Beer and Burger Bonanza at The Bridge Inn, Topsham – by Lauren Heath

The road between Clyst St George and Topsham holds many talented local businesses – Naturalmat, Sapphire Spaces, Amos Lighting and now even the operations for Good Game. Two more of these is the successful Darts Farm and the unique and historic The Bridge Inn pub.

On the back of some playground chat whilst dropping the kids off at school, the business minded ladies at both The Butchers at Darts and The Bridge Inn decided they should do a joint event, especially considering they are so close together. The Bridge Inn already holds ticket-only USA banjo infused music evenings and occasional evenings with Darts Farm providing the fish and chips for customers within their beautiful long brewhouse.

So on a lovely weekday summer’s eve in July, we ventured down to our favourite local pub for The Butchers at Darts Farm and The Bridge inn’s Burger and Beer evening.

It was a community feeling affair; it’s an incredible space filled with treasure, trinkets and furniture and all customers sitting together with friends as well as strangers (you know the saying – ‘arrive as strangers, leave as friends’), all chatting and wondering of the foodie delights ahead.

Caroline, the current owner, told us a bit about the history of this beautiful end of their pink pub. Their history page states:

It is thought there was a dwelling on this site as early as 1086, in the time of the Domesday Book. The stonemasons responsible for the construction of Exeter Cathedral may have lodged here.

The present building you see is substantially 16th Century, but the actual date of the different parts varies considerably. Unlike today, much building in the past was piecemeal, with new rooms added as necessary. Most of the fabric is local stone, but the old brewhouse at the rear is traditional Devon cob. This has the remains of the hop drying floor, and is adjacent to a large brewing chimney.

Great-grandfather was William John Gibbings from Clyst St. George. He moved into the Inn in 1897, and our family has been there ever since. The current licensee is Caroline Cheffers-Heard, his Great Grand-daughter. She is the fourth generation, her daughter Riannon will be the fifth, and Amelia, born in April 2008, will be the sixth generation.

Outside The Butchers at Darts were cooking up a storm on the Big Green Egg, with burgers galore; thankfully the weather was kind, gifting us a glorious Thursday evening.

Beers and burgers were paired up, with Caroline explaining each pairing as we went along and Alastair telling us about the meat and their flavours. We were served sizeable ‘mini’ burgers with generous servings of local ales:

  • Pork burger with Clyst St Mary’s very own Powderkeg Speakeasy
  • Duck burger with Jollyboat’s Thunder
  • Lamb burger with Branscombe Vale’s Summa That

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The big finale was a steak burger with Exmoor’s Beast. This mouthful was served with delightfully fresh salads, and we ventured outside at this point to sit on a bench and enjoy the end of the evening al-fresco.

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The burgers were absolutely delicious, juicy and flavoursome and of course the meat is all locally reared or sourced and expertly prepared by the Butchers at Darts.

The business is family run and based within Darts Farm; brothers Philip and Alastair are Master Butchers, which is not a common title and it means they can choose the right animal by feeling and handling it live on the farm – they even judge competitions. ‘Their knowledge and expertise of breeding, rearing, sourcing, maturing and butchering the best livestock enables us to provide you with the highest quality meat which you can trust.’ Becky, wife to Alastair, takes care of marketing side of the business and was delighted to be able to organise this event and there are plans for more so keep an eye out!

Here’s a peek inside the pub; there are two rooms indoors and both well behaved dogs and children are welcome, but noisy mobile phones are not. Don’t come here if you’re expecting lagers – this pub serves some wines and spirits but are very well known and loved for their fantastic local ales straight from the barrel with an ever changing beer menu being updated on their Facebook page each week. Food-wise they simply serve Chunk’s pasties or ploughmans with local cheese or meats.

If the weather is beautiful enough, you can be served out of the hatch (pictured top left) and sit on the benches enjoying the view!

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So keep an eye out for more joint ventures with these two brilliant examples of what makes local businesses special. If you can’t wait for an event, pop to the pub for a pint and make sure you drop in at the butchers for your burgers to cook at home!

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New, Beautifully Crafted Tonic Waters Launched This Summer

Clear, crisp and perfectly crafted, Luscombe Drinks has created three new premium tonic waters which will add style and sophistication to any occasion.  Perfectly on trend, with a hint of retro in their look, the Devon, Elderflower and Grapefruit tonic waters all offer outstanding taste, and are perfect served either on their own over ice or with one of the many emerging craft white spirits.

The new Luscombe Drinks tonic waters are meticulously crafted in small batches using Devon spring water blended with the finest Indian quinine, with carbonation adding lots of bubbles to carry the subtle notes of each flavour. The Devon Tonic Water, a traditional tonic, is enhanced with the zingy citrus of Japanese yuzu, a rare citrus fruit with three times more vitamin C than a lemon. The Elderflower, which has just been awarded a Great Taste two-star award, is infused with handpicked wild elderflower to give a light floral taste. While the Grapefruit, which was awarded a Great Taste one-star award, is blended with pink grapefruit to create a delicate citrus taste.

Gin has been a popular tipple in the UK since the late 17th century and has enjoyed a recent revival with small producers making craft gins using a variety of different botanicals to add a distinct character. The Westcountry alone is home to the country’s oldest working distillery; The Black Friars Distillery has been making Plymouth Gin since it was first established in 1793 and several of the newest producers, such as Tarquin’s Gin in North Cornwall and Salcombe Gin, many winning medals on the international drinks stage.

There is also a huge increase in non-drinkers looking for something original and grown up to enjoy which isn’t laden with artificial flavours and sweeteners.  It is therefore the perfect time for Luscombe Drinks to be introducing its trio of premium tonics.

The new Luscombe Drinks tonic waters are now available to buy through on-line retailer, The Gin Kiosk (www.ginkiosk.com) and many other independent retailers, farm shops plus bars and restaurants.

Luscombe Drinks crafts premium soft drinks using only the finest ingredients from trusted growers. There are no additives, synthetics or concentrates. Only the best goes into the bottle. Luscombe Drinks has been producing beautifully crafted drinks on a farm in Devon since 1975. It is headed up by Gabriel David, who has become renown for his fanatical attention to detail and dedication for creating fantastic tasting soft drinks. Quintessentially English, with a love for capturing the essence of nature, Gabriel’s drinks offer a true reflection of the beauty of his Devon surrounds. 

The three new tonics add to Luscombe’s existing range of 23 delicate soft drinks, including fruit juices, fruit crushes, ginger beers, bubblies and a cider, which have, between them now received 73 Great Taste Awards.

For further information on Luscombe Drinks please visit www.luscombe.co.uk, email info@luscombe.co.uk or call 01364 64 30 36.  Follow Luscombe on Twitter: @luscombedrinks and ‘Like’ on Facebook.  

Second limited edition Elmhirst Gin to launch following first edtion sell out!

Elmhirst Gin and Copa hamper 2017

After a staggering response to the first limited edition Elmhirst Gin, The Shops at Dartington is thrilled to announce a second limited edition Elmhirst Gin which is due to launch on Sunday 6th August 2017. 

Officially launched at Dartington Food Fair in May, the 157 bottles of the first edition Elmhirst Gin have already been sold. There has been such demand from The Shops at Dartington’s customers for more of this popular gin, fired by this being the spirit of the moment, that it became apparent that another batch was required.

Barbara King, Managing Director of The Shops at Dartington, comments: “We anticipated a good response for our Elmhirst Gin but have been blown away by our how quickly our first edition has sold out.” Barbara continues: “The ‘Still on the Move’, which is the brainchild of Devon Distillery, was hugely popular at the Food Fair in May, so much so that we have planned our next event on Sunday 6th August. As well as celebrating the launch of the second edition this provides another excuse for a lovely family day out with live music and a range of activities planned.”

Created at Dartington, using ingredients from the estate, Elmhirst Gin blends tradition with a modern twist to produce a unique taste and is a ‘must have’ for any discerning ‘ginoisseur’.  This new premium gin reflects the historical practices of Dartington. It is crafted in small batches in a custom made mobile Italian copper still called Prosperity, which is transported on a vintage truck. Prosperity, which will be present on the 6th August, allows visitors to witness the whole process from start to finish with a chance to be among the first to taste the results. 

Elmhirst Gin is a dry gin which combines the unmistakable flavour of juniper with a carefully selected range of botanicals, including a hint of violet. Its name honours the most significant family in its modern history.

In 1925, Dorothy and Leonard Elmhirst purchased the dilapidated 14th century Dartington Estate and poured their resources into restoring the buildings and setting up a host of farming, forestry and educational projects. The Elmhirsts were true pioneers and Dartington rapidly became a magnet for artists, architects, writers, philosophers and musicians from around the world, creating an exceptional centre of creative activity.

Elmhirst Gin will be available from The Shops at Dartington in stunning 70cl oblong bottles complete with glass stoppers (£35.00).  For the perfect present, it is also available in a gift box complete with a Dartington Copa glass (£45.00). 

For further information on The Shops at Dartington please visit
www.shopsatdartington.co.uk, email info@dartington.org or call 01803 847000.  
Follow The Shops at Dartington on Twitter: @shopdartington and ‘
Like on Facebook. 

Foozie is bringing the Gin Bus and Prosecco Bus to Exeter

Teaming up with 6 O’Clock Gin and Scavi & Ray, Foozie is heading to Exeter for two very special, and one-off events!

Bursting with events celebrating the popularity of gin and prosecco, Exeter has yet to experience these delicious drinks on an open-top bus! That is until Foozie, Bristol’s leading experimental ‘foodie and boozie’ events agency, decided to bring its Gin and Prosecco Bus Series to Exeter for the Summer of 2017.

After a huge success in Bristol (with 600 tickets selling in 4 hours), Foozie is venturing out of its hometown to bring the Boozie Bus Series to Exeter! With two dates in August, each event will accommodate 50 guests aboard an open-top bus. Taking them on a 2-hour long scenic tour of the city, the events are completed with gin cocktails and prosecco.

The first event will take place on the 12th August with an exciting collaboration with 6 O’Clock Gin – one of the UK’s finest gin distilleries. Based in Thornbury, Bristol, the distillery has crafted four gin-based cocktails for guests to enjoy whilst taking in the most beautiful sites around Exeter.

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Roll on 26th August and Foozie brings you Exeter’s first Prosecco Bus: The Bubble Decker. Teaming up with Italian prosecco heavyweights: Scavi & Ray, guests will be offered a drink on arrival and 5 glasses of prosecco throughout the event.

● Saturday July 22nd – The ‘Bubble Decker’ Prosecco Bus

● Saturday July 29th – The 6 O’clock Gin Bus

Foozie’s founder and food and drink fanatic, Thom Whitchurch, said of the event:

“We’re so excited to be bringing these events to Exeter. I come to the city regularly and it was the natural next step for us. The cocktails that 6 O’Clock have created are incredible, and Scavi & Ray make one of the best proseccos in the world! We can’t wait to serve these on our buses and take in the sites of the city.”

Foozie offers a free membership to ‘Club Foozie’ where members receive exclusive discounts and priority on all of their events. Guests who signed up to Club Foozie will receive a 10% discount on the Exeter Bus Series and notified 24 hours before they go on sale to the general public.

Tickets will be available to Club Foozie members on Friday 30th June and Saturday 1st July to the general public. Club Foozie members will be emailed at 10am on Friday 30th to buy tickets.

Sign up here: www.foozie.co.uk/club-foozie/

Dr Ink’s Curiousities launches their second journal: launch night by Chris Gower

43 The Quay, Exeter EX2 4AE – doctorinks.com/ –
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Since its opening last year Dr Ink’s Curiosities has raised the bar (get it…?) for cocktails in Exeter with their inventive takes on classic Victorian cocktails, spun through the eyes of Dr Ink himself and his classic cocktail based adventures.

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The menu, ‘ahem’ journal, is presented in a beautiful hard back book, embossed gold lettering on the front gives the menu a steampunk-esque feel to it.  The stories within are pieces of fiction written by the team and Dr Ink regulars too.

It was great to meet Paddy and Tom who are passionate about their award winning cocktail bar and we were able to sample some of the elaborate and theatrical creations that are now available to patrons.

We sampled a few cocktails throughout the launch evening, but there were a couple really stood out!

The Ceylon Julep was a lovely experience.  It had a strong savoury element to it, including a carrot and coriander syrup, topped off with curry leaves.  Weird? No it works so well together, it felt like an alcoholic carrot shake but with an elegance put in its place with the gin and bitters.  All presented in a beautiful copper goblet.

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I was also taken with one of the cocktails Lauren had – the impressively presented Iolanthes Latern which uses Apricot Infused Hayman’s Old Tom, Amontillado Sherry, Creame D’Apricot and Peach bitters all presented in a vast and wonderful hanging lantern.  A tart, strong cocktail that has a grand taste and an even grander presentation!

Pictured here is the Baobab Daisy and the Tales of Space and Thyme.

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The Baobab Daisy made from Pineapple Rum, Bitters and Lime Sherbert to mention a few of the ingredients had a wonderful tropical flavour with bitter notes. It felt like a concoction one might have in a hot country next to a nice beach, meeting an African Queen and securing a trade deal.  The only thing that was lacking was a bug-eyed Monkey!

I think the overall favourite for all of us was The Tales of Space and Thyme.  This was a delicate cocktail.  The rim of the glass was lined with salt and thyme which created an amazing flavour upon drinking.  Made with Tanquery and Pamplemousse Rose to name a few of the ingredients, it had strong overtones of grapefruit and with the bitterness of the gin, the whole thing created a lasting complex tone on the tongue.  The little UFO on top was a fantastic finish!

I finished the night with the Aardvark.  Unfortunately my photographic skills had declined somewhat and my phone is rubbish (wish I’d brought along the big camera!) so it is not a great representation.  But the stunning photography in the journal really do the cocktails justice!

Inspired from a recipe in The American Bartender by W.H. Laid (1866) this fantastic little drink contains Flor De Cana (South American rum), Seedlip (gin), Kafir lime and lemongrass syrup and edible ants to name a few of its components.

This Dr Ink’s story is one of my favourites.  Finding himself persued by a lion, he manages to escape by sacrificing his horse. He takes refuge in a termite mound and makes friends with an Anteater; he finds a bunch of gemstones that the anteater has dug up and is rescued by his companions.  Of course the actual story is much better, but it makes you realise the amount of time and hard work that goes in to creating the Dr Ink’s experience.

The team are constantly experimenting and researching new drinks and this second journal is a testament to the passion and unerring devotion that these guys have to cocktails.

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Double Gold for Salcombe Gin at the San Francisco World Spirit Competition 2017

The awards keep rolling in for Salcombe Distilling Co. this year.  Recognised as one of the most prestigious competitions in the world, Salcombe Distilling Co. is thrilled to have just been awarded a Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirit Competition 2017.

 

The co-founders of Salcombe Distilling Co. are Angus Lugsdin and Howard Davies. Commenting on the latest award win, Angus Lugsdin says: “We are ecstatic our Gin is now being recognised internationally, an incredible accolade after all the hard work of the past year. Our main objective is to produce an exceptional hand crafted gin and we strive for perfection in every step of the process. These awards are a real testament to our ethos and hardworking team in Salcombe, Devon.” 

Howard Davies continues: “Launched in July 2016, Salcombe Distilling Company is still a relatively new brand, so to be recognised globally at this early stage is a huge honour. It’s already been an extremely busy year for us, launching our new Gin School in Salcombe where the curious gin lover can develop and distil their very own bottle of gin. Plus the distillery bar overlooking the estuary is proving hugely popular with locals and tourists in the area. We are also busy sampling our delicious Gin at many food and drink festivals and events across the country.” 

This year’s San Francisco World Spirit Competition was held at the Hotel Nikko in San Francisco on 20th – 23rd April 2017.  It was another record-breaking year that featured 2,253 spirit entries from all corners of the world.

In addition, the Beverage Testing Institute in America has awarded Salcombe Gin ‘Start Point’ a Platinum Medal adding to their ever increasing and now international collection of awards. Salcombe Gin was described as ‘superlative’ and was awarded the highest possible rating with a score of 96/100. 

Powered by the Beverage Testing Institute, the Tastings.com International Review of Spirits is America’s oldest annual international spirits competition and has been operated objectively for 24 years. It is a blind tasting, medal-based competition that awards based on a 100-point scale. Spirits are judged by Tastings.com‘s trained staff joined by top Spirits professionals and buyers from retailers and restaurants using a proven, consistent, proprietary methodology developed in collaboration with Cornell University. The Tastings.com International Review of Spirits distributes its monthly results to consumers and the trade through Tastings.com, a free consumer website with tens of thousands of unique users a month on its searchable databases and via social media @tastingsbti.

The full review and score is available at http://tastings.com/Spirits-Review/Salcombe-Start-Point-London-Dry-Gin-United-Kingdom-88-Proof-05-01-2017.aspx.

Salcombe Distilling Co. celebrated success earlier this year when awarded Gold at the World Drinks Awards and winning the coveted title of World’s Best Gin in two of the Design subcategories, judged against hundreds of other spirits from around the world. 

Refreshing, delicious and super smooth Salcombe Gin is hand distilled in South Devon using only the finest hand sourced ingredients. This new gin is produced using thirteen carefully selected botanicals distilled in a beautiful copper pot still with the finest English wheat spirit and blended with pure Dartmoor water to produce a gin of extraordinary quality and elegance with no compromise. 

Angus and Howard have an uncompromising approach to quality and an almost obsessive attention to detail which has resulted in this perfectly balanced citrus led, hand crafted gin.
Perfect served on its own over ice or with a premium tonic water accompanied by a slice of ruby red grapefruit to complement the rich and warm citrus notes, Salcombe Gin also makes a cracking dry Martini with a twist of red grapefruit peel.
 

Salcombe Gin ‘Start Point’ 44% 70cl bottle (£37.50) is available to buy nationwide from various retailers including Fortnum & Mason, farm shops, food halls and delicatessens plus from the Salcombe Gin website www.salcombegin.com and can be purchased directly at the distillery.

For more information about Salcombe Gin visit www.salcombegin.com, email ilovegin@salcombegin.com or call 01548 288180. To keep up to date with the latest news follow @SalcombeGin on Twitter and ‘like’ SalcombeGin on Facebook. 

Try Lyme Bay Winery’s Four NEW Wines At Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink

Visitors to this year’s Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink (29th April to 1st May 2017) will be amongst the first to try Lyme Bay Winery’s four new wines.  From their stand (5,08) the innovative Devon winery will be sampling and selling two new still white wines; Lyme Bay Sandbar and Bacchus Block, as well as two new sparkling wines; Lyme Bay Blanc de Noirs and Lyme Bay Sparkling Rosé.

Commenting on the new launches, James Lambert, managing director of Lyme Bay Winery, says: “We are delighted to have these wines available for all to try at such a key food festival in the South West.  Our Head Winemaker, Liam Idzikowski, and the team here have been working hard to produce these delicious new still and sparkling wines.”  James continues: “English wines are increasingly popular and so it’s brilliant that there will be such an exciting range of Devon wines to try at Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink alongside the superb food offering from the county.”

Lyme Bay Sandbar 2015 is a fresh and zesty wine with a range of characteristics including grapefruit, guava, box wood and a hint of blackcurrant.  Light to medium in body, Sandbar has a beautiful balanced acidity with a great affinity to food pairing, particularly light, citrus-led fish or chicken pasta dishes.  It has a RRP of £13.79.

Bacchus Block 2015 is a fresh, clean wine of intense and powerful grapefruit freshness, broad tropical fruit notes and herbal undertones. It has a long citrus-dominated finish with a lovely mouth-feel and a lingering, bold length. The new Lyme Bay Bacchus Block has a RRP of £15.89.
Lyme Bay Sparkling Rosé is a vibrant soft pink wine with notes of wild strawberries, pepper and redcurrant on the nose and a bright, fruit-driven palate with a richness of honey and hits of brioche and almond.

A serious wine which will appeal to the discerning wine audience, Lyme Bay Blanc de Noirs is made using 100% Pinot Noir grapes.  The red fruit characters have a strong presence in this white sparkling wine.  It has a light copper hue in its appearance with fine, consistent bubbles.  On the nose it is rich and earthy with forward strawberry and cherry notes and a delicious richness on the palate is offset by a crisp acidity and a light toast finish.

The new sparkling wines join Lyme Bay’s existing Classic Cuvée and Brut Reserve.  Lyme Bay Sparkling Rosé, Lyme Bay Blanc de Noirs and Classic Cuvée all have a RRP of £24.50.  Lyme Bay Brut Reserve has a RRP of £19.39.

For further information on Lyme Bay Winery please visit www.lymebaywinery.co.uk, email info@lymebaywinery.co.uk or call 01297 551 355.  Follow Lyme Bay on Twitter: @LymeBayWineLtd and ‘Like’ on Facebook.

Lyme Bay wines are available to purchase online at www.lymebaywinery.co.uk and from independent retailers and farm shops, plus bars and restaurants

Dr Ink’s Curiosities, Quayside

38 Commercial Rd, Exeter EX2 4AE Commercial Rd, Exeter EX2 4AE

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We visited Dr Ink’s a few weeks ago after an event and although it was only a brief visit, I’ve been eager to write something about this lovely establishment for a while.

There are quite a few places in Exeter that do cocktails now.  They range from the pre-made stuff in cartons, to fine concoctions made by men with beards.  A good cocktail is easy to come by in Exeter these days but an exceptional one is even harder.

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I could name a number of places that are ‘must-go’ and you must go, because the cocktail landscape of Exeter is a varied and complex thing.  Nuances, differences, things done in a slightly different way in one bar and not in another, quirks.

But here is Doctor Ink’s Curiosities on the Quayside, tucked in behind the Customs House it makes little impression on the Quay from outside.  But step inside and you are presented with a classic styled cocktail bar with a wall of brightly lit spirits and lots of red velvet.

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This is the quirkiest of them all, this is just theatre.

Doctor Ink’s isn’t the cheapest place in town but you’re not coming here for special offers – There is a lot of pride taken in the stories behind each drink and the authenticity of the ingredients used.  The menu is presented in a hardback book  and there is, when they are quieter, a table service.

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Proudly independent, their cocktails each have a story.  They are created with an attention to detail which only goes to show the passion that their mixologists put in to every drink.

We loved it, so did Exepose – Read their review here. and so does Instagram too!

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Dinner at newly refurbished Circa 1924 – by Lauren Heath

Circa 1924 is already one of my favourites out of all the chains and independents. I have enjoyed their Express Lunch a few times (see my review here), taking friends with to show my ‘secret’ off. But this place should be far from a secret – it deserves to be found and filled with both diners and drinkers.

On this occasion I was invited for dinner; the interior has recently had a slight refurb to make the downstairs more diner focussed by removing the bar area, with upstairs fulfilling that part of the business with live music sessions every Friday. The upstairs is beautiful, with apex beamed ceilings, it’s cool yet cosy and a great place for a date or group gathering.

On a chilly Saturday night, we ventured out on the bus with our 6 year old son, so that we could enjoy a drink or two.

I always struggle to choose what to eat here; I would eat it all – it all sounds so delicious and there is a nice selection of meat, fish and vegetarian options. Of course, as important as the food is the drinks offering, which is extensive too – wines, soft drinks, craft beers and cocktails.I had no hesitation in choosing my favourite Espresso Martini and Steve made a special request for a Margherita.

So on to the food!

Whilst deciding, and due to having an ever -hungry child, we had some bread to start. It was lovely selection with some high quality butter and ewas consumed with gusto.

For starters I opted for Cured Loin Of Local Venison with Västerbotten cheese, wild mushrooms & lingonberry coulis whilst Steve chose the Crispy Softshell Crab with spring onion, house sweet chilli & wasabi. As ever, I had trouble choosing between the venison and the bisque so ‘blow it’, we order the Brixham Crab Bisque with butter poached king prawns & homemade bread as well to share.

The venison was soft and tasty, with a tang from the cheese and sweetness from the coulis. The softshell crab was beautifully crisp, texturally soft inside and sweet – really yummy. The bisque had a good amount of depth to it with two very plump and sweet prawns. A delightful start to our meal.

For mains I went for the Rump Of Local Lamb with roasted garlic purée,buckwheat pancakes & sour cream and Steve had his name on the Local Fillet Of Beef served with potato muffin, tenderstem broccoli & red wine jus. Our son enjoyed the starter softshell crab along with a side of skin on fries which he rated highly!

Both meats were cooked perfectly, were soft and full of flavour with no chewy bits in sight. Muffins and pancakes were light and all the elements worked well together. We were also enticed by the option of adding surf to our turf and enjoyed two fried oysters, which were absolutely delightful – something I have always wanted to try.

Last but certainly not least, it was dessert time! I opted for the Dark Chocolate Truffle Torte, vanilla-coffee mascarpone, honeycomb & blackberry coulis whilst savoury Steve was delighted by the chance to have Selection of Three Cheeses which came with a fantastic variety of crackers and crisp bread. My pud was rich dark chocolate, lots of crunchy textures, blobs of creamy loveliness and coulis for a bit of sharpness – and it was a work of art.

I may sound like a stuck record, but I do love the food here. It’s tasty, flavoursome, interesting, local, an independent and beautfully presented. The feel is casual and comfortable yet attentive. It’s ideal for groups or even a special evening.

My only small suggestion would be that, with the mains, perhaps a bit more starch is included as I was dining with a hungry man – yes you can order some extra sides but I guess at this price point you may not want to spend more on sides. The plus side to the food here is that is just so fresh, light and pleasing so you can manage 3 courses and you don’t go away feeling awfully stuffed.

Having written this after visiting a more premium restaurant further afield, at a similar price point, the quality of the food and cooking was very close and I do hope Circa 1924 achieves some recognition in future. But more important than any awards is that the locals (and visitors) support the restaurant and vote with their feet…and eat! Until next time Circa; this restaurant is firmly on my recommendation shortlist!

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Circa 1924, 6 Northernhay Place, Exeter, EX4 3QJ.
Ph: 01392 438545
Web: www.circa1924.co.uk/
@Circa1924
info@circa1924.co.uk

Online reservations: http://www.circa1924.co.uk/#!make-a-reservation/cg3s

Source Food and Drink Show – by Lauren Heath

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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

I can’t wait to attend next year!

 

The First Bierkellar Exeter Party

The moment everyone in Exeter has been waiting for, the highly anticipated BierKeller is now open and the pre-launch party well and truly set the pace! The invite-only event saw hundreds of Exeter locals come together for an exclusive first look at Exeter’s first Bavarian bar.

The drinks were flowing and the resident Oompah band, the Bavarian Strollers helped to create a fun-filled atmosphere.

The band entertained the crowd, encouraging revellers to take their dancing up on to the thick wooden tables and dishing out free drinks to those willing to get involved! As well as traditional Bavarian music, the band played plenty of modern tunes with a little twist.

The BierKeller team were dressed for the occasion, clad in traditional Lederhosen but it wasn’t just them; a few enthusiastic party people donned the Apres ski wear and lederhosen in pursuit of the promised half priced steins.

BierKeller is all about having fun and if the pre-launch party is anything to go by, that’s exactly what it will be.

 

Tonks crafts new beer to celebrate England’s Seafood Coast

Mitch Tonks and his Rockfish restaurants are at the heart of bringing to a life the vision of England’s Seafood Coast. The vision was simple, that in Devon, we have the best fish in the world caught off this coastline and that Torbay is the firm capital of this Seafood coast with best fishing port in the country central to it, at Brixham. The vision has been supported by English Riviera tourism and Visit England who have pledged funding and launched a project to help establish and kick off this major project.

As part of the vision Mitch has created a craft beer called the “Seafood Coast Ale” to celebrate all that is great about the coast. It has been developed by Mitch with local brewer Tom Maderious at his new brewery, Salcombe Brewery, which overlooks the sea. The beer contains citra, chinook, Amarillo and challenger hops along with Devon spring water. Mitch describes it as the perfect thirst quencher and just hoppy enough to really bring out the best in plate of the amazing seafood available here.

Mitch Tonks commented “I’ve always wanted a beer of our own and I really believe in the vision for establishing England’s Seafood Coast as a destination. When you get to Devon the first thing you need is an ice-cold beer before a plate of the finest local seafood in the world overlooking some of the most wonderful views in the world, you put all that together and you can’t help feeling good about life! It is great to be working with local breweries, local fishermen and the local tourism industry to make the Seafood Coast vision take shape.”

https://www.therockfish.co.uk/

 

 

Exeter’s First Bavarian Bar Announces Launch Date

Twitter: @bierkellerexe

BierKeller, Exeter’s highly anticipated new Bavarian themed bar, has announced that it will open its doors to the public for the first time on Friday 17th February. Transformed from what was Pizza Stein located on Exeter’s Quay, the authentic German beer hall promises a jam-packed line-up of regular events, plenty of fun and an abundance of beer.

The bar’s big launch night kicks off at 7pm and the team are urging people to get their early and claim one of the first 50 half price steins. To encourage punters to get into the spirit of things they we will also be offering half price steins to fancy dressed reveler, an offer that will be a solid fixture moving forwards. The resident Oompah band will be playing throughout the night, creating a truly Bavarian bonanza.

The après ski-style, alpine bar, with wood-heavy interior boasts eight large screens, playing live sport and an extra-long bar serving 26 different draught beers from Germany, Europe and Britain. All the beers will be available in mini five litre table kegs, for groups or those settled in for the night.

Paul Matthews, BierKeller Owner, comments: “Our sizeable beer offering genuinely has something for everyone, including German brands, other well-known popular beers and some great craft brews. To line the stomach, we will also be serving tasty bar snacks, including traditional Bratwurst and Currywurst, as well as charcuterie, and nachos.”

BierKeller will host a great range of entertainment, with events scheduled for each night of the week, including a traditional resident Oompah band, comedy nights, international music nights and a weekly quiz. Big name acts will also feature every month, available to book through the BierKeller website.

Paul continues: “We are confident the concept, teamed with our eclectic mix of events will appeal to a large cross section of people. We want it to be the type of bar where everyone can be guaranteed a fun, party atmosphere seven days a week.”

In addition to the main beer hall, there is also a separate wood-clad private room, which will be available for group bookings. The mini ski-lodge boasts its own chunky sharing table and bar, which can be setup with guests’ kegs of choice.

Paul adds: “We’re looking forward to throwing open the doors and seeing what people think.”

Ruby Kitchen at The Grapevine Brewhouse, Exmouth

For burger fans in Exeter, we lost one of the best Burger joints in Exeter as Ruby Modern Diner closed the doors on its Queen St restaurant. But the saving grace to the story was that it wasn’t the end, in fact it was just the beginning of a new chapter in the story of Ruby Burgers.

2 Victoria Rd, Exmouth EX8 1DL – @TheGrapevineExm @RUBYBURGERS

www.rubyburgers.com

www.thegrapevineexmouth.com

For burger fans in Exeter, we lost one of the best Burger joints in Exeter as Ruby Modern Diner closed the doors on its Queen St restaurant.  But the saving grace to the story was that it wasn’t the end, in fact it was just the beginning of a new chapter in the story of Ruby Burgers.

We were lucky enough to be invited over to visit The Grapevine Brewhouse in Exmouth to welcome in their new kitchen-in-residence.

Whilst in Queen Street they won Taste Of The West Gold for three years running along with a host of other awards.  So what made Dicky and Erin Harrison want to move operations to Exmouth?

Erin Harrison, co-owner – “The opportunity for a kitchen residence came up at the Grapevine and was too good to miss! Its a fantastic pub and Exmouth has a great vibe and plenty of independent restaurants and bars, we thought Ruby would be a great fit. Also we were unsure of the impact of the Guildhall and other new developments in the centre of Exeter and felt that Exmouth would be a better home for us.”

For Burgerlad (one of the UK’s foremost burger bloggers) Ruby Modern Diner had been recommended to him countless times on Twitter and when he visited them in Queen Street it lived up to his expectations.  Every time we visited we were always full and very happy with every visit.

The Grapevine Brewhouse is a fantastic independent establishment owned by Oliver and Demelza Bainbridge.  It is also home to Ollie’s brewing operations named Crossed Anchors, which brews its product on-site. The perfect combination – local beer and local burgers, and throw in some regular live music events along with a vast selection of guest ales and continental beers, and you have a winning combination.

Erin says “The pub hosts great bands every week and is really busy and buzzy and of course I have to say the BEER! Crossed Anchors is the on site brewery and they are creating some awesome craft beer and ales. Ollie also stocks a huge range of international beers – so there is something for everyone and of course their beer is the perfect match for our burgers”

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With the wood paneled walls, shelves adorned with decorative paraphernalia there is a cosiness to this pub that invites you in from the cold.  The warmth of lamps and the low lighting makes this an inviting sight on a cold winter night and on the food tables are the all too familiar mustard and ketchup. Just like it was in Exeter.

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Ruby have changed their menu to adapt to their new home.  All Burgers come with fries, home-made ‘slaw and a pickle.  Before these were items that you could add separately and the prices reflect this change, but the classic names are still on the menu.

The Bad Man, Piggy, Blue, Scorchio are all names I’ve missed! But here they are, as good as they were and back in my life.  Luckily for Ruby, the two Head Chefs who steered the boat in Exeter (excuse the pun) are still at the healm! Erin added “We’re lucky and proud to say our two head chefs from Exeter, Rob and Mark made the move with us and are really happy in their new home. they’ve worked really hard to bring Ruby to the Grapevine and we think our burgers are better than ever.”

Ruby are still using  local suppliers and their local ethos is still at the heart of what they do. Roger The Farmer from Copplestone provides their beef, Exploding Bakery in Exeter provides brownies, Darts Fresh provides veg, Hawkridge from Crediton still provides cheeses etc.

It is a testament to a restaurant when you get chatting to a regular who sing the praises of the pub and Ruby Burgers.  As I was taking photos I got in to a bit of banter with some gentlemen sat by the iconic Ruby Burgers hatch who praised the consistency and quality of the food.

Our burgers for tonight would be the Blue 7oz beef patty, chestnut mushrooms, caramelised onions and Devon Blue cheese (£12.50) and the Piggy 7oz beef patty, home smoked pulled pork, smoked Applewood cheddar, smoked streaky bacon, Ruby sauce (£13.50).

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My Blue Burger was a delight to eat.  Chestnut mushrooms and the tang of the blue cheese made the burger feel more steak-like; it contrasted well with the sweetness of the caramelised onions.  The fries were, naturally, fresh and hot and it was presented on that iconic Ruby logo paper.  The bun was intact throughout the meal and not a soggy bottom in sight.

Tori’s was Piggy was quite a burger to behold as it was packed generously with pulled pork and bacon – it was brimming!  So much that half way through taking photos, it lurched to the side and suffered from the burger-topple effect.

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But this was no barrier to the taste.  It was a charming and delightful burger with a sweet smokiness throughout.  The home smoked pulled pork was a winning combination with the tasteful Devon Ruby beef.

The beer at The Grapevine Brewhouse is extensive in choice.  One of the region’s best selections of international beers coupled with their own delectable in-house brewed beers and ales make it an absolute mecca for local beer lovers.  As we sipped our pint of C.S.H (stands for Cascading Smash Hopburst) which was a spritely hoppy blonde ale at 3.8%ABV, I imagined afternoons cycling down to Exmouth and having a few pints and a burger at The Grapevine before hopping back on a train feeling slightly merry and full.

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There is something quite epic about the combination of a beautifully crafted local beer and a burger made from ingredients from this wonderful county.  And although we’ve lost a fantastic Exeter name on our restaurant scene, we have given it to Exmouth and they love it.

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Ruby Burgers has been open since October and in that short space of time it feels like they’ve imprinted themselves in to the fabric of the town; the partnership between The Grapevine Brewhouse and Ruby Kitchen seems so natural.  Not just because beer and burgers go so well together, but because here are two businesses that are already doing great things

Ben Richards is Growing Beer in partnership with There’s A Beer For That

As the clock struck midnight on 31st December most people chose an obvious New Years’ Resolution – stop smoking, lose weight, exercise more – but local Beer Sommelier Ben Richards wanted a real challenge for 2017.  Which is why he’s growing beer on his allotment in Devon.

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On an 8m by 8m plot, he’s launching an experiment to see if it’s possible to grow or collect everything he needs to brew beer in one place.  He’s working in partnership with There’s A Beer For That, the industry campaign that raises awareness of the diversity, versatility and quality of beer, and will draw on the help and advice of experts in their field as he tackles the highs and lows of his quest.  Already lined up to offer advice are BBC presenter Toby Buckland, Microbiologist Steve Livens of the British Beer and Pub Association and Brewer John Magill from Powderkeg Brewery.

After starting to dig up his allotment, Ben Richards explained “As a Beer Sommelier I know about the versatility of beer and diverse range of styles but few of us, including me, realise just how much effort and how many people are involved in getting that beer into the glass, bottle or can.”

“People have more interest in how beer is made, these days; how the ingredients are sourced and how brewers are inspired in their recipe creation. I love drinking beers of different styles from across the world, and know a fair bit about how they’re brewed, but I really want to better understand what it takes to grow and process the raw ingredients needed whilst finding out more about more our national and local brewing history. Every time I look a little deeper into brewing beer, I come up with more questions and that’s why I decided to try and find the answers by growing beer myself.”

Traditionally, the ingredients for brewing beer would be harvested and gathered from all over the country – if not worldwide – so Ben’s going to have to be on his toes if his ambition is to become a reality.

“I’m working with 8m by 8m of rough, unloved land and one major rule: all of the ingredients must be grown or collected on site” continued Richards.  “This means preparing the land, growing or gathering and then harvesting all the ingredients before the final brew.”

If he’s to stick to his schedule and meet the timescale that he’s set himself, Ben needs to achieve the best growing conditions as quickly as possible to get everything up and running.  He’ll then have to juggle everything he knows about brewing with everything he doesn’t know about horticulture, microbiology, agriculture and perseverance so that he can round off the project with a party to sample the beer he’s produced in the Autumn.

David Cunningham, Programme Director of There’s A Beer For That is one of those backing Ben for success, saying “Beer attracts an increasingly enthusiastic and diverse range of drinkers and we are always seeking new ways to encourage people to think differently about beer and discover new styles & flavours.  By making a commitment to the `Growing Beer` project, Ben will unearth no end of discussion topics on Britain’s national drink that we believe will spark interest and get people talking about it which can only be a good thing for Britain’s rejuvenated and evolving beer industry.

“There are over 140 styles and 12,000 quality beers to choose from but they largely all originate from the same four natural ingredients. Through this project, Ben will be discovering what it takes to make beer and why it is such a versatile and enjoyable drink” continued Cunningham “so it’s only natural that There’s A Beer For That partners with him as he tries to answer the questions that the ubiquitous ‘folk down the pub’ want to know about their favourite drink.”

Ben will catalogue every move he makes on the allotment, sharing his updates periodically through social media, podcasts and photos.  His year is expected to provide a fascinating insight into many areas of brewing and allotment life, offering a narrative on everything from the importance of quality ingredients in our food and drink through to dealing with everything that mother-nature throws at you.

 

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Follow Bens progress at: www.growingbeer.co.uk or on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram /growingbeer

You can also find out more about Ben in our 10 Q&A with him from last year.

Devon’s Powderkeg Brewery Wins International ‘Best Lager’ Award

Powderkeg Brewery, based in Woodbury Salterton near Exeter, has gone straight to the top with its first award, having won Best Lager at The Beer Awards for its pilsner ‘Cut Loose’.

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The Beer Awards are run by the world-renowned IWSC (International Wine & Spirit Competition), with the beers judged in a blind tasting by leading figures from the international beer industry. Winning ‘Best in Show’ in its category, Cut Loose was described as ‘one of the 16 best beers in the world’. Needless to say, it’s a big award for a microbrewery tucked away in a corner of the Devon countryside.

Powderkeg is run by husband and wife team John and Jess Magill. John, who makes the beer, had this to say, “It’s really amazing. We’re overjoyed. Our intention has always been to make the best beer we can and it’s fantastic that has been recognised. But it does make me chuckle that a little Devon micro can be a world-beater when you simplify things down to just what is in the glass.”

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Describing the brewery’s approach, John explained “Cut Loose is a classic full-flavoured German Pilsner in almost every way, but we add a new breed of hop called Motueka which infuses a subtle lemon and lime finish, before letting the beer mature for a full six weeks. That sums up what we are all about – progressive beers, great ingredients and not cutting corners – it’s a simple approach, but it’s surprisingly rare!”

Jess Magill went on to say, “We’re delighted to have put Devon beer on the international map. Our intention has always been to move Devon beer forwards – to shake things up, improve the quality and introduce new styles and flavours. We don’t have the budget, history or influence of other breweries, so we just let the beer do the talking – and people are clearly listening. Powderkeg is still very young and this award is just the beginning.”

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the great local businesses and open-minded beer drinkers that have supported us over the last year. There are so many people in Devon that care about quality local produce, and it is to those people that we raise a celebratory pint today.”

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Powderkeg only opened for business in the Summer of 2015, but already had plans in place to expand by the end of the year as a result of a successful start to life, having brewed over 200,000 pints in its first year of trading.

But don’t expect to see Cut Loose everywhere you go from now on. “We’ll hopefully increase production in the new year, but to be honest – it can’t be by much. It will remain a small batch beer, and we’ll mostly keep it for the local market. The world’s beer drinkers will have to come to Devon if they want some.”

‘Speak Easy’, Powderkeg’s Transatlantic Pale Ale, was also recognised with an award at the competition.

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To see where Powderkeg is sold please visit:

http://www.powderkegbeer.co.uk/news/devon-destinations/

Interact with them on Twitter @PowderkegBeer and Facebook @PowderkegBeer or visit their website.

Vagabonds Milkshake Bar, Crediton – by Lauren Heath

Vagabonds Milkshake Bar, 109 High Street, Crediton, EX17 3LF

http://www.facebook.com/VagabondsMilkshakeBar

http://www.twitter.co.uk/milkshakelady89

http://www.instagram.com/nicolethemilkshakelady

15 minutes west of Exeter, in the town of Crediton, is Nicole the Milkshake Lady – a super friendly and cool young woman who’s passion shines across the milkshake bar. Previously working in other milkshake establishments, she realised her passion and opened her own bright pink shop on Crediton High Street 4 years ago.

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She named it Vagabonds in honour of her childhood favourite cool cafe; a word that normally means no fixed abode, Nicole’s interpretation is more a rebelious and free one, using the word to mean she doesn’t have to stick to one thing and she can delight her customers with whatever her creative taste buds come up with. She also takes her sweet treats away from the shop to cater at weddings and parties.

After overcoming the pinkness and entering through the door, you are greeted by…well, a milkshake bar. What surrounds it is every chocolate wrapper known to man and, to the left, is the extensive menu.

There is a sofa for resting on and staring at the menu if you are unable to make a decision, or if on consumption brain freeze hits and you are comatosed by it all.

Nicole is very passionate about everything sweet, ice cream and milkshake related so is only too pleased to help you choose or realise your dream milkshake medley. With Autumn firmly settling in, she has updated the menu to include hot chocolate shakes too. Other options include smoothies, healthy shakes, yoggies (frozen yoghurt drinks) as well as vegan shakes (soya milk, soya ice cream and dairy free jugs – ooh err) so those with dairy allergies or dietary preferences can enjoy something too!

With my hubby being a chilli head, he was her first chilli chocolate milkshake – by my suggestion, it was teamed with another one of his favourite things – a daim bar. A toffee triumph with a warmth at the back of your throat, he approved of this milkshake debut. Our son is a mint freak, amongst other things, and so he had a mint milkshake mixed with oreos. This gave a lovely biscuity crunch to the drink and was not sickly at all.

I love peanut butter and so opted for Nicole’s suggestion of Reeses peanut butter cups mixed with rocky road, with swirls of chocolate sauce and some whipped cream on top for good measure. Totally tasty, not sickly, very well balanced – it was delicious.

There is an ice cream counter if you feel like keeping it simple or a frozen yoghurt machine. This clever little machine also does some ice cream flavours, including cappuccino with chocolate chips which I tried and the quality was fab and of course delicious. Nicole and her ice cream machine can be hired for weddings and other events if you are after something a little different for the main event or even for the evening do.

With well over 1,000 followers on both her Facebook page and Instagram, and 5 star comments to match, this has established Vagabonds as a firm favourite for locals as well as holidaying regulars who visit en route to their yearly Devon or Cornwall break and is a treat for children and adults alike. So if you feel like a treat, head to Crediton High Street, and find a milkshake that suits your personality or mood. Can’t decide? Ask Nicole for a suggestion, she’ll conjure somethingup for you like the cool Mrs Willy Wonka that she is.

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Hanlon’s Brewery, Half Moon Village

Hanlons Brewery, Hill Farm, Half Moon Village, Devon EX5 5AE 

http://www.hanlonsbrewery.com/

Talk to any ale fan in the Exeter & Devon area and you won’t find many that would not class Yellow Hammer as one of their favourite ales.  For as long as I can remember this beautifully light and golden ale has been a staple in various pubs around Exeter.  It is produced by Hanlons Brewery who are based out at Half Moon Village in between Cowley and Newton St Cyres on the A377.  Sounds far away? It is less than two miles from the centre of Exeter, nestled in the rolling hills that surround the city.

Some long-term hardened ale fans might remember a few years ago, Hanlons used to be based out at Whimple.  After some financial difficulties the company went in to administration but partners Dan Taylor and Jim Bungard swooped to the rescue and bought the ale-ing (sorry) company, relocated it to a purpose built brewery building and the rest is history.  Dan and Jim’s families invested heavily in the business, as a result the company is has a distinctive family run feel to it.

Not too long ago, Hanlon’s opened their doors to the general public on a Friday night serving top quality food and of course their own beautiful ale from draught.  Living less than a mile away, I was ashamed to say that I hadn’t been to visit sooner but was over the Half-Moon (as they’re located in Half Moon Village?…I’ll get my coat) to be invited over to see what has made this hidden gem so successful.

The whole building is wood clad, a distinctive design hidden behind the hedgerow from the A377 which it sits close to.  A whole selection of buses pass here, and there is one every hour generally, and with ample parking it is easy for the designated driver to rock up and find somewhere to park.

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During the week their in-house bar hosts corporate and private events.  But on a Friday night, the menus come out, the reserved signs are placed on the table and diners come down to eat a menu incorporating Hanlons products created by Chef Tim Ware (Jack In The Green, Digger’s Rest).

The room itself is decorated with lots of Hanlons marketing and photographs including the most amazing illustrated diagram that adorns the wall which was created by a local illustrator.  The place mats on the tables replicate this artwork, and there are colouring crayons on each table for big and little kids to colour in (excuse the fuzzy photo!)

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As we arrived, we commenced proceedings with a half of Firefly Bitter; a member of the Hanlon family that I don’t often see in the pubs I visit.

The menu changes each week, follow Hanlon’s Facebook page to see what each week holds in store and keep up to date with brewery tours and other exciting events.

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We decided to share our starter.  A delicious baked Camembert served in fresh Yellow Hammer bread with a side of Stormstay Chutney (£9).  There is something so delectable about fresh bread and melted cheese, and this dish punched straight to the heart of what makes this comfort food a firm favourite in restaurants across the country.

Our main course was a choice, but I had to go for the Sticky Pork Tenderloin with Thai Slaw cooked in Yellow Hammer (£10) as well as Tori.  The fusion worked fantastically, the Yellow Hammer addition shows that this ale is very versatile, not just to drink but to cook with too.

This is fine dining quality for fantastic value but keeping it very much in tune with Hanlon’s tune.  Using ales and beers that Hanlons produces is a great showcase for the other ways that their products can be incorporated into cooking.

The meal was topped off with some locally produced dairy ice-cream, a very simple yet satisfying end to really good meal.

After the meal, we were lucky enough to be taken down to the brewery floor by Dan Taylor to have a brief tour of the facilities.  Yellow Hammer is a beautiful traditional ale that has a special place in the hearts of ale drinkers across the county and to finally visit its birthplace was a definite culinary highlight.

Hanlons has invested in new equipment to help improve consistency and make things more efficient, the shiny vats holding a vast amount of liquid that would eventually be served across pubs and supermarkets.

I love the ethos of this local company and I am a definite fan of their products.  I want to write what I thought of their food in terms that would make readers of this blog cringe or squirm uncomfortably whilst I use words like ‘lush’ and ‘om nom’. But as with any review, you need to try it for yourself.

Follow Hanlons on Twitter and Facebook

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Cockt-Ale Festival: Drinks & Entertainment Take Centre Stage at Exeter’s Piazza Terracina

Photography: Faydit Photography

Building upon the success and popularity of the Exeter Street Food brand, the team from the Hubb Group are launching their Cockt-Ale Festival.
Celebrating distillers and brewers from the South West, this brand new event is at Exeter’sPiazza Terracina on Saturday 24th September 2016 (11:00am – 8:00pm).

The Cockt-Ale Festival puts the mighty beverage right at the heart of the action, combining the best in local and international drinks, fun and informative food and drink pairing demonstrations, live entertainment and the option to carry home your favourite tipples plus a vibrant ‘street food village’ too! Entry is free.

The Bar’s the Star!

Visitors to the Quayside’s Piazza Terracina can enjoy a wide range of cocktails and real ales, with guest distillers and brewers and a wide selection of specialist gins on offer at ‘Granny Garbutt’s Gin Palace’. The ‘street food village’ will consist a wide variety of stalls, with food and drink pairing demonstrations courtesy of Exeter Cookery School.

There will be live music on the demonstration stage in the evening with acoustic performances throughout the day from local artists including Sadie Horler and many more. Visitors can also take home drinks they have sampled to enjoy at home too!

Karen Skerratt, Managing Director of the Hubb Group, the company behind Exeter Street Food and the Cockt-Ale Festival said:

We are really proud to be able to launch our Cockt-Ale Festival in Exeter. The Festival brings together all the key ingredients to create a wonderful experience. Our customers can expect a remarkable range of cocktails, real ales and gins to explore twinned with the variety and quality of Exeter Street Food.

Our Cockt-Ale Festival aims to give a platform to local distillers and brewers who are rarely given this kind of exposure. We are blessed with some great independent businesses emerging from the South West which play a large part in our local economy, creating new jobs and encouraging innovation and collaboration in the sector.

We are also delighted that Exeter Cookery School will be joining to us for their food and drink pairing demonstration, bringing a new fun and informative element to the event. There is of course, plenty of opportunities to meet the distillers, brewers and food producers too!”

373A6806 CREDIT Faydit Photography

The Hubb Group created, organise and run Exeter Street Food, Bath Street Food and a variety of bespoke pop-up festivals, markets and other unique and award winning experiences. The Group is currently undergoing a period of sustained growth and company expansion. With a hard earned reputation for quality and variety, the Hubb team are skilled in planning and delivering events designed to meet their company mission ‘Be Inspired, Be Unique’.

The Cockt-Ale Festival will be at Exeter’s Piazza Terracina on Saturday 24th September 2016 (11:00am – 8:00pm). Entry is Free.

For the latest information visit www.streetfoodexeter.co.uk or on Facebook atfacebook.com/exeterstreetfood

Cuba Cantina, Gandy Street -by Lauren Heath

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15 Gandy Street, Exeter, EX4 3LS. Tel: 01392 425200 

https://www.facebook.com/cubacantina/

Considering I work 3 doors down from this new foodie venture, I’m not quite sure why it’s taken me this long to eat in there.  I have had a few nosey’s, and walking past it every lunch time I’m pleased to say others have happily wandered in more easily. Perhaps it is because I lunch alone most days; it seems to be the sort of place for sharing with others.

Don’t necessarily be fooled if it looks too quiet or empty downstairs.  There are 3 great rooms upstairs for chilling in.

Pay day swung round and my fellow colleagues, with the same burning question (why haven’t we been?!) agreed we should spend our hard earned dough on some tortillas!

There’s no walk through of my meal experience needed here. In short, there is great music, smiling faces, a hot counter with fillings, a cold counter with toppings and a very cool (or rather hot) rotating tortilla/wrap spinning warmer contraption.

Food was made up in front of us within minutes, with a medium burrito stuffed with rice, pulled pork, spicy sauce, guacamole, sour cream etc and a can of coke coming in under £5. All very well wrapped to hold everything in…until you get to the end when all the juicy goodness is escaping and you try eat that last mouthful – a satisfying challenge!

One of my colleagues who had the chicken burrito, also chose the nachos as an extra to share, and they were well topped and delicious-and I’m an avid nacho maker at home. It’s not gastronomic, but it’s not meant to be.  It was flavoursome, filling and delicious. Isn’t that all we want?

My colleague hit it on the nose – it’s like a Cuban version of a Subway – fresh, fast food and affordable…but in very individual surroundings. I’ve noticed queries about whether the menu actually reflects Mexico as opposed to Cuba – having looked this up they are in fact very similar cuisines but Cuban uses more citrus flavours as opposed to the heat of Mexico.

They have deals on for a bucket of beer and plenty of other drinks on offer if that’s what you want with the gang and are open late into the evenings, great for a chill out evening with your friends.  So bring your dough, and get some tasty tortillas – to eat in or for on the go.