Food Magazine’s Food & Design Festival at Sapphire Spaces

It was only a few months ago that we headed to the luxury settings of bespoke Kitchen and Bathroom specialists, Sapphire Spaces opposite Darts Farm to celebrate the launch of Exeter Cookery School.  We were back, now to help Food Magazine celebrate their Food and Design Festival,
Festival of Food and Design Sapphire Spaces TopshamTo be honest when I first heard about this, I scratched my head.  Why food and design? How does that go together?  But throughout the evening, the concept definitely came together, showcasing some of the region’s finest food in the space provided was an organic and delicious combination that really, just worked.

Guests were treated to delights such as demonstrations from Tom William-Hawkes, chef director at The Salutation Inn in Topsham (it was the second time I had seen Tom in two weeks, having had the pleasure of his cooking at the Dining In The Dark press event), Cooking With Steam demonstration by Gaggenau UK, Frobishers, Clifton Coffee, Portlebay Popcorn and Majestic Wines.  Cheese and biscuits was provided by Dart’s Farm and their magnificent Deli.

The evening was a delightful mix of chatter, networking and social milling, all of which I am fundamentally rubbish at; but thankfully Tori has a subconscious knack for these sorts of events.  It was great to meet Nick from @DevonFoodHour and catch up with Jody from The Pickle Shack, Michelle Xie and Jim & Lucy Fisher from Exeter Cookery School.

I was lucky enough to be armed with one of our nicer cameras from work, so the following post is a few shots from the evening with commentary.  A bit like director’s commentary on DVDs, but hopefully informative and not rambling and inane.


There are going to be more BIG photos with this post due to the fact that I have nearly ran out of space on my WordPress account, and I am quite simply to tight-fisted to invest in a premium account.


The canapes were amazing. Created by Tom William-Hawkes, these little beauties are Quail’s Eggs!


These were beautifully cooked, made from Greendale Beef. I had more than one of these!



Tom brought some fresh Topsham smoked salmon. It was delightful. Salmon fishing on the River Exe used to be a substantial activity, but in recent years it has declined significantly, there were at one point twenty salmon boats registered at Topsham but this is now only down to two. This salmon was caught by Tom’s dad and walked up to the restaurant. The salmon was smoked in Topsham and prepared for the evening.


This chap was one of the lobsters being used for the demo tonight. A fresh Lyme Bay Lobster, no cheap Canadian ones here!


Another one of my favourite canapes of the night were these delicious Fishcakes on a mustard mayo.


Tori and Michelle Xie!


The master at work. After creating the canapes, Tom gave a demonstration with lobster. It was a busy night for this chap!



Fish cakes done!


The beautiful cheese provided by Darts Farm’s deli. Excellent stuff.



This amazing creation is courtesy of the Gauggenau demonstration. I defintely need one of these ovens in my house! (lottery win anyone?)


The Salutation Inn has some interesting nights happening. Dining In The Dark is a definite one to experience if you can, but also the Game Nights sound really good too.


Jo Rees, founder and Grand High Foody giving her speech at the beginning of the evening.


Let the demonstration commence!






The skill and the speed that Tom worked at was amazing. The taste of the lobster was delicious, a really fantastic demonstration.


The hand of Nick from DevonFoodHour. He asked questions that were far more intelligent, I spent most of my time wondering if it would go with chips. I’m cultured me…


If you’ve cooked lobster, you should be able to break the claw back. If its cooked this will happen easily. This is what the inside of a lobster claw looks like.




The final flourish of flowers really brings out the colours. When you see food like this so close, the one thing that jumps out are the vibrance of the colours.



The salmon being prepared. It had such a deliciously smokey scenting to it.


Majestic Wines were on hand to talk about their lovely wines. Twas very nice. Far too nice.


Why some wine glasses are better than others. A fascinating talk from this chap whose name I have managed to mislay somewhere.


Portlebay Popcorn. The chap from Portlebay Popcorn was giving out lots of popcorn, admittedly I didn’t really get the whole ‘gourmet’ popcorn idea but after a bag of the Sweet and Salty flavour, I could say I am happily converted to the idea.


Lovely people!


Strange people.


Join Plymouth Gin for a Voyage of Discovery at the Plymouth Seafood Festival

My culinary journey this year has been one of many discoveries.  One of those discoveries has been the fact that I actually quite like Gin.  We tasted some lovely Gin from Conker Gin at the River Cottage Summer Fair, and I suddenly realised that this stuff was actually alright.  Never having been a Gin fan, this conversion was almost spiritual.  So imagine my over-excitement when I got an email from Isobel from the PR company looking after Plymouth Gin and their Voyage of Discover at The Plymouth Seafood Festival.

The sad part is that I’m unable to go, but it sounds like so much fun.

Plymouth Gin is still produced at The Black Friars Distillery, the UK’s oldest, where in 1793 Coates & Co. set up shop, producing Gin for the British Navy.  The Naval love of this drink saw it shipped all over the world, and by the time the Mixologists bible, The Savoy Cocktail Book, was published, the brand was one of the only ones to be named in the publication due to the love of this particular brand.

…I am slightly jealous of Plymouth on this count!

Plymouth Gin is proud to be headline sponsor of the 2015 Plymouth Seafood Festival, taking place at Plymouth Barbican and Sutton Harbour on 26 and 27 September. Plymouth Gin will be inviting gin and seafood lovers to join a Voyage of Discovery during the Festival where they can explore the fascinating maritime heritage of the brand in its hometown.

Visitors will be provided a Voyage of Discovery Passport to enjoy a gin education session with Plymouth Gin International Brand Ambassador, Sebastian Hamilton-Mudge and pick up tips at the Cookery Theatre Stage. Each exciting activity earns a stamp in your Voyage of Discovery Passport. Three stamps will be rewarded with a free tour of the iconic Black Friar’s Distillery, home of Plymouth Gin.

Sebastian Hamilton-Mudge, International Brand Ambassador, Plymouth Gin said “Plymouth Gin has a rich and authentic heritage in the city of Plymouth, and we are incredibly excited to share the story of brand at the 2015 Plymouth Seafood Festival. It doesn’t end there – our on-going Plymouth Restaurant Partnership will extend the Voyage of Discovery for the local community and visitors to the city”.

When the festival is over, the journey continues: this time in partnership with five renowned Plymouth restaurants; Barbican Kitchen, Rockfish, The River Cottage Plymouth, The Glassblowing House, and Rhodes @ The Dome. For eight weeks, Voyage of Discovery Passport holders are entitled to a free Plymouth Gin Classic Cocktail when ordering dinner at any participating restaurant, and can request a passport stamp on ordering two courses. Customers who collect three stamps will be invited to take the Master Distiller’s tour at the Black Friar’s Distillery – a fascinating in-depth tour which includes the opportunity to learn the secrets of gin distilling and create their own gin recipe to take home.

Sarah Gibson (nee O’Leary), Plymouth City Council, said: “With Plymouth Gin’s help we’ve grown the event this year to support hundreds of Waterfront businesses, attracting even more visitors to enjoy the cafés, restaurants, pubs and shops in the historic heart of the city. The Plymouth Gin Voyage of Discovery is unique and exciting as well as educational. Joining forces with some of the most well-known Waterfront restaurants this will no-doubt be popular amongst those gin and food lovers out there.

To participate, festival-goers can collect their Voyage of Discovery passport at stands 16 and 17. For more information on the Plymouth Seafood Festival, visit and to explore more about Plymouth Gin visit

Reaping the whirlwind

Two weeks ago, Eating Exeter guest blogger, Ditch Townsend took to local and national headlines after his story was picked up by the local press. Thank you Ditch, for considering me your Mentor! 🙂 But ultimately the credit for such a well-written and unique blog is down to him. This is a very truthful insight in to how sudden fame can bring positives and negatives to any dedicated food blogger.

Devon Cream Teas

Four months in, with my viral moment’s no-show, it was time to take things to another level. As I’d learned elsewhere, trying harder leads to tiring harder. Trying different is where the action is (WARNING: risk of epic fail, or at least headaches). Enter the Press Release.

Devon man visits 250 cream tea shops

In less than 20 weeks, mid-Devon resident Ditch Townsend has visited 250 Devon shops selling cream teas, writing short, independent, honest reviews for his blog at two thirds of them. As well as seeking out and relishing the best, he says he is on a mission, “to eradicate the scourge of sugary red flavoured jelly blobs masquerading as jam,” and adds, “I want to see all Devon’s cream teas become great cream teas.”

Well who’d have thought that, as a BBC journalist subsequently told me, “Everyone loves a cream tea story.” (Actually, my Eating Exeter mentor

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Powderham Food Festival – October 3rd & 4th

Its nearly time for the Powderham Food Festival and it sounds like its going to be an amazing weekend two-day event! See how our very own Steve Price got on at last year’s festival.

Building on the growing success of Powderham Food Festival, which first launched in 2012 and draws food-lovers from across the region, this year’s event promises to be even bigger and better than ever. The popular date in Devon’s culinary calendar has doubled its appeal for 2015, as it is due to take place over two days from 3rd to 4th October – perfect timing as it marks the end of British Food Fortnight.

Back by popular demand comes Powderham Food Festival’s dramatic Theatre of Fire ‘n Smoke, where some of Britain’s best BBQ cooks will be demonstrating their cooking skills over fire pits, BBQs and smokers. Set under the big brown tipi, watch out for Simon Dyer, winner of ITV’s BBQ Champ, Marcus Bawdon – King of Meatopia (2013) and a finalist in Devon Cook of the Year – and the amazing John Gower from Quietwaters Farm, using fish from the Exe Estuary, venison from Powderham’s own deer park, finest locally produced meats and, yes, vegetables too. Ever heard of a fish boil? Discover its magic with Toby Ingham from Lympstone-based Flippin’ Fresh Seafood with his sizzling lobsters. This is BBQ food at its tastiest – available to buy and enjoy too.

Foodies will also be able to sample the many delectable delights from over 100 of the South West’s finest food producers, from Kenton’s Humble Eggs – a pretty duck egg blue shepherd’s hut from which is produced all sorts of eggy favourites – to true artisan food producers Good Game, whose mission to make the best-tasting game and cured meat in the world is right on track. Keen cooks will also be able to learn some top cheffy tricks, and all in the magical surroundings of the 600-year-old Powderham Castle set beside the picturesque Exe Estuary.

The occasion promises saucepans full of fun for all the family, with entertainment at every turn. In celebration of British Egg Week (30th September to 6th October) and the vital role that the egg plays in so many mouthwatering culinary creations, Powderham Food Festival has teamed up with the British Hen Welfare Trust. The Devon-based charity set up to educate the public about laying hen welfare will be on hand to impart their extensive knowledge, and providing the ‘ahh’ factor will be hens clucking and scratching and maybe even laying some super fresh eggs.

For those keen to polish up their cooking skills, visitors can watch the action on not one but five demonstration stages. The main stage will be hosted by new foodie enterprise, Exeter Cookery School. Soon to set up on Exeter’s historic Quayside, Masterchef semi-finalist and founder Jim Fisher will take Powderham Food Festival attendees on a journey of fantastic flavours and offer tips and tricks on how to wow friends and family.

As well as performing his own inimitable style of cooking, Jim will welcome to the stage consultant chefs Richard Hunt and Peter Gorton. With a combined cheffing experience of over 60 years, Peter and Richard will be taking the Food Festival audience through a range of cooking knowhow and demonstrating some tempting recipes.

As well as the return of the Theatre of Fire and Smoke and the popular Field Kitchen courtesy of the Royal Marines, you can take a step back in time to learn all about 19th Century cooking in the Victorian Kitchen. Not forgetting the next generation of food aficionados, food technology teacher extraordinaire, Joe Mann from Fun Kitchen, will be inviting children to get messy and cook up a storm in the children’s marquee.

Powderham Food Festival Founder Bob Small says: “We always had big plans for the show, but have been overwhelmed by the warmth with which the Festival has been received within the local community as well as across the South West and further afield. And we are delighted that Helpful Holidays, as headline sponsor, and WBW Solicitors have given their loyal support.

“Whether you are perusing the trade stands, sampling the finest produce the region has to offer or just want to be amazed by the culinary skills of chefs, Powderham Food Festival has some exciting treats in store for visitors this year.”

All images courtesy of Matt Austin Imagse

Nourish Festival 2015 – Photo Diary

One of my fondest memories in recent years, was attending a Spoken Word event in Bovey Tracey that I was performing at where, in a poetry competition, my wife managed to win a bowl made out of an old viynl record.  She managed to rhyme Tracey with ‘facey’, which was at the time nothing short of literary genius.  I can’t remember the whole poem but now and again we pass Bovey on the way to somewhere else, remembering this poetic related snippet of memory, and always reflecting on what a nice town it is.  The Devon Guild of Crafts is always such an inspiration, walking around the gallery of talent and art, the end result normally being a nice cup of tea in the cafe.

But this time, the thing that brought us to Bovey Tracey was the Nourish Festival.  It is a combination of craft, food and live music which takes over the centre of Bovey.  This is the second year its been running, and it is as popular as ever!

With all food festivals that I attend, I never managed to talk to every producer, but we did pick up some bits from a few producers who were producing/selling some gorgeous things.

I am presenting this write-up as a photo diary as there was so much going on, so many great shots taken which I couldn’t keep back from Eating Exeter’s dedicated readers.

Let me explain the photo of the car park.  Hang on hang on, its not a declaration of urbanisation on a field of lush green grass, but a commentary of how easy and delightful the car parking was.  The Nourish Festival is about the whole community, and although technically we were parked on the playing fields, the feeling throughout the whole event was that the whole community was behind the festival which gave it a really cohesive and inviting feeling.

Being able to walk up the street of Bovey Tracey was a surreal experience and it was a perfect setting for an event like this. The element of live music was an added bonus (I am sure someone can remind me of their name) as I’ve forgotten it!

Tori was in wheelchair mode this day.  She was in charge of photographs and some of the shots we were able to capture some excellent snaps from her level.  Given the surface of the road was lovely smooth tarmac, wheelchair access was generally a pleasure throughout the day.

We picked up some excellent chutney from Louise’s Larder who are based in Crediton.  It was really nice to meet someone who I follow on Twitter as well.

We grabbed something to eat from an excellent Hog Roast (name escapes me, but they were next to the Fancy-That tent) which kept us going.

This is an excellent festival that I hope dearly will be on again next year.  We met some excellent producers, had some lovely food and felt very welcome.  Better than the Exeter Food Festival? No comparison, but at least the Nourish Festival has parking 😉

If you want any high-res versions of any of the images then please drop me a line via the contact page.

Dining In The Dark – Three special events taking place in November at The Salutation Inn

I really wanted to come back last night and start writing about this, as the experience left me buzzing.  At The Salutation Inn in Topsham a group of press representatives and us too, had a taster of the Dining in the Dark events that are taking place in November being put on by the WESC Foundation, which is a fantastic institution that offers residency to 100 or so young people with varying degrees of sight impairment, ranging from partial sight to absolutely no sight at all.  Click through here for more information about the events.

As you can imagine there are not that many photos with this post compared to the usual barrage of images and photos taken at jaunty angles that I normally plaster across this blog.  This experience was one that had to be described.

The evening was taking place in The Salutation Inn, an establishment that has become synonymous with fine dining under the command of Michelin trained chef-director Tom William-Hawkes, who has taken what was a ‘sticky carpet pub’ and given it a new life as one of the places to go for fine cuisine and excellent service (1# on Trip Advisor!).

The WESC Foundation will be laying on three one-of-a-kind Dining in the Dark events in November (Wednesday 25th, Thursday 26th and the ‘Gourmet’ night on the 27th November) that will see diners taken on a culinary journey of taste, but also empathy as you are guided up the stairs from the downstairs function rooms to the dining area by one of four guides who are themselves blind or partially sighted, hands on shoulders in to a room that is pitch black.  The dining room is clad in a double lined curtains which creates a darkness that is rarely experienced in this modern age of street lights and twenty-four-seven daylight.  The events are designed to take diners on a journey of culinary delight, but they are also meant to be thought-provoking.

We met our hosts as we entered through the front entrance of the restaurant, and were guided to a couple of rooms that acted as a gathering area for the diners; canapés and conversation were exchanged and consumed, after a little time we were told exactly what was going to happen.  In groups of four, our guides would lead us upstairs in groups of four.  Placing your hand on the shoulder of the person in front, we were led up the stairs in small groups to a room set up for dinner, in complete darkness.

As soon as we entered the room, my eyes were as good as useless.  Having to rely on a mental image that I was painting in my head as to where items on the table were laid, it was only after I put my hand in the Confit of Rainbow Trout, that I realised the food was already served!
Our guides were around to help with anything we needed, I spent most of the meal trying to find my bread but ended up eating Tori’s instead.  After I had poured my water (not in my glass, but somewhere…) I set about enjoying the beautiful piece of rainbow trout in front of me.

The taste of the fish, the tartness of the ratatouille and the basil of the marinade felt like fireworks going off in my mouth. Without sounding too cliché, there was a basil and trout filled party on my taste buds.  Tastes seem to take on a new life without the eyes to play a part in the cognitive process of eating, and given the calibre of what The Salutation Inn produces, this event is guaranteed to deepen guest’s appreciation of taste.

After we had finished our meals, we were led out in a similar fashion to enjoy some teas coffees and petit fours (which we were allowed to bring home, post to follow). We listened to a short talk given by Jon Duckham (Fundraising Manager for WESC) and looked at just some of the kitchen and cooking items that were on display, all designed to help those with sight impairment.

Although our experience in the dark was a short one, it was a good overview of the sort of thing to expect, a journey of taste and an experience that will be hard to forget.

On Wednesday 25th and Thursday 26th November the meal will include prosecco and canapés on arrival, three specially designed courses with a glass of wine, coffee and petit fours; all for £40 per person.  The Gourmet night on the 27th November will include champagne and canapés on arrival, four specially designed courses with a full flight of wines chosen to complement each course with coffee and petit fours afterwards, all this for £80 per person.

Deliveroo in Exeter: The Review

I graduated 13 years ago, and I remember my time as a penniless library studies student in Aberystwyth with a relative amount of fondness.  One thing I don’t miss was the food, or the strange concoctions that I would throw together in order to impress potential girlfriends.  Although I enjoyed cooking, I was never very far away from somewhere that sold food which got me out of numerous culinary scrapes.  But if you wanted something delivered, the only option was a strange pizza shop that delivered called Hollywood Pizza. I think Dominoes finally landed after I left, but you had to go to the food.

I would love to be a student now, especially in Exeter.  There are so many options especially if you live close to the university or the centre of town. I can’t imagine myself going a week where I wouldn’t order a take-away or something that didn’t involve me leaving the house.  We live in such a foody city, and when new innovations come along that make being a foody even easier, I get a little warm glow inside because now students and residents of Exeter are able to order some of their favourite restaurant food from the comfort of their armchairs or office chairs.

Just over a month ago, I revealed that the restaurant food delivery service Deliveroo was coming to Exeter.  It launched a couple of weeks ago and now after a bit of bedding in, we were invited to give Deliveroo a whirl just to see how easy it was to order food and get it delivered.

The process is easy-peasy.  If you have an iOS device (iPad, iPhone etc.) then you can download the Deliveroo app.  Us Android users have to wait for the Android version, but it’ll be available for our devices soon.  In the meantime I used the online browser version, and live-tweeted the process as we went.

Deliveroo Review on Eating ExeterThe selection of restaurants that appear will depend largely on what postcode you live in.  Some postcodes in Exeter are not covered by the Deliveroo service, simply because they live too far away from participating restaurants. Through bitter experience, Deliveroo worked out that the optimum time to get food from restaurant to door was 9.5 minutes, anymore than this and the food would spoil.  The more restaurants that sign up to Deliveroo in Exeter, the larger the catchment area will become.

The variation of restaurants available gave us a really good scope of foods to go for.  Given we had a hankering for curry, we chose The Curry Leaf  (in New North Road).

If you’ve never used Deliveroo before, after you’ve made your food choices (and don’t forget to tip the driver!) you are prompted to input the important details like address and card details etc.  There is a £2.50 delivery charge which is cheaper than a bus in to town, or even parking.  Once your account is created, the page comes up confirming your order and (how cool is this), shows you the status of your order!  Watch it live. Or don’t…as it makes you hungrier.

Deliveroo Review on Eating Exeter

Once the order is placed, just sit back and wait.

Deliveroo Review on Eating Exeter

The whole process of ordering is beautifully hassle free, I am even tempted to say that it is even elegant.  Make sure you warm your plates up too!

Dead on time our food appears on the back of a bicycle pedalled by Dominykas.  Each driver has an app on their phone that they tap to say that their food has been delivered.  Once you have your food, if you have any problems then you’re in the hands of the Deliveroo support team.

Our Curry Leaf food was piping hot (custom designed carry bags keep everything toasty) and generally very nice.  I feel that they need a review in themselves as we loved the standard of food and to be fair it is to be expected from this award winning curry restaurant. 

We had a Chicken Bedamy Korma and a Malabar Chicken Masala which was, for lack of a better word, lushious.  The spices were fragrant and the whole thing was an absolute delight.  Very much beyond the realms of other delivered curries that we’ve had before.

So how do you do it?

  1. Head to and type in your postcode
  2. Choose your restaurant and then the food.
  3. Put in your payment details and address
  4. Wait and enjoy!


FOOD lovers in are now able to enjoy their favourite restaurant dishes from the comfort of their desks or home. Deliveroo – the premium restaurant food delivery service – has launched in Devon’s capital city. The service will revolutionise dining by delivering quality food from local independent and chain restaurants direct to people’s doors. The company is growing throughout the UK and Exeter will be the 24th city to launch the service.

The Exeter arm of Deliveroo opens with a restaurant roster including local neighbourhood favourites such as Urban Burger, Harry’s Restaurant, Forn, HUBBOX, The Plant Café and Carluccio’s with others listed on the Deliveroo website. Menu items will be transported to homes and offices across the city via a fleet of delivery mopeds and bicycles.

An easy-to-use service, food orders and payment are all processed online at or via the new Deliveroo app. By entering a postcode and preferred time slot, Deliveroo will offer a long list of local establishments offering food within the delivery zone.

This includes the option to schedule orders up to one day in advance or receive food ASAP – with an average delivery time of just 32 minutes. Launching with a delivery zone that covers that covers a 2.4 km radius of each restaurant, the coming weeks will see the restaurant partnerships rapidly expanding, as the service rolls out across Exeter.

“Home to some of the South West’s most passionate foodies, Exeter boasts a growing selection of exciting independent establishments, as well as some great local chain restaurants,” comments Rory MacInnes, Market Launch Manager for Exeter. “Through our user friendly and super slick platform, Deliveroo is now able to meet the substantial demand for premium restaurant-standard dishes delivered to the comfort of the home or office.”


Regional Twitter: @Deliveroo_EXT


Deliveroo is live in Exeter!

You might remember a few months ago I hinted that Deliveroo was coming to Exeter.  Well, the Deliveroo team have been busy in the background getting everything ready (a few tests here and there, I am proud to say that my order a couple of nights ago was one of the very first Exeter orders!) and its finally here.

The doors are open, the chocks are away, the aprons have been donned and Deliveroo is now ready for your orders.

How does it work? Head to Deliveroo and put your postcode in. Then, depending if your postcode is delivered to (some further reaches from the restaurants won’t be covered unfortunately) you can go ahead and order your food from a range or restaurants, independent and chain.
There is a £2.50 delivery charge, plus you can tip your driver/cyclist as well.

Follow our local Deliveroo on Twitter @deliveroo_EXT

Naturally we’re going to do a review on the service to show how easy it is, stay tuned!