This delicious recipe uses Kenniford Farm’s Taste of the West Gold Award winning sausages and is packed full of flavour – great for enjoying in the garden in the sunshine or for a warming supper in the cooler weather. Recipe from Love Pork – http://www.lovepork.co.uk
Cooking Time: 40 Minutes
Cooking Skill: Easy
Serves: 4 People
450g (1lb) Gold Taste of the West Award Kenniford Cranberry and Rosemary pork sausages
3 large sprigs fresh thyme
4 cloves garlic, peeled
15ml (1tbsp) olive oil
45ml (3tbsp) sweet chilli sauce
1 red chilli, deseeded and cut into large pieces
½ lemon, cut into wedges
2 large sprigs, vine on, cherry tomatoes
Preparation: Pre-heat oven to Gas Mark 4, 180ºC.
Place sausages into a small baking pan or tin.
Mix together in a bowl or jug the thyme, garlic, seasoning, oil and chilli sauce. Pour over the sausages and roll them to coat. Add the red chilli and lemon, squeezing and leaving wedges in the pan.
Place in the pre-heated oven and cook for 35 minutes, then add tomato sprigs and cook for a further 5 minutes to soften slightly.
Serve with mini roasted new potatoes tossed in thyme and drizzled with piri piri juices.
Here at EEDD HQ, as well as local food and restaurants, we like to experiment at home with both recipe books, free-for-all cooking as well as national food initiatives including the Ultimate Crisp Sandwich with a national crisp company and trying out new recipes with British leeks.
I recently got the opportunity to sign up to Caribbean Food Week (celebrated 21st to 28th August), thanks to Grace Foods, and thought – why not! Something different to try at home; I already know of some of their products from the world food aisles in supermarkets, and as we are fairly adventurous at home, thought this would be great.
So my lovely parcel turned up, filled with plenty of goodies to try as well as a token hat, flower garland and funky straws – filling me with the caribbean spirit.
‘Caribbean Food Week was launched in 2012 by Grace Foods UK; the week presents the perfect opportunity to enjoy a taste of the Caribbean, whether it’s jerk chicken, curried goat, or a delicious Caribbean cocktail!’
Having looked at what we’d received, our menu on the eve of Caribbean Food Week was as follows:
Hot & Spicy Jerk Chicken – using the jerk chicken fry mix, we coated our drumsticks and thighs, and cooked them on our ProQ smoker BBQ. The skin was incredibly crispy with a lovely heat (This can, of course, be cooked in the oven or the fryer for maximum crispness). I just love crispy chicken and it keeps the meat moist.
Caribbean Spiced Cauliflower Dumplings – local farm shop purple and white cauliflowers (marinated in Jamaican Hot Curry Powder) coated in a spiced tempura based batter then deep fried for an amazing crunch!
Jamaican Seasoned Rice – boiled brown rice was then pan fried with the tin of mixed beans, finishing it off with cooked ackee and some spring onions for added texture.
Jerk BBQ Sauce Minute Steaks – lovely thin steak marinated in Jerk BBQ sauce and quickly cooked on the griddle – perfect for a bit of sweetness.
We had the Jamaican hot sauce and West Indian hot pepper sauce on the side for extra bite where needed.
Drinks included a Caribbean Cocktail (our own concoction!) of gin, ginger beer and smooth coconut water!
Thanks to the unpredictable British weather, our street party spread turned more into a Sunday indoor dinner, but we didn’t mind! Hubby braved the rain (avec brollie!) and smoked our meats and potatoes on the smoker which just added that extra dimension. Our son helped to coat the jerk chicken by getting his groove on and shaking it all in a big tub to ensure it coated evenly!
The point is, it’s all about giving something new a go, and livening up that home cooking with easy, flavoursome products – and get family or friends involved.
“Come rain or shine, bring the taste of the Caribbean into your home this August.”
Get involved in Caribbean Food Week #CFW2017! For inspiration and events during the week of 21st – 28th August (or anytime for that matter!) visit:
With just two months to go until Powderham Food Festival returns for a sixth celebration of local food and drink (Saturday 7th to Sunday 8th October), festival organisers Bob Small and Fiona Gofton are hoping 2017 will be the biggest, best and quite possibly the healthiest food festival they have ever hosted.
Set amid the spectacular grounds of Powderham Castle, home to Lord and Lady Devon, Powderham Food Festival is a magnet for foodies of all ages. So, with nature’s autumnal larder full to brimming with delicious fruits and vegetables, what better time to shine a light on fresh, wholesome and delicious food that the whole family can get excited about.
Bob Small says, “Powderham has always prided itself on being a family-friendly food festival, but this year we wanted to give everybody food for thought on what they feed their loved ones. It is for this reason that we have teamed up with Sugar Smart to help inform and inspire families on how to cook more with fresh ingredients, less with sugar-filled processed foods and to find simple ways to lower their sugar intake.”
Fiona Gofton says “We all live busy lives, and I know I sometimes struggle to get inspiration for meals to feed my family that are quick, healthy and appeal to everybody’s tastes. Our new family food marquee will focus on wholesome home cooking, offering loads of useful information from Sugar Smart and associated organisations on how families can make small changes to their diet and lifestyle that will have a long-lasting effect on their health and wellbeing.”
Rachel Pinnock, a food anthropology PhD student who works part time at Exeter Cookery School and part time as a Sugar Smart ambassador, will be on hand to show children and their parents how the humble veg can be transformed into a delicious and nutritious family meal. Meanwhile, Judi Spiers will be joining the team from Home Farm Café – a Dartmoor-based farm café with 85% of its menu featuring local, seasonal produce – with demonstrations from Stella West-Harling and Nick Smith on how to create exciting and delicious dinners for week-night meal times.
Fun Kitchen will also be supporting Sugar Smart’s campaign at this year’s Powderham Food Festival, as it returns once more with its popular, messy and educational hands-on cookery classes for children. Fun Kitchen founder and Jamie Oliver Food Revolution Ambassador, Joe Mann, is a firm believer in making cooking fun and accessible for children, and has been instrumental in teaching about food beyond the classroom as a partner of the Growing Devon Schools Partnership.
For a wondrous line-up of the region’s culinary talents, head to the Exeter Cookery School stage. Jim and Lucy Fisher, the dynamic husband and wife team who opened Exeter Cookery School in the summer of 2016, will play host to a dazzling array of cookery demonstrations for the third consecutive year. Working with the region’s very fine seasonal larder, chefs confirmed so far this year are Richard Hunt (TV chef, consultant chef & founder of Devon Scone Company), Richard Valder (head chef and co-owner of @Angela’s Restaurant), Paul Greenhead (chef and co-owner of Café Catalan), Rachel Pinnock (Exeter Cookery School) and Nila Ross-Patel (Exeter Cookery School tutor), with more chefs yet to be revealed.
Completing the cookery demonstration areas, the ever-popular Theatre of Fire and Smoke will also be back at Powderham Food Festival to delight its loyal following. Barbecue and food smoking aficionados Simon Dyer, Marcus Bawdon and John Gower from Quiet Waters Farm, will be cooking up a storm. Meanwhile, the Clifton Chilli Club will be hosting their usual increasingly fiery chillies on members of the public in the Great Devon Chilli Challenge – for the bravest of souls (or should we say stomachs).
And if that was not all, there will be over 100 local food and drinks producers and craft stalls to explore and give you plenty to keep your tummies happy. The festival will be a fantastic family and foodie day out for all to enjoy – so make sure you put the date in your diary for the must-visit Autumn Food Festival at Powderham Castle!
Tickets for Powderham Food Festival are available to purchase online via www.powderhamfoodfestival.com with a saving of 25% for advanced purchase tickets!
Earlier this year the supermarket Morrisons put out a call for ‘The Nations Local Foodmakers’, a mission to find local producers to stock in their stores within each region or city so that customers can buy more British and local. If successful at application stage, the food or drink producer would have the chance to meet their buyers, local store colleagues and customers at one of four regional events that were held, where a final decision would be made.
The mission stated: ‘At Morrisons, we want to feed the nation with a bigger portion of food and drink that is sourced from local suppliers. That’s why we’re now starting a fresh search for a new crop of foodmakers – who we hope can grow with Morrisons and maybe even become household names in their own right.
When it comes to finding local suppliers, we go further. We’re already doing lots to help regional food and drink suppliers ‘make it’ at Morrisons. And now we’re doing even more to meet local tastes – with our search to find The Nation’s Local Foodmakers, and products that are grown or made ‘just down the road’ from their local communities.’
Now we all have our views on shopping local or which supermarket is best, but this is a great initiative to get the deserving small producers in front of more customers and be able to grow more successfully.
One such producer that has been successful is Exmouth-based Eat The Smoke, owned by Christian Sculpher, who produces a variety of BBQ rubs, nuts and sauces. Now in his 4th year of business, Devon-born Christian has been an avid BBQ’er for 20 years, smoking for 6 and left his stressful 9-5 job to pursue his passion.
He is already well known on the food festival circuit, and has his products stocked in local farm shops, London distribution in place and they are available to buy on his online shop. His products have also won various Gold and Silver Taste of the West awards 2016 and he was a Devon Life Food and Drink Winner 2016 in the Best Food Product of the Year category. His range includes five BBQ rubs, two varieties of smoked nuts and two BBQ sauces – all made with natural ingredients, are gluten free and can be used for outdoor cooking as well as indoors and the BBQ sauce works amazingly as a ‘ketchup’ too.
Out of this great product range, two rubs, BBQ Hot Rub and Buffalo Hot Wings and Poultry Rub, will be stocked in South West branches of Morrisons from Bristol down to Cornwall.
Although buying direct from him or a local farm shop may seem the more obvious way to buy your goods, if you buy from Morrisons it could result in a better return for Eat The Smoke on the whole as, the more sold in store the greater the possibility of Morrisons stocking more of his range of products both locally and possibly even further afield.
If you’d like to find out more about this awesome local producer and his products, read our write up and Q&A from last year here. Otherwise – pop to Morrisons and vote with your basket, and help the small guy make it big as he so deserves.
Exeter Quay is currently blooming into a real destination for foodies, as well as those seeking an escape from the busy city and their work life.
Night markets, cookery school, outdoor and indoor activities, arts and culture as well as the growing restaurant scene. At the weekend it comes alive with tourists and locals alike seeking the relaxed waterside vibe.
Recently, The Boat Shed (brainchild of the Bike Shed Theatre) has just docked, ready to provide many arts and social activities for everyone and breathing life into another beautiful stone building.
Alongside this eclectic new venture is an additional food offering for the summer – The Smoke Pit and Grill by Beer and Vittles. Paul Manville, owner of Beer & Vittles was asked by The Boat Shed to come up with a food offering to compliment their cocktail caravan that serves cocktails, beers and organic soft drinks, alfresco style. Paul has over 15 years of professional catering experience and jumped at the chance to do something different on weekends for Quay punters over the summer season.
So aside the stone wall, with high quality wooden tables and benches to eat al fresco, The Smoke Pit and Grill serves items such as low and slow brisket, BBQ’d jerk chicken leg and even a homemade vegan burger – all items homemade or bought from local farm shops, bread rolls so local they are from the Boatyard Cafe and Bakery across the river and the brisket is smoked overnight to bring you juicy soft meat on the day.
We visited on Sunday lunch and enjoyed a bit of everything – the brisket was tender, the chicken juicy and I must admit the black bean and chestnut vegan burger was excellent (I’m very carnivorous and was impressed!). Even the sauces on the side have an added twist, making them extra tasty too.
Too lovely to sit inside one of the fab restaurants on the Quay? Dine casual bbq style with The Smoke Pit and Grill; maybe even treat yourself to a delicious Dartington ice cream after from The Boat Shed. Here’s to a smokin’ summer!
You can find The Smoke Pit and Grill by Beer and Vittles on social media:
What a food filled weekend! On Sunday 30th April, I attended the Salcombe Crab Festival; I was not going to let our British weather make us crabby by stopping our bank holiday weekend fun, so my family and I donned the raincoats and wellies and off we drove.
Salcombe is approx. 1 hour south of Exeter, on a steady drive and boy you do know when are you nearby; the sea down below just peeking through the trees, and the lushest bright green roadsides guiding you down to the bay.
Salcombe Crabfest is a smaller annual festival, organised by volunteers from the Rotary Club of Salcombe and sponsored by Favis of Salcombe and Coast and Country Cottages. It has music, food stalls and food related events spread throughout the town which creates a lovely festival vibe.
This year the event was being opened by Matt Tebbutt, well known for presenting Channel 4’s Food Unwrapped as well as Saturday Kitchen and a being a regular contributor for Waitrose Kitchen magazine. He would then also be cooking up a storm (although nature had already given us one) with local food hero and seafood ambassador Mitch Tonks, the co-founder of the Rockfish restaurants and takeaways as well as The Seahorse Restaurant in Dartmouth.
The cookery demo was great, very free flowing with both of them having a good time and answering any random questions thrown at them. Mitch cooked Singapore spicy crab as well as deep fried soft shell crab rolls which made their way around the lucky few in the audience and Matt cooked crab ravioli using spring roll papers – a trick I am going to try at home! The ravioli was absolutely delicious, served in a crab broth – I was near enough to the front to be fast enough with a nearby spoon!
There was an hourly tour at Salcombe Gin Distilling Co and this was an eye opener; we got a shortened version of their new Gin School offering, so learnt a bit about how they make the gin, chose some ingredients and got to taste the final product. Do look them up for a gift for yourself or a loved one (they are award winning already too – see recent press release here) you get to create your very own flavour of gin and not only take a full bottle home, but also enjoy your drinks in their lovely bar afterwards.
We saw JB Preserves, Bell and Loxton Oils, Favis of Salcombe, Salcombe Brew Coffee, South Devon Chilli Farm, amongst others. My son loves crab so enjoyed a fresh pot full and he even tried an oyster!
Live music filled the air wherever we were, the local shops were buzzing and who can resist a view like this round every corner?
For a free event, it’s a great day out – perhaps plan a night or two away for next year and wander around the festival enjoying the many food and drink delights on offer without having to drive home.
Look out for next years date and get it in the diary!
Baked Shellfish with Bucatini, Whole Roasted Garlic and Thyme
Serves 3 -4, you will need
8 large cloves of garlic, unpeeled
100ml olive oil
A splash of good white wine
A handful of mussels
6 raw shell-on prawns
A handful of clams
A handful of cooked bucatini pasta
A pinch of chilli flakes, or 2 very tiny hot red, dried chillies
250ml home-made tomato sauce or passata (use the rustic, chunky variety)
3-4 sprigs thyme
Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2. Put the cloves of garlic into a roasting tray with the olive oil and a pinch of salt, and roast in the preheated oven until softened, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Raise the oven temperature to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
Lay out a square of tinfoil, large enough to hold all the ingredients and to be folded and sealed tightly into a parcel. Cut a piece of baking parchment the same size as the foil and lay it on top so you have a double layer. Add a splash of wine to the garlic in the roasting tray and add the shellfish, pasta and chillies. Toss everything together, place in a heap on the baking parchment, pour over the passata or tomato sauce, and lay the thyme sprigs on top. Fold it up to make a tightly sealed parcel, place on a roasting tray and bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
To serve, place the whole thing in the middle of the table, get your noses round the top of the parcel as you open it up, pull the sides of the foil apart, give it a mix around, put a few wedges of lemon ton top and get stuck in.
Our second post in a series of recipes from Mitch Tonks.
A Whole Oven Poached Brill with Tomatoes, Thyme and Saffron
Serves 4 – you will need
1 brill weighing about 1.5 kg / 3lb
4 ripe tomatoes
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 small dried birds eye chilli – optional
Good pinch of saffron
A splash of Pernod or aniseed flavoured alcohol – optional – but if you are worried about the flavour of aniseed, don’t. It doesn’t take over the dish but really adds a wonderful depth.
A glass of dry white wine
A small handful of finely chopped parsley
Pre heat the oven to 200c.
In a roasting dish large enough to take the fish and a pint or so of liquid add a few tablespoons of olive oil and gently fry the shallot and the garlic until softened. Squeeze in the tomatoes, add the thyme, saffron and crumble in the chilli. Mix all those flavours together well, then add a splash of Pernod and allow to boil until the all the liquid has evaporated.
Then add the wine and boil for a further minute, then lay the fish into the pan and a cupful of water. Sprinkle in some sea salt and place in the oven for about 30 minutes. Check regularly to ensure there is still enough liquid in the pan and baste the top of the fish which will be starting to roast, if you think you need more liquid add a little water.
Remove from the oven, sprinkle in the parsley and taste the juice. You should be able to taste everything separately within the sauce but all at once. I find that proper seasoning helps to bring these flavours out. I think this dish is fine to serve from the pan in which it was cooked.
To remove the flesh from the fish just take a spoon and cut the soft fish from the head to the tail down the middle, you can then with 2 spoons lift the fish off in chunks when all the fish from the top is gone simply lift out the backbone and you’ll be left with the boneless underside of the fish.
If you are a shellfish lover you could add a few mussels, or clams or cockles during cooking. A good accompaniment with this would be some aioli, some good bread and some spinach.
Tom Kerridge confirmed in chef line up! Early May bank holiday weekend – Saturday 29 April – Monday 1 May
An all-star line-up of chefs has been confirmed for this year’s Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink including Tom Kerridge who will join festival co-founder Michael Caines MBE in the cookery theatre on the Sunday.
Seven Michelin-starred chefs are among the line-up this year, including Tom Kerridge, Michael Caines MBE, Simon Hulstone, Paul Ainsworth, Michael Wignall, Mark Dodson and Josh Eggleton, alongside a further 30 talented chefs demonstrating. The seven award-winning chefs will be performing live demos across Sunday 30th April and Monday 1st May in the Festival Cookery Theatre.
The three-day Festival is a celebration of the South West’s Food and Drink producers and top chefs, taking place over the early May bank holiday weekend (Saturday 29th April to Monday 1st May 2017) at Exeter Castle and the surrounding Northernhay Gardens.
Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge said: “I was really pleased when Michael asked me to be part of the festival. I’m looking forward to coming down to Exeter for the bank holiday and demonstrating on the Sunday as well as sampling the amazing local produce.”
Visitors to the Festival can enjoy demonstrations in the Festival cookery theatre from Saturday morning to Monday afternoon, with demos, head-to-head competitions and the school competition taking place across the weekend.
Alongside the fantastic line-up of top chefs from the region, the 14th Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink will feature more than 90 producers, as well as BBC Radio Devon’s Festival Question Time, the Dart’s Farm ‘Food is Fun’ Teepees and demonstrations of tasty recipes in the West Country Bakery Theatre.
Throughout the weekend local musicians will entertain visitors in the Exeter Castle Courtyard. The three After Dark Music Festivals will take place on Friday 28th April (Headliner: The Locked Horns, supported by Stephens Scown’s Choir and Loose Cannons Band), Saturday 29th April (Headliner: Leigh Coleman Band, supported by Yazzy, Joanna Cooke and Celine Dos Santos) and Sunday 30th April (Headliner: Bill Ding and the Skyscrapers, supported by Alex Dobson and Roger Styles).
The Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink is supported by Exeter City Council. The festival is a not for profit event. Tickets can be booked in advance and are available online.
As well as dining out and attending events to see what local restaurants, suppliers and businesses have to offer, we do cook at home. Some nights are simpler affairs, with repetitive or traditional favourites like anyone enoys. Occasionally, some inspiration is needed!
With spring showing it’s face (sort’ve) and the fact we are surrounded by beautiful coastlines, we thought something a bit lighter and fishy would give enough inspiration yet still a bit of comfort in the seasonal transition. So we asked Mitch Tonks for a couple of recipes and here is the first of 3 which will be live on a Wednesday for you to enjoy and perhaps plan a suprise meal for yourself or a loved one, or even take the pressure off entertaining some weekend guests. Enjoy – LH
Mussels with Chilli, Wine and Bay
A huge favourite at The Seahorse and Rockfish. I’m not a fan of cream in mussels just their own juices and a splash of wine is good for me. Try mussels from a few different places you will be amazed at how different they can taste and eat depending on the environment from which they are harvested. I prefer those grown at sea with small shells and big silky meats.
Serves 2 to start; you will need –
Allow 350gm per person, ensure they are washed and beards pulled off
2 bay leaves
2 small dried birdseye chillis
1 shallot very finely chopped
Good knob of butter
Handful finely chopped parsley
Splash of wine
Clove garlic finely chopped
Tablespoon of Olive oil
Melt the butter and olive oil in a pan and add the shallots and garlic to soften. Add the parsley and bay and crumble in the chilli.
Add the mussels and toss in a pan to coat the shells well. Add the wine, cover and allow the mussels to steam open, discard any that don’t. Pour into a bowl and serve with crusty, grilled or fried bread.
Where does time go? I recall fully, last year when my husband Steve attended a nearby trade show, that he said he’d had the best time trying lots of local produce and meeting lots of great people. It was called Source Food and Drink Show, held at Westpoint Showground. “Better than lots of food festivals” he said. So to see what all the fuss was about, I booked a day off work to attend and hoped it would be worthit. And here we were, tickets printed, ready for 2017.
As I write this, a week has flown by already before I’ve even managed to put fingertips to keyboard and we’re in the latter end of February.
I could really write a full walkthrough but you dont want that – you want to hear of some great things we found, don’t you?
Well, the usual suspects, and what lovely suspects they are; Good Game were there in all their glory, a fantastic display with all their charcuterie goods on show. They also own The Pig and Pallet in Topsham, and if you haven’t been yet – I urge you to go! My first ever review for EE was their breakfast offering, which you can read here. They of course also serve lunch and dinner. I digress…
Also our foodie mate Eat the Smoke was opposite them – we honestly go through a bottle or two of his BBQ sauce a month, it’s astounding – get some if you havent already! His smokin’ 10 Q&A & product review can be found here.
Ebb Tides, who harvest seaweed and were also a ‘victim’ of our 10 Q&A were in the newbie bit, enjoying some great exposure. Tony has another new product on the market, and his seaweed in bags and in grinders are so very easy to use for dips, marinades and extra oomph to flavour and your diet..
We enjoyed cider from both Somerset based Sheppy’s and Honiton based Norcotts, ales from Dartmoor Brewery, whose Jail Ale we love, and family owned Black Tor Brewery (who occassionally do a lovely porter) – ‘mummy’ Black Tor must be commended, she was helping out on the day and was really delightful to talk to, very proud of the business and such a welcoming smile.
Koppert Cress were very interesting – we tasted lots of their herbs and plants; local business contact but items grown in Norway I believe. He gave us a layered handful of selected items which we rolled up and ate as a whole – dubbed Vegetarian Oyster, and boy was it seashore flavoured!
We saw 2016 South West Chef, Jamie Coleman, cook up some delights in the kitchen.
We stumbled across Chococo owner Claire and manageress Michelle having a wander round, and Michelle indulged in some insect eating with my husband Steve (who now has his own product blog Chilli Head Chef). On the count of 5 this ‘up for it’ duo downed a handful of Cornish Edible Insects with gusto.
We enjoyed some further charcuterie delights from Ottery St Mary’s The Rusty Pig and ended our day with a fantastic coffee from Steve of Exe Coffee Roasters who produces his own coffee for sale for trade and home use as well as enjoying in his coffee shop.
Of course this show is a trade show after all and is intended for buyers to come along and find new products to stock or use in their outlets. So many fantastic stands haven’t been mentioned who fed us something or other including fudge, chilli sauces, ethical pony meat, seafood, ice creams, pasties and so on.
We’re very lucky here in the South West to have such amazing variety of produce as well as the people behind these businesses. Well done to the Hale Events and main sponsor Taste of the West for a fantastic show, it really is one of the best we have attended.
Entries are now open for the prestigious Food & Drink Devon Awards 2017, following 2016’s record-breaking year. These awards celebrate the very best Devon has to offer by recognising the county’s most respected, influential and passionate artisan food and drink producers and establishments.
The awards, currently in their seventh year, continue to grow with 2016 recording the highest number of entries to date as well as boasting a glittering sell out awards evening. Last year the judges tasted 200 of the finest products and visited dozens of establishments across Devon to select the pick of the crop for a shortlist of just 60.
Barbara King, a proud champion of Devon’s producers and chair of the board of directors for Food & Drink Devon, comments: “Devon continues to create a name for itself as a must visit food and drink destination. We are privileged to have so many dynamic and innovative local producers and purveyors and these awards give us the chance to recognise their success and contributions to this vibrant industry. Last year saw the number and standard of entries go through the roof and we’re expecting even greater things this year.”
The awards cover a broad spectrum of categories across the Devon food and drink scene. The Retail awards on offer include ‘Best Producer’, ‘Best Packaging’, ‘Best Retailer’ and ‘Best Online Retailer’. Whilst the Hospitality sector is also acknowledged with a number of highly sought after awards including ‘Best Fine Dining Restaurant’, ‘Best Hotel Restaurant’, ‘Best Restaurant’, ‘Best Bistro’ and ‘Best Takeaway’. This year, to reflect the growth of some key areas within the industry, we have added three new categories, ‘Best Street Food’, ‘Best Farmers’ Market’ and ‘Best Cookery School’.
Luscombe Drinks is sponsoring the restaurant categories and has done so since the awards first launched. Founder and owner of this leading Devon organic soft drinks company, Gabriel David, says: “Since the inception of the Awards, Luscombe Drinks have been key sponsors. Food & Drink Devon’s profile has grown enormously since and these Awards are seen as a champion of great taste and service in Devon, attracting a national audience. We are very pleased to sponsor again in 2017.”
Closing date for entries is Friday 21st April. Judging will be carried out by a panel of experts, including a number of celebrated names from the industry, and will take place over the following three months. All entrants will be able to benefit from invaluable product feedback provided by the panel. The winners will be invited to collect their awards at a dazzling black tie ceremony in October.
Kind sponsors of this year’s Awards include Luscombe Drinks, Stephens Scown Solicitors, Peplows Accountants, RAW PR & Marketing, Thornes Farm Shop, InkREADible Labels, Hedgerow Print, Black & White Asset Finance and Taste Buds magazine.
Food & Drink Devon works tirelessly to increase the county’s profile, both nationally and internationally. Food & Drink Devon – ‘Love the Flavour’ represents a membership of like-minded businesses, dedicated to providing good quality local food and drink. The Food & Drink Devon association is committed to continuously achieving its mission – to make ‘Love the Flavour’ a nationally recognised brand for outstanding sustainable food and drink.
Once again, thanks to the power of the internet, I randomly came across British Leeks’ mission of trying to get more people cooking and eating leeks.
At their best from November to April, these winter veggies are in season right now and can be used in a whole host of ways, kept fairly crunchy or cooked right down. A good choice during the ‘vegetable shortage’ the shops are claiming is upon. If you can, remember to buy local and seasonal, and you’ll find plenty of veg in abundance.
They have quite a host of inspiring recipes on their website including Leek and Butterbean Soup, Pan Roasted Chicken with Leeks, Cider and Chorizo and even Hot Smoked Salmon and Leek Chowder to name just a few.
I eventually settled on one of my favouritre meals – Beef Wellington. Yes it’s not strictly a fully fledged leek-based recipe, but instead of the usual mushroom duxelle or pâté coating, it contains leeks and horseradish which sounded great. So the lovely people at British Leeks kindly sent me some goodies to knock up a fabulous meal for myself and some guests! I am generally more of a freestyle cook, so it was good to have some inspiration, and I usually have wellington made for me so for once I was going to make it; to add to my pressure, I was cooking this straight after work on a Friday evening and for some foodie guests.
Here’s the recipe, with my some of my own tips below it:
Individual Beef Wellington with Leek Mousseline
Prime fillet of beef topped with a leek and horseradish mousseline, wrapped in Parma ham and puff pastry. This is a special occasion dish and an ideal choice for the festive table.
Serves 4 – Prep 30 minutes – Cook 15 – 20 mins – Oven Temp 220ºC / Gas Mark 7
500g Leeks, finely chopped
1 Bay leaf
4x 15ml tbsp Water
2 x 15ml tbsp Creamed horseradish
Generous pinch Ground black pepper
4 Slices Parma ham
500g Tail end fillet of beef
500g Puff pastry
1 Egg for glazing
Gently sweat the shredded leek and bay leaf in the butter for about 5 minutes to soften. Add the water, cover and cook gently for a further 2 — 3 minutes. Stir in the horseradish and pepper and whiz in a processor until smooth. Set aside until cold.
Divide beef fillet into 4 even pieces. Spread the cooled leek mixture onto the Parma ham slices and wrap one around each beef fillet.
Divide pastry into four. Roll each out into an oblong about 2 times the size of the beef fillet. Brush with egg glaze and bring pastry up over the beef and seal neatly into a parcel. Place sealed side downwards onto a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Chill for 30 minutes. Cook 15 – 20 mins – Oven Temp 220ºC / Gas Mark 7
It is a fairly simple yet indulgent meal to make actually, and whilst the leeks are sweating down you can cut your beef, sear it, and roll your pastry out (searing seals in the juices). To speed up the cooling of the leek mixture, I popped it into the freezer for 10 minutes or so. Make sure your pastry isn’t too warm as when you are sealing up the wellington, it can ‘melt’ and slide off a bit. If this happens to you, cut a slither of the pastry from the edges and use as a glue/join on top. I also laid the parma ham and leek mixture onto the pastry then folded over the meat.
It was absolutely delicious and I was so pleased! Definitely give it a go for a Valentine’s meal this February, or for a treat with friends. You could prepare this the day before, and keep it in the fridge ready to cook; just bring it out to room temperature before cooking in the oven. I managed to make it within an hour of getting home and guests arriving.
The leeks and the horsereadish gave a lovely sweet and tangy flvour together. I loved it and I don’t eat horseradish (apparently I do now)!
British Leeks – Healthy Facts
The Ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptions valued leeks for their therapeutic properties and Roman Emperor Nero ate large quantities to improve his voice. From soothing sore throats to helping keep gout and kidney stones at bay, leeks are packed full of health benefits and are commonly used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments. Easier to digest than onions, leeks have laxative, antiseptic, diuretic and anti-arthritic properties. And, if eaten regularly, here are some of the ways leeks can help you to stay healthy:
Efficient functioning of the kidneys
Containing the equivalent of one eighth of an adult’s daily potassium requirement, leeks encourage the efficient functioning of kidneys and are effective as a diuretic.
Leeks for a healthy heart
Eating lots of leeks has been shown to reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol – and at the same time increase levels of ‘good’ cholesterol. This is important for preventing the build up of blood vessel plaques that are found in some types of heart disease. If the plaques grow too large or rupture, they can cause a heart attack or stroke.
Allium vegetables including leeks can also help to lower high blood pressure – another factor that can contribute to heart attacks and strokes.
Leeks for combating cancer
Research has shown that eating leeks regularly can help protect against cancer, particularly, prostate, colon and stomach cancer. Quercetin, an antioxidant present in the Allium family, is recognised as a cancer-blocking compound.
Leeks for stabilising blood sugar
Leeks are a very good source of manganese and vitamin B6, vitamin C, folate and iron. These nutrients all work together in the body to stabilise blood sugar by slowing down the absorption of sugars from the intestinal tract.
Leeks for expectant mothers
Leeks are a good source of the B vitamin folate, containing between 15% and 49% of the RNI for an adult. Folate is important for pregnant women as it can help reduce the risk of neural tube defects like spina bifida. One portion of cooked leeks contains almost a third of an adult’s recommended daily intake.
Leeks for a healthy diet
Leeks are a great choice for those following a healthy diet as they are very low in calories and packed full of vitamins and minerals.
An average serving of leeks (80g or 1 leek) contains:
Leeks are also a good source of Iron, Vitamin C and Folate.
For Valentine’s Day 2017, Dorset-based artisan chocolatier Chococo has created a collection of gorgeous chocolates to delight chocolate lovers.
Aspiring cupids can select from the following gifts in their 2017 Valentine Collection: Chococo’s NEW Valentine’s Club – a unique subscription gift; NEW freshly handmade Valentine’s selection boxes; a NEW range of delicious and fun Valentine’s Chocolate Hearts; NEW boxes of Salted Caramel lips; and NEW boxes of little chocolate hearts.
Carefully developed by the team, led by founders Claire and Andy Burnet, all the gifts are freshly handmade in Purbeck, Dorset, from fine origin chocolate from Madagascar (dark chocolate 67% cocoa) and Venezuela (milk chocolate 43% – which is very high in cocoa solids and lower in sugar) – so the object of your amorous intentions will get the best possible fine chocolate rush. Chococo has always been a firm believer in working with chocolate high in cocoa solids & low in sugar, as it believes in giving its customers a fine chocolate, not a sugar, experience.
Also, to make the chocolates even more desirable, Chococo will be offering a free Valentine’s gift wrap on all selection boxes that are ordered online.
All the items listed below are available online on its websitewww.chococo.co.uk and from Chococo’s three Chocolate Houses in Swanage, Dorset; Winchester, Hampshire; and the NEWExeter, Devon, location. Alternatively you can call 01929 421777 to order some tempting Valentine delights.
The 2017 Valentine’s Collection includes:
Chococo Valentine’s Club (£56.40 for three-months) – Give your true love the ultimate Valentine’s Day Gift with this three-month Chococo Valentine’s Club subscription. Every month your love will receive a box of 16 award-winning, fresh chocolates. The first box will be one of their Valentine’s Selections including; NEWpassionfruit caramel, calamansi & marc de champagne, sakura tea, rose, Madagascan vanilla, raspberry, Dorset black summer truffle, rhubarb & vanilla, cherry, Dorset honey, lemon curd, arbequina olive oil and smoked sea salt caramel. The first delivery will also include a free 75g Half & Half Heart – half Venezuelan origin milk chocolate and half Colombian origin white chocolate studded with freeze-dried raspberry pieces. Price includes p&p & free Valentine’s gift wrap on first selection box delivery.
Chococo’s Valentine’s Selection Boxes (Large £19.95 – 25 chocolates/ Medium £14.95 – 16 chocolates) – Say it with these delicious selection boxes packed with Chococo’s handmade hearts and truffles. They will include; NEW passionfruit caramel, calamansi & marc de champagne, sakura tea, rose, Madagascan vanilla, raspberry, Dorset black summer truffle, rhubarb & vanilla, cherry, Dorset honey, lemon curd, arbequina olive oil and smoked sea salt caramel. Both boxes will have two of each flavour, so that romantic couples can share. Price includes free Valentine’s gift wrap around the selection box.
Chococo’s Valentine’s Gift Set (£17.95) – This scrumptious gift set includes a medium selection box of Chococo’s fresh Valentine’s chocolates and a Half & Half Heart (75g) – Half Venezuelan origin milk chocolate and half Colombian origin white chocolate studded with freeze-dried raspberry pieces. Price includes free Valentine’s gift wrap around the selection box. (photo at top of page applies)
Chococo’s Valentine Hearts – As it’s Valentine’s, Chococo has created a range of chocolate hearts to celebrate. All handmade and hand-decorated, they come in a variety of flavour combinations. Look out for the NEW abstract art-inspired heart – a masterpiece made from Venezuelan origin milk chocolate.
This Saturday, 29 October, Magdalen Road will bid a fond farewell to Pipers Farm as the family run company, which has had an active presence on the road for 23 years, has made the decision to focus its entire business online.
Peter Greig of Pipers Farm states they will be leaving with “so many wonderful memories” and “feeling very positive and optimistic about the future of family farming.”
Magdalen Road is a thriving trading community located in St Leonards, Exeter, boasting a variety of independent businesses, including shops, cafes and restaurants.
Pipers Farm first took residence on Magdalen Road in 1993 with Peter Greig, founder of the successful farming enterprise that works with 25 small-scale farmers to supply consumers and businesses with a mail order meat delivery service, being Chairman of the Magdalen Road Traders Association for 15 years.
Pipers Farm state they are committed to securing an independent retailer as the new tenant as quickly as possible and encourage interest in particular from butchers.
“Magdalen Road is a thriving trading community with strong loyalty from its local customer base. Newcomers on the scene, such as the Magdalen Road Village Bakery, have been very well received and show Magdalen Road is still very much at the heart of the community,” says Peter Greig, founder of Pipers Farm.
“However, we simply cannot ignore the huge growth from online sales and we had to make the decision to pull away from the retail outlet on Magdalen Road in order to allow us to fully focus on opportunities from the online marketplace. This will allow us to not only safeguard the farming community we have established over the years, but allow it to flourish,” adds Peter.
To mark the occasion, on Saturday Peter and Henri, Pipers Farm founders, will be cooking on the barbeque, offering complimentary breakfast rolls for well wishers to enjoy.
“We want to take the opportunity to meet with our loyal customers and personally thank them as well as reassure them they will still be able to enjoy our products through our online, telephone and email ordering service,” says Peter.
For 30 years Pipers Farm has passionately championed traditional farming methods over ‘factory farms’ and it states a rise in demand by both consumers and local chefs for ethically farmed food is allowing Peter and his team to tip the balance in favour of family farms.
Peter comments: “The provenance of food, in particular meat, has been increasingly on the agenda over the past few years and more and more people are choosing to support sustainably produced food and they are doing this by buying online through businesses like ours. This is great news for our small-scale farmers as it means we are able to direct more volume to them, meaning they are less reliant on income from other sources.
We are now in a situation where after 30 years of collaborative hard work by our team and the efforts of all of the farms we work with, we are seeing a significant shift towards young farmers opting to return home and continue the long line of traditional farming that has been in their family for generations.
Over the years, we have had to constantly evolve as farming still remains one of the most volatile and vulnerable industries, but by constantly adapting we are confident we can add even more small-scale farms to our collective, meaning we are achieving our ‘family farms not factory farms’ ethos.
We remain committed to protecting the farms we work with and we are doing everything we can to ensure they are able to continue to develop and grow. In order to do this, we must continue to look ahead and we welcome the continued support from our loyal customers who over the years have been dedicated followers of our ethos. We believe by moving into a new era of our business we can not only continue to support our local community but we can make a real difference to the way food is produced in this part of the world,” says Peter.
Peter Greig, together with his family, runs Pipers Farm, a 50-acre farm in Cullompton. For more information, visit http://pipersfarm.com
Both of us visited Powderham Food Festival independently, and wandered round in our groups enjoying many facets of the festival. Now in it’s 5th year, it hosts food producers, food stalls, children’s activities, a cookery theatre and it’s USP is the Fire and Smoke Tent; most events with BBQ events are mainly for BBQ enthusiasts, this drops it right in the middle of mainstream. With the extensive landscape, dotted with deer, a background of the castle and the estuary in the distance – the setting is a beautiful one. There is something for everyone, here are our best bits:
Last year we experienced this festival on a misty autumn day and this year, it was a glorious sunny day. I love how the festival is well spread out inside and outside the grounds, on different levels.
You pass though the initial courtyard filled with suppliers – too many to mention. There are also even more placed throughout the castle’s beautiful lower ground floor.
One of the first activities we came across was Fun Kitchen, who were there to keep the children entertained, learning to cook whilst having fun. Joe Mann does an incredible job of commanding every little persons attention and they end with something edible, made by their own little fair hands, to take home at the end of it.
I loved the Theatre of Fire and Smoke; a huge teepee like tent, filled with benches surrounding a large fire. Local oracle Marcus Bawdon of Devon Wood Smoke and UK BBQ mag put on a very interesting itinerary with 2015 BBQ champ Simon Dyer and other guest cooks. Plenty of demo’s, q&a and the all important tasters with plenty for everyone.
There was a larger range of food and drink stalls this year, with gin and cocktails an obvious trend.
Quirky vehicles converted into food and drink delights also included Dolly Mixers, Lolas Wings and Gourmet Cheesy Delights
We were hungry fairly early on and, where usually I struggle to choose food (through sheer reason of wanting to eat it all) I easily settled on the cool Grandpa Franks and their reuben dog – a firm hot diggety dawg smothered in beef brisket, monteray jack cheese and some jalapeno’s thrown in for good measure – mouth wateringly good. My son chose a fantastic super-fast-oven-baked pizza from Pizza Buona, and it was delicious.
The Exeter Cookery School cookery theatre included demo’s from Richard of Angelas Restaurant, ex River Cottage chef Tim Maddams, and of course the host, ECS director and chef Jim Fisher. Tim cooked 4 courses, one of which I was delighted to be a selected diner due to the speed I put my hands up like antlers! (A fun and fair selection process). I enjoyed pigeon with mushrooms and blackberries all foraged by Tim himself, it was delicious! He was incredbly entertaining, full of anecdotes and clearly passionate about food and its origins, with uncomplicated dishes.
We purchased some lovely fudge from Devon Fudge, Steve was delighted to find a fantastic Indian naga chili pickle from India In A Jar, and my son loves beetroot and apple juice so he chose to buy some with his pocket money. I couldn’t leave without grabbing a caramel chocolate tart from Te Cake and coffee from Crankhouse – I consumed these two together so swiftly in joyous celebration of a good day out, I didn’t even take a photo!
An affordable and lovely day out full of local suppliers and food producers and all the demo’s included. If you haven’t visited it yet, you best put it in the diary for next year, and hot foot it towards the smoke and fire tent early on – it gets busy. Sit a while until hunger and curiosity lure you out, and enjoy everything this dynamic festival has to offer for yourself.
Summer’s final death knell fell on the weekend of The Powderham Food Festival. A gloriously sunny Sunday made up for a wet Saturday, and with this final surge, we close the doors on Summer with a superb send-off.
The festival is a relative new-comer to the foodie calendar, but it has been booming in popularity each year. I finally got the chance to visit and experience the clustering bustle of culinary craziness takes over the home of the Earl of Devon. This year has been particularly successful for the festival, firmly embedding it in the region’s foodie calendar.
Tori has been poorly for quite a few weeks now, so I took my lovely mum. The car parking was logical and well laid out, a little walk up to the castle with an optional tractor service for the less mobile. We we gently pottered along some of the Powderham’s magnificent stags casually laid themselves out by the fence, drawing much attention from the snappers and onlookers.
The first section of exhibitors were local producers in the courtyard. This was the entry point that all punters walked through on their way to the rest of the festival on the other side of the castle. Here we found Bell & Loxton with their lovely cold-pressed rapeseed oil, which I bought two bottles of including a Garlic oil that I have since used to cover everything edible in.
Also Shaldon Bakery, my favourite bakers I might add, was there in force with some delicious looking breads including the infamous and delicious Uglibun.
We took a trip around to the other side of the castle and there were street-food stalls, more producers, even a mobile gin bar! The highlight for me was the Theatre of Fire and Smoke which was MC’d by one of my favourite bloggers Marcus Bawdon and his pal Simon, who is also a legend in the BBQ world.
It was great to wander around taking in surroundings, to watch some of the demos at the Fire and Smoke tent and even get to taste some samples from the demo too!
Our last stop was the Exeter Cookery School Demo tent where we watched chef-maestro-and-nice-chap Jim Fisher and friends, including foodie hero Tim Maddams, share their extensive knowledge and skills to eager foodies.
Before we headed home we were able to walk back through the castle itself which was home to even more local producers.
Including a Pork Pie cake!!
This has to be one of my favourite food festivals. The exquisite surroundings of the castle, the reasonable entry fee, the choice and above all else the celebration of some of the fantastic local producers and street food stalls makes you realise just how amazing we are when it comes to producing good things with great ingredients, grown and created on our front door.
I recently bought some reasonably priced British lamb chops from a supermarket and enjoyed them simply pan fried. Then I got a chance to sample some North Devon lamb chops that come direct from the farm and the difference in taste was incredible – not to mention actually cheaper per kilo than the supermarket. You can taste the different grasses, wild flowers and herbs that the lambs graze on their whole life.
Southcombe Farm near Holsworthy is nearly 50% lush Devon Culm, which is managed traditionally and non-intensively. No chemicals or artificial fertilisers have been used on the meadows for well over 18 years.
I’m a fan of reducing air miles where possible and therefore find it incredible the amount of New Zealand lamb that is stocked in the supermarkets, regardless of the air miles. We do lamb so well in this country!
If you want to try out some Devonshire lamb (and not forgeting Hogget or Mutton), click on the link below, which includes details of a special offer on half or whole lambs with free delivery between Bude and Exeter, that works out around £8/kg – offer until the end of October 2016.
Also available from the deep freeze at the farm: Individual lamb chops, shanks, cutlets, mince, neck, liver and mutton sausages.
Chops/steaks/shoulder etc – chop it up and mix with fresh mint and mayo for a super tasty sandwich filling. Also tasty cold with a salad/couscous for lunch
Sausages – take the meat out of the casing and fry with onions then add tomato pasta sauce/make one up and serve with pasta – a little goes a long way
Written by: Caroline Gee, Exeter dweller who can’t go 5 minutes without thinking about food. Hugely into local produce; talking about food for hours; taking a recipe and making it my own; reducing food waste and regularly doing a ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’ style session in my kitchen.
Exeter is fast becoming a foodie hub, attracting big named restaurants and retailers in to the city centre as well as homing some of the best independent restaurants in the region. A new addition to the family is Chococo who have made their home in Gandy St. Being already a bit of a fan of Chococo after visiting their shop in Swanage, I was really happy to see them making their third home in our very own Diagon Alley.
We’re working with Chococo by bringing a lucky winner the opportunity to win a chocolate fondue for two! Head over to Twitter and Facebook, answer the question and share the competition to be in with a chance of being entered in to our grand prize draw.
Eating Exeter gave co-founder Claire ten questions about Chococo!
1. I love chocolate. I eat far too much of it, and am really happy to find Chococo opening in Exeter. What made Chococo choose Exeter for its next store?
We had been looking for our next location for a while (we already have two chocolate houses; our original one in Swanage and our second in Winchester), and Exeter was the obvious next destination as it is a fantastic, exciting city that is still relatively close to our chocolate HQ in Wareham in Dorset.
We are delighted to have opened on Gandy St, which is such an iconic street for independent businesses, and look forward to becoming part of both the Exeter and wider Devon foodie community.
We are already working with Crankhouse Coffee, roasted in Exeter, and Emma’s Bread, also based in the city, for the café element of our Chocolate House, and will hopefully work with more local suppliers as we create new Devon-inspired chocolates.
2. What makes your chocolate different from other chocolate makers?
My husband Andy & I set up Chococo in Dorset back in 2002 and we were amongst the first, if not the first UK chocolatier to make truly fresh chocolates. Nearly 14 years later, we still make all our chocolates fresh by hand using local ingredients wherever possible and no additives or preservatives, so the chocolates in our display cabinet have a two-week shelf life. That is very different to other chocolatiers.
Also, we only work with origin chocolate made from fine cocoa beans from such countries as Madagascar, Venezuela, The Dominican Republic, Colombia, Tanzania and Vietnam.
We are very passionate that our customers get to discover the taste of fine chocolate not of sugar, so only work with chocolate high in cocoa solids and therefore low in sugar (and definitely no palm oil).
For example, our house milk chocolate from Venezuela tastes much more “chocolatey” than many other milk chocolates as it contains a whopping 43% cocoa solids.
You can even enjoy a sugar-free chocolate experience with us if you buy our 100% cocoa solids bars or enjoy a hot chocolate made with 100% chocolate from Colombia!
3. I noticed that your chocolates have won more than just a few awards! Are there any awards that you’re particularly proud of?
We have won over 60 fine food awards now and we are very proud of all them but our recent 2016 Gold awards for our Gingerbread Caramel and Tawny Fig chocolates in both the Academy of Chocolate and the International Chocolate Awards were especially exciting. At both awards, our chocolates were judged alongside chocolates created by some of the most expert chocolatiers around the world.
4. How important are local producers and suppliers in your coffee shops?
Hugely important! Working with local producers and suppliers is part of our DNA and something we have done since we established Chococo back in 2002. We have worked with many South West producers over the years to create our very unique flavoured chocolates and also with local suppliers in Dorset, Winchester & now Exeter for our chocolate houses including coffee, tea, milk, ice cream, bakery, fruit juices and more.
We love working with local producers, as they are just as passionate about their cows, bees, vines, vodka stills and coffee beans as we are about fine chocolate.
We are also very proud to be members of both Dorset Food & Drink and Hampshire Fare food groups.
5. Tell me about your chocolate club?
We also offer a nationwide mail order service and a subscription chocolate club. We think it’s the freshest chocolate club in the UK as our members receive truly fresh handmade chocolates every 4 weeks over a 3, 6 or 12 month period of their choice. We offer a range of different box sizes too so our members can enjoy 9 or 16 chocolates every month, or go for our largest box of 25! As you can imagine, club subscriptions increase the most at Christmas as it makes a delicious gift for a chocolate lover and last year, we were thrilled that the Guardian recommended our club as one of the best subscription gifts to give!
As we are a small business, our club is run by Mel & Georgina at our Wareham HQ & between them, they write the monthly letters to all our members, include special offers like tasters of new flavours that we would like feedback on, ensure all the boxes are packed & despatched on time & also look after any special requests from our club members. It is a truly personal service!
6. I hear that there is something in-store for students when they come in to Chococo?
Yes we offer 10% off for students if they show us their student card.
7. Where are your cocoa beans sourced, is there anything you’d like to tell us about the process?
As I mentioned earlier, we only work with fine origin chocolate from a number of different cocoa producing countries – some of which is produced in their country of origin. This is great news for the producing country as it means they are exporting a finished product with the value added in the country, rather than exporting dried cocoa beans, which are a commodity product. This business model has been coined “Raise Trade” and is arguably beyond fair trade.
Earlier this year I visited one of the companies we work with, Chocolaterie Robert in Madagascar. It was fascinating to visit both their factory in the capital Antananarivo and the cocoa plantations in the Sambirano Valley.
If customers want to find out about the process of turning cocoa beans into chocolate, we have created a “story of chocolate from tree to Chococo” using photos I took in Madagascar which you can see upstairs in our Exeter Chocolate House. By the way, if you enjoy one of our 70% house hot chocolates, that is the chocolate you will taste!
8. Tell us a bit about your range of chocolate, do you have a best seller?
As well as our range of fresh chocolates (that are all sold loose so that you can choose which you would like in a box or a bag), we also make edible boxes made of chocolate (which make a fabulous present, eat the chocolates inside and then the box!), a range of studded chocolate slabs, bars, clusters, shapes (including chocolate fish & chips and dinosaurs, as we are based on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast), chocolate biscuit cakes, hot chocolate flakes, lollies and mini shapes for the young and young at heart.
Within our range of fresh chocolates, our best sellers include Cornish smoked sea salt caramel, Passionfruit, Dorset Honey, Madagascan Vanilla and Dorset Black Cow Vodka – but it does vary by time of year.
9. You have stores in Winchester, Swanage and now Exeter. Is there a difference between each store?
Our Swanage Chocolate House is our original and is tiny by comparison to Winchester & Exeter. It has also evolved quite a bit since 2002 as we added on the chocolate café element several years after opening, so it has quite an unusual, quirky layout! Our Winchester and Exeter Chocolate Houses are more “organised” if that is the right word, but Exeter has the most space for enjoying your Chococo experience as we have an upstairs seating area as well. So you can visit us to discover not just our handmade chocolates, but also to enjoy our hot chocolates, coffee, cakes, milkshakes, sundaes and even chocolate fondues!
10. What does the future hold for Chococo? Any more stores in the pipeline?
We always have lots of plans for the future, but for now, we are concentrating on ensuring that our Exeter customers are delighted with their Chococo experience.
Not long after I started Eating Exeter I noticed a new blogger in town. Like me, she wrote reviews of places to eat in Exeter but also killer recipes and product reviews.
On my list of ‘blogs I read’, Latoyah Egerton’s blog Sugar Pink Food is one of my top reads; her passion for good food and warm nature come across in her compelling writing style that I enjoy. I recently met Latoyah for the first time, we both commented how strange it was knowing so much about someone and their escapades, yet never having met them in person! She is certainly one of my favourite food bloggers. Latoyah also has reached the finals of the National Blogging Awards three years in a row. I am rooting for her to get the top spot in her category next year as she certainly deserves it.
Sugar Pink Food is a go-to blog for foodies on the Slimming World diet too; recently a friend of mine said that his daughter was following this plan, and without hesitation I recommended Latoyah’s blog. A couple of month’s later he was singing her praises, showing how easy it was to make tasty yet healthy food that wasn’t bland and soul destroying.
In the second of a series of 10 Questions about local Devon Food Bloggers (third if you include Tara’s Busy Kitchen last year), I asked Latoyah 10 Questions.
1. How long have you been blogging, was there anything in particular that got you interested in it?
About 3 years ago my boyfriend bought the domain name www.latoyah.co.uk for me, just because I am lucky enough to have an unusual name that hadn’t yet been taken! For a while it was just an empty landing page and I decided I would start posting recipes for myself as a personal storage place. People started visiting my website and as more people visited the more work I put into the page itself and really it just grew from there! I always wanted to be able to make and create and I think cooking is the only form of making things I am actually good at!!
2. If you had to have a final meal (moving away for instance) in Exeter, where would it be?
I think I would go to Côte Brasserie for their consistently high standard of food, I hate to pick a chain, but it is one of the only places I have eaten in Exeter that has served a perfect meal every single time we have visited (upwards of 10 times!). If I had to choose an independent restaurant it would be Hubbox for their amazing burgers.
3. What has been your ‘blogging highlight’ since you started Sugar Pink Food?
This is a tricky one! I have been really lucky and had some great opportunities through blogging. I think one of my main highlights was when my friend, who had gone travelling to New Zeland, said she was shown a recipe from a blog one of her roommates followed- and it was mine! To think that someone the other side of the world had read and saved one of my recipes is amazing!
4. What annoys you the most when you’re in a restaurant, a pet peeve?
I really hate when restaurants serve food on anything other than a plate! I get that you’re trying to make your food look good, but there’s no need to serve that breakfast on a shovel…
5. You produce some amazing slimming world recipes, what advice would you give someone who is just starting out on the slimming world journey?
Being on Slimming World means you can still eat the food you love, just in moderation. Never deprive yourself. If you want some chocolate, allow some syns during the day to have some chocolate, that way you shouldn’t fall off the wagon! Also drink at least 2 litres of water a day.
6. If you were stranded on a desert island with one electrical socket, what one kitchen appliance would you take with you?
The only practical appliance I could think of needing would be a slow cooker so I could make some yummy slow cooked meals.
7. When you’re not blogging about food or creating delightful recipes, what do you do during the day?
I recently started a new job as a quality analyst.
8. You’ve reached the final of the nationally recognised UK Blog awards three years running, and you’re in the Top 100 Food blog lists too! For anyone starting to blog, what tips would you give them?
Make sure that you are writing about something you are passionate about and remember that ‘free stuff’ is never actually free. A lot of people have seen some of the things I have been sent and said ‘I am going to start a blog too if you get sent stuff’. You have to take the time to photograph, review and write all about any products you’re lucky enough to be sent for review, so it is actually very time consuming! 9. Red or White wine?
White wine every time!
10. If you could cook with any celebrity chef, who would it be?
I would love to cook with Jamie Oliver, I think of him as a proper home cook and I think we would have a laugh!
I was recently invited to Carluccio’s in Exeter’s Princesshay for a cheese and wine evening; I like cheese and wine a lot, but this really had my husband’s name all over it – and he was even more delighted than usual…I hoped it wouldn’t disappoint.
On arrival we were warmly greeted by a member of staff and then we were introduced to our tutor for the evening, Stefanie. It turns out Stefanie is no ordinary employee; she has enjoyed being Exeter’s deli manager for the past 3 ½ years and, having studied both Italian and food, loves that she can bring her two passions together in this role.
She has visited Italy twice thanks to Carluccio’s, and has met and seen where a lot of the products in the deli come from. She also teaches other regional staff from a base near Bristol so she clearly knows her stuff.
If she isn’t available to serve you, don’t worry as Carluccio’s also ensure all their staff are trained well enough to be able to help deli customers, and of course the restaurant customers too as you would expect.
We settled down to a table near the kitchen; it has a lovely large opening so you can see what the chefs are up to, to some degree. We each chose a wine off the menu, both going for the Carluccio’s exclusive but in red for Steve and white for myself. Both were very nice wines; we shared a 3rd glass of their special red which was a delight – full of flavour, but light. Sweet on the nose with flavours of honey, black pepper and cherry.
For a Thursday evening, I noted how busy the restaurant was (they say Thursday is the new Friday right?) but it had a great ambience to it, with staff moving around without fuss and everything seemed to be happening smoothly around us. It’s larger than you think actually, and had perfect level of lighting, low enough for cosiness but not too low you couldn’t see what was on your plate.
Then a beautiful cheese board was presented. …Steve’s eyes lit up. He had to wait a tiny bit longer whilst Stefanie explained her background and the fact that Carluccio’s used to do taster events but this went on the back burner a little. With the current foodie buzz that is happening everywhere and people becoming even more aware of provenance, quality and impressing at home, Carluccio’s are planning to do mini events again whereby you can come along and try a selection of cheeses and possibly wines or olives in a relaxed atmosphere and chat with fellow attendees as well as learning about the products.
Along with our tasters, we had a useful info sheet that was only partly filled in, leaving room for your own notes as well as a map of the region so Stefanie could point out where they were from.
Right…time to dive into the cheese fest. Amongst the 5 cows cheeses on the board we tried creamy Taleggio from the Lombardy region, which has an edible skin, is square in shape, melts well and is ‘young’ (less than 40 days old). Then a Fontina from the Valle D’Aosta region; this is a protected cheese and only 70 or so dairies can make it. It had a lovely nutty flavour and becomes stretchy when warmed so it is good for fondues and delicious with speck ham. The most interesting and unusual cheese was Ubriaco (meaning drunk); this special cheese has a washed rind using skins and seeds of the prosecco grape which is an excellent use of a by-product. I found this totally different; it gripped the tongue and then exuded a hue or aroma in the mouth – certainly one to impress guests!
We were also served some fresh foccacias topped with speck and then some taleggio and fontina. Their foccacia is made in house every day, it was soft, airy and not too oily as some can be. I threw in a curve ball too and asked Stefanie if I could have mozzarella as it is one of my favourites and I do tend to buy the cheaper supermarket versions as well as treating myself to the finer ones so wanted to see how theirs compared. She was very obliging; it was so soft and a bit sweet and melted in the mouth – heavenly. All of the above were served with honey that had a few drops of truffle oil added, balsamic vinegar and some fig jam. All were absolutely delicious and complimented the various cheeses well.
After eating we were shown the deli area; we did not realise the vast selection the deli held. I know we champion local food but, if you want Italian food done right, this looks like the place to come. A wall of jars of wonderful pesto’s, pasta sauces and pastes. A wine fridge for takeaway wines that are not on the menu, and if you do want to drink it with a meal, they charge the shelf price plus a little corkage. Meringues, cakes and breads, a cheese fridge to make any cheese-a-holic jealous.
There is a ‘breakfast bar’ you can perch yourself at, on a stool, order coffee and just chill surrounded by all these goodies. Of course, if you haven’t got time of an evening or can’t get babysitter for one of the future events, then you are most welcome to just pop in to the store and ask to try some cheeses. There is no obligation to buy, it is all about service and sharing their love of all things Italian.
A few little facts for you:
Cheese making was done all over Europe as, due to the preserving nature of cheese, it was easy to keep in a time before fridges
Forma (of formaggio) actually means ‘shape’. Cheese was traditionally shaped in wicker baskets
Cheese ‘skin’ is edible and ‘rind’ is not
The biggest cheese festival is held every other year in a city called Bra
Grana Padano is suitable for vegetarians whereas Parmesan is not
We had a very enjoyable evening which didn’t disappoint and we will certainly be back to the deli again; it really is an Italian treasure trove. They say animals are not just for Christmas, well neither is Carluccio’s deli. Keep an eye out on their website for upcoming events.