The Carless Foodie: foot-friendly foodie destinations near Exeter

Exeter Food Festival is just around the corner, and it is easy to see that our region has become a shining beacon for food lovers over the last ten years, and us Exonians are in the middle of the party. But for those of us reliant on public transport, getting out to visit some of the best foodie destinations can be tricky.

So, here are a few choice foodie destinations that are easily accessible by bus or train. All of these destinations are on reliable major routes. If you’re in Exeter visiting the Food Festival, why not pay these lovely places a visit and say hello, even if you do have a car.

Darts Farm – http://www.dartsfarm.co.uk/- 6 miles from Exeter

Bus: Stagecoach Route 57 –
Cycle: Sustrans Exeter-Topsham cycle path.
Train: Exeter to Topsham on the Avocet Line, (20 minute walk).

There has been a farm shop on this site for a number of years. It’s heritage only goes to strengthen the fact that Dart’s Farm Shopping Village is one of the best in the country, and handily it is also accessible by bus, train and cycle path.

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Home to Green Valley Cider (Taste Of The West Gold 2014), The Butchers at Dart’s Farm, The Fish Shed and a range of other lifestyle, kitchen and luxury gift retailers, the Dart Brothers have crafted a unique niche among the foodies in the South West.

This was recognised recently when the shop picked up FARMA Best Farm Shop of The Year 2015; Food Magazine also recognised the shop in the prestigious Food Magazine Reader Awards when it was voted Best Farm Shop 2015.

There is a bus stop outside of the farm with regular buses passing. The nearest train station is Topsham which is a twenty minute walk away. Passing ‘The Bridge Inn’ before crossing the bridge over the River Clyst which is a definite pub recommendation, especially needed if walking back up the hill from the river.

Quicke’s Cheese Farm Shop – https://www.quickes.co.uk/- 5 miles from ExeterBus: Stagecoach 5, 5a, 5b, 5c, 155
Train: Exeter to Newton St Cyres on the Tarka Line (24 minute walk)

Quicke’s Cheese has a long legacy for cheese-making which is just a small part of a heritage that stretches back to the 1500’s. From their own herd, they produce cheese that has won countless awards and can be found in many supermarkets and delicatessens across the UK.

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At the heart of the Quickes Cheese universe is Quicke’s Farm in Newton St Cyres. This is not just home to the cows, but also to their wonderful Farm Shop. The farm shop has been listed on

The Daily Telegraph’s 50 Best Food Shops outside London. And whilst you’re visiting, why not book a tour of their cheese making facility?

Their Farm Kitchen is housed in a permanent safari tent and is available for hire for private functions and events.

Getting to Quicke’s Farm is easy enough on the bus as there is a bus stop right outside. If you’re travelling by train, it is 24 minutes by foot. Alternatively there is a farm track from Station Rd. to the Farm, but be careful as this can be muddy underfoot in wet weather.

Greendale Farm Shop – http://www.greendalefarmshop.co.uk/- 7 miles from Exeter
Bus: 52A, 52B, X53

Near Farringdon and Clyst St Mary, on the A3052 can be found Greendale Farm Shop, a very valid alternative to going to the supermarket. Open from 8am – 8pm every day apart from Sunday when they shut at 4pm, it has a resident master butcher, a fishmonger with their very own fleet of fishing boats that haul in and deliver to the shop every day. Lobster and crabs are available from saltwater tanks ensuring they are fresh from the moment customers purchase them and a vast fish counter with every sort of fish imaginable including shellfish.

Housing their own Deli and Cafe, this farm shop has grown and expanded over the last few years. Starting from a small building (I remember this one too), it has grown to encompass a vast array of goods with a specialty for locally grown seasonal produce and specialty produce that you’re unlikely to find in a standard supermarket.

The Cafe serves a particularly nice breakfast from 8am – 12pm for £6.95 and lunch from 12pm – 6pm. They use eggs produced on site by their friendly flock of hens.

Although there is car parking available, foodies relying on public transport can use the handily placed bus stops next to the road to catch the regular Sidmouth-Exeter bus service using either Stagecoach or First services.  We had a closer look at Greendale Farm Shop recently!

And don’t forget…

The Real Food Store – A matter of metres away from Exeter’s Paris Street Bus Station. The Real Food Store has won numerous awards most recently Best Food Store in the Food Magazine Reader Awards 2016. It houses Emma’s Bread and the Real Food Cafe, which serves a seasonal changing menu.

Bon Gout Deli Magdalen Road is a hidden gem for lovers of indy businesses, and one of its longest standing residents is Bon Gout Deli. With an extensive range of cheeses and meats, this deli also offers a Cheese Wedding Cake service and outside catering, using the best local ingredients on offer. Magdalen Road is a 15 minute walk away from the Exeter High Street, and about 18 minutes from the main Paris Street bus station.

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Pizza Stein, Quayside

4 The Quay, Exeter, EX2 4AP – 01392 670424 – booking@pizzastein.co.uk

Regular readers might have guessed that I like to whitter on about the history of the buildings sometimes.  Pizza Stein is no different as I have many memories of this building when it was The Hot House, back in the late nineties, a sticky floor club with Volts on the bottom level.  In more recent times it was called The Revelry, a hip live music venue that did drinks, a smattering of food and lots of music.

And now it is Pizza Stein; home of Napolese style Pizza and a selection of delectable European beers served by friendly staff in a welcoming atmosphere.

Three separate people have said how lovely the pizza’s are here, and that not only is the atmosphere friendly as I mentioned, but they are definitely kid-friendly.  I don’t have kids myself, but many of my friends are now at the age where finding a place to eat can be tricky with their sproglets. Many restaurants are kid tolerant, but having a place that is properly kid friendly is a definitive bonus for mums & dads.

Kids can watch their pizza being made, or even have a go themselves at The Pizza Table next door to the chefs themselves.  We met Ella who was assisting Stu on the ovens who normally helps the kids out and shows them how things work; definitely a USP to be proud of.  Pizza & Stein is at the top of my list for ‘places to take kids over the Easter holidays’ so after reading this review, I really hope you do.

So what is Pizza Stein all about? Myself, Tori, our niece Beth and our good friend Lewis from OMG Comics in Fore St. decided to try it out.

Like football, there are many variations on a theme of Pizza.  True, you can go to any place in the UK and find either a Dominoes or a Pizza Hut producing overpriced en-masse pizzas that are often under done, using ingredients that come from a packet.  And many of the Zizzi’s and ASKs of this world hand-toss the pizzas, but with inferior ingredients and with no real heritage.  Pizza Stein use the Napoli rules and they adhere to these rules strictly; using authentic ingredients, the correct type of oven at the correct temperature, and with the finest Italian flour available.

We had the luck of being able to sit at the Pizza Table which gives you a great view of the chefs at work.  Our chef this evening was Stu, who thoroughly educated me in the way of The Napoli rules pizza, and showed us every step of the process.

To the layman, there doesn’t seem to be much to the pizzas;  tomato and fresh basil, smoked garlic, buffalo mozzarella, fresh sourdough bases and then whacked in the oven for a short period of time.  But the small details give it that extra edge. The tomato used is genuine San Marzano, which grow on the south plains of Mount Vesuvius; the base is sourdough (they employ a chap who comes in at 5am to create the base for service each day); and the oven has to be a genuine wood-fired Italian pizza oven, which has been imported especially.  Those are not a full list of the rules by any stretch, but handily they list them on their website.

On Stuart’s recommendation we went for the Charcuterie Board (£20 for four, but comes in smaller sizes too) along with the pizza’s. Instead of having them as a starter, we plumped for it altogether.  I devised a fantastic technique for further loading the pizza with items from the board too, as the dough is soft enough to roll up, I was very happy.

So along with my pint of Pilsner £4.25 (which itself was an impressive glass even though it wasn’t a genuine Stein that holds up to two pints), I went for the Parma Ham pizza (£8).  The Marghirita (£6) and Marinara (£5) is much simpler, but no less delicious.

From taking the dough from the crates, rolling them out and topping them, the cooking process is under five minutes, a very quick process given each pizza spends less than two minutes in the oven.

The pizza itself was soft and with the deep tastes that came from the ham and the tomato, it worked wonderfully.

One of my long-running bugbears with restaurants has to be apathetic desserts.  Packet based things that require minimal effort and taste like they’ve actually just come out of a packet; Pizza Stein has to be one of the only casual dining restaurants in Exeter that has their very own Michelin Starred pastry chef (Stuart was part of the team at The Castle Hotel in Taunton who attained their star a few years ago), who does all of the desserts as well as manning the pizza oven.  I was too full for a dessert but Tori and Beth shared a Chocolate Pot (£5) which came in a sealed ramekin.

This was an intense blast of chocolate, a very rich and perfectly formed mousse that was more creamy than mousse in taste, but firm enough to sit on the end of a spoon without losing its shape.  A very impressive dessert, and two very happy campers in our party.

Pizza Stein is an incredibly positive addition to the Quayside dining scene.  Exeter is fast becoming a hub of different styles and tastes when it comes to eating out, and I am really chuffed there is a place in Exeter where you can go back to basics, the simple beauty that the pizza is without the irrelevant garnishes and palette noise that it has gathered through its evolution to the thing we know today.

EE RecommendsThere is a simple menu, the staff are friendly and throughout the establishment there is a sense of welcoming that seems lacking in many restaurants generally.  Take your kids, take your wife, take your grandma, and make sure you book in advance, this is one restaurant that needs showing off.

Zita’s, Bartholomew Street

EE RecommendsRIP Burgerfest.  Your existence in Exeter was short lived. Your burgers were nice, but your secret recipe was not overly transparent.  Your Sega room was liked, your ping pong table was novel but ultimately the demise of your parent company meant your service was short lived.  Although your value was great, your burgers were chargrilled, your beer kegs were terribly harsh on my sensitive derrier.

Out the ashes of the burgery flames comes Zita’s Bar & Grill, still selling burgers but also an emphasis on steaks and cocktails.  The parent company owns the Taste Cafe in the Harlequins Shopping Centre, and Waikiki amongst other places; Zita’s prides itself on being local and independent, a gastro-pub that is ‘homely’ and ‘a friendly spot’.  I wouldn’t call it homely as that brings up a whole set of expectations that I wouldn’t expect from a gastro-pub style restaurant.  But friendly? Yes, very.

We booked a large table as there was about eight of us for 6pm.  We didn’t arrive until 6:30pm at the earliest.  There was no disapproving tutting, or impatient briskness, we were welcomed and we took our seats and chose our drinks.

The interior still has echoes of Burgerfest; a large mural in a comic style that exclaims how large a burger is, still emblazons itself across the wall (might need a few cans of Dulux to cover over that) and the Sega Room is still there too. The atmosphere is much more mellow, chilled music piped softly in the background and COMFY SEATS, no beer kegs, just sofas and nice chairs.

The menu is a simple but effective selection of burgers, with names like The Shaun and The Perfect Pull. There is a wine list, a selection of cocktails, and a nice selection of beers. The two chaps that run the restaurant have previously ran Burgerfest in Torquay, and there are many nods to BF in some aspects, but overall this is a new and shining restaurant.

 

I went for the The Usual Suspect burger. £7.00 is a good price, with some Rosemary and Garlic fries for £3.50 and a drink, for under £15 quid it echoes the great value of BF.

 

My colleague Dale wondering what he’s just let himself in for…

The Usual Suspect is dripping with BBQ sauce. Stacked with giant homemade onion rings, this towering ediface to meatiness was one of the best burgers I’d had for a while for under a tenner.  The meat was seasoned well, and it had a great taste along with it (they source their meat from Dart’s Farm).  The smoked cheese and bacon was a perfect balance to the burger, and even though I had to deconstruct it, it was a glorious burger.

The Rosemary and Garlic fries were chunky and well cooked, given there were eight of us, everything came out hot and together.

Zita’s gets my recommendation as a place to eat as it echoes many of the positive values of Burgerfest.  Cheap food, good value and a friendly atmosphere.  But the one thing that worried me slightly was that for a Friday night, the restaurants was deserted.  We were the only diners for most of the evening, then joined by two other diners, but that was pretty much it.  If you’re thinking of going out over the Easter holidays, please come here, more people need to see these burgers.

Camper Coffee Co. Exeter; coffee shop by day – by Lauren Heath

Camper Coffee Co. in McCoys Arcade, Fore St, Exeter EX4 3AN www.campercoffee.co

EE RecommendsCamper Coffee Co. is known to most as a mobile vintage café and coffee van brewing coffee from a very rare and beautifully restored 1964 VW Splitscreen Container Van called ‘Rosie’, which has been going since 2012.

I had read that a new coffee shop would be replacing the diner in McCoy’s Arcade and was pleased to hear it was Camper Coffee who I had seen here and there at events. Thanks to the wonders of Twitter with its live information – I found out they were ready to face the public from Monday 21st March.

So on Tuesday, their ‘day 2’, I power walked down town from work, hoping to squeeze it into my 45 minute lunch.

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As I walked into the arcade, the transformation was very noticeable. From afar, that end of the arcade looked so much fresher, hipper and more spacious. I was looking forward to seeing what was on offer. I was greeted by a very cheerful lady, who was very patient in telling me what was available for lunch – twice! (It was all so good I couldn’t decide and had to hear it again). They had a good selection of what you would expect to drink in a coffee shop at very reasonable prices.

There were also some delicious cakes on offer supplied by The Exploding Bakery, of which samples were available freely on the counter, so no surprises as to why they were so good. There were also some pastries that I believe they make there – I somehow found the will (or stupidity) to politely decline, as I did have to return to work afterwards and function accordingly without an overly full belly.

They had beautifully presented filo tarts on offer made by Cockleshell Deli who are based on the east side of Dartmoor, less than 10 miles away. They are warmed up and served with salad and crisps – either vegetable crisps or tortillas –  depending on the choice of tart. Choices included hunters chicken, fajita chicken, homity and mushroom, pesto and goats cheese as well as a few others.

I opted for a small cappucino and a fajita chicken tart and went to sit down at one of the wooden tables, facing outwards into the arcade.

As I sipped my cappuccino I pondered at how the view has changed from the previous, slightly darker and more enclosed occupier – it is now completely open, light and airy, with full visibility to the entrance of the arcade. Plenty of wood and metal, with a cool warehouse vibe to it, but also down to earth at the same time with an amazing exposed brick wall along one side.

I was sitting on one of the three long tables available and the other side of the room there is a long wall mounted table with stools as well as plenty of plug sockets for those on a working lunch or with devices needing as much of a recharge as someone wanting coffee. Some charming lights travel across the ceiling giving an al-fresco feeling to it all.

My coffee was served in a glass ‘tumbler’ with a pretty coffee art finish to the top. I will admit I do buy coffee from only one of the well known chains occasionally, then the majority of the time I buy from independents so my palate knows its way around the variety of flavours on offer. It was a lovely coffee; biscuity and malty – oddly I would almost liken it to a porter ale or stout with similar malty qualities. It wasn’t fruity like some coffees I have had in town, not that I mind that flavour but it was certainly different from others which is a good thing. No need for sugar for me either which, to me, says how good it is. I am a sugary girl normally but for some reason, with coffee from independents, I seem to able to enjoy a coffee without it.

The lovely server brought my food over and it looked very enticing and I dove straight in. The tart was well packed with tasty chicken, peppers, onions and topped with ricotta I think – or perhaps some sour cream. Either way this added a lovely creamy and cooling note to the flavoursome filling. The tortillas on the side were of a high quality and very tasty, and an adequate serving of leaves. All I would say is that the leaves could have done with a drop of dressing and I think the tart was warmed in a microwave as unfortunately the pastry wasn’t crisp at all – I did bear in mind that this was only day two, so I hope they invest in an oven although I realise quick turnaround is something to consider as they are not a restaurant, but I would highly recommend it in order to keep the integrity of such a delicious product.

I was also given a loyalty card attached to a really cool and useful lanyard – no digging through my purse searching for the card when needed! Overall, on day two, a relaxing and delicious lunch out of the way of the main fast paced feel of the city that I endure every day. I look forward to seeing what else they offer over time. I did overhear some conversation that mentioned them adding more tables in the shop and out into the arcade, which will mean more customers can enjoy their offering as well as being licensed for evenings – so watch this space!

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One minor thing to note which is not their fault, is that the toilet is separate from the coffee shop, so bear this in mind if you need to make use of the facilities and have to leave your table unattended or have a child to attend to. On the positive side, I feel this would be a spacious enough area for parents with prams to meet as well as being accessible for those with mobility concerns – the benches are also easily moved as they are on castors.

I unfortunately couldn’t make their evening launch of the licensed espresso bar offering of the business that was held on the Thursday, but I do hope to visit again soon as I have tried every espresso martini on offer in the city and look forward to seeing how theirs measures up!

Find them on:
Twitter @CamperCoffeeCo,
Facebook www.facebook.com/CamperCoffeeCo,
Instagram @campercoffeeco and their website is www.campercoffee.co

Spring Lamb Masterclass with The Butchers at Darts Farm – by Lauren Heath

Last week we attended a Spring Lamb Masterclass hosted by The Butchers at Darts Farm. It is run by two brothers, Alastair and Philip David,  who are Master Butchers.

Having arrived about 5 to 10 mins early to find that actually we were just about the last ones there, and worried we had got the time wrong, we were greeted by friendly faces and offered a glass of wine. We quickly settled in our seats amongst a great turnout of almost 40 other guests, facing the butcher counter, and were immediately offered some lamb and mint sausages to taste. A good start.

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Alastair explained that they have bought from around 600 farms locally over time but that he chooses his meat at the weekly wholesale market rather than at an individual local farm as he can see the quality of the whole stock on offer. They purchase anywhere between 30 and 120 lambs a week, with the latter being around Easter time. He recently judged the spring lambs at Sedgemoor Easter Lamb Show & Sale, choosing the champion pair from PG & K Smith of Crossland Farm, Taunton and proceeded to bid hard and buy them.

After explaining the differences between the carcasses hanging up behind him, he chose one of these award winning lambs to use for the evening.

Over the course of an hour and 15 minutes, he cut the whole meat carcass up, explaining the various cuts and what you could do with them. Whilst doing this he also indicated the price of the piece he had cut which was really helpful. He made up an easy-carve leg of lamb, chump chop with the bone in, stuffed shoulders with various fillings and finished with a show-stopping crown of lamb. You could even purchase the meat he had prepared at the end.

We each had a leaflet with 3 recipes on, and a ‘know your lamb cuts?’ diagram with a matching list with space for writing ideas on which was really useful.

During the talk, more meat was passed round which was delicious but it wasn’t always clear what was on offer, as this was whilst Alastair was still talking about what was in hand, and not necessarily on the platter.

Unfortunately, due to the butchery table being level with the seating and the fact we were in the back row, we and a few others ended up standing for about an hour in order to see what Alastair was cutting on his block up at the front and this was a shame – perhaps they could rethink the layout for future events.

Overall, as an evening event that is just short of 2 hours, priced at £10 per person including a glass of wine and a few tasters, it is an affordable event and you can certainly pick up a few tips for future meals and entertaining ideas. Questions were welcomed and happily answered.

As well as serving you over the counter, they offer nationwide home delivery which we didn’t realise. As well as being on Twitter and Facebook, they have their own website http://www.thebutchersatdartsfarm.co.uk/

Further events an be found at http://www.dartsfarm.co.uk/events.html

Greendale Farm Shop, Farringdon

I recently took a trip to Greendale Farm Shop that sits just outside Farringdon near Clyst St Mary.  Like many Farm Shops it has grown from small beginnings, and is now hub of local produce in what I am dubbing the Farm Shop Belt; this runs between Dart’s Farm near Clyst St George, Kenniford Farm Shop at the other end of Clyst St George, and ending with Greendale Farm Shop.

Nor am I going to compare Greendale to Dart’s Farm as they are very different beasts. Dart’s Farm has a larger floor space, more counters and many other areas beyond the food side, Greendale just about selling food.  They also have a cafe and if you fancy meeting some of the livestock, you can walk around some of the enclosures.

Greendale Farm Shop reminds me of a supermarket.  Entering in to the shop, the fish counter takes a proud place overlooking the space.

With a fleet of their own vessels, Greendale Farm has one of the best fish selections I’ve seen beyond a traditional fishmongers.  Live crab and lobster are kept in salt water tanks to ensure their freshness for customers.  Although I personally disagree with this ‘pick your own’ ethos when it comes to seafood, there is no better way to ensure freshness.

With a master butchers and cafe on site, this has to be one of my favourite Farm Shops, and certainly will be my go to place for crab or lobster, should I ever have the urge.

Photo credits to Kathleen Hacking www.kfaphotography.co.uk 

Eat the Smoke, Clyst St Mary – product review by Lauren & Steve Heath

www.eatthesmoke.co.uk @EatTheSmokeBBQwww.facebook.com/eatthesmoke

Middle of 2015, during the chilli event at Darts Farm, my chef husband, Steve, and I came across 2 jars of sauce; these weren’t just any sauces, they were Eat the Smoke sauces. The brand didn’t mean much at the time, but we were impressed by the complexity of what we tasted, so bought some to take home and try. We have been addicted ever since.

Over the next few months, we had seen Eat the Smoke at a couple of food festivals including the Beer and Bacon Festival, Topsham and Powderham Food Festival; these have been a meeting of mixed emotions, as they served delicious bbq foods to hungry punters including us, but didn’t always have stock of the sauces to sell in their own right.

Recently the direction of the company has changed slightly with more focus on selling the products rather than as a food outlet and we can now easily buy our fix from one of the local farm shops and even the man himself with the HQ only being down the road from us in Clyst St Mary – you can’t get more local than that!

With this change, new products have emerged with the addition of 5 different rubs and 2 types of nuts to add to the existing 2 jars of sauce. Steve caught up with Eat the Smoke at The Source Trade Show in February and we were lucky enough to get some samples of the new range.

The range includes:

Sauces:  Original BBQ sauce, Helluva Hot BBQ Sauce

Rubs:  Cajun Blackened Fish Rub, Creole Rub, Helluva Hot BBQ Rub, BBQ Hot Rub, Buffalo Hot Wing and Poultry Rub

BBQ Rub Nuts: Smoked Almonds, Smoked Cashews

We tested all the rubs with a variety of meats and seafood in an Eat the Smoke extravaganza one Saturday evening. Cajun Blackened Fish Rub on some juicy prawns proved vibrant, earthy and zingy without overpowering the sweetness of the prawns. Creole was used on a fillet of fish as well as ribs and hit all the right notes with a great hit of rosemary that delivers but never overpowers and is balanced enough to rub on to a meaty fish like tuna or monkfish.

We scored chicken drumsticks, rubbing the Buffalo Hot Wing and Poultry Rub in and left it to marinade during the day. Soaked them in full fat milk for a few more hours before coating them in flour seasoned with more rub; a quick deep fry to seal them up and in the oven they went. These had a delicious warmth to them, with a hint of Mexico according to my taste buds.

We marinated ribs in both rubs and sauce, with the Helluva rub giving an impressive deep smoky flavour and very well balanced spicing and heat. The blend of herbs are not overpowering and you never lose the taste of the meat which is really important.

These rubs and sauces do what they say on the tub/jar and the sizes are very generous, not a one-meal-a-tub and the uses are endless with flavours for all palettes. The bottled sauces can be used as marinades as well as being used to add to chilli con carne, make a spicy coleslaw or with pasta and if you are a bit of a chilli head, I can’t recommend the Helluva BBQ sauce enough – especially the bottom of the bottle – it’ll knock your socks off! The good news is you don’t have to have a BBQ; as we tested the products at home, we know you can easily create some delicious meals in the oven, fryer or on the stove. If you do have a BBQ, then these products will withstand the heat and cook beautifully.

So who is behind the smoke? His name is Christian. We have been on polite conversational terms when meeting each other here and there and so we cheekily invited ourselves round to his HQ to see what he has been up to and how he uses his products. Eat the Smoke has been going for 3 years; Christian has been an avid BBQ’er for 20 years, smoking for 6 and left his stressful 9-5 job to pursue his passion, making use of the momentum that this way cooking is gaining. Lately BBQ’ing and smoking are becoming more popular, making its way out of the ‘underground’ scene and finding itself in the mainstream, with great exposure thanks to recent TV cookery shows, as well as demos at food festivals with audiences embracing it.

On arrival at his site, he showed us his Pro Q smoker already on the go with chicken for the evening’s pop-up event at The Oddfellows in Exeter. Along with this he had a large normal bbq ripe and ready for some tasters for us and showed us his large smoking cabinet which can also do a cold smoke. With the coals alight, Christian told us how he was using oak shavings which are a by-product of a local timber yard – a great use of a by-product.

He had beer soaked minute steak coated in Creole rub on the go, giving the meat a great flavour. He also had ribs coated in Helluva Hot Rub, initially cooked on the fire to seal the meat, then coated in glossy Original BBQ sauce and thrown back on the fire for further cooking, resulting in a pile of sticky, saucy, spicy morsels.

As Christian himself said to us with slight embarrassment and apology in advance “there’s no polite way to eat ribs with a beard” – I would agree that there isn’t a polite way to eat ribs, even without a beard, and that’s the way it should be – food that is fun. What Eat the Smoke does is help you achieve BBQ food with ease and excellent flavours, without too much effort.

I’m pleased to say he is succeeding in getting the rubs and his delicious smoked nuts into local outlets alongside his bottles of sauces, with even some bars having the nuts for sale with their beer offering. I haven’t written much about the nuts as, in all honesty, they didn’t last longer than a few minutes once opened; I guess we’ll have to buy some more and try to savour them a bit longer. I recall them being delicious, smoky and unlike anything else currently available we believe.

I urge you to support a local guy producing flavours of the deep south of America but right here in the deep South West – give one or more a try, there’s something for everyone.

the man behind the smoke (2)

Quick Q & A with Christian of Eat the Smoke

How long have you been smoking/bbq’ing for?

Been excessively bbqing for about 20 years, smoking for about 6.

What county were you born in?

Born in Devon, so lots of beach BBQs probably in places I shouldn’t have been bbqing!

When did you start the business?

ETS started 3 years ago

What’s your favourite meat?

Favourite meat at the moment is probably my ribs. After about 3 years I feel I’ve perfected them.

Favourite way to cook it?

I go for a 48 hour dry rub, 4 hour smoke preferably over cherry or apple and then wet baste and direct heat, and once done a quick caramelise in sauce

Best type of bbq or smoker for someone to start on at home?

As a start up or home BBQ I think there’s two options. For someone who is really interested, wants to try different smoke and who doesn’t mind investing time and effort I’d go for an upright smoker like a Pro Q or Webber Smokey Mountain. They’re not very well insulated so they do need a careful eye, and do need to be watched to be checked if you’re smoking overnight.

If you’re happy straight off investing money and wanting an easy life it’s a Kamado Joe or Big Green Egg. Big investment though, and not very practical in the sense that you can’t throw it in a back of a car and take it to a party or off camping.

Plenty of people are making their own though and I just love this. Important thing is to be able to get both direct and indirect heat, and a smoking area.

Cuba Cantina, Gandy Street – now open!

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Cuba Cantina is now open in Gandy Street, Exeter.

Work has been going on solidly for a few weeks, and the restaurant finally opened on Thursday evening. I popped in to have a look and the decor is very colourful and rustic with a main restaurant area downstairs, and 3 rooms upstairs that are very relaxed, light and airy.

The new restaurant is owned by businesswoman Olivia Ambrose.

Mrs Ambrose, 51, who has lived in Exeter for over 25 years, said she is excited about bringing a taste of Cuba to the city centre. She said: “What gave me the idea was that I went to Mission Burrito in Bristol and it was really poor and dull. There was no flavour in the food and I just thought that this could be done so much better.

“The principle of what I am trying to do is to provide affordable dining and there is nothing like that in Exeter and if you have a family, then the bill can really add up.

“The style I am going for is that I am going to have a hot and cold counter where people can choose what they want to eat and it gets made to order in front of them.

20160311_132905_resized “The look I want to achieve is a burrito bar style. We are going to offer burritos, nachos, Cuban salads and tacos with a choice of fillings.”

“We are also going to cater for vegans and vegetarians as well as offering gluten and lactose free food.”

“We are going to have South American beers and wines to drink and it is all going to be in bottles and cans, we aren’t going to have any glasses.”

The restaurant is going to seat 70 people and there will be two floors that will be the dining area.

“There is nowhere like this in Exeter and it is somewhere I would want to go to and I would bring my children.”

“Our ethos is to serve great food in a relaxed, contemporary environment with food that is great value for money, and that is what I want.”

“It is my first venture completely on my own and I totally believe in the concept and the food and I think it is going to be amazing.”

 Their website and Twitter page are not currently active, but they do have a Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/cubacantina

Words & photos by Lauren Heath and quotes as seen in Express and Echo

 

June 2016 update – since opening, see my review here: https://eatingexeter.co/2016/06/27/cuba-cantina-gandy-street-by-lauren-heath/

KuPP announced for Queen St Dining Quarter

Aviva Investors, the global asset management business of Aviva plc (‘Aviva’) confirmed today (9 March 2016) that KuPP, the Scandinavian-inspired casual dining concept – Food Drink Coffee & Store – will be the sixth restaurant to join Exeter’s exciting new Queen St Dining quarter.

KuPP signed contracts with Aviva Investors last week and this will be KuPP’s first site outside London, marking yet another huge boost for Exeter as a dining location. Aviva have been working hard to secure a wide selection of food and drink operators to create a unique dining offer at Queen St Dining and KuPP is the latest ingredient in this mix.

Beer Tanks_Kupp_CREDIT KuPP

KuPP will be set over two floors complete with outside seating in Market Square, occupying just under 6,000 sq. ft of Queen St Dining. Inspired by Scandinavia, the menu is designed for grazing, sharing and social eating. KuPP uses fresh, quality produce, lovingly sourced with provenance at its heart.  The simple, colourful and flavourful food will focus on Scandinavian ingredients and using cooking techniques such as in-house pickling, curing and smoking. Enjoy alongside tank conditioned beer, a well considered wine list, fresh juices & cocktails such as KuPP’s Aquavit Collins.

Drawing on inspiration from the Swedish Fika style of enjoying a coffee break, which is more about socialising than drinking coffee, KuPP will feature its own unique espresso and filter coffee blend, created especially for the brand and complemented by freshly baked breads and pastries, which customers can enjoy in store or as ‘grab & go’ items.

Simon Green, Director of Aviva Investors said: “It gives me immense pride that we at Aviva Investors can announce that KuPP will be joining us at Exeter’s Queen St Dining. The success of their London Paddington restaurant and their decision to come to Queen St Dining is a great vote of confidence for this ambitious project to create a legacy for the city and our customers”

KuPP Dining & Sharing_CREDIT KuPP

There is a huge interest in Scandinavian dining and KuPP will be bringing something quite unique to the mix of cuisine at Queen St Dining, to Exeter and the wider South West.” Steve Cox from KuPP said: “We are really excited about bringing KuPP to Exeter and being part of Queen St Dining. We considered many locations for our first casual dining venue outside the capital and we feel the city and the location is exactly the right choice. We pride ourselves on our ability to gather & select the finest ingredients & products from British & Scandinavian suppliers. KuPP represents all that we love about coffee, food, drink and Scandinavia and we want to share this with our customers. Whether it be fresh food, an enjoyable drink with friends or the perfect coffee, KuPP will offer local residents and businesses an honest, warm and friendly experience delivered with real passion and knowledge from our teams. In addition, there will be a little bit of our favourite things available in our store for guests to purchase and take home with them.”

When fully open by the end of August, Exeter’s Queen St Dining will have eight restaurants in total along with wonderful new open air spaces designed especially for food events, markets and entertainment. KuPP will be joining Turtle Bay, The Stable, Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK), The Terrace and Grillstock which have all previously been announced, with the remaining two restaurants to be named by Aviva in the coming weeks.

KuPP Dining Table_CREDIT KuPP

The Queen St project is seeing the Guildhall Shopping Centre’s neo-classical façade on Queen Street transformed, a new entrance from the high street is underway and the three public spaces within the centre itself are being re-invented: Market Square, bordered by amphitheatre-style seating areas, St Pancras Square overlooking the beautiful 13th Century St Pancras Church and Goldsmith Square, making them all more welcoming and attractive to shoppers and diners alike.

For further information about KuPP visit http://www.kupp.co for more information about the Queen St redevelopment, please visit: http://www.queenst-exeter.com

The new Eating Exeter logo

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to the new Eating Exeter logo.  You can see that it is a circle, it has the silhouette of our lovely cathedral (the Exeter part) and the knives and forks which denote the fact that there is a connection with food.

The position of the silohette is meant to represent biting and eating.  A little like the Apple logo. But not as pretentious.  I might actually keep this one longer than six months…  I am going to rejig the layout of the blog too.  Unfortunately I am the eternal perfectionist for design.

2016 EATING EXETER LOGO

Our Exeter Food Festival Twitter Competition #eff2016

I am excited to announce that Eating Exeter will be running a competition from today until Wednesday April 6th.  Two adult tickets are up for grabs to this year’s Exeter Food Festival!

I had a great time last year, you can read the write-up here.  And this year is destined it be even better! If you don’t believe me, watch this excellent video.

Festival story from Foxwell Films on Vimeo.

Exeter’s annual food and drink festival continues to go from strength to strength with tickets for the 13th year selling fast. Returning to the Castle and Northernhay Gardens in the very centre of Exeter, the Festival attracts more than 100 artisan food and drink producers from the region selling delicious south west meat, cheeses, bread, cider, wine, beer, oils, cakes and much more.
The award winning Festival has been championed by Michael Caines MBE since its launch in 2003 and the Michelin starred chef is as excited as ever about plans for this April. Michael said: ‘I am really looking forward to our 13th Festival. It’s always a joy for me to be part of something that celebrates the exceptional produce of the South West. It’s something to shout about.”

It will be a Twitter only competition, so get on Twitter and start thinking of reasons you should go to the Exeter Food Festival.  The most creative, imaginative and unique reasons will go in to a hat for a grand prize draw.

To be eligible to enter you must be over 18 and, please use the hashtag #eff2016 and mention @eatingexeter.  If you don’t mention Eating Exeter, I won’t know you’ve entered…

The winner will be announced on the blog just after the competition ends at 17:00 on the 6th April.

Q&A with Privateer Jerky

Amendment: Initially I thought that the Fresh At The Festival initiative was a new thing, but I’ve been reliably informed that it has been running for a few years, apologies for any mis-reading. – CG 7th March

Exeter Food Festival attracts some of the regions best and brightest producers.  On later today I am going to be announcing something exciting coupled with Exeter Food Festival, but in the meantime I’d like to introduce you to Privateer Jerky, proudly made in North Devon.  They are one of the Fresh at the Festival champions for this year.  I’ll be definitely paying their stand a visit throughout the festival 🙂

“Visitors to the Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink can expect to find a wide array of regional goodies including another collection of ‘Fresh at the Festival’ exhibitors.

 ‘Fresh at the Festival’ champions those who’ve been in business fewer than 3 years. Exhibitors are offered discounted participation, training and free promotion; one of the initiatives of Exeter Food Festival to lend a hand to local start-ups.” – EFF newsletter

 

  1. How long have you been making jerky?

For a couple of years for myself, family and friends but when a couple of people asked me if they could pay me to make some I figured that I should start selling it. That was October 2015

  1. Where are you based?

Braunton North Devon. My wife and I surf so we wanted to be near the beach.

  1. What was your inspiration behind the product?

My wife is from Georgia in the Deep South. I’ve been going there for 20 years and sampling the fine roadtrip snacks. I loved jerky from the first bite and have been an addict for a while. The craft jerky movement in the US has really gained momentum just like craft beer did 10 years ago. Until recently you couldn’t get good jerky here – that’s why I first made my own.

As high-protein diets have gained in popularity so has demand for low-carb snacks made with quality products. The paleo movement also has had a big influence (I don’t follow it though – too many rules!)

  1. Who are the people behind your product?

My wife provides an incredible sounding board for ideas, flavours and marketing. The rest is me, from slicing the beef to sewing the labels onto the packs.

  1. Do you hail from the South west originally, if so where are you from?

No, but we’ve been coming here to surf for 11 years or so. Eventually last year we decided to upgrade from our caravan to an actual house. We’ve lived in London most recently but before that Houston in Texas and Atlanta. I’m originally from Newark-on-Trent.

  1. What are you hoping to get out of the festival?

I love meeting people and giving them samples of jerky, I hope to spend the festival converting non-believers and persuading jerky-fans that small producers make the best stuff.

  1. What new and different flavours are you hoping to promote at the festival?

I’ve been playing around with a couple of flavours recently. One marinated in a hot sauce called Sriracha is proving a big hit. I might also do a big batch of one that I call Powderkeg which features four different strengths of chillies from Dartmoor chilli farm. The test batch that I smoked made my eyes sweat!

  1. Do you have any flavour combination/recipe suggestions?

I love experimenting with different flavours but I don’t think that you can go very wrong when you have good quality meat that is smoked gently over nice wood. (Incidentally I use apple wood from my own back yard to smoke my jerky). Jerky is mostly eaten as a snack but I’ve used it on bruschetta alongside guacamole and tomatoes. Used as an addition to a Bloody Mary it is a phenomenal edible stirring stick or chopped finely it gives a savoury boost to soups or sauces and recently my neighbour at a market suggested trying jerky tea!

Follow this awesome little company on Twitter or visit their website

http://www.privateerjerky.com/

The Rusty Pig, Ottery St Mary

The Rusty Pig, Yonder Street, Ottery St. Mary EX11 1HD 01404 815580

Butchers: open Thursday to Friday 9.30am to 4.30pm Saturday 9.30am to 4pm.
Supper tables: Thursday, Friday and Saturday (Fixed Course only)
Breakfast: Friday and Saturday 10am to 2pm

EE RecommendsIn the last twenty years or so, East Devon has had somewhat of a food renaissance.  Near the Devon-Dorset border lies River Cottage HQ, at the other end will be Michael Caines new flagship hotel and restaurant at Lympstone.  In between are a whole raft of producers and restaurants that are producing something amazing on a daily basis.  Deer Park Hotel, Trill Farm, Axminster River Cottage Canteen, Otter Brewery, Castlewood Vineyard etc. are all giving East Devon that edge.

In this litany of hallowed foodiness, sits The Rusty Pig in Ottery St Mary; a vanguard of good food and seasonal simplicity amongst the fussiness of a la carte and tiny portions. Ingredients are made on site, local or foraged; plucked from trusted local producers and hedgerows to create a palette you’re unlikely to find in other restaurants.

We were invited along to witness one of their supper table nights which tend to happen on a Thursday and Friday night.  Diners are welcome to have a 10 inch hand made pizza, or they can go for the fixed price three course menu.  On Saturday nights, only the fixed course menu is available and it is bookings only!

The Rusty Pig sits on Yonder Street.  When I googled the directions, I said to myself ‘ah I know where that is…’ and didn’t think anything else of it until we entered Ottery St Mary – I drove up to where I thought The Rusty Pig should be.  Of course neither myself or Tori had mobile coverage so there was no GPS to save the day.  About 15 minutes of light swearing, driving around in circles and ‘I’m not going to ask anyone’ ensued until we just happened to come across it in Yonder Street.

It feels like a home.  There is no delineation between the kitchen and the dining area on the ground floor, there are no barriers between customers and the important people who run the business, and throughout the evening it felt like the layout of the kitchen matched the ethos.  There is a shower in the toilet, and lots tables and chairs throughout the upstairs.  Recently having just obtained their alcohol licence, The Rusty Pig has come-of-age and is now looking at new horizons.

Robin Rea is the owner/butcher/head chef/chief smoker.  Devonian by birth, he started cooking in Melbourne during his travels in Italain restaurants which gave him a real spark for cooking, this continued when he returned to the UK, working in numerous restaurants before taking up a position at River Cottage.  His mother owned a shop in Ottery St Mary and when she retired, Robin fulfilled a dream by opening a butchers; producing air-dried and smoked meats in various forms.

An affable friendly chap with an absolutely cracking sense of humour, he was more than happy to chat to us throughout the evening, and we learnt a whole lot about what goes on at The Rusty Pig.  Helping him out on the evening was ex-River Cottage chef Joe Draper.  I first met Joe at the inaugural start of Jonny Does Dinner that took place at Trill Farm a couple of years ago; it was great to be able to catch up with him after the meal.

On Thursday & Friday nights The Rusty Pig serves food in the evenings.  The Butcher-Kitchen area has some seating, but upstairs a hidden world of exposed floorboards, wooden furniture and pig/Ottery St Mary ephemera.  We took our seats, we ordered our drinks and took in our surroundings.

Tonight we would be having the three-course menu (£32 per head).  This fixed price menu was simple but effective, and it can change too depending on ingredients available.

We kicked the evening off with an Onion Soup, sprinkled with Rusty Pig made Black Pudding. I found out afterwards that technically it is an onion milk, but frankly it could be called Mike Onion and it would still be delicious; it was so smooth and the savory kick of the Black Pudding made for a balanced starter that had me rethinking my previous misgiving about Onions in soup form. The starter was accompanied with a Garlic & Fennel Flatbread which looked wonderful and tasted as good.

The main course was a colourful mixture of roasted vegetables, wild garlic gnocci, beetroot relish, Rusty Pig made Cotechinni garnished with a hard ‘mountain cheese’ as Robin described it afterwards.

The dish was a colourful firework of food that I nearly forgot to eat after snapping it from every conceivable angle.  The Gnocci was smooth and the garlic worked well with the beetroot relish, the roasted vegetables (including carrot and parsnip) were perfectly done and as a Cotechinni virgin, I am glad that I was.  It has a bite to it, and the slight chewiness of the Cotechinni contrasted in texture to the creamy smoothness of the Gnocci.

Our dessert was a traditional yet edgy conclusion to what had been a stonking meal.  A Rhubarb and Cardoman Panacotta with Almond crumble.  This played on the different textures and the variation between the sweetness of the crumble and the sourness of the Rhubarb.  I love dishes that go beyond smell, food that looks amazing and uses a different set of tastes beyond sweet and savory – this makes for a memorable plate of food.

Afterwards we got chatting to Robin and Joe. The evening was coming to an end, but the party of fourteen ladies upstairs was still in full swing.  Joe was putting the finishing touches to the next day’s dishes, an event and a fully booked evening meant that the Saturday was going to be a busy day for both Joe and Robin, rafting in help from another chef.

If I was  compiling a ‘foody tour’ of East Devon, The Rusty Pig would be on it.  There are few places in Devon that share the same ethos and passion as this Butcher-Restaurant.  I was already a fan of Robin and brilliant little butchers, but this visit confirmed for me that The Rusty Pig is one of the vanguards of the local-seasonal school of cuisine in East Devon.

There is also the ‘Rusty Pig at Home’ where Robin will come in to your home to cook a private meal in your house.  Fancy a bit of Rusty Pig magic at your wedding? When we first arrived, Robin was talking to a bride & groom for whom he would be cooking for on their big day.  For more information about these other services, best ring the number at the beginning of the post.

Pipers Farm – Beyond the Hedgerow Tour by Lauren Heath

I’m sure lots of people know about Pipers Farm (and if you don’t, even more reason to read on); the award winning farm whose philosophy is to grow healthy animals with a strong natural immunity. They grow contented animals slowly, in small groups, with minimum stress, which means that they only use medication when it is absolutely necessary. They believe this is the best way to produce meat which is wholesome and healthy.

Peter and Henri have had the farm just north of Exeter for 25 years and have a lovely small but perfectly formed shop in Magdalen Road as well as an online shop. They attend many food fairs including the fabulous and local Exeter Food and Drink Festival, showcasing their produce as well as the technique of cooking it.

We were sitting in one of the lovely cafes in Magdalen road last year discussing the Harvest tour we had seen advertised and the owner overheard us and told us that she had been on it and how wonderful it was. Well, that made our mind up, so we booked.

This particular event was now 6 months ago but is still very fresh in my mind. Why I am writing about it now? Well this year’s dates have been released and the April one is already fully booked. I will tell you now – get booking!

It was August time and it had been a bit damp but thankfully it held off on this particular evening.  We pulled into the farm and headed towards a green bank where other people had gathered.  We were delighted to be greeted with warm, smiling faces, a glass of elderflower fizz, and some hot sausages that had just come off the fire that was there…good start! We were right by the beautiful Saddleback pigs in their mini orchard, snuffling around (I do love pigs!) so were immediately excited for the tour.

The evening, which starts at 6, involves a walk around the farm (take good walking shoes or wellies) with Peter himself leading the group and telling you all about their journey, methods and his beloved animals. Yes you can love animals and eat meat too – I do. The difference is about doing things the right way, in the rearing, butchery, cooking and eating.  James had recently started with the farm, and he has added a new dimension by integrating ecology and the natural world to make sure their farms are as healthy and as diverse as possible.

There are plenty of opportunities for asking questions. We got to stroke some huge Ruby Red cows, see his beloved dog Fly round up some of the grass-fed lambs and there’s even a tractor ride for those who are less able or for children, making this tour accessible to all.

Then back to the start of the farm where we were seated al-fresco under a sheltered courtyard, fire pit going, bales of hay for seating and good company. The food was delicious, the meat all of their own of course, the salad flowers picked nearby and the pudding was from a very local supplier. I could have sat there all night.

It was an educational and enlightening evening led by such a passionate farmer and businessman, and the fact that the food was delicious goes without saying. For risk of repeating myself – get booking!

Tickets are priced at £20 per person and includes: 1 hour farm tour, three course fire pit supper, soft drinks and a donation to Farms For City Children.

Te Cakes, Exeter Farmer’s Market

Exeter’s Farmers Market takes place every Thursday from 10am – 2pm, they attract some of the finest producers from across Devon.  Along with the University Farmer’s Market, it gives producers who might not have the luxury of a permanent premises the chance to showcase themselves to shoppers and commuters.  The latest addition to the Exeter Farmer’s Market is Te Cakes, a patisserie that sells delicate and delicious cakes from their stall.

I was given the chance to have a closer look at some of their lovely products, so naturally I had to take them home and take photos of them. Because ultimately, that is what I do.

This is essentially patisserie porn, cake based erotica that will kill diets and shock your grandmother.

Blackforest Gateux – The chocolate has a beautiful bitterness to it, the chocolate tastes like a good high cocoa chocolate.  The mousse interior has a wonderful hint of cherry that infuses through the whole dessert.

Cheesecake Brownie – a soft base with a sweet chocolate taste to it.  The cheesecake seems to make a seamless transition from cheesecake to base.  It took me about half an hour to eat it as it was so wonderfully rich.

CoffeeMaratonCirca (16 of 21)

Pecan Tart – A soft sweet interior contrasting with a delicate and tasteful pastry outside really shows Dean’s skill.

Opera Cake (Te Cake stlye) – With raspberry buttercream and almond sponge, this classic French cake has a raspberry twist with delicious results.

CoffeeMaratonCirca (19 of 21)

Rum Cake – A Te Cake variation on the Rum Baba, this rum soaked lovely was by far our favourite (they were all lovely so actually that is a lie)

Te Cake is run by husband and wife, Dean and Sam who I had a brief chat with last week when I went to visit them.  Dean’s experience, along with his Corden Bleu training has given him an expert edge which is evident in the taste and quality of their fine fancies.

http://tecake.co.uk