party solutions. A panel of experts has been carefully selected for each topic with representatives from local businesses, south west food and drink producers including exhibitors – in keeping with the regional focus of the festival.

For a moment of tranquility, Comins Tea from Dorset will be bringing their unique take on the experience of ‘taking’ tea. With a passion for a good brew and exotic travel, Rob and Michelle Comins personally source Single Estate teas from around the world, visiting plantations to ensure the quality and taste of their product before importing it into the south west where they sell it to tea lovers to enjoy at home or in their very own Tea House. Rob and Michelle will be recreating traditional tea ceremonies in their marquee using their own range of bespoke teaware. Michelle said: ‘We are looking forward to our first Exeter Food Festival. As a Fine Tea Merchant we will be selling our Single Estate and Single Origin leaf teas but also inviting visitors to sit at our unique tea tasting tables to experience traditional Gong Fu tea service.’

Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink 2015 runs from Friday 24th to Sunday 26th April in Exeter Castle and Northernhay Gardens, with Festival After Dark parties from Thursday 23rd running until late. The three-day festival celebrates the outstanding food and drink of the South West, featuring more than one hundred regional producers, top chefs, a Westcountry Bakery, workshops, live music and food-themed activities.

Now in its twelfth year, the Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink is supported by Exeter City Council. The festival is a not for profit event.

Tickets can be booked in advance and are available online from Exeter Phoenix or Exeter Tourist Information Centre. For more information or to buy tickets visit: www.exeterfoodanddrinkfestival.co.uk.

Dartmoor’s Blueberry Brothers Chutney Handpicked By Marks & Spencer

The imaginative Blueberry Brothers have launched a new spicy, handmade Blueberry Chutney, one of only 25 products selected by Marks & Spencer for their unique range of branded artisan products. These are now available to purchase in 350 stores, foodies nationwide will be able to savour the subtle blueberry flavour of this luxurious, rich purple chutney.

Guaranteed to pack a punch on any cheeseboard, and the perfect accompaniment with charcuterie, this novel chutney certainly has the wow factor. Bursting with flavours, this spiced condiment incorporates a delightful range of traditional ingredients enthused with an expertly developed blend of cardamon, mustard and fennel. This original product joins The Blueberry Brothers’ fruity Blueberry and Chilli Jam and zesty Blueberry and Lime Jam, both of which have recently been awarded accolades. The Blueberry Brothers’ Blueberry Chutney can be purchased from chosen Marks & Spencer stores nationwide (rrp £3.99).

Founded ten years ago as Yonder Berries Ltd, Nick and Toby Hewison are continuing their mother, Jenny’s love of growing blueberries on the edge of Dartmoor, Devon. As their passion for developing exceptional premium blueberry products flourished they quickly became nicknamed ‘The Blueberry Brothers’. Since their humble beginnings, Nick and Toby have developed an unrivaled knowledge of these popular little berries, using their expertise to develop an award-winning portfolio of innovative products including delicious jams, tasty beers, delectable muffins and baked products and exquisite chocolates and marzipan blueberries.

For further information on The Blueberry Brothers’ Blueberry Chutney and their other mouth-watering products go to www.theblueberrybrothers.co.uk, emailsales@yonderberries.co.uk or visit their stand at the Devon County Show in the food marquee on 21st – 23rd May. Follow The Blueberry Brothers on twitter@Blueberrybros, or ‘like’ on Facebook at facebook.com/TheBlueberryBrothers.

Source: http://www.pressat.co.uk/releases/blueberry-chutney-handpicked-by-marks-spencer-022362d688cf17b59fd04dc1ff012854/#ixzz3WoNJBXiX

Dartmouth Food Festival 2015

Friday 23 – Sunday 25 October 2015

The Dartmouth Food Festival is back for 2015 with a tempting blend of West Country produce, top chefs and engaging foodie talks and events.

The free festival, launched in 2003, takes place on October 23-25 2015. The festival sees around 20,000 people flock to the town each year and is paradise for food fans with more than 100 South West producers showcasing their delicious produce, a packed programme of events and a line up of celebrated chefs demonstrating their skills and inspiring festival goers.

Over the festival weekend, Dartmouth will play host to some of the UK’s top food writers and personalities in the ‘Eat Your Words’ talks and tastings. Events will take place in the Flavel Church, in the centre of Dartmouth.

Visitors can get hands on and stock up on skills in cookery workshops – from filleting a fish to baking the perfect scone, there’s something to suit all home cooks. It’s not just about the food either, the festival will offer a programme of drinks tastings and events for those who want to brush up on their knowledge.

Richard Hunt, chef and proprietor of the Devon Scone Company comments, “The Dartmouth Food Festival showcases all the best produce from the West Country. It is always a must for my calendar, as the whole atmosphere and welcome from the residents and visitors to the festival creates a buzz and passion that is nothing short of inspiring.”

As well as fabulous food in the exhibitor marquees, Royal Avenue Gardens and across the festival, many of Dartmouth’s renowned restaurants will be running special menus and other events.

A programme of children’s activities will be running in the Royal Avenue Gardens. Activities take place all day and are free.

Entry to the festival is free with a charge for some events.  Dartmouth Food Festival relies on the generous support of festival sponsors.

Full details at www.dartmouthfoodfestival.com

Twitter: @DartFoodFest

Facebook: www.facebook.com/DartmouthFoodFestival