Eating Wimborne: Culinary Adventures in Dorset

Back in August we went to visit our good friends & Eating Exeter co-founder, Polly and her lovely other half Rob.  I wrote this post and then got distracted by the arrival of the new academic year, but now I have managed to muster enough energy to finish it!  Last year Polly and Rob moved to Wimborne in Dorset, which I have grown quite attached to.

Wimborne is a small town that lies about 10 miles from Bournemouth.  There are no motorways in this part of the world which makes the 70 mile journey from Exeter is one of the most scenic that we make on a semi-regular basis.  Heading to Honiton you vault over the Blackdown Hills and descend into the beautiful Ax Valley along the curves and undulations of the A35.  Its after Axminster that the countryside starts to change.

As you head past Bridport, you follow the coast for a bit and eventually hit Dorchester.  Driving past the vast intimidating gates of Charborough House which is occupied by the Tory MP Richard Drax (boo!) and is definitely not a National Trust property, you’re straight on to Wimborne which is only a few miles away from that point.  Fun fact: The brick wall that lines the A31 as you drive past the Charborough Estate is one of the longest in the UK.

Wimborne is a town that has some strict planning laws.  But this has meant that the general feeling of the town has not changed much in the last hundred years.  It has one of the best collections of 15th, 16th and 17th century building fronts around the square which has preserved the character of the town, but this only lasts until you go further over towards the river, where it gets a little bit…well…eighties.

I like this town, its immensely unoffensive.  The people are generally nice, we’ve had some fun times within the walls of some of the 14 or 15 pubs, and many of the pubs offer Badger Ales on draught given the fact its so close to the Badger Ales brewery.

Our little weekend getaway was to be punctuated with a visit to River Cottage HQ’s awesome summer fair on the Sunday afternoon, but before this, we sampled a couple of the culinary delights that Wimborne has kept hidden.  This was ‘hidden Wimborne’

The Riverside Cafe (or The Haunted Cafe) was our first taste of this hidden town.  A small cafe that lies on one of the small rivers that snake through the town.  If you didn’t know it was there, it would be easy to miss but we were in the hands of our gastronomic guides.

TripAdvisor loves this cafe with a lot of excellent reviews.  And its easy to see why.  It has a lovely riverside location, you can eat your fry-up within the rippling of the water, and sit happy in the knowledge you’re unlikely to have to spend too much on your grub here.  I took Robs recommendation for the fish finger sandwich, which was immense and highly satisfying.

It has a large Saxon church called Wimborne Minster and it sits on the confluence of the River Stour and River Allen.  The tourist attractions of Wimborne appears to be the Wimborne Model Town, the minster and the Wimborne Covered Market.  The covered market was a vast sprawling car boot/antiques market that seemed to go on for miles.  So many random knick-knacks and second-hand items, I was very much in my element! 🙂

After a brief mooch around Wimborne afterwards, Pol took us to one of Dorset’s finest chocolate shops.  ChoccoCake which sits on East Street has won the Taste of Dorset Awards 2013 and is very proud of this fact, it is clear to see why when you taste some of their offerings.

They were not cheap, but the quality of the produce is worth every mouthful. We’re due to go back at the end of October, so I am sure we might pass through here again!

In Exeter, there is a lack of proper Italian restaurants. When I say ‘proper’, I mean the sort of restaurants that are run by actual Italians with straw covered jars on the wall and other rather stereotypical tweaks and quirks.  But Wimborne has the Topogigio Restaurant in Mill Street.

I went for the Diavolo Pizza. It was as spicy and diabolically hot as I had imagined, but not too much that I lept for the nearest glass of milk.  The restaurant is quite compact, lots of rustic red and browns give the place a cosy feeling, but with the seating feeling like it was designed for think people rather than those of us with bellies, it was a relief when we finished and I managed to stand outside of the restaurant, spinning my arms like a lunatic.

Seating aside, I would definitely go back.

Wimborne is due to see us again for halloween this weekend.  It won’t be the last time I’ll see its strange shops and its bizarre residents, and it won’t be the last time its mentioned on this blog either. 🙂

We’re going back to Wimborne soon.  This won’t be the last time I’ll write about it.

Places mentioned:

Chococake Ltd. – 18 East St, Wimborne BH21 1DT 01202 886563 – http://www.chococake.co.uk/

Topogigio Restaurant – Mill Ln, Wimborne Minster BH21 1JQ 01202 841884 – http://www.topogigio-wimborne.co.uk/

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Eating Exeter Update – October

Well, summer has long gone. As I write this, there is water falling from the sky. I think its called ‘rain’, but I hear people call it ‘catzndogs’ too, so I might rename it something ‘autumnishere’ or ‘sodoff’.

Surrealism aside.  Keep your peepers peeled for some bits coming up on the blog over the next few weeks.

Riviera FM with Steve Price – Tonight I’ll be on Riviera FM at 6:30pm with my mate Steve, talking about all things culinary.  We’re even going to have a go at making some ‘Mug Cakes’.  Should be interesting!

Grand Final of South West Chef Of The Year – Thanks to Abi at OneVoice who offered me the chance to go to this prestigious competition on Thursday.  Its going to be a definite experience and half!

Culinary Adventures in Wimborne – I started writing this post ages ago, but for whatever reason stopped.  We went to visit our dear friends Polly (Eating Exeter co-founder) and Rob her lovely man, so I can finally put the last tweaks on and publish it.

The Beer and Bacon Festival – Another post I never managed to get around to writing.  It was such a great day, so I have some photos and a bit of narration to go up.

Dine amongst the wines: A unique one-off dining event! Tuesday 3rd November

Danish superstar chef Kasper Gaard is joining forces with Robin Rea from the award-winning Rusty Pig in Ottery St Mary to cook a one-off supper at Smiths Wines in Magdalen Road.

Kasper, who took part in the River Cottage series ‘3 Good Things’, is a feted restaurateur in Denmark, and runs the Ilse restaurant on the island of Samso, where he lives.

Iain Smith of Smiths Wines said: “It’s been a long-term ambition of mine to persuade Kasper to cook for the people of Exeter.

“He’s previously dazzled the folk of Ottery St Mary with his cooking, and I decided it was our turn next. I’ve known Robin for many years too, and I’m looking forward to seeing what these two exceptional chefs concoct between them. ”

Both chefs are committed to ethical dining with sustainable aims and the dinner will be based on seasonal local ingredients. On Samso, Kasper Gaard is an expert at foraging for ingredients to use in his cooking, whilst in Ottery St Mary, Robin Rea has strong ties with local suppliers for fish, game, beef, vegetables and salad. He also raises his own Oxford Sandy and Black pigs on a nearby smallholding.

Iain regularly hosts suppers for small numbers in the shop, which is equipped with a long dining table that nestles between the shelves of wine, and armchairs for customers to use in between browsing the shelves at Smiths Wines. He and his team have a comprehensive knowledge of wines and Iain will be choosing the varieties to complement the meal created by Kasper and Robin.

The supper is on Tuesday, November 3. With space limited to 20 diners, the four course set meal costs £80 including wine. To book, call Iain on 01392 426550.

A magical meatstery tour…

Nick Hook is one of my favourite food photographers, plus he’s a very nice chap to boot. Marcus Bowden is a meat genius, the combination is magical…

nick hook photography

65 day, dry aged steaks. 65 days. 65. Sirloin.Dirty hanger steaks…

It’s fair to say that Marcus BawdonofCountry Wood Smokefame, is a meaty genius. He cooked me one of the most memorable steaks of my life, I’llrepeat “65 day old, dry aged steaks. 65 days. 65. Sirloin. Dirty hanger steaks…” If seeing is believing, then you must taste this uber complex, umami packed wee beastie of a cut to understand.

Seek it out, don’t be scared, do not go quietly into your local butchers.

Cheers Marcus, thanks for lunch!

What follows is more of a dream than aphoto-journal. Maybe I lumbered down the rabbit hole, after an enchanted Aberdeen Angus…

MrNickHook-Photography-DWS-9870MrNickHook-Photography-DWS-9871MrNickHook-Photography-DWS-9908MrNickHook-Photography-DWS-9907MrNickHook-Photography-DWS-9904MrNickHook-Photography-DWS-9912MrNickHook-Photography-DWS-9922MrNickHook-Photography-DWS-9953MrNickHook-Photography-DWS-9956MrNickHook-Photography-DWS-9960MrNickHook-Photography-DWS-9969MrNickHook-Photography-DWS-9972MrNickHook-Photography-DWS-9978MrNickHook-Photography-DWS-9986MrNickHook-Photography-DWS-9989MrNickHook-Photography-DWS-0013MrNickHook-Photography-DWS-0029MrNickHook-Photography-DWS-0008MrNickHook-Photography-DWS-2

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Exeter Golf and Country Club: The Wear Park Restaurant

Exeter Golf and Country Club, Topsham Rd, Exeter, EX2 7AE
01392 874139 Lunch menu: One course (£9.95), two courses (£12.00) or three courses (£15.00)

To a lot of Exonians (excluding the 4,500 members who currently pay money to use their lovely facilities) the Exeter Golf and Country Club is a little bit of a mystery.  Like me, most residents of Exeter have been here for a wedding or two, maybe a conference or to use the wonderful spa facilities.  The sumptuous Georgian building (take a peek at the club’s history here) that overlooks some of the nicest greenery in Exeter, is home to the Wear Park Restaurant.  Last year Adam Little (ex-Harry’s Grill) was appointed as Head Chef.  Adam brought some of his team from Harry’s as well; the winning combination that attracted diner’s to their previous haunt is back to weave the same magic at the Exeter GCC.

But did you know that the gorgeous Wear Park Restaurant is also open to non-members as well?

We were invited down have a some lunch and take peek at this hidden temple of fine food, admire the greens and peer at the golf caddies.  I’ve only ever tried to play Golf twice, both times I managed to lose the ball, annoy other golfers and chew a large hole in an exquisitely manicured green.  So the idea of going to a golf club had me slightly worried that I might need to get my ‘Bluffer’s Guide to Golf’ out, but thankfully it isn’t all greens and golf carts at the Exeter GCC.

The Club has two restaurants.  The Hub is their family space where families can go and eat cheaply, children are allowed to be themselves and there is an attractive kid friendly menu on offer, no problem.  Many families will come and use the facilities multiple times a week and have their evening meal at the club after the kids have had their lessons and Mum & Dad have been at the gym or catching some squash in one of their courts.  Then for those nicer meals, there is the Wear Park Restaurant.

The lunch menu is fantastic value, choose from one course (£9.95), two courses (£12.00) or three courses (£15.00) OR one of the light bites from the other side of the menu.  Alternatively why not drop in for Afternoon Tea?  There is even a Prosecco Afternoon Tea available which just sounds decadently nice.

When we arrived, we were taken over to the Restaurant (located on the ground floor of the large Georgian house) by a lovely lady from reception as we had no idea where we were meant to be.  The Georgian propensity for the neo-classical gives the building quite an imposing feeling, but the warm welcome we received was in contrast to the austere yet beautiful architecture.

Adam has created a really nice lunch menu to tempt members and non-members alike.  We were looked after by the lovely Richard, the Food and Drinks Manager at the Wear Park who gave us a insight in to life at this busy restaurant.  As we waited in the lounge area, we were able to order our food as we sat in comfort with our coffees. As this was a Saturday lunchtime, I couldn’t quite bring myself to start on the wine quite yet.

Although the temptation to have a full three course meal sat on my shoulder for quite a while, I managed to keep it at bay (one has to think of the waistline) so I went for a main and a pudding.  I started things off with a Pan Fried Fillet of Salmon which came served with beautiful butter boiled vegetables, and Tori went for the Chicken Chasseur with Fondant Potato.  The Salmon skin was crisped perfectly, the flesh flaked with little effort from me and tasted amazing.  Tori commented on the fact her chicken was beautifully moist.

The service throughout the dinner brilliant, we didn’t wait too long before our next course arrived.

For the pudding I stuck to the classic Sticky Toffee Pudding (with clotted cream) and Tori, being the chocolate fiend she is endulged in a Chocolate Delice with Stewed Cherries.  My pudding was soft where it should have been, with a sweet butterscotch sauce and a creamy dollop of clotted cream which was a gorgeous addition.  Tori’s chocolate delice looked like it should have been heavy, but it was light and smooth and inspired many happy noises from her side of the table.

Whether it was the opulent surroundings, the fact it was a Saturday or possibly the beginning of a lifetime’s addiction to Prosecco, Tori took the plunge and had a Blueberry Prosecco cocktail to finish the whole thing.  And I had a cup of tea…it is a well known fact I know how to party.
These fizzy cocktails are a new addition to the menu with exciting combinations available, the strawberry and blueberry liquers that are used have real fruit within the spirit which give it a wonderful fruity nose.

Wear Park Restaurant also do a Sunday Lunch menu, but if you want to try it out, best book in advance!  And that goes for other times as well.  The venue and the value add a special something to the experience for diners, so why not give it a go? It is not just members who can experience the exquisite dining and surroundings of this proper hidden gem.

EE Recommends

Exeter Golf and Country Club,
Topsham Rd,
Exeter,
EX2 7AE

01392 874139

Dartmouth Food Festival is nearly here! Friday 23 – Sunday 25 October 2015

Friday 23 – Sunday 25 October 2015

Dartmouth’s annual food festival is back from Friday 23rd October for three days and two evenings of exceptional regional produce, exciting foodie talks, workshops, tasting events, family friendly activities and much more.

Festival Advocate, restauranteur, food writer and chef Mitch Tonks says: “I can’t wait for the Dartmouth Food Festival to open again this year. The event is a real celebration of truly exceptional produce and great British cooking. It’s the perfect place to explore food and drink, talk to the people who produce it, watch a cooking demo and eat well – bring the kids too, there’s fun for all the family!”

Now in its 13th year, the festival takes place in various locations across the town of Dartmouth in South Devon including the Embankment, Royal Avenue Gardens and Market Square. The majority of the festival is free with some ticketed events including Eat Your Words talks at the Flavel Arts Centre and Flavel Church and Drinks Seminars at Browns Hotel among other venues. Tickets are priced from just £5 and can be purchased online at www.dartmouthfoodfestival.com

With over 100 producers, the festival attracts visitors from near and far to browse from a wide selection of sumptuous food and drink and buy direct from the growers, makers, bakers and brewers. Stands selling breads, cheeses, meats, drinks, wines, beers, chocolate, flapjack, cake, chutneys, oils and much more will be available from 10am each day.

The festival plays host to over 20 chef demonstrations including Mitch Tonks and Angela Hartnett MBE, TV chef Matt Tebbutt and Gelf Alderson of River Cottage among other talented, inspirational figures and local food heroes. Susy Atkins, wine writer and broadcaster will host a series of drinks seminars at Browns Hotel, accompanied and co-hosted by top speakers including Tom McLaughlin-Green, Master of Wine Liam Steevenson and sommelier Rebecca Mitchell.

Susy Atkins said: “’We are especially excited about the great drinks seminars this year, again held in the comfortable and modern surroundings of Browns Hotel, Victoria Road. Here’s a great opportunity to learn from (and be inspired by) tutored tastings from top wine experts such as Master of Wine Liam Steevenson, renowned merchant Tim McLaughlin-Green and Exeter’s top wine educator Rebecca Mitchell. We’re looking at everything from Sherry to Rioja, New Zealand’s latest releases and spicy food matching! I’ll be on hand throughout and am especially looking forward to showcasing top South-west English wines on Saturday evening. Do come and join us!”

Exeter Cookery School: Day course on the 14th November at Sapphire Spaces

The first session from The Exeter Cookery School looks absolutely amazing!

Saturday 14th November 2015

A hands-on cooking course with an autumnal flavour packed with cheffy tips, tricks and ideas designed to make cooking at home for family and friends easy and stress free.

When: 9am-4pm on Saturday 14th November 2015
Where: Sapphire Spaces, Unit 3, Dart Business Park, Topsham, Devon, EX3 0QH
Cost: £149 (see what’s included below)

Autumn Menu

Couronne aux Herbes (twisted herb bread)
with Baked Mont d’Or Cheese

Braised Beef Cheeks with Clotted Cream Mash, Braised Savoy Cabbage with Bacon and Apple, Heritage Vegetables and Beef Sauce

Pear and Frangipane Tart with Ginger Ice Cream

Itinerary

9.00am: Coffee and introductory chat with Jim and Lucy
9.30am: Hands-on Prep & Cooking
11.00am: Coffee & biscuit break followed by more hands-on prep & cooking
12.30pm: Lunch
1.30pm: Hands-on Prep & Cooking
2.30pm: Coffee & biscuit break followed by more hands-on prep & cooking
4.00pm: End of cooking. Glass of fizz. Presentation of Certificate. A jute shopping bag in which to take home any goodies you made.

Skills Learned

  • Working with yeast
  • Kneading and proving bread dough
  • Making fresh pesto
  • Cooking, blending, passing and setting meat parfait
  • Trimming meat in preparation for cooking
  • Searing and braising beef cheek
  • Making roasted meat stock
  • Making a reduced sauce base
  • Sauce finishing and seasoning
  • Flavour enhancement through seasoning, reduction, flavour extraction
  • Prepare ahead techniques, i.e. blanching vegetables
  • Sweet shortcrust pasty
  • Making frangipane
  • Poaching fruit
  • Making a Crème Anglaise
  • Making ice cream
  • Modern presentation

What’s Included During the Course

  • Hands-on tuition by an experienced patient chef
  • All ingredients
  • Lunch (eat what you cook)
  • Wine with lunch
  • Exeter Cookery School apron
  • Tea, coffee and snacks throughout the day
  • Farewell glass of fizz

What You Take Home With You

  • Exeter Cookery School pen
  • Exeter Cookery School jute shopping bag
  • Exeter Cookery School folder containing info and recipes cooked that day
  • Take-home bag of dishes cooked during the day
  • Exeter Cookery School certificate

Introducing: The Complete Dining Club

For a limited time Eating Exeter is selling cards at half price (£10 opposed to £20!), just click the link at the top right of the page and it will take you through to our link page.  If you go through the main site instead, just remember to mention that it was Eating Exeter that referred you over!

Click here to buy a card

An innovative business designed to encourage more diners to eat at some of Devon’s best independent cafes and restaurants.

Exeter is quite a lucky city in some respects.  We have an array of places to eat, most of them branches of larger chains, and intermixed there are a select number of independent places that are really good.  Some are recognised on a national level (Devon Coffee, The HubBox etc.) and on the whole, any good restaurant going bod in Exeter will be able to name at least three or four Indy places that do good food having been to them.  But diners are often creatures of habit, and many like the big chain restaurants that Exeter is filled with.  This can make things tricky for independent restaurants and cafes who don’t have the same marketing budgets or the buying power a large corporate entity might have.

From stage left, let me introduce you to Will Baker and John Peterson, (scroll down for a brief interview!); the founders of The Complete Diner’s Club (TCDC).  The founders are passionate about independent restaurants, low food miles and through my conversations with them in person and over email, they are dedicated team who have been meeting and promoting themselves to indy restaurants and cafes since the business’s creation earlier this year, and now after a busy week at the Exeter University Fresher’s Fair and at foody events, they can be found proselytising the ‘eat local, support local’ mantra that CDC embodies and promotes.

So, what is CDC?

As many regular readers might be aware, I’m passionate about local produce, independent restaurants and the ‘eat local, buy local’ mantra, so this concept has got me very excited.  In fact I got so excited, I accidentally posted this blog post a couple of weeks ago and frantically had to delete it afterwards! Why? Well… there are two things that are guaranteed to put a spanner in the works of any well laid plan.  The first thing is technology, and the second thing will be the lawyers of a large American corporation.  Will and John have had two weeks to rebrand from The Complete Diner’s Club to The Complete Dining Club after an nasty email from Diner’s Club International, who felt that the TCDC name was a little too close to their own.  So after some frantic rebranding, the business if finally ready to launch officially.

The Complete Dining Club is a unique (only one of its kind in the UK) card scheme that gives club members offers, discounts and unique experiences from independent restaurants  and producers.  So far there are twelve restaurants on-board in Exeter, Exmouth and Crediton, all of them giving Complete Dining Club members something special.
And they are adding more to the list, so make sure you check the website regularly!  As the number of establishments that sign up grows, the website will become a directory of excellent independent businesses, and with the information on the website it will help aid decision and will help diners discover new places to eat.


But it isn’t just the benefits to diners.  In the future, with a combined buying power, CDC hopes to make things cheaper for restaurants too with costs of such things as maintenance, finance and even down to printing menus etc.

its a really fantastic concept with Will and John promoting and negotiating with businesses to get member offers that are worth signing up for.  The business is relatively young, but there is already a buzz amongst the mavens in foody circles I move amongst.

So why should you? Have a look at the members page to see more, but there are some awesome discounts including:

  • A minimum of 10% off at all supporting stores
  • A variety of different exclusive offers (Free glass of wine, 50% off the food bill etc)
  • An easier time finding places worth exploring when going out to eat with friends and family

This is one project that I firmly believe is going to be beneficial for independent restaurants in the long-term, not just for the diners that eat at them but for their owners too.  In a recent article in The Caterer, the struggle of independent restaurants was clarified:

“Figures from the NPD Group show that sales at independent outlets have dropped by 22.8% since 2008, while business in chain restaurants has increased by 15.5% during the same period. As a result, independents accounted for 43% of the eating-out traffic by the end of 2014, compared with 53% in 2008″

These depressing statistics say to me that a scheme like CDC will only help to boost the chances of getting bums on seats and why we all need to ‘Eat Local and Buy Local’.

I was lucky enough to get Will and John to answer a few questions about starting the business and how things were going.

What gave you the idea to start Complete Dining Club?

John: The initial idea came to us while Will and I were having a meal in ‘Lloyds Kitchen’ in Exeter once. We were sitting there chatting about how we all have that one independent restaurant that we love but there’s no place to find more independents like it; so we set up Complete Dining Club, a place to find some of the best and unique independent restaurants, pubs and cafes in your area that we believe must be explored.

What’s the benefit to diners that sign up to be a member?

Will: Members of Complete Dining Club get access to exclusive discounts/deals at some of the best independents in town. Some deals are suited to groups (for instance, a bottle of wine between 4) whilst other deals can be enjoyed when you’re out in town on your own. One card gets you access to one Complete Dining Club deal per sitting. There is a variety.

John: The way to use your card is by firstly looking on the website to find independent diners in your area that you like the look of and then checking the individual pages of those diners to find out what deal they are offering. Some places, like Bumble and Bee in Exmouth, do a daily deal which means that there will always be a deal available but sometimes it will be different to the one on the website, as it changes daily. Other places, like Lloyd’s Kitchen in Exeter who are offering 50% off the bill at breakfast, have a permanent deal in place and this deal won’t change for at least 30 days but it will have terms and conditions such as not available on Saturdays and must be ordered by 11:30am.

How much does it cost?

John: Membership to Complete Dining Club costs £20 per year. In return you get exclusive access to Complete Dining Club deals in all the independents that we support. The membership card will be valid for a year and gets you a year’s worth of discounts at some of the best independents in town!

Will: The membership cards are definitely worth the money. If you use your card at The Oddfellows in Exeter which currently offers of a free glass of prosecco (worth £4) when you buy a main course, then you can get your money back when you use the card 5 times. We have more places in Exeter that also deserve a visit such as Real Food Store or Lloyds Kitchen. All stores offer at least 10% off so you know that when you buy a card, there’s definitely money to be saved at places worth going to!

Independent restaurants face tough competition from chains, how would Complete Dining Club benefit restaurants that sign up?

We publicise some of the best independent restaurants, pubs and cafes in Exeter, Exmouth and Crediton on our website. Our goal is to have all the best and most unique independents in one place so our members and non-members alike looking for places to eat out in can look for the hidden gems of the city with ease.

We also give our supporting stores, The Complete Dining Club certification badge so if anyone sees our badge, they know that a certain place is worth exploring when going out to eat with friends or family.

We want to create a buzz around the restaurants that are participating.  John and I have designed our website and added content that specifically works with Google’s SEO rating system. This will mean that our website (the hub for great and unique independents) will rank highly on google. Increasing overall internet traffic to our supporting stores.

What are your personal connections to independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? Any favourite places you remember?

John: On our journey with this business we’ve visited some really cool places. One place that stands out is a coffee house in Crediton called the ‘Crediton Coffee Company’ that roast their own coffee in-store. We actually made a video (https://vimeo.com/130583229) of Dan ‘The Coffee-Man’ (Ex World Championship Coffee Barista judge) roasting some coffee beans in-store and we learned loads about how coffee is made whilst doing so. Did you know there is a bigger spectrum of Coffee flavors than all of the different flavors of wine in the world!?

Will: My connection with independent business sprouted from my Dad. He runs a medium sized bespoke wardrobe design and fitting company in London. He taught me that “small businesses are the heart and soul of the country” So I have always gone out of my way to find independents, from hair dressers and dry cleaners to cafes and restaurants. I feel you are truly looked after at an independent.

I have actually just finished a meeting with ‘The Glorious Coffee House’ on Fore Street in Exeter. This place has impressed me as one of the most unique places in Exeter. When an art lover and a coffee lover combine, you get ‘The Glorious Coffee House’. It’s just brilliant.

What are the plans for the future for Complete Dining Club?

Will: We want grow the business all over Devon by increasing the number of independents we have on our website so our members have more choice when they want to use our Complete Dining Club card. We want to be an alternative to the “safe” routine of chains. The combination of CDC badge and the innovative website layout will help eliminate the risk of trying somewhere new, or encourage someone to explore some of the hidden gems we find on our travels.

We want to bring out a mobile application that lets members and non-members alike find the best independent restaurants in their local area. It would also give members the chance to look at all the different deals available at all the different independents in the town.

We want to help our partner stores reduce their costs which ultimately means they can lower their price to the customer. We want to include helping them with different things. For instance, the printing of menus etc.

Follow The Complete Diner’s Club on Twitter and don’t forget to check out their website too.  Also find them on Facebook

For a limited time Eating Exeter is selling cards at half price (£10 opposed to £20!), just click the link at the top right of the page and it will take you through to our link page.  If you go through the main site instead, just remember to mention that it was Eating Exeter that referred you over!

Click here to buy a card

Getting All Fired Up for National Curry Week

CURRYAlthough it was not used in Indian cooking before the Columbian Exchange of the 15th and 16th centuries, it is difficult to imagine the nation’s favourite dish without the chilli pepper in at least one of its almost 2,000 varieties. Today, having swiftly taken this fiery fruit to its culinary heart, India is now the world’s largest producer, consumer and exporter of chilli peppers. Guntur in the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh produces 30% of all the chillies produced in India. Andhra Pradesh as a whole contributes 75% of India’s chili exports.

Early native Americans had been using chillies for a long time and archaeological evidence has been found that chillies were gathered from around 7,000BC and cultivated from around 3,000BC, predating the ancestors of the Mayans, the Olmecs, by about 1,000 years. The Mayans, whose civilisation occupied the area between the two Americas – now known as Guatemala, Mexico and Belize – are known to have used chillies medicinally for stomach disorders. There are more than 1,600 varieties of chilli plants, and it is closely related to the tomato, the potato and deadly nightshade.

The heat of the chilli can be affected by the climate and soil where it is grown and by its ripeness and this is measured using the Scoville Scale, devised by German chemist, Wilbur Scoville, at the beginning of the 20th century. In 2011, the Dorset Naga hit the headlines when it was declared the world’s hottest chilli by the Guinness Book of records. However, the drive by chilli growers to increase the fire-power of their product has meant that it has rapidly slipped to mid-division in the chilli heat league.

The current top ten are:

Country of origin Name Scoville Heat Units
1. USA Carolina Reaper 2.2m
2. Trinidad Trinidad Moruga scorpion 2.0m
3. India Bhut Jolokia 1.58m
4. USA 7 Pot Primo 1.47m
5. Trinidad Trinidad Scorpion Butch T 1.46m
6. England Dorset Naga Viper 1.4m
7. England Infinity chili 1.2m
8. Trinidad Seven-Pot Habanero 1.1m
9. Bangladesh Naga Morich 1.0m
10. India Bhut Jolokia Chocolate 0.95m

However, chilli is not just a pretty sting. Nutritionally, it is high in vitamin A and a source of vitamins B1, B2, niacin, sodium, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc and, by weight, capsicum peppers contain between 6-9 times the amount of vitamin C than a tomato. This is good news indeed, as both vitamins A and C are powerful antioxidants, believed to protect against various forms of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Researchers at numerous universities around the world, such as Oxford, Harvard, Washington, Purdue and Adelaide, have discovered that the chilli can help combat heart attack and stroke, as it appears to extend blood coagulation time, preventing harmful blood clots, and that it may also help to cut triglycerides and decrease bad cholesterol levels, when used in conjunction with a diet low in saturated fats. That should heat up your National Curry Week!

More chilli facts can be found at:http://www.menumagazine.co.uk/book/azchillis.htm

The 18th National Curry Week will take place from 12-18 October 2015 supported by Sainsbury’s, Amira Rice, Bhai Cider and Kingfisher Premium Lager Beer.

Source: http://www.pressat.co.uk/releases/getting-all-fired-up-for-national-curry-week-da20a814f08eee2ea90b70ae1f4763c2/#ixzz3o3mzXtgb

Exeter Cookery School to host exclusive day courses at Sapphire Spaces

In anticipation of opening up their exciting new foodie venture down on the city’s historic Quayside, Jim and Lucy Fisher of Exeter Cookery School have announced a series of enticing cookery days on the 14th November and 12th December.

We covered the Exeter Cookery School’s launch at Sapphire Spaces in August, its an amazing atmosphere with some high-end cooking equipment in their sumptuous surroundings.

Held in the swish, state-of-the-art kitchens at Sapphire Spaces in Topsham, where they hosted a buzzing pre-launch event, foodies will be able to relax, have fun and create some seasonal taste sensations during these intimate cookery days.

Budding chefs and keen home cooks will be able to utilise the best produce the region has to offer, from local charcuterie to seafood direct from nearby shores.

These seasonal cookery sessions will be held from 10am to 4.30pm and cost £149 (including lunch). The first session will be a guide to hosting inspirational Christmas dinner parties and Boxing Day meals for family and friends on 14th November. Christmas, part two, will be held on 12th December, and will show you how to take the stress out of Christmas by following his top tips to a sumptuous Christmas Lunch with all the trimmings and some seasonal alternatives.

The brainchild of Jim and Lucy Fisher, who recently returned from running a successful residential cookery school in the Dordogne, Exeter Cookery School is soon set to open its doors in a Grade II Listed building on the city’s historic Quayside, currently the focus of a major regeneration strategy.

Offering a host of exciting culinary courses – each packed with cheffy tips, tricks and techniques honed in busy restaurant kitchens, but adapted to use in your home and designed to make cooking for family and friends easy and stress-free – Jim and Lucy want to inject a large helping of fun into the mix and help people to cook the way they’ve always dreamed.

Places are limited, so early booking is advised if you don’t want to miss out on this fabulous opportunity.

Contact: Jim & Lucy Fisher, Exeter Cookery School, 07534 635302

info@exetercookeryschool.co.uk

www.exetercookeryschool.co.uk

A feast for the eyes and the taste buds at Dartmouth Food Festival

Friday 23 – Sunday 25 October 2015

This year, Dartmouth Food Festival joins forces with Dartmouth Galleries Festival – previously Galleries Week – to offer visitors to the town a sumptuous feast for the eyes and the taste buds.  During the food festival weekend, the galleries are putting on a series of events in the town that complement the many foodie activities.

The two festivals which both take place in October are annual celebrations of the best in local food and drink producers, culinary expertise and visual culture in Dartmouth. They bring a fabulous line-up to the town as well as inspiring and engaging events for everyone to enjoy.

Dartmou

Camilla Beloe, Chair of the Dartmouth Food Festival said: “Our aim is to showcase our fantastic town and the many talented chefs, experts and producers we have living here and in the south-west. We are delighted to pair with the first Dartmouth Galleries Festival and offer our visitors even more to see, do and taste.”

Sarah Duggan from Baxters Gallery who co-ordinates Dartmouth Galleries Festival said “Dartmouth has a rich variety of galleries and is a real destination for art lovers. We have always worked together to put on new exhibitions on the same dates and the resulting “Galleries Nights” are a real Dartmouth institution. People walk from gallery to gallery seeing the new shows and the atmosphere is fantastic. This year we decided to up our game and create a festival with a variety of events alongside the exhibitions.”

On Friday 23rd, visitors are encouraged to keep their eyes peeled while stocking up on delectable goodies from the food and drink stands as pieces of art will be dotted about the town which are free to pick up and take home.

On Saturday 24th from 10am – 1pm, foodies can drop into participating galleries to exhibitions of paintings, ceramics, sculpture and jewellery from established artists and makers, as well as upcoming new talent while enjoying drinks and nibbles from local producers.

Should the creative urge strike, visitors to the Dartmouth Food Festival can take to one of the easels which will be placed in various locations amongst the town alongside a colouring competition for children.

Coombe Gallery will launch ‘Palette to Palate’, a special exhibition commissioned for the Dartmouth Food Festival with recipe inspired originals created by West Country based artists. Participating chefs include Mitch Tonks, Nathan Outlaw, Mark Hix and Jane Baxter some of whom will be in Dartmouth to take part in the food festival. Visitors can pick up one of the unique pieces which will be for sale during the festival.

http://www.dartmouthfoodfestival.com/

Kräftskiva – That’s a Crayfish Party to You and I!

Circa 1924So you are probably thinking – what is the connection between a 1920s, prohibition-inspired, restaurant and bar, and the humble crayfish? Well, the answer is Circa 1924’s head chef Lauri Hilli, whose Swedish roots have inspired the team to celebrate the tradition of Kräftskiva on
Thursday 29th October, a feast of crayfish and schnapps, and its inviting Exeter residents to join them.

Following the threat of the crayfish population being wiped out in Swedish waters around the start of the 20th century, a fishing restriction was imposed, limiting catches to just a few weeks in August. And thus, crayfish became an exclusive and much sought-after delicacy and the crayfish party was born.

Rob Weeks, Circa 1924 co-owner, says: “We had planned on holding our crayfish party in August, as per tradition, but it turned out that all UK suppliers were out of stock, keeping up with Scandinavian demand. So, as we like to do things properly, we have delayed our celebration until October, so that we can provide our guests with copious amounts of crayfish, backed up with a generous helping of schnapps.

“We are taking bookings now and hope to attract a good crowd, so that we can celebrate in true Scandi style. Other than steak, Circa 1924 is all about great seafood and we are really excited about our seafood banquet, which is quite possibly a first in Exeter.”

The Circa 1924 Kräftskiva will follow the usual format: tables will be adorned with brightly coloured tablecloths, candles and guests given paper hats (much like a British Christmas dinner). The meal will consist of big bowls of steamed crayfish, bread and cheese, topped off by song and shots of schnapps.

Schnapps is another Swedish favourite, and Lauri explains: “The alcohol is referred to as ‘moonshine’, because traditionally it is illegally brewed and flavoured by locals at home. Our cocktail bar is decked out just like an American prohibition-style moonshiner bar, and so serving Scandi moonshine schnapps seems very apt.”

Circa 1924, the new independent steak and seafood restaurant, with cocktail bar, is located just off Exeter High Street at 6 Northernhay Place. The team has put together a calendar of mouthwatering events for 2015, with one food and one drink evening each month.

To book a place at Circa 1924’s Kräftskiva or to find out about other event call: 01392 438545 or visit the website http://www.circa1924.co.uk

Burgerfest, Bartholomew St East

EE RecommendsIt is here, it has arrived.  It opened a few weeks ago and being the burger loving sort that I am, we just had to go down to Burgerfest which had just opened a few weeks ago on Bartholemhew St East (behind the old Mama Stones building).  Tori and myself were joined by our mate Lewis, owner and general all-round top bloke from OMG Comics in Fore Street. We went, we ate, we liked.  I had a few minor negatives that stuck with me, but there wasn’t anything there that made come away as anything but a satisfied  burger-head who conceded that the diet is going to start again on Monday.  Would I recommend it? Yes.  Top value, great atmosphere, and  two-for-one cocktails.

Burgerfest is Exeter’s fifth Burger joint, sitting alongside HubBox, Ruby Burgers, Urban Burger and Byron Burgers.  Naturally we’re not counting McDonalds or Burger King given the difference in the output.  With Gourmet Burger Kitchen which is opening soon in The Dining Quarter, we will have six altogether.  Is this good or bad? I’ll answer this in due course (maybe not in this review).

For the moment I am going to say that the variation between each burger restaurant is enough to make the experience in each place slightly different, and I would definitely disagree that they are all the same.  However, any more burger restaurants and Exeter would definitely have a saturation.

There are three (the others are in Torquay and Taunton) Burgerfest restaurants which are owned by The Lifestyle Hospitality Group, who also own Tiger Bills. The USP is the quirky geekiness.  How many other restaurants in Exeter have a Sega Room? Or a Ping Pong Dome? Yup, there is a genuine Sega Mega Drive set up in a room  which diners can play for free and a Ping Pong table located in the dome of the tower old kiln.  I literally squealed with delight when I discovered this.

The value is pretty good.  None of the burgers broach the £10 mark, and the sides are reasonable as well.  Drinks are averagely priced; we were lucky tonight as they are having a sale on tinned beers from another one of their sites so this kept our bill down along with the 20% student discount.  Yup, students get 20% off with a valid form or ID.

We arrived at the restaurant about six o’clock after a sneaky half in The City Gate.  The one thing I have to say that I liked on first impressions was the easy access from the pavement, not really an issue if you’re not able or sure footed but given Tori was on crutches today, the lack of stairs in to the restaurant was welcome.  This was the first time that I had been to this building, I had never been whilst it was Casa Maroc or even when it was Gino’s or whatever it was before that.

This isn’t a restaurant where waiters flit around taking orders, it is  casual and informal and you’re told how it works as you step through the door.  You decide what you want, you go to the bar and order. Pay before-hand (a la Wetherspoon’s) and you get your burger brought to you.  Personally I like this, there is greater independence and it frees up service to deliver food to the table.  It doesn’t mean that staff are less attentive, and throughout our meal there was always a member of staff at the bar.

The menu is just as quirky as everything else about the restaurant.  On the front is the menu items, on the back is a paper aeroplane with instructions about how to create it.  It was nice to have something to make and play around with as we waited for our burgers which took about 20 minutes to arrive.  None of us managed to get anything to fly, despite many attempts. Lewis won the award for distance as he managed to get his plant nearly across the restaurant.

I went for The Bad Boy (£9) which consisted of two beef patties, American cheese, smoked streaky bacon, stuffed with seasoned fries, BF Sauce, tomato, baby gem lettuce.  Add on to the Skin-On Fries (£2.50), Sweet Potato Fries (£3) and Onion Rings (£2.50) we had a pretty almighty meal.  Tori went for for Dirty South (£7) which consisted of a Beef patty, American cheese, Cajun mayo, red onion, roasted red peppers, tomato and baby gem lettuce.  Lewis, the bravest out of all of us (although none of us were brave enough to go for the Bronut, which consisted of doughnut and jam!) went for the El Diablo (£7) which was a Beef patty, chilli cheddar, jalapeños, soured cream, BF Sauce, tomato, red onion, baby gem lettuce and hot sauce.


Tori and Lewis were very happy with their burgers.  Lewis sweated through the scorching heat of the El Diablo, and definitely win award for Burger Devoured In Under Four Minutes. I had to divide my burger in to two separate units so I could fit it in my mouth.  Tori was happy with her burger, although the burgers were a little dense for her taste.

The burgers themselves were not overly greasy, they had a nice juice level, not so much that it decimated the bun, but not dry either that you had to chew your way through the patty itself  There is nothing worse than a soggy bottom.  I didn’t feel sick or painfully stuffed, which sometimes the grease of a burger can exacerbate, there was a feeling of great satisfaction afterwards which I haven’t had for a long time after eating a burger.  Good work.


The sides were quite a sight.  The onion rings were, for lack of a better description, were nearly the size of actual proper onions, less rings moreso tubes with a light fluffy batter that just popped with air and crispyness.  The Sweet Potato Fries were masterfully cooked and definitely a bonus, maybe even matching Urban Burger’s which up to now have been our favourite provider of fries made from this hard to cook vegetable.  My Skin-On fries were really nice, there was a lot of them and they definitely filled a hole of three.  I was impressed with the value of the sides, which really finished off the meal.


So my minor points.

What is the secret ingredients in the top secret recipe mix? I don’t like secrets, especially with food. Sorry. #partypooper  On the flipside of this, in this world of food transparency, here is a restaurant still has the guts to say ‘actually we have a recipe for our burgers that is different from other burger restaurants and we’re not telling you what it is’…This is brave and I have to say I like what they do with the burgers, but some indication might be good.

The patties themselves were slightly flamed/charred, which is something I am a fan of; that slightly burnt, slightly well done but still pink in the middle effect is definitely a good thing in my humble opinion.  But some burger lovers in this world might not appreciate this particular style.

It’d be nice to have some optional cushions for the barrel stools, as they started to get a bit hard on bum after a while.

We all felt a great air of satisfaction after the meal.  I liked the design taste and the interior itself, which was very funky. Burgerfest only goes to show the variation in Burger Restaurants in Exeter, and it is a welcome addition to the family.  There are cocktail offers, Hot Dogs, and a specials board too which looked very appetising.

I really hope Burger Fest is here to stay, with their Sega Room and their Ping Pong Dome.  As the restaurant got busier, the buzz of the atmosphere made it hard to leave. I wanted one of their super-amazing cocktails that they have been showing off on Facebook, but that might have to be for another night.

http://www.burger-fest.co.uk/

The Old Malthouse,
Bartholomew Street East,
Exeter,
EX4 3BG

Burger Fest Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato