Caribbean Food Week Street Party Spread – by Lauren Heath

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.

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‘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!

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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:

Website: www.gracefood.co.uk

Facebook: www.facebook.com/caribbeanfoodweek

Twitter: @caribbeanfoodwk

Instagram: caribbeanfoodweek

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*Grace Foods supplied this complimentary hamper of dried goods as part of Caribbean Food Week but all cooking ideas, recipes and fresh food items were our own and all my honest opinion.

 

 

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Local Exeter Food Producer Eat The Smoke Makes it into South West Morrisons Stores

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.

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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.

Find Eat the Smoke on:

Twitter          Facebook          Website

Salcombe Brew: Union Street and Sunny Cove by Chris Gower

One of the great things about writing a food blog is trying out artisan local produce and shouting about the amazing things that we produce here in Devon and it appears that Salcombe is becoming a hub of foodie producers with a growing reputation amongst the chattering foodie classes.

A few weeks ago, we were sent a couple of samples from Salcombe Brew after I connected with them on Twitter.  Product reviews are few and far between on Eating Exeter, so I was over the moon when they agreed to send us some samples to try out for ourselves.  I was so taken with the coffee itself that it has taken me a while to finish off the review! So sorry to Salcombe Brew for the time it took, but you guys have really hit the mark.

If you’re already a fan, or want to know more about their blends visit their website http://www.salcombebrew.co.uk 

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I’m not a massive coffee drinker, so I enlisted the help of the Eating Exeter Graphics/Illustration department – aka my better half Tori – to try out some of excellent coffee bags.  We were also sent some Nespresso cups as well which EE Assistant Ed. Lauren who used with them with her machine.

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Union Street – We had the chance to try coffee bags of their two varieties and this was my favourite.  A light blend with a nutty nose and a milder taste to the usual blends that we’ve had before. I found it quaffable – it’d be a coffee I could have multiple cups of throughout a morning without that bitterness that you get with some of the more intense blends.

“High grown, high quality coffee beans from Central and South America combine to produce a wonderfully balanced blend that is both satisfying and full of flavour.  Sweetness and maltiness come through well and adding milk develops more caramel and toffee notes.  A perfect brew to be enjoyed anytime of the day to suit your mood.”
http://www.salcombebrew.co.uk/blends

It has a complex taste, especially as it is a blend rather than a single bean, and one that I am quite fond of.  I would agree with the description above that there are definite caramel and toffee notes and for me this was a big attraction.

Tori is a hardcore coffee drinker and although she enjoyed it, she would have left the bag in for longer to increase the strength.  Like me, she loved the nuttiness of the blend which gave it a more-ish-ness (for lack of better words). I like lighter strength coffee so for me this was perfect.

The Union Street felt like more of a morning coffee, something you could sip throughout the day without feeling that you were drinking rocket fuel.

Sunny Cove – Ultimately with coffee bags you can choose how strong you want to have it by how long you steep the bag.  Both brands give you a time on the packet, which is great if you’re not completely au fais with the concept of coffee being in a bag!

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“Sweet, syrupy and nutty with a flora, perfumed aroma.  Notes of peanut butter and butterscotch can develop through espresso as well as sour gooseberry and grape tannins”.
http://www.salcombebrew.co.uk/blends

The Sunny Cove was for me a nice cup of coffee but not my preferred from out of the two.  Although I didn’t get peanut butter or butterscotch notes, it was defintely more floral than the Union Street.  This felt like more of a special coffee you might keep for special occasions, maybe it was a bit stronger?

This blend says to me that it might be enjoyed outside, I could imagine have a french press outside on the balcony reading the Sunday papers.

Salcombe Brew is one of many micro-roasteries across Devon who are producing a vast range of different artisan roasted coffees.  Each product appeals to different coffee drinkers as would wine drinkers prefer different vineyards.

We like Salcombe Brew’s coffee and the fact that they come in Nespresso pods too is a big bonus, Lauren felt that having a local brand as a Nespresso pod was particularly convenient.  They are on the lighter end of the scale for coffee lovers, a quaffable brew perfect for any time of day. 

If you like the sound of Salcombe Brew then you can head over to their online store, using our exclusive discount code RNLI10.  Remember that a percentage of sales of Salcome Brew is donated to the RNLI Salcombe.

Follow Salcombe Brew on Twitter and Facebook

10 Questions with Tony Coulson of Ebb Tides Seaweed by Lauren Heath

Ebb Tides is a fledgling in the food world; having been established only in May last year, we came across them at their first ‘outing’ at Dartington Food Fair (which can be found here) and wished them luck on their future journey. My husband, Steve, loves seaweed and really enjoyed the flavours and easy use packaging of their products. They had tasters on the table, as well as seaweed mixed into a variety of homemade dips, to show you what you could do with them.

Later on in the year, we met again at Dorset Chilli Festival, and saw that there was great interest being shown by potential punters. Since then, I have seen them increase their awareness on social media, as well as having some great exposure in print and other online sources. In fact, Tony has been so busy that, it has taken a while to get the answers to this Q&A – but that’s never a problem to us, business first! We’re pleased to give exposure to his Devon business and now it’s January and most people are on a health kick, seaweed could be the perfect ingredient to liven up your diet in flavour and health benefits – but remember, it can be used all year round with any foods, the only limit is your culinary imagination.

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In a nutshell, what is your background? My original background was working as a psychotherapist in Nottinghamshire, my county of birth. I fell in love with fly fishing and decided to follow  my passion moving to Scotland to study Aquaculture and Fisheries. After I qualified I stayed in Scotland working on Salmon Conservation Trusts, Salmon Farms, Trout Farms, Shellfish Fisheries and my own Fly Fishery near Edinburgh.

When did Ebb Tides all start?  Ebb Tides began trading May 2016. Prior to that I spent a year in research around the coast lines and  assessing the species and biomass of seaweeds locally. Along with working alongside Natural England, The Crown Estate, Environmental Health and Trading Standards. Prior to the research stage I was working for the Environment Agency  which was robbing me of my soul and personality so I handed my notice in and left .

Where are you based? Sidmouth East Devon.

Why seaweed? Why indeed, this is a question I have been asked many times. Intellectually it’s difficult for me to articulate this question. When living in Scotland I first began including seaweeds into my diet and from the beginning my body was immediately nourished along with a sense of wellbeing.  I could say it’s the healthiest plant on the planet, or there is the same area of seaweeds around the UK as there is forestry inland why not utilise this incredible natural resource. However it’s more intuitive than left side brain, Ebb Tides seems to be leading me and I just help facilitate the dynamic of the company. Not what business consultants want to hear but there you go.

I’m sure there are secrets but what can you tell us about the process from shore to grinder? Hardly any secrets I cut no more than half of any seaweed with a pair of scissors and rotate the harvesting sites for sustainability reasons. I then dry the seaweed in dehydrators and pack into resealable pouches or flake mix and pack into the grinders. The seaweeds are the stars so I add nothing I let them shine. I worked with the award winning chef Noel Corston who is head chef and owner of EX34 in Woolacombe, who helped put the seaweed mixes together.

Can you describe the 3 flavours; which one is your favourite? Sea Salad is a mix of three seaweeds and has recently won a Silver Award with Food and Drink Devon. Delicate green flavours with a touch of pepper and marine notes – people often say shellfish after tasting; great with fish.

Dulse this is my favourite I just love the colour, texture and smoky depth of dulse. Rich and spicy with a taste of paprika. Vegetarians use it as a bacon substitute and for carnivores fabulous with meats especially burgers and great for baking. Dulse is such a star that it’s not mixed with other species as it shines alone. Dulse is high in protein most mornings I start the day with a dulse, banana and yoghurt smoothie.

Kelp gives that savoury umami flavour, earthy and versatile.The backbone of Japanese cooking is dashi the basic stock for most meals simply kelp and fish flakes. Good in casserole’s, curry’s and beans – I just love kelp on egg and beans on toast.

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Some people are scared of using seaweed, how would you convince them? I don’t, I just say ‘no one’s died yet’.  I am not on a mission to convert the world towards seaweeds I just want to be with the waves, produce great products, earn a living, and enjoy life. Maybe perhaps make a very small difference in the wellbeing of people with Ebb Tides.

What’s the best way to use it to introduce people to trying it? EbbTides has the uniqueness of grinders we are making seaweeds consumer friendly. Grinders or grinder can be placed on the table (throw the salt seaweeds have natural forming salts) and grind onto ones meal. Unless I am making a specific seaweed recipe the seaweeds are more of an afterthought. An example recently I was making a barley pottage while soaking the barley it came into my mind that kelp could work with it. Grinded in the kelp with the barley and wow it worked and incredibly nourishing.

We have recently launched a new product called Ocean Spice based on a Moroccan spice blend but with the added ingredient of dulse which gives Ocean Spice a deep smokey spicy flavour. This is a great way to introduce people to the world of seaweeds they simply add oil to the blend and marinate on meats, poultry, fish or vegetables giving not just a spicy depth to ones meals but also the goodness of seaweed.

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Where can people buy your products? Online @ ebbtides.co.uk, Dartington Food Shop, Darts Farm, Ammonite Lyme Regis, The Deli at Dartmouth and Food Shows throughout Devon.

What are the benefits of seaweed? The benefits are numerous and I could go on and on but you may get bored. Constantly at Food Fairs I hear “seaweeds they are good for you but what can I do with them”. So that’s were my work comes in helping people become aware of the countless possibilities of cooking with seaweeds. I have been pleasantly surprised how open people are to try seaweeds. People do seem to want to experiment and experience on a culinary level so much more than even a few years back which I think is smashing. Often they are surprised by the flavours once they get past the perception they may have around seaweeds. They taste good and are full of goodness so that’s a win win . There are numerous health benefits attached to seaweeds below is copy of the poster that’s on the table at food shows that helps explain the benefits.However I do tend to focus more on the taste. A product may have numerous health benefits but people also want the flavour to go with the benefits or it’s a none starter. I say to people “have a play and let me know what you create for I am genuinely interested”.

7 Reasons to Eat Seaweeds

Adding seaweeds to your diet  gives taste and texture to your foods andbenefits your health. They have been described as the most nutritious form of vegetation on the planet.

  • Highly versatile for culinary use. Easy to eat and cook with and low in calories
  • Adds texture and fibre to your diet and draws flavours from other foods
  • Improves flavour profile by giving a more rounded or complete flavour sensation to your food
  • Use as a seasoning and salt replacement
  • Umami translated from Japanese means delicious or pleasant savoury taste. The 5th of the five basic tastes alongside sweet,sour,bitter and salty. Found in foods such as strong cheese, shellfish, tomatoes and soy .Seaweeds are high in umami.
  • 10 to 20 times the mineral content of other plants. No other group of plant contains more minerals and nutrients than seaweed. Seaweeds contain all 56 minerals and trace elements required for your body.
  • Detoxification boost helps skin cells rid themselves of toxins that prevent cells working as they should.
  • Weight control:
  1. Brown seaweeds contain Alginate that reduces fat digestion by the body
  2. Iodine in seaweeds helps maintain a healthy metabolism
  3. Seaweeds rehydrate the stomach making you feel full and less likely to snack

You can find out more and buy online on their website or find them and give them a follow on Facebook.

*All images copyright of Ebb Tides Seaweed

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

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

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

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

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

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

The range includes:

Sauces:  Original BBQ sauce, Helluva Hot BBQ Sauce

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

BBQ Rub Nuts: Smoked Almonds, Smoked Cashews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

the man behind the smoke (2)

Quick Q & A with Christian of Eat the Smoke

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

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

What county were you born in?

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

When did you start the business?

ETS started 3 years ago

What’s your favourite meat?

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

Favourite way to cook it?

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

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

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

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

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

Product Review: 28 Day Aged Rump Steak – GT Orsman, Shaldon

Please note the following blog post is not Vegetarian/Vegan friendly. May contain pictures of succulent meat that might offend some.

You’ll notice that my previous product review was Shaldon Bakery and their divine artisan bread. Sticking with the Shaldon theme, the next product review is going to be 28 Day Aged Rump Steak from Phil Beatty and his team at GT Orsman, the butchers who just happen to be right next door to Shaldon Bakery.  Phil has owned the business since 2000 and continues to run it with a small team of experienced butchers.

A small traditional west country butcher, this little shop sells some fantastic meat from west country sources including Venison products from Powderham.  This multi-award winning butcher has won a Taste Of The West Gold award two years running including Taste Of The West Butcher of The Year and a few other accolades.

As butchers go, this is a small village shop who provide really good meat for a good price.  They also sell pre-prepared meat ready to hit the BBQ.  Everything is clearly labeled with ingredients and prices clearly marked.  Available are a range of Deli items too including cheese from Quickes and other cheese makers and an extensive range of Hogs Bottom Delights chutneys and marinades.

As well as being recognised as Flavour Champions, this business if part of a cluster Shaldon businesses that really make this town a destination for those who love food.

A few months ago we had been to Darts Farm and bought Rump Steak, so we thought it’d be interesting to see how well we got on with some Rump Steak from Phil and his team.  We managed to get a larger piece of meat for a better price (but can’t remember the weight…??)

So how do you actually cook steak? And what is the best way to do it?

Well my question was answered by the butcher himself and was replicated here on BBC Good Food.  My able assistant is the better cook, and has produced some amazing steaks in the past, so naturally I handed it over.

The meat itself had a fantastic colour to it, the marbling and texture had me staring at it for at least 10 minutes. Hypnotised by meat. Sad really…

Letting the meat stand for a good while to get it down to room temperature is important. It shocks the meat a lot less and you find it doesn’t go tough as easily when you cook it.

Although the end result is down to the skill of the cook, the flavour of the meat and the end texture is very much down to the quality of the cut.  It melted softly on the palette and didn’t need too much seasoning either as it had a fantastic seasoning, the one thing both myself and my able assistant noted was how lean the cut was with very little fat.

If you are in Shaldon, pop in and say hello. Buy some of their BBQ meats, buy some of their deli cheeses.

http://www.shaldonbutcher.co.uk

Follow them on Twitter: @gtorsman

Product Review: Shaldon Bakery Artisan Bread

Shaldon Bakery (The Surfing Bakers) lies at the heart of the sleepy village/town of Shaldon. Shaldon is like the poor relative of Teignmouth, which it overlooks from across the Teign estuary.  But despite being much smaller than its big brother, it has a charm and quaint-ness all to itself that lends it a ‘St Ives’ like atmosphere.  Come summer, its tiny little streets are chocked full of tourists and day-trippers, all part of the rather unique bubble that lends itself to a sleepy part of Devon I thoroughly recommend visiting for any foody. The Guardian reported that Shaldon is ‘the place to go’ for those who loved food a few years ago.  Read the article here.

It so happens that some of the best bread in Devon is baked here (yes I did just declare that!) by Shaldon Bakery.  And it is here at the heart of Shaldon that the bakery is open six days a week selling bread and sandwiches made fresh on the premises.  But you can find them plying their trade at the various Devon farmer’s markets too, and it was last Saturday I bumped in to Ally at The Exmouth Spring Fun Day who stocked me up with a number of bits and pieces.

Opened in 2009 by Simon Hacking and Steve Morgan after a year of travelling around Australia, the bakery specialises in artisan bread using traditional methods and slate bed peel ovens, crafted with over 60 years of industry experience.  The success of the business has risen (pun intended) over recent years, supplying local businesses with sandwiches and bread.

Their recent creation, the Uglibun, has been quite a hit, even boasting its own Twitter account, they are normally the first things to sell out!  They also produce morning goods, tray goods and a range of ambient deli items are available from their shop as well, including ice cream during summer.

Bread is often something I have trouble with.  I am quite fussy about these sorts of things, and the sad fact of the matter is that there is a glut of cheap mass produced bread that is produced in miserable stainless steel factory cathedrals, shipped out en-masse, baked without passion or soul. So it is evident and obvious to get your teeth in to a loaf that tastes completely different from the Warburton’s and Hovis of this world.

Their Honey Granary loaf is a delightfully salty-sweet bread, soft as a pillow and went very nicely with peanut butter.  The texture was soft and went brilliantly with fresh butter.  It toasted evenly and did not instantly turn to charcoal which to me was an indicator of its moistness.  I have three other loaves in the freezer now and enough bread to keep me going for a while.  All of which won’t last long as it is consistently lovely bread.

The Shaldon Bakery,
16 Fore St
Shaldon
England

Tel: 01626 872401
Visit Website

Product Review: Morrison’s ‘Signature’ Pork and Chorizo Burgers 4/5

From one end of the meat spectrum (Piper’s Farm Unsmoked Back Bacon) to the supermarket end. Like most foodies I don’t have the luxury of a food budget that stretches to being able to shop at Deli’s and Organic food shops constantly, and for the basic average ‘day-to-day’ stuff myself and my able assistant, who I am luckily enough to be married to, swap between Tesco’s and Morrisson’s for our weekly shop.

So whilst gliding around the aisles, not thinking for a minute I would find anything worth reviewing on ‘The Blog’ as it is lovingly known, I found these in the meat aisle and thought it would provide an excellent contrast to Piper’s Farm’s lovely bacon. For £2.00 we were able to pick up four large burgers.

This offer might not be forever, but the lure of cheap meat is enough for me to hang up my morals and indulge a little bit. No idea where the meat comes from, it says a British Farm so I am assuming that this might meant that its good quality but given the recent scandal over the tractor symbol and Tesco’s, I am not really convinced. I will hang up my Food-Snob hat and say for once I really really liked these despite the fact the meat isn’t overly ethical.

Given they were Pork, there was going to be less fat spillage, but they tasted nice.  The wonderful thing about chorizo is that it can be used to hide a multitude of taste sins, but it wasn’t bad at all. The value makes them a good option for budget meals, the meat itself doesn’t seem massively ethical given they don’t even list where it was reared, just ‘UK Pork’ is as much description as we’re given. Excellent burgers overall, hang up your ethics at the door though especially if you’re farm-to-plate sort of person as yes, its cheap meat.  But tasty.

We’re looking at 80% Pork, 5% Chorizo and a whole bunch of wheat based additives to stick the whole lot together, not great if you’re gluten intolerant or just anti-wheat.

Product Review: Piper’s Farm Unsmoked Back Bacon 5/5

Bacon. Breaker of vegetarians, maker of Full English Breakfasts and very hard to cover the smell of. Supermarkets sell it, normally injected with water or treated with chemicals which help it stay preserved for longer so its refreshing to be able to tuck in to what I consider ‘proper bacon’.  And who better to have bought these from.pipers-farm-awardsPiper’s Farm are award winning. Just look at them all!  And there is good reason.  The farm, located in Mid-Devon is entirely grass fed.  The rich nutritious red soil means that the animals need no additional supplements. The taste of the meat has been commended over and over again; in 2011 Pipers Farm was listed as one of The Times’s top 10 butchers and was awarded Best Food Producer in 2007 by the BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming Awards. Not to mention the countless Taste awards and regional awards that they have earned.

Pipers Farm also do meat boxes.  The range is extensive and you can start with one-off boxes or order them regularly.  They start at £30 or you can do a ‘Meat for the week’ for £15.

How much? 
I bought 10 rashers for £4 at the Exeter Food Festival yesterday.

Where to can you buy it from?
Piper’s Farm have a butchers located at 57 Magdalen Road in Exeter, or you can buy them online

The Verdict:
The taste is immediately evident.  From first bite there is a stronger taste which resounds through the whole mouthful.  Piper’s Farm use Saddleback pigs for their bacon, they live in an old cider orchard and feast on grass, acorns and windfalls.  The meat is hung for three weeks and then cured traditional brine cure and smoked over oak chips.

The texture was nowhere near as tough as supermarket bacon, it became flakey and for lack of a better expression ‘melt in the mouth’.

We crisp our bacon and found that there was a bit of shrinkage but nothing that detracts from the taste.  Crispy bacon shrinks, its the nature of the beast and these beasts were absolutely delicious.

Bacon is an easy recipe ingredient.  What sort of things can you do with bacon? Have a look at this suggestion from Pikalily for a Chorizo and Bacon Rosti 

Sylvain’s Little French Cakes: Pattiserie Perfection

For Eating Exeter, product testing is a bit of a rarity.  Once Gourmet Garden sent us a whole bunch of squeezy herbs which I tried to love but failed to, and now and again we get the odd thing sent through which either gets a write up because its lovely or casually ignored if it is just naff.  But this is the first time that I’ve had to arrange to pick up something that was created in Exeter.

Popping down to The Salutation Inn in Fore Street, Topsham, where Sylvain’s Little French Cakes is based after I finished work was a little like stepping back down a cobbled lane of memories as it had been quite literally years.  The last time I had stepped in to The Salutation Inn’s courtyard it had been cobbled and open, but now it was quite different.

The Salutation Inn has changed greatly in the last few years, along with the general demographic of Topsham and that area of East Devon.  Imagine my surprise when we visited it to pick up our cakes to find that the courtyard had transformed in to a magnificent glass walled dining area, filled with natural light.  It is clear that The Salutation Inn is now positioning themselves into the fine dining arena with their Chef Director, Tom Williams-Hawkes at the healm.

But today my visit wasn’t about The Salutation Inn, it was about Sylvain’s Little French Cakes which operates out of The Salutation Inn as their in-house patisserie and the star of the show, Sylvain Peltier.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to meet Sylvain, on this occasion but I was able to meet a waitress who insisted on telling me that I had pronounced his name wrong, at least three times after I had actually made the mistake. Ah well…

Sylvain (pronounced Sil-van for the non-French speakers amongst us) has an impressive CV when it comes to his craft and its worth exploring his website as it really conveys what Sylvain’s Little French Cakes is about.  It is (where possible) a personal cake delivery service, a patisserie school and a trade supplier. And there is one thing these little French cakes are, magnifique!!

We were lucky enough to have a selection of éclairs, Petit choux and macarons.  So here goes with our run down of each one:

Millionaire Eclaire – Salted Caramel with hazelnut crumb, and a thick chocolate (70% cocoa) filling with caramel pillowed in between a soft choux pastry case.  The pastry was strong enough to hold the contents and it didn’t dissolve when I bit in to it and had a silky smooth texture to it.

Pure Noir – Dark and rich chocolate filling with the same amazing choux pastry.  The chocolate (65%) centre held by the light yet strong choux pastry again had this amazing texture to it which was like licking silk.  Although I found the chocolate centre quite bitter (personal taste) this had an amazing chocolaty punch.

Vanilla Bourbon – Vanilla icing made from real vanilla (spot the vanilla seeds!) with a creamy delicately flavoured bourbon centre, which felt like it was almost whipped!  The light vanilla marshmallows just dissolved in mouth, and really worked well with the combination of centre and icing.  Whole thing was kept together with the strong yet light choux pastry case.

Raspberry Petit Choux – The raspberry had a wonderful fruity sharpness  and the texture of the pastry made this a lovely sweet bite.  I found this hard to eat in small nibbles and the presentation (and this goes for all of them) was immaculate.

Salted Caramel Petit Choux – Raspberry icing worked well with the pastry and the little crust of sea salt added a depth of flavour to the caramel insides.  It was, like the eclairs, silky on the inside in texture with a lovely rich salted caramel centre.

Macarons: 

So here is a lesson for you, they are nothing to do with Macaroons and they have a little bit of history behind them too.

Although the macaron is predominantly a French confection, there has been much debate about its origins. Larousse Gastronomique cites the macaron as being created in 791 in a convent near Cormery. Some have traced its French debut back to the arrival of Catherine de’ Medici‘s Italian pastry chefs whom she brought with her in 1533 upon marrying Henry II of France.[8] In 1792, macarons began to gain fame when two Carmelite nuns, seeking asylum in Nancy during the French Revolution, baked and sold the macaron cookies in order to pay for their housing. These nuns became known as the “Macaron Sisters”. In these early stages, macarons were served without special flavors or fillings.[9]

It was not until the 1830s that macarons began to be served two-by-two with the addition of jams, liqueurs, and spices. The macaron as it is known today, composed of two almond meringue discs filled with a layer of buttercream, jam, or ganache filling, was originally called the “Gerbet” or the “Paris macaron.” Pierre Desfontaines of the French pâtisserie Ladurée has sometimes been credited with its creation in the early part of the 20th century, but another baker, Claude Gerbet, also claims to have invented it.

Thanks Wikipedia 🙂

So nothing to do with Macaroons, and I have to admit this was the first time I had had a Macaron (always up for new experiences) and I wasn’t disappointed.  Macarons are a lot sweeter than you think they might be at first, and they make excellent partners with coffee.

Lemon and Pistachio – A pistachio ganache and confied lemon centre which had a really fruity kick to it.

Raspberry and Tonka Bean – Amazing colour and a really strong raspberry flavour which worked well with the sweetness of the macaron itself.

Just Chocolate – Chocolaty and punchy, the high cocoa content coming over in its amazing flavour

Cassis and Violet – Unfortunately the not being a massive fan of the taste of violet, this had a wonderful blackberry taste but for me the violet reminded me of Parma Violets.  But apart from that it, like the rest of them, had a delicious ganache centre (confied Blackberry’s) with a delicate crispy shell.

Thanks to Elle and Sylvain for the opportunity to taste these awesome pieces of patiesserie perfection.  If you want to know more about Sylvain’s Little French Cakes, head to the website:

www.sylvainslittlefrenchcakes.co.uk where you can buy eclairs, macarons and get more information about Sylvain and what he does.

Follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LittleFenchCake

Follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SylvainsLittleFrenchCakes?fref=ts

Iberico Ham & Chorizo from Jamonprive – Product Review

Eating Exeter doesn’t often review products, but we were given the opportunity to taste some fantastic meats sent all the way from Barcelona.  I know this as it had Barcelona on the stamp.

Iberian Ham is something of a delicacy in Spain, using Iberian Pigs fed primarily on acorns, this gives the meat a distinct taste and coupled with the traditional processes of curing and preparing the meat, you are unlikely to ever taste cured meat like this from anywhere else.

To be precise the meats came from a fantastic online company called Jamonprive who work closely with the meat producers to deliver Iberian Ham and Cured Meats across the EU.  In our case, our Iberian Ham and Chorizo came from Ibericos Dehesa Casablanca based in the Extremadura region, so a massive thank you to them and Jamonprive for allowing us to sample this Spanish delicacy.

In Paolo Singer’s travel article in the New York Times, he visits the Extremadura region and says the following:

“…the Extremadura region, is in the heart of Spain’s pig country. I had traveled there in search of the world’s best ham, a recent food obsession instigated by Spanish friends. Along the way, I discovered a variety of mouthwatering specialties, learned about unique traditions and met locals with a contagious passion for their culinary heritage.

This article only goes to reinforce the heritage of the meats that Jamonprive and their producers sell.  It’s a fantastic journey around the Spanish countryside, and definitely worth a read.

Iberian Ham (Jamon Bellota Loncheado) – Opening the packet was like opening the door of a curing barn, or at least how I imagine it to be.  A strong lingering smell of the meat coupled with a nuttiness to the aroma from the diet of acorns these pigs are fed makes you realise this isn’t just supermarket deli pancetta.

The meat had the same hue and depth in colour as a good red wine, very little fat and a helpful strip of plastic in between each slice meant that the usual picking and peeling that you can sometimes endure with cheaper cured meats was not the case.

The meat quite literally melted as soon as it entered my mouth, it wasn’t overly oily.  It had a taste that lingered with a pleasant aftertaste, the pork seemed to be seasoned with balance and consideration.  It wasn’t overly salty as cured meats can be and this in itself would make for a good accompaniment with chicken or other delicate meats.  Take for example this tapas recipe from the BBC Good Food website.  Blisteringly simple but perfect for putting the meat first with little interference from the tomato and the bread.

Fancy trying some Iberian Ham? Purchase from Jamonprive.co.uk here.

Chorizo (Loncheado Iberco Bellota) – It is only until you have tried ‘proper’ Chorizo that you can truly say that you are a fan of Chorizo.  Don’t give me that supermarket stuff that is made out of calf anuses and lamb ligaments, this is made of Iberian Ham and a few things along the way such as paprika and seasoning.

This is what Jamonprive have to say about this Chorizo (couldn’t have said it better myself!)

“This acorn-fed iberian chorizo ​​is made from selected lean iberian pork, from pigs feeding on the acorns that grow in our pastures in Rodrigo city. It is seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic and made ​​in the traditional way, resulting in an exquisite handmade product that will not not disappoint the most discerning palates.” (Jamonprive http://www.jamonprive.co.uk/iberico/sliced-acorn-fed-iberian-chorizo-ibericos-dehesa-casablanca-221)

Again like the ham, upon opening the packet I imagine opening a barn door in a Spanish farm, with meat hanging somewhere curing.  A delicious smell that lingered in the nose.

The taste was a well balanced mix of seasoning and garlic and it had a slight oily texture too which helps with the preserving of the meat, but the oil was just enough to give it that tapas touch.  I felt however that the meat had to shine so we had a look for a few recipes and came across a really nice Gluten Free Pizza recipe from Gluten Free Girl that I have had my eye on.  Replace Ham for Chorizo and you’re on to a non-glutinous winner!

Fancy trying some Chorizo? Purchase from Jamonprive.co.uk

So what makes Jamonprive different? Jamonprive uses a sytem called drop-shipping and it is this drop-shipping system and integration with TNT’s API that allows Jamonprive to offer the best products at the best possible price and fast/secure delivery.

For more information head to www.jamonprive.com and have a look for yourself.