10 Questions with John Burton Race – by Lauren Heath

John Burton Race is well known for being a passionate chef with a reputation that precedes him.

Having worked under chef Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, back in the 80’s, and gaining his first Michelin star whilst heading up the restaurant and kitchen, he has since moved to France and back, had books published, worked in television and owned and run his own restaurant ventures. In 2016 he co-founded a private catering venture, Two Grumpy Chefs, with Totnes based chef Chris Shervill.

With one of his previous restaurant ventures being in Dartmouth, he previously lived in Devon from 2004 to 2010 and he has now returned to enjoy the quiet that Devon’s countryside has to offer whilst enjoying an exciting and busy role with Richardson Hotel Group.

At the end of 2016, it was announced that he would be heading up the kitchen and restaurant at the newly refurbished The Grosvenor Hotel, Torquay – also with a reputation that precedes it, the hotel with a haphazard owner was the star of a Channel 4 television show, called The Hotel. A match made in heaven you may say.

At the end of the day, chefs work incredibly long hours in a job they do more for love than money, otherwise they wouldn’t do it – so passion and drive is what’s needed and can often be mistaken for a difficult personality (I too, am married to a chef, and I know how passionate they can be). Either way, whatever drives John – it works.

We thoroughly enjoyed his incredible food and delightful service at the refurbished Grosvenor earlier this year, which you can read here.

In between John Burton-Race wrestling with lobsters, and dishing out divine Michelin level food, he was kind enough to answer 10 questions for us:

1 – In your spare time (probably rare, we realise) what do you like to do to relax?

Fishing, walking, riding and shooting.

2 – With nearly a decade since your last cookbook, any plans for another on the horizon?

Yes, I’d love to write a new cook book and base it on my dishes at the Grosvenor.

3 – The Grosvenor was the venue for Channel 4’s infamous show ‘The Hotel’ with the funny but hap-hazard Mark Jenkins; did you ever watch it and, if so, is it strange being there?

No, I never watched the show nor have I met Mark Jenkins. However, I am aware that it used to have somewhat of a reputation, this however has already changed.

4 – As seen on the telly, the hotel has great potential with the event room, large restaurant, bar area and swimming pool. Are you looking forward to the variety of menus you can offer?

Yes, absolutely and new menus for all occasions are in place.

5 – I love a well laid out kitchen, and some mighty stainless steel.  With a complete redesign of the kitchen, what is your favourite piece or gadget or is there something you’ve had put in that you’ve always wanted?

I have lots of gadgets but my favourite has to be my water baths and my Paco-Jet.

JBR (27 of 53)

6 – Is there a seasonal favourite, old favourite or signature dish that you hope to put on the menu?

All of my dishes are my favourite dishes, however, I am a self-confessed chocoholic, therefore something chocolate will be at the top of my list.

7 – My husband and I enjoyed being guests on Market Kitchen in 2009 when you were cooking a brown shrimp dish with Tom Parker Bowles; do you miss doing television or is it too tiring in comparison to the adrenaline of the kitchen?

I love doing television and hopefully will do some more in the future. It’s a different type of pressure, but I love it.

8 – We shared your news about the hunt for some talent for your kitchen team, how’s that going?

The Hunt is going really well, in fact there are only two positions that I need to fill now.

9 – Once you have a great team in place, are you still hoping to fit in your private catering Two Grumpy Chefs occasionally?

Occasionally. Possibly.

10 – It must be refreshing that Richardson Hotels Group is privately owned, with just a few well picked establishments here in Devon and Cornwall.  How did the opportunity come about?

Mr Richardson found me. And what a treasure he found! (I think he was contacted by my agent, Sue Hesketh)

Thanks to John for his time and answers; we highly recommend you hot foot it down to Torquay and sample his tasty offerings!

*Photos courtesy of Richardson Hotel Group.

 

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Ex Royal Clarence chef heads up restaurant at new luxury Devon hotel

BRAND new Devon luxury hotel and events venue Paschoe House has appointed Alex Gibbs as Executive Head Chef.

The stunning 10-bedroom manor house on the edge of Crediton throws open its doors to the public for the first time in its 800 year history this month.

And Tabitha Amador-Christie, Owner of Paschoe House, believes her new chef will play a vital role in the hotel’s success.

Alex Gibbs and Tabitha Amador Christie. Picture credit Neil Gratton Photography
Alex Gibbs & Tabitha Amador-Christie; Image Copyright of Neil Gratton Photography

She says: ‘Alex has an excellent reputation. I am excited about his creativity in the kitchen and can’t wait to see what delights he and his team produce from our brand new kitchen at Paschoe House.

’Alex previously held the position of Executive Head Chef at The Royal Clarence in Exeter. He sadly lost his job when the world famous hotel and restaurant burned down in October 2016.

‘All the staff from The Royal Clarence, many of whom had worked together for years and years, became unemployed overnight. It was soul-destroying, not to mention incredibly sad, to watch the venue that we’d loved, burn to the ground,’ says Alex.

But every cloud has a silver lining, and it was a supplier whom Alex had known for a number of years, who suggested that he contact the owners of Paschoe House, a brand new restaurant, hotel and events venue near Crediton who were looking to serve beautifully cooked, locally sourced food from their country house base.

He adds: ‘As soon as I heard about Paschoe House, I realised that this was exactly where I wanted to be. I fired off my CV and met the owner that same week. We open shortly, and I’m currently busy setting up the kitchen and creating our menu.’

So, what is it about Paschoe House that makes it such an appealing prospect for a chef such as Alex?

Alex Gibbs at Paschoe House. Picture credit Neil Gratton Photography
Image Copyright of Neil Gratton Photography

‘At the moment we’re busy planting up our kitchen garden, so it’s wonderful to be part of something from the very beginning. I have the opportunity to create the sort of menu that will make the food at Paschoe House stand out from its competitors, and that is very exciting indeed.’

Tabitha adds: ‘As soon as I heard from Alex, I knew that I’d be a fool not to appoint him as our new head chef. The food at The Royal Clarence had such an excellent reputation, so I knew that we’d be in safe hands.’

For more information about Paschoe House visit the website at www.paschoehouse.co.uk

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.

gin bus

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/

Michael Caines’ MBE luxury dream finally takes flight with estuary estate at Lympstone Manor – by Lauren Heath

Down at the bottom of the garden, amongst the birds and the bees, is a hub of activity, and no it’s not the Poddington Peas…

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…It’s Devon’s very own 2 Michelin starred chef Michael Caines MBE. The Exeter-based chef, who left Gidleigh Park at the beginning of 2016 after 18 years, sowed the seeds of his vision a few years ago during his notice period, as he sunk his heart, soul and many great British pounds into what once was Courtlands House. This elegant Grade II listed Georgian mansion, that was a wedding and event venue, was in need of much love and life injecting into it to bring a slightly ugly duckling to its full potential as a graceful swan…and my oh my, he has done it.

I was thrilled to be invited along as part of a bijou group for a local press lunch and tour on what became a splendidly sunny Tuesday. After parking in the car park, with no building in sight, I meandered awkwardly in my heels along a wood chip path.  From the moment you emerge from the forest path, which is peppered with stone art work for your enjoyment and seasonal bluebells, the positioning of Lympstone Manor really comes into it’s own – the view that opens up to the right is SPECTACULAR.

As you enter into the spacious foyer the furniture, décor, details and warmth hit you from every corner; it took me a moment to soak it all up and I’m sure reception will get used to guests entering and not even realising they are straight ahead of them as the arriving guest breathes everything in.

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With sitting areas to the left and right, and a bar area right back leading onto the beautiful verandah with such detailed archways that run the length of the main building. Sit here with a coffee or a glass of something and just soak that view up.

If it’s a bit chilly and you can’t face the outdoors, the comfy and well filled lounge areas will keep you warm. I found it to be really well decorated, nothing was cold, bare or chintzy, just filled with warmth, comfort and exuding elegance and individual quirky seating in places.

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The theme and colour palette of the bedrooms is in keeping the blue calm of the Exe estuary along with rooms named after local birdlife and hand painted by local artist Rachael Toll.

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Prices start at approx. £230 per night, 5 of the 21 bedrooms having views to the rear of the property, but fear not as the interiors will make you enjoy your indoor surroundings. Plump cushions, fluffy carpets underfoot, accents of gold, complimentary Williams Chase laden gin trays, Nespresso coffee machines. L’Occitane toiletries (and the all essential GHD’s for the ladies) await you. Rooms also contain local Devon made beds from Enchanted House Beds and plush duvets from Devon Duvets.

The majority of the rooms have garden or estuary views; ranging in size, one suite even has double gold roll top baths whilst other suites boast glass fronted balconies, outdoor patios areas with fire pits, outdoor soak tubs and even private garden entrance.

For locals who don’t need an overnight expedition in the cosiness and exclusiveness of Lympstone Manor’s rooms, then the dining is where it’s at, with menus to tempt your budget when you are looking for something special.  Three dining rooms – Berry Head, Powderham and Mamhead, all with their own personalities and possibilities, adorned with Kurt Jackson artwork, are perfect for couples dining, groups celebrating or business deals over dinner. There’s even a wine room that will be available for wine tasting too, what’s not to like?

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And now to the food – as Michael quotes, “after love, there is only cuisine”…

We were very lucky to be treated to canapes on the veranda before indulging in 5 courses with matching wines.

Canapés of tuna tartare, a carrot creation and breaded quails egg with the essential runny yolk.

Beautifully made selection of breads to start before diving into the first course of Pipers Farm Chicken Terrine with truffle, hazelnuts and green bean salad.

Stephanie of Exploring Exeter was impressed with the vegetarian second course of Goat Cheese Mousse with jasmin raisins, apple and candied walnuts whilst I was delighted with Warm Salad of Cornish Lobster with mango and cardamom vinaigrette and curried mayonnaise.

Third course included Fillet of Darts Farm Beef, braised cheek, horseradish and shallot confit, celeriac, mushroom puree and red wine sauce whilst the vegetarian option was a Slow Cooked Duck Egg surrounded by peas, jersey royals, asparagus and black truffle.

Pre-dessert was a beautiful Apple Mousse, with green apple sorbet and vanilla foam followed by the main dessert of Poached Rhubarb with Hibiscus, lemon sponge, lemon curd and rhubarb sorbet.

All of the courses were beautiful in texture and flavour and all tasted absolutely divine. I was even allowed into Michael’s domain to see him plate up the desserts and, having worked in kitchens myself, I was impressed by the space with plenty of room for a growing brigade.

So if you are done salivating or I’ve got your tummy rumbling….shall I remind you of the view?

I must admit I was a little sad to leave, although I did so with a smile on my face.

After lounging around like lady (or man) of the manor, perhaps you’ll find the energy to explore part of the 28 acres, soon to be vineyard (with this spot being in the top 5% of suitability due to ideal conditions), or even escape on one of the Pashley bicycles available – with private access to the public cycle trail you could dip your toes in the estuary that makes this view and venue mouth-wateringly priceless. Unique, sumptuous, delectable – and it’s right here on our doorstep.

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Lympstone Manor

Courtlands Lane, Exmouth, EX8 3NZ

Telephone 01395 202040 or email welcome@lympstonemanor.co.uk

Find out more on their Website, Facebook or Twitter

Win a Family Pass to the River Cottage Spring Food Fair!

Taking place over May Bank Holiday, River Cottage Spring Food Fair is the perfect way to celebrate this season’s foodie delights and activities, surrounded by the gorgeous East Devon countryside. Promised to be packed full of fun for all the family to enjoy, enter our competition and you could win a family pass for Monday 29th May 2017.

 

We’ve rounded up our top 10 things to do at the Spring Food Fair….

  1. Enjoy a cookery masterclass – Get cooking with our adult and child masterclasses and learn the secret behind cookies and doughnuts & pasta and focaccia. If parents want to try their hand at something different then there are a range of other masterclasses to enjoy from Wild Cocktails with John Wright to Outdoor Cookery with Gill Meller
  2. Pottery Workshops – Learn how to make a seedling pot which will be yours to take away at the end of the session
  3. Falconry displays – Marvel at these beautiful birds as they fly around and catch their prey
  4. Food, food and more food! Feast on delicious fare from our local producers, pop up food stalls, try some delicious River Cottage wood fired pizza or dine in our farmhouse pop-up restaurant!
  5. Bee Area – Visit the East Devon Beekeepers and learn all about bees, you will also be able to make and take away your very own candle and take part in a fun bee-related quiz.
  6. Lucet Braiding/Felting workshops – Learn how to make textile jewellery e.g. friendship bracelet using the Lucet & 100% wool fibres or textile waste or you could learn the basic principles of needle-felting to create a delightful bumble bee brooch
  7. Enjoy spectacular large bubble displays/ get face painted
  8. Forest school – Learn how to build a shelter, whittle pegs and light a fire
  9. Animal area – Wonder around the farm and meet the River Cottage animals and other friends. Pigs, sheep, cows, chickens, alpacas, miniature ponies will all be around for you to see.
  10. Natural woodcraft workshops – Use natural resources to make you very own bug box or a beautiful wooden flower

…and if that’s not enough to tempt you, visit the website (www.rivercottage.net) to find out more or buy yourself some tickets.

To be in with the chance of winning a family pass to the Spring Food Fair on Monday 29th May, where you can enjoy all of our favourite spring delights and much more, simply enter the competition below.

Terms & Conditions

  • In order to enter please just retweet the pinned post on Twitter or like, share and comment on the pinned post on Facebook.
  • Closing date Midnight 30.04.2017
  • Prize includes two adult tickets and two child tickets to the River Cottage Spring Food Fair on Monday 29th May 2017
  • Transport is not included
  • Open to residents of the UK aged over 18
  • Prize is non-transferable or amendable
  • No cash alternative
  • Additional costs incurred are payable by the winner

 

*Featured header image courtesy of Nick Hook Photography

Foodie Fundraising Feast by Lauren Heath

Recently the wonderfully charming Andy Cooper, Editor of Devon Life magazine, lost his darling Zena warrior princess to that awful disease Cancer. Obviously nothing can bring her back or heal the wound fully but as in life one must find the good within the bad.

So apart from deciding to run the Taunton half marathon in her honour to raise funds towards his chosen charities, Bowel Cancer UK and St Mary’s Hospice, he also enlisted the help of ex-River Cottage chef and fellow Devonian, Tim Maddams.

It was to be held the same evening of the half marathon in Andy’s local village hall, with 100 seats available. So Andy would have certainly earned a feed! Tim is no stranger to pop up dinners so apart from knowing the food would be great, we thought this seemed a wonderful idea to raise funds through a foodie feast, so Stephanie of Exploring Exeter and I decided this was a worthy ticket to purchase.

There were many wonderful raffle prizes to be won on the evening thanks to many incredible businesses in Devon and Cornwall who gave generously including afternoon tea for 12, jewellery, spa days and so on.

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The hall was filled with locals and business connections, tables of friends and some tables of ‘strangers’, as ours was, but conversation soon flowed. Many of us were armed with a bottle or two of something to celebrate Zena’s memory with Andy as well as his efforts.

It wasn’t just Tim Maddams in the kitchen in the end; Robin Rea of The Rusty Pig was also there to make up a dynamic foodie duo. Not content with exceeding his steps for the day, Andy had his waiter hat on for the evening and served the guests too.

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The menu consisted of:

Starter – root vegetable and wild garlic pottage, nettle and water mint pesto.

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Meat main – slow roasted mutton, smoke rooted loin, spring greens, barley, rooting juices

Vegetarian main – Saffron polenta, purple broccoli, romesco sauce

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Pudding – rhubarb upside down cake, honey and raw milk custard.

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It was just so incredibly delicious, local hearty fare. We had a great evening.

The main reason I am writing this is not to shout about my experience but now that I have your attention, if anyone out there with a few pounds to spare, please can you donate to this very worthy cause.

So don’t delay; visit the #TeamZena fundraising page now. Let’s help stop this awful disease in its tracks or at least help those currently suffering. He has already managed just shy of £6,000!

Well done to everyone involved in #TeamZena’s memory.

Dinner and Overnight Stay with John Burton-Race at The Grosvenor, Torquay – by Lauren Heath

Being ex-hospitality, I find it interesting to watch certain reality series like Four in a Bed and Kitchen Nightmares – having been there, done that, you wander how on earth people can get it so wrong. Another entertaining fly-on-the-wall show was The Hotel on Channel 4. The Hotel itself was The Grosvenor in Torquay, which was owned and run by Mark Jenkins – a haphazard yet entertaining guy who, bless him, always tried his very best. But with little money in the pot and micro managing everyone around him including some larger than life characters, this big hotel with even bigger potential just seemed to fall at every hurdle. We had even passed this hotel on a day out, and in sheer nosiness, popped in for a quick browse mid-fame.

Fast forward a couple of years and my, how things have changed. The hotel has since been purchased by the Richardson Hotel Group, a privately owned business with Keith Richardson still very much at the forefront. Along with The Grosvenor, they own 6 seafront hotels in Devon and Cornwall including The Grand in Torquay, and then The Fowey, The Falmouth and The Metropole Hotels in Cornwall.

Since purchasing the hotel, it was recently closed for a short period of time to push its refurbishment plans through as well as completely renovating the kitchen for it’s new michelin starred captain at the helm: John Burton-Race.

Some of you may or may not know who John is but one thing that precedes him is his feisty reputation. Saying that, JBR, who has had recipe books published, cookery tv shows and his own restaurants under his belt has been living a much calmer Devon life for quite a few years and it seems fitting that he is the one bringing order to this once chaotic establishment.

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John Burton-Race – image provided by PR company

Interestingly nearly 9 years to the day, I met John Burton-Race whilst being a guest on set of Market Kitchen in London, where John cooked brown shrimp for us, so I was intrigued by the news of his appointment.

So with this combination of life stories and events, I was delighted to have been invited for an overnight stay to test out the accommodation and food offering in this fairly local seaside town.

The front of the hotel has been treated to a good facelift to freshen things up as has the interior. We were checked in promptly and advised on the location of our room so off we toddled, wheelie bag in hand ready for a proper nosey.

Our room was enormous! Large bed, very high ceilings, tall windows to match. There was plenty of storage for those longer stays, and a nice pair of chairs with coffee table for relaxing. There was even a fridge which was great for a few treats we had brought with, and it wasn’t a noisy ‘buzz all night’ type of fridge. We had seen this room before on the telly, and it was tired and a bit wasted – but now it was fresh and clean. It was not what I would call luxurious – but it didn’t need to be, this is not a boutique hotel – it is comfortable and gives value for money, and they understand the price point of the guests they are likely to welcome here and have not over egged it.

We enjoyed the pool and jacuzzi facilities; a slightly roman-inspired area with its curves and decor. There is also a sauna to use if you wish to sweat anything off. After our relaxation, we then returned to the room to refresh ourselves for dinner.

Prior to dinner, we were sat in the lounge area to peruse the menus – the a la carte menu with individually priced items and the 6 course tasting menu priced at a very affordable £50 per head. If you have booked Dinner, B and B it includes the a la carte and if you really fancy the tasting menu you can pay a small fee to ‘upgrade’. We ordered our drinks with hubby being well advised on a good gin to go for, to fulfill his current drinking fad.

The restaurant tables were well spread out, private enough for your own conversation yet filled enough that there was a lovely buzz in the room from other tables. The lighting was right, the service smooth and effortless and it was non-intrusive. James the maitre’d, really had it; that irish charm goes a long way but he exuded genuine customer care and the right amount of humour. I had my ear out listening to him with other diners and he could certainly read his customer which is a much needed talent amonst a good front of house position.

Dinner really was sublime. I have mentioned before how chef hubby, Steve, is hard to please or impress but he had a wonderful evening, as did I.

It all started with an amouse bouche of seafood raviolo, with crispy fish skin and an asian salad. For starters Steve chose the Salad of Beef Rib served with truffled potato, watercress, hazelnuts, and sour dough crouton. I had my eye on the lobster ravioli in lobster bisque as seen on Twitter and thankfully it was still on the menu. Both starters were just beautiful, each element singing through and packed with flavour. My ravioli was bursting with a hunk of tender and meaty, sweet lobster.

For mains Steve flew for the Roast Devon Quail, herb purée, beetroot, quail jus, and tarragon gnocchi and I leapt at Roast Chump of Lamb, jerusalem artichoke, purple sprouting broccoli & tapenade jus. All the meat was cooked to perfection – juicy, tasty and well taken care of. Steve loved his gnocchi and I must say the Jerusalem artichoke puree was an eye opener for me and a flavour triumph – earthy yet sweet.

For dessert I couldn’t decide (what’s new) but was recommended one and thought why not, sounds interesting. It was Sweetcorn Custard, toffee popcorn, quince sauce, and popcorn ice-cream. It was a set custard, not sweet or savoury – somewhere in between but the accompaniments added the dimension and enhancement.  Being me, I could have done with something sweeter but it was tasty and something I’ve never seen before.

Steve opted for a selection of the cheeses which included Ossau-Iraty, Glastonbury Cheddar, Raclette, Sharpham’s Elmhirst, Crottin de Chevre Melusine, Morbier, Langres, Fourme d’Ambert. He was very impressed that these were stored in the dining room at room temperature, cut to order and was a very satisfied customer once he’d munched his way through.

Pleasantly full we headed back to our room for a good sleep. The bed was very comfortable and the room a good temperature.

Morning came and we ventured for breakfast in the same dining room, only with her morning wear on, with lots of homemade pastries, local yoghurts and such items on the central table with a breakfast menu to choose from as you would expect.

Breakfast was good; the only thing that really let it down was the coffee – or lack there of. It was filter coffee in the coffee plunger but it was either weak coffee granules or whoever is making it doesn’t know how it tastes as a finished product and therefore isn’t spooning enough in – it wasn’t good. I suggest they invest in a filter coffee machine or coffee shop type instrument – perhaps this is on the shopping list, as I really can’t start the day without a good cup of java.

We were sat on the higher glass extension end of the restaurant and so had a view out on to the garden and it was light and bright. I ordered the eggs benedict and Steve ordered the smoked haddock. Both very tasty but the haddock could have been a bit more generous in size or at least with a muffin for sustenance. We saw other diners enjoying the Full English and it looked to be of great quality and a good portion. Overall we were satisfied and the service was very good.

So with full bellies for the second time in just under 12 hours, it was time to venture back out to the real world. The hotel’s refurbishment is stylish and comfortable with many more things to come in the entertainment spaces. There is also an outdoor pool with plenty of potential for the summer months if the weather is kind to Torquay and it’s visitors. The hotel is perfect for families and couples alike, and I think the upcoming refurbishment will include family friendly dining to accompany the Michelin star level offering.

For a stay in Torquay, The Grosvenor is like a caterpillar, finally becoming the butterfly it so deserves to be; perfectly formed for its purpose. As for the restaurant and dining experience, well you need to try it for yourself; a warm glow at the belly of the beast, albeit a much calmer beast, with outstanding dishes showcasing the best the South West has to offer.

To add a bit of adventure to your lunch or dinner outing and allow you to enjoy a tipple from the vast choices on offer, why not catch the train down from Exeter? The hotel is only a 5 minute walk from the train station, and would really add to the whole experience. If you can’t manage a stay, once contently filled with your delicious dinner, perhaps a nap on the train home will have to do.

With John having experienced French living back in the day, I hope the English Riviera will now satisfy, where he can add his je nais se quoi to Torquay and The Grosvenor for the foreseeable future.

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The Grosvenor Hotel, Belgrave Road, Torquay, TQ2 5HG

Website: www.grosvenorhoteltorquay.co.uk

Twitter: @GrosvenorTQ

 

 

5 Week Countdown to the Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink! *WIN TICKETS*

The 14th Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink is returning to the Exeter Castle Courtyard and Northernhay Gardens in the very heart of the city in just 5 weeks’ time! The 2017 Festival is running across the early May Bank Holiday weekend, from Saturday 29th April to Monday 1st May 2017.

Activities for children include interactive workshops including, Fun Kitchen cookery classes, farm animals, story-telling and craft activities. The Darts Farm ‘Food is Fun’ Teepees also host a packed schedule of informative and fun family workshops, talks on topical food and drink themes and demonstrations from local chefs.

You can find over 90 artisan producers from the region in the Food & Drink marquees, 7 Michelin-starred chefs cooking up a storm in the Festival Cookery Theatre and three evenings of music at the After Dark Music Festival (Friday, Saturday and Sunday).

For your chance to win a family pass to the Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink on Monday 1st May where you can enjoy cookery demos from Michelin-starred chefs Mark Dodson from The Mason Arms and co-founder Michael Caines from Lympstone Manor, simply enter our competition below.

How many Michelin-starred chefs will be demoing at the Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink this year?

a) 3

b) 5

c) 7

For more information or to buy tickets visit: www.exeterfoodanddrinkfestival.co.uk.

Terms & Conditions

  1. Closing date 14.04.2017
  2. Prize includes two adult tickets and two child tickets to the Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink on Monday 1st May 2017
  3. Access to the VIP lounge is not included
  4. Transport is not included.
  5. Open to residents of the UK aged over 18
  6. Prize is non-transferable or amendable
  7. No cash alternative
  8. Additional costs incurred are payable by the winner
  9. Enter by commenting the answer on our pinned Facebook post or by replying or retweeting the answer using our pinned Twitter post.

 

*Main featured photo copyright of Nick Hook Photography

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

Be one of the first to experience Lympstone Manor, Devon with 40% discount

Lympstone Manor, the most eagerly awaited hotel launch in 2017, is offering the limited opportunity to experience the hotel and restaurant at 40% off during its soft opening period from the 20th March to the 2nd April.

This soft opening will set the stage for Lympstone Manor’s grand opening, which follows on Monday 3rd April, and promises to be an outstanding showcase of the hotel.

Michael Caines MBE, Chef Patron and one of the UK’s most acclaimed chefs, has spent the past two years personally overseeing the complete transformation of the Georgian grade II listed mansion overlooking the Exe estuary into a luxury country house hotel and restaurant.

Dining at Lympstone Manor will be an exceptional experience in every sense. Michael will express his vision of modern British cuisine that is fresh, seasonal, original and exciting. Utilising the bounty of the Exe estuary, East Devon and the South West, his cuisine will be matched by wines selected from a world class cellar that contains over 600 bins.

Guests can choose from seven distinctive room categories including estuary suites, garden suites and standard guest rooms – all of which are designed in hues to mirror the surrounding estuary.

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The soft launch period will allow a limited number of guests to experience the hotel at 40% discount (room and food menus). This will enable those fortunate to get a booking (hotel as well as non-residential dining) to enjoy the Lympstone Manor experience, while allowing the team to train under the experienced senior management team.

To be one of the first to experience Lympstone Manor, call their reservations team on 01395 202040 or email reservations@lympstonemanor.co.uk.

*The Lympstone Manor soft launch offer*

Lympstone Manor are offering guests 40% off rooms as well as the food bill at lunch and dinner for residents and non-residents. Food offer is for the food bill only excluding drinks. Offer runs from 20 March – 2 April 2017 inclusive.

Private Dining at The Pig at Combe – by Lauren Heath

The Pig at Combe is far from the dusty, muddy, snorty (but intelligent) animal it is named after, it does however embody the essence of countryside. As you drive towards it from the a30 and through the villages, you see this warm glow illuminating in the distance, calling you into its warm belly.

I have heard many many things about the Pig at Combe- all positive; and having seen plenty of lovely pictures, have wandered what it would be like to dine there. Editor Chris visited late last year and thoroughly enjoyed himself with their 25 mile ethos, you can read his write up here.

On this occasion I was invited to enjoy their private dining option along with some other press. I was really looking forward to it and had not just my foodie/social hat on but also my corporate hat – as in my day job as a PA, it is good to have places to book for meetings or events as well as to add to my pool of knowledge to recommend to others.

To start the evening, I was led underground to the cellar. I was immediately taken aback by the cosy yet elegant atmosphere; white brick walls, stone flooring, wood, and loads of candles creating a sense of warmth. We enjoyed bubbly and canapés whilst chatting with other guests. Canapés included mushroom samosas, scotch eggs, pork crackling, lamb koftas, and fried kale with prawn salt. Everything was just delicious – little taste sensations.

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We were then led up to the Georgian Kitchen; a hunting lodge type kitchen (could almost be in a National Trust house) with large aga/wood burning stove across the back wall and a scullery off the back left. A grand wooden table surround by 12 chairs awaited us, with more ambient lighting and candles. A few stags heads adorned the walls along with a dresser of country house crockery – nothing forced or kitch, just everything naturally belonging.

Rather than having a menu of individual dishes to choose from, the ethos is about sharing –  an option I loved. I struggle to choose from a menu when I could quite frankly eat it all – so to have a bit of everything is right up my piggin’ street!

Don’t for one minute think this is buffet style…it is banquet dinner style.  Wooden boards arrived adorned with starters of smoked organic salmon, cured meats, toast topped with mussels, crab and exmoor caviar as well as garden leek and blue cheese tarts.

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For mains we enjoyed a whole cod with foraged sea veg, roasted and slow braised Dartmoor lamb and hay smoked BBQ Pipers Farm chicken – all meaty, succulent and cooked to perfection. Big knives landed into them, ready for serving the troops. On the side, our mighty feast was compimented by creamy layered potato, roast celeriac and lemon thyme, glasshouse leaves, foraged herbs and garden greens.

The pudding offering sent us all into ‘kids in a sweet shop’ mode. The most comforting and delicious rice pudding I’ve ever had, clear and wobbly gin and tonic jelly with tongue tingling lemon sorbet, a smooth ice cream parfait, sticky toffee pudding, apple and blackberry crumble and a trifle that would put your grandmother’s to shame.

 

For coffee we wandered across the path to the Folly. This was a lovely outhouse restaurant, candlelit once more, giant wicker woven lampshades hanging down, it had an African/ethnic feel for me. Coffee and ‘piggy fours’ were served whilst we admired the pizza oven and outside seating, complimented by firepits. This space is open, serving more casual food and dining and can be hired for private parties. Ceiling height sash windows can be opened to let the outside in if the weather permits.

We had enjoyed the evening thoroughly and all the spaces we had been in worked well for their purpose. The Pig at Combe really is a flexible venue, and I can assure you they will be able to cater for your private dining or casual party needs.

It was hunting lodge elegance..big food, beautifully cooked, subtle service. It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed such casual, comfortable yet sophisticated dining, with professional and effortless hosting. I look forward to returning, and sending everyone I know!

Check your diary and find an excuse now – you’d be a silly little piggy not to; pigs are one of my favourite animals and this beauty is no different. A great venue for family dining, a couples treat, corporate entertaining or getting down to serious business – you still gotta eat, a deal can’t be done on an empty stomach right?! As a restaurant with rooms you could of course stay over and be happy as a pig in…well, bed.

Time for this little piggy to go wee wee wee all the way home.

Find them on wheels: The Pig at Combe, Gittisham, Honiton, Devon, EX14 3AD

Find them online:Facebook, Twitter or on their website

*Dinner in the Georgian Kitchen can be for up to 14 people,

priced at £32 each for a 3 course family-style sharing menu.*

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Guest Chef Days Announced at Manna From Devon Cooking School

Manna from Devon Cooking School is delighted to announce the dates for the 2017 Guest Chef Classes: a series of celebrity chefs and foodie experts will be running classes at the school from March until September.

These guest days only pop up once a month and usually book up pretty quickly, a true reflection on the talent and reputation of each chef. This year’s Guest Chef classes are being hosted by Peter Greig of Pipers Farm, Mitch Tonks of Rockfish and The Seahorse, Romy Gill MBE from Romy’s Kitchen and food writer Charlotte Pike with another two hosts in the pipeline.

David, co-owner of Manna from Devon comments on the Guest Chef programme: “Holly and I are really excited to confirm we’ve got some of our best foodie friends joining us in 2017- we hope you can join us too! It’s important for us to involve other chefs and experts here at Manna from Devon, as we’re all about the community aspect of cooking; connecting lots of people through food and drawing on the array of amazing chefs and talent in the area.”

Peter masterminds Pipers Farm in Cullompton and he and his team produce the most amazing meats, raising their animals from birth and selling them through their own butchery and online shop. Peter will be bringing one of his lamb carcasses to butcher on Saturday 11th March and will be cooking up some of his fabulous meats in the wood fired ovens as well as discussing the Pipers Farm way of farming and how important it is to him; a true expert in his field.

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Peter Grieg

Mitch Tonks is an old friend of David and Holly’s. His knowledge and passion for fish and the fishing industry is inspiring and his fish dishes are truly delicious. As well as his chain of Rockfish restaurants in South Devon he runs The Seahorse restaurant in Dartmouth so Manna from Devon are delighted to have him hosting what will be a fabulously convivial day of some outstanding fish and seafood recipes on Friday 7th April.

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Mitch Tonks

Romy Gill MBE will be hosting her class on Sunday 7th May and will be cooking some of her amazing Indian food from her restaurant, Romy’s Kitchen – traditional flavours with a light and contemporary twist. David and Holly have been friends with Romy for a long time and love hearing her tell our guests stories of growing up in India and her determination to open her restaurant in Thornbury, just outside of Bristol. If you like Indian cooking, this is a day not to be missed.

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Romy Gill

Food writer Charlotte Pike will be joining David and Holly at the school on Sunday 4th June – passionate about smoking food, she will be creating some amazing dishes, passing on lots of tips and discussing how the enthusiasm for this kind of cooking is growing. David and Holly discovered “low & slow” smoking on their road trip in America so are keen to compare notes with Charlotte.

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Charlotte Pike

Classes will take place at Manna from Devon Cooking School in Kingswear and run from 10am – 4pm. All are limited to just 12 students and cost £175 per person.

To book one of the Guest Chef Classes visit http://www.mannafromdevon.com/cookery-courses/guest-chefs/ or call 01803 752943.

Follow Manna from Devon on:

Twitter (@mannafromdevon)

Facebook (facebook.com/mannafromdevon)

Instagram (mannafdevon)

Experience Valentine’s Day at South Sands Hotel

Salcombe’s South Sands Hotel is offering guests an exclusive dinner experience this Valentine’s Day as Head Chef Allister Bishop has prepared a romantic six course feast for lovers on this special night. Wherever possible, Allister uses local ingredients and integrates foraged food as demonstrated in this mouthwatering menu:

Beetroot soup

Liquorice & peppermint cured salmon, liquorice gel, soft herbs
or
Heritage tomato textures, Devon goat’s cheese mousse

Steamed local lemon sole fillet, hazelnut crust, wilted baby spinach
or
Sautéed gurnard, salsify purée, sprouting broccoli

8 hour slow cooked Dartmoor reared beef cheeks, heritage carrots & purée, soft mash
or
Pan fried guinea fowl, red quinoa, roasted shallot purée, grilled baby leeks

Sharing chocolate assiette plate
or
Oven roasted compressed rum scented pineapple tart tatin, lemon grass ice cream

or
Selection of West Country cheeses

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Encouraged by the knowing lure of fresh beach side produce and divine country living, Allister brings with him decades of experience having been based in London, working at some of the most reputable establishments the city has to offer – Harrods, Le Meridien and Hilton to name but a few.

Head chef Allister Bishop comments on the Valentines menu: “We look forward to welcoming our Valentine’s diners who are looking for something extra special – not just with the tasting menu but also with the wine, cocktails and surroundings. Wherever possible at South Sands we use local ingredients and integrate foraged food into both the food and the drinks menu. We’ve tried to create a sensational and ultimately romantic dining experience combined with the unparalleled views overlooking the Salcombe Estuary.”

The Valetine’s Dinner menu is complimented by a wine flight curated by sommelier Richard Coulson who recently joined the hotel from Gidleigh Park bringing with him 24 years of knowledge of the wine business.

Bar Manager Will Neal has created two Valentines cocktails, both are based on a warming and seasonal blend of white rum and honey with a sparkling splash of Lyme Bay Brut. The ‘Stupid Cupid’ includes beetroot powder and a touch of lemon juice and ‘Cold Black Heart’ incorporates activated charcoal.

The team are also hosting a South Sands Lunch Club from Monday to Saturday, 12-14.30, offering two courses for £14.95 or three courses for £19.95. This ends March 31st so don’t miss out on this sumptuous Winter treat!

The Valentine’s Day Dinner costs £65 pp or £95 pp with wine pairing and is bookable here or by calling 01548 845 900.

Whether it’s a first-rate dining experience, a romantic escape, a wedding or a corporate event space required, South Sands Hotel is the destination to treat your loved ones in 2017. Doubles cost from £170.

Valentine’s Day Gifts from Chococo

For Valentine’s Day 2017, Dorset-based artisan chocolatier Chococo has created a collection of gorgeous chocolates to delight chocolate lovers.

Aspiring cupids can select from the following gifts in their 2017 Valentine Collection: Chococo’s NEW Valentine’s Club – a unique subscription gift; NEW freshly handmade Valentine’s selection boxes; a NEW range of delicious and fun Valentine’s Chocolate Hearts; NEW boxes of Salted Caramel lips; and NEW boxes of little chocolate hearts.

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Carefully developed by the team, led by founders Claire and Andy Burnet, all the gifts are freshly handmade in Purbeck, Dorset, from fine origin chocolate from Madagascar (dark chocolate 67% cocoa) and Venezuela (milk chocolate 43% – which is very high in cocoa solids and lower in sugar) – so the object of your amorous intentions will get the best possible fine chocolate rush.  Chococo has always been a firm believer in working with chocolate high in cocoa solids & low in sugar, as it believes in giving its customers a fine chocolate, not a sugar, experience.

Also, to make the chocolates even more desirable, Chococo will be offering a free Valentine’s gift wrap on all selection boxes that are ordered online.

All the items listed below are available online on its websitewww.chococo.co.uk and from Chococo’s three Chocolate Houses in Swanage, Dorset; Winchester, Hampshire; and the NEWExeter, Devon, location. Alternatively you can call 01929 421777 to order some tempting Valentine delights.

The 2017 Valentine’s Collection includes:

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Chococo Valentine’s Club (£56.40 for three-months) – Give your true love the ultimate Valentine’s Day Gift with this three-month Chococo Valentine’s Club subscription. Every month your love will receive a box of 16 award-winning, fresh chocolates. The first box will be one of their Valentine’s Selections including; NEWpassionfruit caramel, calamansi & marc de champagne, sakura tea, rose, Madagascan vanilla, raspberry, Dorset black summer truffle, rhubarb & vanilla, cherry, Dorset honey, lemon curd, arbequina olive oil and smoked sea salt caramel. The first delivery will also include a free 75g Half & Half Heart – half Venezuelan origin milk chocolate and half Colombian origin white chocolate studded with freeze-dried raspberry pieces. Price includes p&p & free Valentine’s gift wrap on first selection box delivery.

Chococo’s Valentine’s Selection Boxes (Large £19.95 – 25 chocolates/ Medium £14.95 – 16 chocolates) – Say it with these delicious selection boxes packed with Chococo’s handmade hearts and truffles. They will include; NEW passionfruit caramel, calamansi & marc de champagne, sakura tea, rose, Madagascan vanilla, raspberry, Dorset black summer truffle, rhubarb & vanilla, cherry, Dorset honey, lemon curd, arbequina olive oil and smoked sea salt caramel. Both boxes will have two of each flavour, so that romantic couples can share. Price includes free Valentine’s gift wrap around the selection box.

Chococo’s Valentine’s Gift Set (£17.95) – This scrumptious gift set includes a medium selection box of Chococo’s fresh Valentine’s chocolates and a Half & Half Heart (75g) – Half Venezuelan origin milk chocolate and half Colombian origin white chocolate studded with freeze-dried raspberry pieces. Price includes free Valentine’s gift wrap around the selection box. (photo at top of page applies)

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Chococo’s Valentine Hearts – As it’s Valentine’s, Chococo has created a range of chocolate hearts  to celebrate. All handmade and hand-decorated, they come in a variety of flavour combinations. Look out for the NEW abstract art-inspired heart – a masterpiece made from Venezuelan origin milk chocolate.

Chococo’s Valentine Hearts  (£9.95/200g) – Choose from:

  • Arty Heart – A Venezuelan origin milk chocolate heart hand-decorated with naturally coloured white chocolate pink, blue and yellow splatters.
  • Half & Half Heart – Half Venezuelan origin milk chocolate and half Colombian origin white chocolate studded with freeze-dried raspberry pieces round the edge.
  • Lovebots Heart – Half Venezuelan origin milk chocolate and half Colombian origin white chocolate with one white chocolate C181 “lovebot” and one milk chocolate C181 “lovebot”…perfect for sharing!
  • Cupids Love Heart – Madagascan origin dark chocolate heart studded with dark chocolate cupids and hearts, dusted with rose gold shimmer. (vegan)
  • Heavenly Honeycombe Hearts – Origin milk or dark chocolate studded with chunks of honeycombe handmade at Chococo with Dorset honey and dusted with gorgeous shimmers.

Other gifts:

NEW Milk Chocolate Hearts in a cube (£5.95/100g) – Inside this clear box rest seven mini 43% Venezuelan origin milk chocolate hearts wrapped in pink, lilac and pale pink foils.

NEW Sea Salt Caramel Lips in a cube (£6.50/80g) – Eight red and pink foil-wrapped mini Madagascan dark chocolate lips filled with smoked sea salt caramel rest in this box just waiting to be set free.

 

TONIGHT! Anyone For a Plate of Grasshoppers? Exeter Phoenix’s Cinema serves up Danish Doc Bugs Alongside a Feast of Edible Insects

Fans of world cinema and Nordic Noir are in for a treat over the coming months, as Scandifilm returns to Exeter Phoenix for a third year of unique and enchanting film experiences, all centred around Scandinavian cinema. More than just a film festival, visitors will be given the opportunity to live, eat and breathe Scandi. The season takes place throughout January, February and March, and features over 20 events, with Viking storytelling and Scandinavian craft workshops alongside a core programme of immersive and engaging film screenings.

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The season is crammed full of experiences that go beyond your average trip to the cinema, offering film fans the opportunity to really immerse themselves. One of the season’s highlights is a special screening of Danish documentary Bugs, which was nominated for Best Documentary Feature Film at Edinburgh Film Festival and Jury Award at Tribeca Film Festival. This thought-provoking film examines whether a plate full of maggots or thumb-sized grubs might one day make our mouths water, in response to the UN’s recent recommendation that edible insects may one day combat world hunger.

After the screening, ticket holders will get a chance to try out the delicacy themselves, in a special insect tasting workshop led by Cornish Edible Insects.

Bugs screens on Wed 25 Jan at 7:30pm. Tickets from just £6 for the film and tasting workshop from scandifilm.co.uk

Scandifilm takes place at Exeter Phoenix’s cinema Studio 74 from 20th January to 21st March.

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

John Burton-Race is looking for Torquay’s new kitchen stars

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After last week’s announcement that two Michelin starred chef John Burton-Race is to join Richardson’s Grosvenor Hotel, it has been revealed that the hotel is looking for a handful of new chefs to add to the team for the restaurant re-launch.

John has said today, ‘I’m looking for the very best talent Devon has to offer. I want chefs who are talented, motivated and eager to learn.’ At present, Burton-Race is working behind the scenes, designing the kitchen and creating new menus for the venture, which has been scheduled to open February 14th 2017.

With key positions at all levels up for grabs, it is the perfect moment for ambitious chefs to make their move! Burton-Race, who trained in a number of London’s best restaurants, is now looking to pass on his skills and knowledge.

‘I want to work with real talent, people who love food, who have fresh ideas and innovative techniques,’ John has said. With applications already being received from across the Devon area, we are keen to see as much talent as possible.

Applications for all levels of skill from Head Chef, Sous Chef, Pastry Chef and Chef de Partie are still being encouraged, and interested applicants are invited to email gm.grosvenor@richardsonhotels.co.uk, with an up-to-date CV, a covering letter, and any images applicants may have which demonstrates their suitability for the role.

For more information about the hotel, visit their website: http://www.grosvenorhoteltorquay.co.uk/

More information from Eating Exeter to follow in the coming weeks!

 

 

A River Cottage Christmas – by Lauren Heath

Recently I was over the moon to be invited to join a host of other foodie, family and lifestyle bloggers at River Cottage HQ, to experience their facilities and offering. The event was being hosted blogger groups Foodies100 and HIBS100.

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Me..’over the moon’!

I have been to HQ before for one of the annual Summer Fairs but it has been some years now. Most of you would know of River Cottage I’m sure, and the fantastic Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall who has lovingly developed the farm, his book collection as well as using his knowledge and power for good.

If you don’t know much about River Cottage and Hugh, here’s a little snippet:

‘River Cottage HQ, found on the Devon and Dorset border, is home to everything they do and is the base for their Cookery and Chefs’ School, unique dining experiences and memorable events.

There are four Canteens, the award-winning restaurants and delis based in the South West where they combine their philosophy with the finest producers in Axminster, Bristol, Plymouth and – most recently – Winchester.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is a multi-award-winning writer and broadcaster widely known for his uncompromising commitment to seasonal, ethically produced food.

He has earned a huge following through his River Cottage TV series and books, as well as campaigns such as Hugh’s Fish Fight and the most recent- Saving Africa’s Elephants: Hugh and the Ivory War

Hugh’s early smallholding experiences were shown in the Channel 4 River Cottage series and led to the publication of The River Cottage Cookbook (2001) which won the Glenfiddich Trophy and the André Simon Food Book of the Year award (and was republished in an expanded 10-year-anniversary edition in 2011). Ten more books have followed, including the acclaimed River Cottage Meat Book and the hugely successful River Cottage Veg Everyday and the most recent A-Z of Ingredients.’

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The famous River Cottage HQ Kitchen used for filming

So on a very damp Tuesday afternoon, I ventured out to Axminster, along with Tara of Tara’s Busy Kitchen and Stephanie of Exploring Exeter.

As we arrived in the unassuming car park, we gathered in the wooden hut along with other bloggers who had already arrived and waited patiently for more to trickle in with the final count being 55 I believe. We were all like children knowing we would inevitably have a tractor ride down to the farm – we weren’t disappointed, although what a bouncy journey!

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Tractor riding and posing (L-R  Steph of Exploring Exeter, Me, Tara of Tara’s Busy Kitchen & Claire of Flip Flops or Wellies

After being welcomed into the twinkling barn with drinks and delightful drop scones, topped with yogurt and honey, we settled in for a demo. This demo was all about enhancing your Christmas meats including making your own ham, how to brine a chicken or turkey and how to make venison bresaola. All three sounded so simple and I will certainly be looking to give one or two a go! Of course the tasters were delicious.

After indulging in said tasters, the group split into two with half networking and talking all things blog and social media in the famous River Cottage HQ main house where lots of filming has taken place and the other half piling into the yurt, warmed by the beautiful log burner in order to take on a Guess What’s in the Box challenge. The challenge involved putting your hand in said box and feeling around and guessing what the items were, with some being unexpectedly sticky such as candied ginger and a bit daunting at first.

Now for the main event! We gathered inside the barn again, now transformed for our dinner. I say dinner, it was a grazing fest – we were fed for almost three and a half hours. It started off with a lovely warming apple liqueur, along with canapes of Devon mussels with cider apples and diced red onion, leg of pork croquettes with a bechamel sauce inside, as well as bruschetta of goats cheese, beetroot, cider vinegar and fennel. Every morsel a delight.

We were then treated to a pre-starter of pulled rabbit, and romanesco puree followed by a starter of celeriac ravioli with wild mushrooms and leaves. The main was River Cottage cider brined ham, carrot puree, fried savoy cabbage and braised beans. Full yet? Maybe a little…but then what followed was the most beautiful honeycomb creme brulee with apple puree and apple crisps – it was heavenly, every morsel eaten with my eyes shut, I wish I could have had more!

Everything was absolutely gorgeous, flavoursome and texturally well thought out but then what would you expect of such high calibre chefs and environment.

During courses we were welcomed by chef Sam Lomas (below far left) to wander round and even be nosy in the kitchen. The chefs kindly showed us the cookery school, where they hold the usual courses including fish, meat and baking to the more unusual of beekeeping, wild food cookery and even foraging courses.

Did you know you could get married here? Well you do now…and in the lovely veg patch I believe!  It’s a really charming environment with charming staff to boot.

Around 10pm or so it was time to go, our carriage (I mean tractor) awaited to return us to our cars. We left with quite a smile on our faces, bellies very full. It certainly was a culinary experience.

So if you are struggling to think of that ideal gift for a friend or loved one, think of #RiverCottageChristmas or any time of the year for that matter – remember cookery skills are for life, and not just for Christmas!

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For further info on courses, restaurants and events visit the River Cottage website.

The Coach House by Michael Caines at Kentisbury Grange – by Lauren Heath

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The Coach House by Michael Caines, Kentisbury Grange, Kentisbury EX31 4NL   –  01271 882295

@KGCoachHouse  –  http://www.kentisburygrange.com/michael-caines-restaurant-north-devon/

Eating Exeter may be our name, and we certainly love to discover local eateries, producers and events. However, our adventures extend much further into the county we live in; we’re very lucky that within around an hours drive of Exeter, many Devon delights await. This is certainly the case with The Coach House.

The Coach House by Michael Caines is situated in the grounds of Kentisbury Grange Hotel in North Devon, on the edge of Exmoor. Open to residents and non-residents, they serve lunch, dinner (with a choice of taster or a la carte) and afternoon tea. It has recently been awarded two AA rosettes as well as Gold award for Restaurant/Bistro of the Year by South West Tourism Awards – quite an accolade considering the talent in the region. The menus consist of local, seasonal produce cooked sympathetically by staff Michael Caines MBE himself has chosen as well as him overseeing operations there to ensure quality and consistency akin to his established reputation.

When we were invited to come and try their culinary delights, Steve and I immediately sorted childcare so we could go out and enjoy each others company in what we hoped would be a gastronomic lunch. We also love a little ‘road trip’ and knowing North Devon’s lovely coastline, packed some good walking boots for post lunch adventures.

The journey to Kentisbury was lovely, motorway to start but then an easy main route past Tiverton through some beautiful scenery on a lovely crisp Sunday morning. The restaurant is situated in a beautiful 17th Century former coaching house, it is slightly tucked away off a good A road, and up a short driveway, making it feel slightly secret but not too far off the beaten track.

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On arrival we were warmly greeted and offered a drink in the bar area pre lunch. We were well and truly ready for lunch so opted to be shown straight to our table – a lovely curved booth by the window with us sitting facing inwards to the restaurant so I could people watch along with having a view towards the kitchen.

Hearing and reading about the food offering here, I thought we were in for a very upmarket restaurant setting – but actually it wasn’t like that at all, which was perfect for us as we enjoy somewhere we can relax and feel easy. Rich velvet and comfortable chairs, warm lighting along with natural light, a walnut and marble bar, dark wood flooring and touches of modern with the glass lined banister. It was comfortably sumptuous – it gave me a good feeling for what was to come.

We were pleased to see a good selection of wines and beers; ranging from a champagne with MC’s name on it and yet a local stout that we hadn’t heard of before. Having ordered our drinks, we salivated over the lunch menu – I could have ordered it all. Some gorgeous warm fresh homemade breads and salty butter were served while we were deciding. I finally settled on Mushroom Raviolo and Steve chose the Smoked Salmon Mousse.

My raviolo was a perfect size, beautifully made and cooked stuffed to the brim with wild mushrooms and spinach. The white wine foam actually tasted as such and provided a delicate coating for the moist pasta, allowing the other flavours to shine through. A scattering of nasturtium leaves added an even fresher and earthier dimension; I loved it. Steve’s smoked salmon cigar was well filled with creamy mousse with was beautifully well balanced with light, acidic, and stronger accompaniments of cucumber, wasabi yoghurt and honey and soy vinaigrette. A great start.

For mains I chose the Confit Duck Leg,whilst Steve opted for the Pan Fried Sea Bream.

The duck was incredibly succulent, meaty and with a crispy skin. What wasn’t on the menu but I was delighted to see was the duck bon bon – delicately soft yet fully flavoured  meat with a crispy outer, my favourite type of food item. The sauce was rich and bold with a hint of orange to lift it and the softer texture of the chicory complimented it well. Steve’s fish was possibly the best fish he has had in a long time; the skin was still on the fish and was so crispy,  yet the fish perfectly cooked. The light vanilla, sweet parsnip, meaty chicken sauce and touches of pickled ginger supported the fish perfectly.

Now for puds. Being a bit of a lemon curd fan I chose the Lemon Curd and Steve who is less of a pudding person and more a cheese man, opted for the Milk Chocolate Mousse.

The lemon curd was firm but not overly so and well flavoured with zingy lemon. The pistachio cake was as it should be and the cassis sorbet certainly packed a blackcurrant punch. I found it a bit disjointed as a pudding if I’m honest, but enjoyed the items individually. Steve’s was a chocolate triumph; a light crumbly biscuit base, silky smooth milk chocolate topped with crunchy hazelnut and pistachio crumb along with a light caramel ice cream – I was totally jealous and managed to thieve a tiny morsel.

Service was attentive yet not over bearing, the staff seemed confident and relaxed and Steve was even impressed by the ‘crumbing down’ that he witnessed having not seen that for quite along time (something even he learned in catering college).

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Ending our lunch with a cup of coffee (which can also be enjoyed on the loft lounge sofas), and with the buzz of some other tables around us including a well sized birthday group consisting of very young to very old, I feel The Coach House is a great venue for any occasion and certainly for a weekend lunch. It’s quite frankly a steal at £19.95 for 2 courses or £24.95 for 3. Add this to the easy yet scenic journey to get here and the fact we stopped off for a lunch burning stroll in nearby Lynmouth afterwards, it all equals a perfect Sunday out.

For a more special occasion, perhaps book for their 6 course tasting menu and team this with a night in the hotel for a truly relaxing weekend away. I would certainly recommend you try it for yourself.

Top Chefs Take a Shot at Game with Glorious Devon Fungi at The Chefs’ Forum

Forest Fungi mushroom farm in Dawlish Warren was the venue for this quarter’s Devon Chefs’ Forum event held on Monday (26) September. Over 90 top chefs from Devon enjoyed a day of clay shooting and Michelin-starred cookery demonstrations by Michelin-starred chef Michael Wignall (Gidleigh Park).

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The Chefs’ Forum stages quarterly events at various venues in the area and enables chefs to forge links with their peers, young chefs and aspiring front of house professionals from South Devon College and Hit Training. Michelin-starred Michael Wignall led the students in producing delicious mushroom and game canapés for an audience of industry experts.

Scott Marshall, Proprietor at Forest Fungi said: “It is amazing to see so many local chefs here to celebrate and support their industry whilst motivating and supporting the next generation. I am honoured and humbled to see our mushrooms used in brilliant and impressive recipes, crafted by such a high profile chef as Michael Wignall – I am delighted that he has come to Devon to fly the flag for excellent local cuisine using top quality local ingredients. Michael has asked me to install a mushroom ‘growing room’ at Gidleigh Park, which will enable him to crop and cook mushrooms in the freshest possible way.”

Catherine Farinha, Founder of The Chefs’ Forum commented: “We held this event to showcase the connection between the sport of game shooting and game meat and hopefully increase the use of game meat in the chefs’ repertoire for next shooting season. Forest Fungi produces the finest gourmet mushrooms from its ‘Shroom Room’ in Dawlish Warren which perfectly compliment game meat. This was pairing was demonstrated in fantastic Michelin-starred standard cookery which has no doubt inspired their culinary peers and the young chefs. It is great that the students learned about the versatility of game meat and the growing and harvesting of various mushroom species whilst training to be chefs – They will take this knowledge on into industry with them.”

Hospitality students from South Devon College and Hit Training joined Michael Wignall in the Induced Energy Induction kitchen at the Forest Fungi cafe. They produced stunning canapés showcasing top quality produce from Chefs’ Forum suppliers Walter Rose & Son (Game), Total Produce (Veg) and Majestic Commercial (Wine) . The Michelin-starred morsels from The Gidleigh Park Menu comprised:

• Deer Tartare with Coal Oil, Parsley Emulsion and Coal Powder

• Shitake Mushroom cooked in seaweed tea, mushroom ketchup and beer bubbles with wet walnuts

Wignall then performed two cookery demos, which wowed his peers: Enoki, Watercress, Beer Bubbles, Fermented Garlic, Puff Potato, Wet Walnut and Wiltshire Truffle. Then, hare cannelloni of kohlrabi, best end and loin, baked chocolate, Maitake mushrooms, young parsnips and curry spice.

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The students demonstrated to Michael and other prospective employer chefs who attended the event, the great skills (both kitchen and front of house) that they have acquired on their courses with a view to securing apprenticeships in restaurants to further their career. Some of the students said they aspire to join prestigious properties like Gidleigh Park.

Michael Wignall, Executive Chef of Gidleigh Park said: “I was delighted with the level of skill and professionalism demonstrated by the hospitality students whilst they were working in the kitchen with me at Forest Fungi – I enjoy working with young chefs from local colleges and I’m consistently very pleased with the standard of the learners. It was great to see them enjoying themselves today; having a go at clay pigeon shooting and cooking and finishing canapés with me. I am very excited to be working with Scott in the creation of my own growing room at Gidleigh Park”.

Expert shooting coaches from BASC tutored top chefs and catering students in clay pigeon shooting with a view to inviting them to take up shooting game as a sport under the ‘Taste of Game’ initiative, headed up by Annette Cole who gave a very informative speech on sourcing venison responsibly from dealers with a DSC1 deer stalking licence. With further tuition the chefs and students will then have the necessary skills to shoot their own game meat and incorporate it into their menus.

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Mark Provan, Programme Coordinator for Hospitality & Catering (South Devon College) said: “The students had a great day today. The Chefs’ Forum events are a great opportunity for them to meet employers, gain new knowledge and network with peers from Hit Training – We all enjoy taking part in the quarterly events – We’re also looking forward to hosting our second Chefs’ Forum event at the college in 2017 with our Academy leader, celebrity chef Mitch Tonks – Again, this will be great work experience for the students making them even more industry-ready on leaving college”.

Maria Cooper, Business Consultant for South Devon & Cornwall added: I find The Chefs’ Forum events very effective for catching up with existing employers with whom we work as well as letting new employers know about our work-based learning programmes. We have had four learners in kitchen today working alongside students from South Devon College. Everyone had a great day and we’re truly honoured to work with such an acclaimed food hero as Michael Wignall.”

Tom Mackins, Chef Proprietor at Restaurant Chapter One, Newquay enjoyed last week’s Chefs’ Forum Big Brunch for Hospitality Action so much that he kindly offered to ‘come up country and out of county’ to showcase Venison Loin on the Monolith Kamado Grill to further demonstrate the ‘hand in glove’ partnership of the Autumnal flavours of venison loin and mushroom.

The Chefs’ Forum aims to enhance the skill sets of top chefs in industry through updating them with the latest techniques being used by their peers – This time, promoting the use of game meat with locally-produced gourmet mushrooms in chefs’ menus – This also motivates and inspires students.