Sandford Orchard’s Secret Cider Society presents: The Devon Food Movement with Chef Luke Fearon

Some of the photos included in this blog post are courtesy of Paul from Clash & Clash Photography

Don’t tell anyone – but did you know about a secret society located deep in the heart of Devon? I have exclusive photos from the last meeting of this secretive bunch of cider lovers!  I’m kidding by the way, tell anyone who you think would enjoy some fine cider and some of the best local culinary talent cooking for The Secret Cider Society, Sandford Orchard’s very own pop-up restaurant.

One of the key pieces of ethos that I like to try about when writing this blog is ‘Local’.  Buy local, eat out local, support our local producers and chefs who keep our economy bubbling along like a satisfying soup of economic excellent-ness.  When anything comes along to help support this ethos, I embrace it with both hands and shout about it to whoever is nearest at the time.

The Crediton area is home to a whole raft of high quality exports, and this evening was a showcase of the absolute best the area has to offer.  We were thrilled to have been invited to the Sandford Orchards Secret Cider Society (one of the famous exports!) to attend Luke Fearon’s Devon Food Movement, a pop-up restaurant project that created excellent menus from products within a five mile radius.  The Five Mile Challenge was on for tonight and I was curious to see what delights Luke was going to create.

secret cider society, sandford orchards cider, popup dining
Each course was introduced by Andy and Barney, Cider makers at Sandford Orchards.

Sandford Orchards is a local brand that I am genuinely happy to see on my travels.  They have a national presence and they are regional favourites with Cider fans. The company has grown over the last few years – so much so that a few years ago they took over premises that previously before that had been a cider works of another famous cider maker. Originally built for the Creedy Cider Company in 1935, Sandford Orchards continues a long lineage of Crediton cider makers using local apples grown from ancient nearby orchards.

So it was fitting to see the Devon Food Movement pitch-up in such a magnificent surroundings.

Courtesy of Clash and Clash
Cider Maker, Andy May, serving up some of Sandford Orchard's excellent produce to diners.
Cider Maker, Andy May, serving up some of Sandford Orchard’s excellent produce to diners.

The Devon Food Movement has been hot on tongues of local foodies who have been marvelling at Chef Luke Fearon’s project pop-up.  The Five Mile Challenge takes ingredients within a five mile radius of the location of the restaurant, and this isn’t always easy! Luke has been visiting some top foodie locations, spreading the love for locally sourced Devon produce.

Devon Food Movement, Luke Fearon, Five Mile Challenge, Sandford Orchards

During our visit to this fantastic pop-up event, we were lucky enough to sit with one of the head Cider Makers, Andy May, who was this very evening introducing a cider of his own making (see his 10 Questions interview soon!).  Tremlett’s Bitter is a punchy fruity cider with a complicated palette that I really enjoyed getting to know as we were taken through some wonderfully matched courses throughout the evening.

We kicked proceedings with some rich morsels of puff pork rind coated black pudding with a cider apple gel.  The black pudding was soft and very savory with a strong flavour, it was matched with the Andy’s Tremlett’s Bitter, the slight floral notes of the Cider worked through the black pudding amazingly.  We also got a chance to try another Tremlett’s Bitter style from Perry’s of Somerset which gave us a good comparison.

black pudding, Secret Cider Society, Devon Food Movement, Luke Fearon

Tremletts Bitter, Sandford Orchards, Secret Cider Society

Next was a delicious sourdough bread with whipped butter which accompanied Rillette of Elston Farm Pork.  Again a combination of flavours that worked well together, the light butter and a slightly charred bread handled the strong pork flavour well.  And of course the pork was complemented beautifully by the cider, two flavours that just needed combining – the match worked so well!

Luke Fearon, Devon Food Movement, Sandford Orchards, Crediton, Chef
Luke Fearon, Devon Food Movement, Sandford Orchards, Crediton

I was really happy to find out that our main course was provided by the one and only, Creedy Carver.  I’ve been a big fan of their meats, and I am not the only one.  I’ve encountered their meats in restaurants and events across the county, they have a loyal following given the consistent quality of their produce and they’re located in Crediton!

Creedy Carver Chicken
Courtesy of Clash and Clash

This was described on the menu simply as ‘Hen’ – with Toasted Yeast, Celeriac Remoulade and Elderflower.  Accompanying this was a selection pf Perrys from Hecks in Somerset and Dunkertons in Herefordshire.

At this point we got some learning about Perry.  Unfortunately Tori is allergic to pears so she could only smell the drinks but I got the full benefit!  Perry has had a bad reputation in recent years, so much so that it only accounts for a very small percentage of drink sales in the UK with Cider itself only taking 7% of the market share, out of this perry is even less.  Devon cider makers add a small amount of perry to their ciders during the process, but as a drink on its own, it isn’t as popular as it once was.

It was great to be able to taste two really good examples of Perry.  Even though we were being hosted at Sandford Orchards, it wasn’t all about them.  As Sandford Orchards owner, Barney Butterfield, explained at the beginning of the evening it was about celebrating what they believed to be really good products.

Sandford Orchards, diners, foodies Secret Cider Society, roast potatos

I loved the addition of the toasted yeast.  Because it would not be possible to produce crispy skin on each, toasted yeast went someway to replicate this crispiness as well as adding an extra dimension to the taste and texture of the chicken.

With our accompanying veg and some ‘beyond textbook’ roasted new potatoes, this part of the meal lasted ages as we chatted and indulged in this wonderful cornucopia of local produce and excellent company.

Courtesy of Clash and Clash

The cheese course featured another one of Crediton’s famous exports.  Quicke’s cheese is another local brand that is recognised nationally for the quality and excellence in taste and provenance.  Tonight we were given the chance to taste some of their cloth wrapped cheddar with some of Sandford Orchard’s very own Ice Cider – Icing is a process used in wine making, the result is a strong sweet cider that can be drunk like a dessert wine.

Dessert was a Wild Fennel Posset with PYO berries and Fanny Bramble’s Ice and Caramelised Devon Cream which was considered widely to be one of the nicest desserts that any of us on our table had consumed either ever, or in recent years.

The smooth creaminess of the posset and the tartness of the berries, the sweetness of the Fanny Bramble Ice and the sweet caramelised devon cream took the whole concept of strawberries and cream, turned it on its head, shook it around and out comes something twenty times better and beyond…

Sandford Orchard’s Secret Cider Society is next meeting on the 1st September.  Keep your peepers peeled on their Facebook page and other social media for more information.  Buy tickets to the next one here

Chef Luke Fearon, Devon Food Movement, Five Mile Challenge, Devon Chef,
Chef Luke Fearon (R) and Ben Godiff (L) after the event

It was great to have a chat with Luke and hear about the Devon Food Movement from the man himself.  Luke was affable and passionate, and through this vision of showcasing the amazing quality of the products that we have at our finger tips, I can imagine the Devon Food Movement will continue to champion and produce excellent food.

The next dates are:

24th July 2018, Jacka Bakery, Plymouth
25th July 2018, Jacka Bakery, Plymouth

9th August 2018, The Night Jar, Aylesbeare (sold out)
10th August 2018, The Night Jar, Aylesbeare
11th August 2018, The Globe Inn, Beaford
30th August, The Seven Stars, Kennford

For more info check out the DFM events page






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