Paschoe House by Lauren Heath

There’s a new kid in town, well west of the city, and it’s called Paschoe House.

Having been a family home for the Amadors since 2000, daughter Tabitha decided the buildings future was as a hotel and wedding venue and, along with her father, has worked very hard for around 5 years to get it to where it is today with a bigger push over the last year. We recently shared their news of the appointment of Alex Gibbs as their head chef.

I visited in September to try their foodie offering on behalf of Crumbs Magazine (write up due out early October), for whom I am a guest writer.  The hotel had only been open a couple of weeks so I was open minded as to how the evening would go and what level of finish and service there would be. It was also my birthday so I felt very lucky with the timing!

With autumn fully on its way, the sun had already set by the time we arrived for our dinner but the warm glow exuding from the building gave me a good feeling inside of what was to come.

The open entrance hall with soft pink tones and beautiful grey geometric tiled floor caught my eye instantly along with the obvious connection to this Grade II  listed buildings heritage as well as the current outdoor pursuits on offer, thanks to the taxidermy animal heads dotted about.

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The ostrich on the wall in the gorgeous duck egg blue lounge bar is something to behold – ostriches are a firm memory of my South African childhood (my brother even raced on one once as a child) – and I was both taken a back and fascinated by this specimen coming out of the wall.  I guess it’s a bit like art – there to create conversation and a different interpretation for everyone.  In the end I grew quite used to him whilst we enjoyed our drinks and delightful trio of pre-dinner canapes in this comfortable and suave space, his black and white plumage proudly showing off.

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This may not be to everyone’s taste but I can assure you the dining room is animal free. The dining room itself is of a much more masculine stature; rich dark turquoise wallpaper with silver geometric design that bounces the light gently, matching suede chairs, original fireplace, understated chandeliers and crisp white linens bringing it together.

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Connected to the lounge bar was a sitting area with original fireplace, walls adorned in butterfly wallpaper with a fabulous purple settees. Certainly a room that would cheer you up on even the greyest damp winter day whilst cosying up to the fire with a good book and a drink. Saying that, with the outdoor activities on offer here, you could don your mac and head out instead and embrace it – it is amongst 25 acres of land after all, on the edge of the Two Moors Way footpath.

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A broad staircase crowned with antler chandelier leads you to 9 beautiful bedrooms, all with a different personality; it’s all about style and comfort for the staying guests but they are also geared up for weddings, boasting a lovely conservatory room for such event and plenty of lawns and acreage for exploration and photo opportunities. The venue is open to non-residents too of course, for lunch, dinner or even afternoon tea as a reward, for a special occasion, general good behaviour or to relax after a long walk.

Anywho – let’s get on to the good stuff – the food!

Evening menu choices include a three course a la carte menu for £50 with six choices for each course, or you could opt for the no holds barred six course taster menu for £65 where you can technically have twice the food (2 x 3 = 6 see what I’m saying?), maths aside, you don’t have to miss out and you can have a bit of everything.

We dived into starters of salmon mi-cuit with beetroot, horseradish, lemon and mustard  and Devon scallops with pea, bacon, black pudding and shallot; both fishy friends were cooked perfectly, surrounded by flavours that respected yet enhanced every mouthful, and I declare that I have found the best black pudding I’ve tried so far, thanks to local supplier Pipers Farm.

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Spiced Creedy Carver duck breast with heritage carrot, confit leg and duck sauce as well as lightly salted hake, clam, broad bean, sweet pea and beurre blanc were next in line. A plump duck breast and a crunchy bon bon were happily living side by side – until I devoured them with gusto. The hake was a delicate yet meaty dish that was respected by not being over complicated and was cooked beautifully.

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Pudding was described in four words – milk chocolate, banana and hazelnut; I was intrigued! A generous pudding of unctuous milk chocolate cream, with added textures of a mille feuille type pastry layers and sticky bananas – it was sooo good.

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I was then delighted by a little birthday treat of petit fours and birthday wishes – the macarons were delicately crispy , flavoursome and as light as air!

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I had a quick chat with Alex, who was happy to have some of his previous brigade with him, front and back of house, and it showed – service was excellent, relaxed yet professional and they really were a knowledgeable and smooth team for such a new opening. In this demanding industry, experience and good leadership really does show.

Sadly we couldn’t stay that evening, but it’s on my list for a child free night! Being only 20 minutes west of Exeter, you can find this new country house hotel retreat waiting to embrace you – and I urge you to let it.

Paschoe House, Bow, Crediton, EX17 6JT

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Burger Heaven at Meat59 – by Lauren Heath

“Another burger restaurant?? We already have plenty in the city” was the main reaction I noticed on social media when Meat59’s opening was announced.  I too, thought very similar, even wondering why they chose Magdalen Road as their home.

Those who know Meat59 by their reputation at their Torquay branch rejoiced, a foodie contact of mine who had been a few times gave rave reviews… so I thought, maybe they’re different. Owned by Jenna and her brother-in-law Vince, she looks after front of house and he is the master of the kitchen. The interior is all done by themselves and family members, which gives it a nice feeling of individuality, and the name comes from the door number of the Torquay site.

Their ethos on the website states: ‘We source as much local produce as possible from within the Devon and surrounding areas. We hand mix our meat, hand press our patties, breadcrumb our chicken, pull our pork and make our veggie patties from scratch, all this along with craft beer, local ciders and music to boot.’

We were kindly invited to try it out for ourselves in August whilst we were on our summer holiday break. We ventured out to this potentially burgerlicious venue on a Friday, early evening as a family of 3, with rumbling tummies post swimming session. From the road, it’s deceptively tiny – what looked like one table and a bar , in fact leads up to a mezzanine level then through to another room at the rear which has the light and space of a small conservatory/Sun room.  Each area having a slightly different feel, our table in the rear room was floored with dark wood, cheered up by plants and plenty of natural light.

The menu is just the right size; enough range to choose from but not so much that it inevitably makes the kitchen cheat by using frozen food. This is a fresh menu.

No messing about with starters – chicken wings it is! Feeling dubious about what might arrive, as even chicken wings can be done badly – we were delighted to tuck in to tender, soft meat falling off the bone covered in the tastiest spicy, slightly bbq, sauce. Even hubby who isn’t a fan of chicken on the bone was gnawing like a caveman.

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For mains I chose the Truffle Shuffle burger – a 6oz hamburger patty served with wild mushrooms, wilted spinach, caramelised red onion and truffle mayo. Hubby chose the Raging Bull –  6oz hamburger patty, roasted jalapeño cream cheese, extra hot Mexican style chilli cheddar (made in Somerset), piquant peppers, fresh jalapeños, rocket and chipotle mayo – which he doubled up on and our son had the cheeseburger from the kids menu.

Juicy, meaty, slightly pink (as they should be due to the excellent quality mince meat) burgers in delicious buns, slathered in toppings. The burgers don’t come with chips, which might annoy some but the burgers are rather filling on their own actually.  A couple of very interesting and tasty sounding vegetarian burgers are also available.

We did opt for a bowl each of dirty and filthy fries though…and boy were they naughty! Definitely sizeable to share or even have as a meal on their own; fantastic crunchy yet fluffy skin on chips slathered in, well… filthy, dirty, hangover-curing noise-inducing toppings! Fantastic meaty chilli con carne topped with sexy melted cheese and fresh jalapeno slices or soft and sultry tender pulled pork in a delightful bbq sauce also bedded with plenty of melted cheese. No morsel was left unturned, crispy cheese picked off the tin bowl edges just about leaving the bowl’s coating unharmed.

After all this we somehow managed to share a pud of unctuous double chocolate brownie. Delightful crunchy outer, gooey middle, two tone chocolate that somehow was not sickly but a perfect slightly sweet ending.

A really great meal out which genuinely got double thumbs up from all three of us; easy going dining with excellent down to earth food. I recommend you head to Meat59, and find your burger heaven. I give them meat100!

Meat59, 29 Magdalen Road, Exeter, EX2 4TA

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Seafood Delights at Salcombe Harbour Hotel – by Lauren Heath

Salcombe – a glorious South Devon waterside town, full of ambitious and successful businesses from Salcombe Gin and Salcombe Dairy to Favis of Salcombe and Jack Wills – it has become a name synonymous with quality.

On this basis, it’s no wonder the Harbour Hotels Group snapped up this top of the estuary, hillside-set property. The Salcombe Harbour Hotel, a 50 bedroom building, was extended with a spa and the Jetty Restaurant back in 2013, maximising the available space, glorious estuary views and thus increasing the overall offering to clientele visiting from near and afar.

We were delighted to have been invited to try the Jetty Restaurant; headed up by Chef Alex Aitken and Head Chef Jay Gulliford, the website informs us they are proud to be ‘Serving local and seasonal dishes, with fish landed daily and a local larder of delicious seasonal produce on its doorstep, The Jetty offers an exceptional Salcombe dining experience. Our Chefs combines expert knowledge with a passion for local ingredients, to create outstanding seasonal food.’

After making a day of it, venturing down the South Hams on a mini food tour and enjoying late-afternoon wave jumping at North Sands, we were ready for dinner!

We were a little early so took advantage of the al-fresco seating and ordered some drinks whilst we perused the extensive menu. We did have to wait a little while to have our drinks order taken, but thankfully the view kept us occupied.

There are a few sections seating, some on the balcony directly in front of the restaurant and then some top sections, with even more of a view and glass balustrades high enough to not block said view, but instead reduce any breezes or chills.

Once we settled into the restaurant, we took stock of the light and smart yet warm, casual feeling to the bar and restaurant area, with estuary views out to the front – a large flowing space with earthy seaside tones, plump seating and clean, crisp whitewash ceilings to give an even more spacious feel.

The venue is a mix of high rollers, families and couples all with their own style – smart, casual or even beach ready, which gives this a nice feel of comfortable elegance.

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Whilst we viewed the extensive menu and specials, we opted for the ‘While You Choose’ pre-starters of Deep Fried Tempura Oysters served with fine diced shallot & vinegar, Cockle Popcorn served with sweet chilli sauce and Seafood Jetty Bites. We were very pleasantly suprised at the beautiful presentation and taste of everything. Light batter, fresh zingy dips, and the whitebait was clearly breadcrumbed in house – a great start (p.s. if you’re a bit unsure of oysters, I highly recommend having them battered, it’s my new favourite thing!)

Starter options included a varied selection of vegetarian, meat and fish – we opted for Scallops, Apple and Bacon as well as Crispy Salt and Pepper Squid. The scallops were as I would expect, but that’s the beauty of a classic combination like this – smokey bacon, sweet juicy scallops with a bit of added sweetness and crunch offered by its foodie bedfellows. The salt and pepper squid was completely different from what we imagined arriving, but not negatively so; squid cooked just right on a bed of salad leaves, pea shoots and peppers for a bit of crunch with a lovely complimenting dressing bringing it all together.

Choosing from mains would have been incredibly hard, save for the fact I told myself if there was lobster thermidor on the specials, that it would be the one – and it was! An all time luxurious favourite (and rare treat) of mine, it did not dissapoint.

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Hubby ordered Jetty on a Plate – South coast fish and shellfish with fennel, tomato, herbs & beurre blanc; a delicious array of fish and shellfish, with spring greens and a light butter sauce – he doesn’t believe in messing about with fish too much and this was very much to his taste.

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Other main courses include Duck and Squid, Ruby Red Beef, Monkfish and so on…all sounding tantalisingly individual making it hard for the diner to choose but all certainly a bit different from other restaurant fair. (making this ‘what do I choose’ scenario not a bad middle class problem quite frankly) – so choose wisely or maybe sneakily convince your dining partner to have something you also like the look of and steal from their plate, or share amicably – best of both worlds!

Desserts of  Dark Chocolate Fondant with Salcombe Dairy salted caramel ice cream and Crunchy Peanut Butter Parfait with roasted nut crumb, rich Belgium chocolate were our final victims for the evening. Good puddings, although I found the parfait plate a little too much of the same texture, still tasty nonetheless, and the fondant was possibly 60 seconds past perfection – but technically, this is a hard one to hit on the nose.

Overall, the food was delicious, well presented and of good portions sizes, but sadly the service was a little hit and miss in our section. I noticed nearby servers giving a wonderful personal approach to their tables and feel that this is what the venue is striving for overall and perhaps we were just a tad unlucky that evening. For the price point and venue though, I would expect this to be a slicker affair, and perhaps they could tighten this up a little.  We enjoyed a very relaxed evening, nonetheless, before sailing away into the night (not on a boat sadly, just driving home).

Co-editor Chris recently visited for Afternoon Tea, which can be found here if you’d like to see what else is on offer.

Salcombe Harbour Hotel, Cliff Road, Salcombe, South Devon, TQ8 8JH;

01548 844 444 salcombe@harbourhotels.co.uk

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Heritage Tomato Salad courtesy of Timothy Kendall, South West Young Professional Chef of the Year 2016

Timothy is the Senior Chef de Partie at The Idle Rocks Hotel in St Mawes, Cornwall, working under Head Chef, Guy Owen. At the time of entry into South West Chef of the Year, Tim was working at Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant in Padstow.

As South West Young Professional Chef 2016, Tim went on to compete in the semi-final of the Craft Guild of Chefs National Young Chef of the Year competition last month.

Of this delicious salad recipe, Tim says “this is a great recipe which transports you to the Mediterranean. The tomatoes are amazing this time of year as they are so sweet, the watermelon and cucumber give it freshness and the feta gives the dish a great fat coating. For someone who doesn’t like tomatoes I would eat this dish all day long with a nice Pinot Grigio!”

Heritage Tomato Salad – Watermelon, Pickled Cucumber, Shallot and Feta Pannacota

Ingredients

Mixed heritage tomatoes – skins removed

Watermelon balls

Pickled cucumber balls

Pickled Shallot

Sliced radish

Micro red basil

Borage

Feta Pannacota

100g Soya milk

100g Double cream

100g feta

½ lemon zest and juice

Salt

1 ½ gelatine leafs

Method

  • Bring the soya and double cream to the boil
  • Take off the heat and add the feta, gelatine leaf and lemon
  • Place the liquid into a blender until smooth
  • Pour in to your mould and place into the fridge until set

Pickling liquor

50g white wine

50g white wine vinegar

50g sugar

Method

  • Place all of the ingredients into a pan and bring to the boil
  • Remove from the heat and cool slightly
  • Pour over your ingredients

 

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Don’t forget! Entries for this year’s South West Chef of the Year close Monday 31st July – read more about it here and get entering!

KuPP Scandi Picnic in the Park by Lauren Heath

Gosh, hasn’t Summer well and truly shown herself this past week? Some days it has been too hot really, but alas we shouldn’t moan, there are so many great spots to find shade in our beautiful city whilst enjoying the sunshine. So you’re sitting alfresco, and you’re thinking ‘a deliciously fresh and exciting picnic would be great right about now’ – well guess what? KuPP Exeter have the answer!

I was very pleased to have received an offer from KuPP to experience their latest offering of a Scandi Picnic; “a feast of cold cuts and light salads, including Norwegian salmon gravadlax and house smoked mackerel with lashings of Scandi potato and summer heritage tomato salad as well as roast beetroot and smoked red onions. Meaty offerings come in the form of homemade chorizo sausage roll, smoked pork meatballs, Sussex smoked ham and potted rabbit with nutmeg butter. A Scandi picnic wouldn’t be complete without a generous helping of Västerbotten (strong Swedish cheddar) and a section of breads, spreads and pickles.”

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There is a vegetarian picnic too as well as vegan and gluten free options on request.

So I quickly gathered two fabulous lady friends, arranged a date – which happened to be the first day of #NationalPicnicWeek – placed my order 24hrs in advance and we swiftly found ourselves collecting our fabric tote bag of goodies and settling under a tree in Northernhay Gardens.

At £30 for 2 people, I initially worried this seemed pricey and also worried there wouldn’t be enough for the three of us so ordered two extra open sandwiches at a further £6.50 for both –Smoked Streaky Danish Bacon & Crushed Avocado Roasted baby plum tomatoes & dressed pea shoots and Smoked Chilli Torn Roast Chicken Roasted red peppers & little gem.

I was wrong on both counts – it was a bounty of food and even without the sandwiches there was plenty for the three of us – with some left over for me to take back to my desk. I am already a big fan of Kupp – their food is fresh, vibrant, filling and well priced in the restaurant, so to have all the delights from their smorgasbords packed up nicely for a picnic was a delight.

Everything was so tasty – the potted rabbit was moist, flavoursome and plentiful; the smoked pork meatballs are so good in their tangy gravy; the chorizo sausage roll is a triumph of crispy light pastry and delicious meat filling; and don’t get me started on the smoked red onions (I want to know how they do it!!). The breads bring even more texture and crunch to the offering and boy is that Västerbotten cheese tangy.

I could go on, but I won’t. Great for lazy days or even in your work lunch break; forget spending a fortune on the drier supermarket offering, this really is the bees knees of picnic and is very generous in size. All supplied with cutlery, plates and napkins – just bring along your picnic blanket and some great people to share it with – and if the weather is, well, under the weather, there are plenty of covered spots around the city where you can sit and have a nibble Scandi style. Cheers or Skål!

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For further info on their picnics, click here.

To read about our thoughts on their bottomless brunch click here.

KuPP – Unit 12 Queen Street Dining, Guildhall Shopping Centre, Exeter EX4 3HP

T: 01392 531 777  | Website: www.kupp.co

Facebook: KuPPExeter | Twitter: KuPP_Exeter | Instagram: kupp_Exeter

Stylish Scandi Picnics with KuPP

With spring upon us and summer following shortly behind, we’ll be (predictably) heading for the hills to soak up the sun on heaths, parks, lidos and just about anywhere else we can find to enjoy a spot of sunbathing, drinking and picnicking.

Following last year’s success, KuPP, the Scandi-inspired all day casual dining restaurant, bar and café, is re-launching their grab & go picnic bags, overflowing with Scandinavian treats. Forget the hassle of shopping, making and packing your own picnic! Simply call KuPP to order, pick up your stylish picnic tote bag and head to your favourite outdoor retreat to eat and relax.

With KuPP providing the perfect picnic, the only thing you need to worry about is finding the perfect picnic spot. Grab a picnic and enjoy it on the Exeter Cathedral Green (just a hop, skip and a jump away from KuPP) or along the historic Exeter Quay. With a host of parks, greens and of course beaches nearby, you don’t need to leave Exeter to share a picnic in the sun.

KuPP offers two equally delicious picnic options both perfect for two people to share and available in a tote bag with plates and cutlery, making for a fuss-free yet delicious al fresco dining experience.

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KuPP Picnic Bag – £30

A feast of cold cuts and light salads, including Norwegian salmon gravadlax and house smoked mackerel with lashings of Scandi potato and summer heritage tomato salad as well as roast beetroot and smoked red onions. Meaty offerings come in the form of homemade chorizo sausage roll, smoked pork meatballs, Sussex smoked ham and potted rabbit with nutmeg butter. A Scandi picnic wouldn’t be complete without a generous helping of Västerbotten (strong Swedish cheddar) and a section of breads, spreads and pickles.

KuPP Veggie Picnic Bag – £27.95

A colourful festival of seasonal salads and veggie dishes offer an exciting range of colours and textures including trendy smashed avocado and dukkah, spicy broad bean salad topped with a soft boiled egg and; a salad of quinoa, roasted peppers and spicy goats curd. Other veggie delights include roast butternut, Danish blue, smoked red onion and kale salad as well as summer heritage tomato and Scandi potato salad. Let’s not forget the Västerbotten, breads, spreads and pickled vegetables.

Have two become three? If you’re heading hill (or canal) side with a third wheel or more, you can add to your spread from £3.50 by choosing from an array of irresistible Smørrebrød (Scandi open sandwiches), including smoked roast ribeye; soft boiled egg and heirloom tomato; smoked ham and Västerbotten, smoked streaky Danish bacon and avocado; smoked chilli torn roast chicken and; house smoked mackerel, pickled beets and cucumber.

Looking to end your picnic on a sweet note? Choose from a variety of Fika (a Scandi word to describe the act of having coffee and a little something to nibble) including croissants, pastries, muffins or big ol’ slices of cake – the honey and walnut is a must!

Keep cool in the heat of the day by adding a fresh juice or smoothie to your picnic. If you fancy celebrating (or just want a cheeky tipple) you can opt for bubbles, wine or beer. A KuPP Picnic wouldn’t be a KuPP Picnic if there wasn’t also the option to add a little something from their selection of signature coffees, organic teas or award winning hot chocolates.

KuPP – Unit 12 Queen Street Dining, Guildhall Shopping Centre, Exeter EX4 3HP

T: 01392 531 777  | Website: www.kupp.co

Facebook: KuPPExeter | Twitter: KuPP_Exeter | Instagram: kupp_Exeter

The Small Print:

Picnics must be ordered and paid in full 24 hours before collection

Picnics can be ordered in-store, by calling 01392 531777 or by emailing exeter@kupp.co

Full picnic menu available in-store or to view at http://www.kupp.co

Picnics are available from June 2017

KuPP reserve the right to change the contents of the picnics throughout the summer season

Vegan and gluten free premium picnics available upon request

KuPP recommend that picnics are consumed within 90 minutes of collection

 

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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Vegans to Celebrate with First National Festival

The Vegan Festival of Britain

20 May –10 June 2017

From Aberdeen and Newcastle to Bristol, Exeter and Norwich, events are taking place all over the UK as part of the first Vegan Festival of Britain.

The three-week festival has been coordinated by Animal Aid to celebrate its 40th anniversary. The idea is for the rapidly growing vegan movement to inspire others by displaying its full range of creative talents. Events already organised include:

Food and living festivals

Cookery demonstrations

Restaurant promotions

Vegan markets

Talks and cookery lessons offered to every secondary school in the UK

A sponsored bike ride.

The Vegan Festival of Britain is to be launched at Vegfest UK, Bristol – Europe’s biggest vegan gathering – on 20 May, where 2000 slices of a giant vegan birthday cake will be handed out to the public.

Festival Organiser Mark Gold said today:

Few will deny that veganism is the diet of the moment, with opinion polls showing a massive rise in the number of people switching to plant-based nutrition. But as well as celebrating this surge in popularity, the Vegan Festival of Britain is looking to the future, with a nationwide programme of events to whet the appetite of all those who are open to the growing evidence that vegan food is better for our health and the environment and, of course, better for animals. What’s more, the food is fabulous!

For more information on The Vegan Festival of Britain – including a full list of events and a history of Animal Aid – go to http://veganfestivalofbritain.org.uk

Three events will be held in Exeter during May and June, see the dates and details here.

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

Boston Tea Party: Exeter’s very own Tardis – by Lauren Heath

Boston Tea Party – 84 Queen Street, Exeter, EX4 3RP, Tel: 01392 201181

Free wifi, open Mon – Sat 7am til 7pm and Sun 8am til 6pm.

Boston Tea Party have 18 cafes from as high as Birmingham all the way down to Barnstaple, with a 19th cafe about to open in Bristol (making the total 6 in and around the city!). I must admit, I haven’t been to a BTP in a few years, since the Salisbury branch we tried when it opened over 4 years ago when I lived there – we weren’t particularly blown away based on the existing offering in the city. I note on their website that 80% of their suppliers are based in the South West and that their eggs and meat are all free range – so this is a good start to reignite my interest.

BTP is based in another prominent building I pass most days, and my particular thoughts have been ‘oh it’s seems a bit small’. I can’t tell you how wrong I was – this is a true example of ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover’!

The buildng was originally purpose built as a post office but was only used for this for around 7 years; Exeter’s Boston Tea Party has been in the building since 1998! The ground floor area has 2 small tables along with window seats where you can watch the world go by, along with a few tables out the front. It also houses the takeaway fridge with yummy sandwiches and cold drinks as well as the counter and main hub where it all happens.

This level is very deceiving as I was blown away by the contrast of upstairs which is bright and open, with high ceilings and plenty of tables and could be compared to the tardis – it is even painted blue. The calm colours and lighting work well with the natural light that pours in. There are plenty of adjoining tables as well as separate ones to cope with any size group of people. Some sofa seats line the left side, below a noticeboard encouraging local paraphernalia, leading to a book corner with another sofa.

The fact this is really an upstairs cafe does prove an access problem for those who can’t tackle stairs. Unless you have help I don’t think you could take a pram up but that is the nature of the building and possibly a problem that can’t be fixed even if they wanted to. Once you have found your table after venturing upstairs, you have to go back downstairs to order, remembering your table number – perhaps this is something that needs to be re-thought as, if you were on your own, this would pose the possibility of losing your table unless you left your belongings behind to claim it and similarly if you had a child with you it would be a big inconvenience.

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So as I browsed the menu, I was pleased to have been invited into the old post office to see what BTP has done to put their ‘stamp’ on the coffee/tea/cafe market – the menu has been consistent over time but recently some toasted sandwiches and raw veg smoothie drinks have been added to expand their offering. An additional leaflet attached to the menu told me to ‘Cut the Crappe’…the cheeky yet clever title referred to some new drinks using avocado instead of frappe powder (a mix of unnatural ingredients, high in sugar used to give the smooth texture used by most competitors in their frappes). It is full of vitamins and potassium and they use maple syrup for sweetness.  I instantly decided on the mocha crappe and it was delicious. Not full of ice which tends to dilute it; it was fluffy, creamy and even malty- that could be the coffee flavour.  I would definitly have it again.

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For research purposes I also tried ‘The Red One’ from the new raw veg smoothies – a drink containing beetroot, carrot, apple, cucumber, orange juice, ginger, mint and parsley (£3.35). A large vibrant maroon filled jar arrived equipped with straw – this is definitely not my sort of drink normally but I must say that all the flavours blended well together and with each sip you could still identify the different elements but without anything being overpowering. There were lots of bits in it, so either more blitzing needed or a bigger straw in order to avoid blockages! There is the option of ‘The Green One’ – I’ll let you find out what that is yourself…

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I must say there was plenty to tempt me on their large menu, which consisted of breakfast, brunch, lighter options, mains, toasted sandwiches and salads. All items are served all day so you are not tied to turn up at a certain time to get your favourite. I was very impressed by the tea options (if that’s what you’re into) – I dont think I have ever seen such choice. I counted 25 vegetarian options and 4 vegan items, clearly marked and there is almond and soya milk available for hot drinks too. There is also gluten free bread, which is made especially for them in Bristol. This isn’t something I have to worry about but it’s great that it is obvious and those who are concerned don’t need to feel they have to ask as it’s clear to see. Normally a large menu spells frozen items, and not fresh but I can see that a lot of the ingredients are used in different combinations in various meals across the menu – this instills confidence in a clever use of stock/ingredients and minimising waste – it allows them to offer more when in fact they use less and therefore can use fresh.

The brunch options that stood out for me included Chorizo Hash (£7.75), my favourite Eggs Benedict (£6.75) and then the Sourdough Eggy Bread, Smoked Bacon and Avocado (£7.50). I chose the latter as it sounded very different and right up my street. Delicious oven roasted vine tomatoes sat atop a generous fan of avocado, kept company by lovely smokey bacon all sitting on top of some lovely soft eggy bread. The assumption that you would use the tobasco they provide as part of the meal is a good one, as a few drops here and there really livens this up – I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I also chose the Chipotle Chicken and Parmesan Toasted Sandwich and went with the half option (£3.50) – it was a good lunch portion and with very nice quality bread. The salad had a vibrant zingy dressing, the sandwich contained tasty chiquito peppers and good chunks of chicken.  The parmesan was subtle and the chipotle was just enough in the background to lift it in flavour with a hint of heat but nothing too spicy.

The room was fairly well filled with around 50 – 60 people, and I noted one or two people querying the delivery of their lunch – I too waited maybe 20 mins for my food. What I will say is,  that although they call themselves a cafe, this is not another coffee chain with just sandwiches in the fridge and you get served your toasted takeway swiftly – it is in fact a cafe-come-restaurant. So appreciate that you are getting a good meal, well cooked and this takes time as it is not fast food. I really enjoyed my visit to this tardis and I will absolutely return to investigate the rest of the brunch menu…whether or not that is actually at brunch time, lunch time or early dinner is up for discussion – but no pressure, they serve it all, all day.

Until next time BTP…TTFN!

www.bostonteaparty.co.uk

 

Veg In A Box

I’m not a very fussy eater, I tend to eat everything and anything that comes my way.  But like many of us, eating greens can be something that slips the mind sometimes.  The healthy lifestyle that many of my friends and colleagues strive to achieve will sometimes be the last thing that crosses my mind.

If it wasn’t for my wonderful wife who is certainly an expert in the kitchen (despite what she might say…) my notion of a balanced diet would have more to do with not falling over after eating too much BBQ, rather than making sure I consume a range of vegetables and fruits with all the nutrients that I need to live.  Thanks Tori!

In recent years consumers have become more aware of healthy eating and with the greater appreciation for food miles, organic farming and supporting local businesses being factors that effect buying decisions.

The need for good quality produce, the convenience of delivery and often a variety of items that might not be available from the supermarkets have opened the door for companies that offer delivered vegetables to your door.

You might remember Lauren’s 10 Question Interview with Veg In A Box a few months ago; last week we received an EPIC delivery of items from Veg In A Box, and I just had to write a little something to publicise what they are doing and sing their praises.

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Visit the Veg In A Box website

 

Not long ago Julie Corcutt and Bela Dobrovenszk started Veg In A Box, a company that produced pretty much that, fresh veg delivered to customers doors in boxes.  I’ve watched the company grow through social media and its inspiring to see how popular Veg In A Box has become.

And it isn’t just veg…recently they started The Devon Meatbox Company, delivering locally reared, good quality meat to customer’s doors. And, they are incorporating other products within their boxes too!

Having veg delivered to your door takes out the fuss of choosing veg from supermarkets that have most probably been handled by others, it means you get THE best quality veg and you feel valued as a customer by a personal delivery service.

Tori has an excellent recipe for slow roasted lamb, and with some of the ingredients we received from Julie and Bela, we have just had an excellent slow roasted Lamb shoulder this evening.  Come back in a few days and we shall have some photos and a method for you to have a go for yourself.

10 Questions: Boom Kitchen® by Lauren Heath

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Boom Kitchen®  www.boomkitchen.co.uk
f: /boomkitchen  t: @boomrevolution  m: 07894586536

Our awareness of Boom Kitchen® came about during one of our many food event visits. We both love curries and make them from scratch occasionally at home, but no one can deny that it is easier to keep a sauce in the cupboard.

What initially caught our eye was the Lady Naga kit as my husband is a serious chilli head who likes to enjoy the flavour of a product and not just the heat. One of his pitfalls is that he hates cooked onions – something you cannot avoid in most pre-prepared food products, especially in a jar of sauce from the supermarket. With the kits there are only spices and so this dilemma is avoided as you can add whatever veg you want.

All curry kits include:

  • Boom Base™ (a curry stock made from over 17 natural ingredients)
  • a freshly ground spice mix
  • another recipe component or 2 depending on the kit

The instructions on the pack are clear to follow for anyone, no matter what level of cooking experience you are. The spices are packaged in minimal plastic packets and the outer packaging is cardboard and recyclable.

Each kit contains Boom Base™ , the finest fresh spices and all the curry essentials you need to knock up a restaurant beating curry in under 30 mins. They only use natural ingredients, no artificial colours or preservatives and the kits are suitable to vegetarians, vegans and people on gluten free diets. All made by hand in Devon.

The guys love tweets from customers all over, telling them about their tweaks or additions to the base instructions. My husband loves cooking his cauliflower first, saving the cauli water, and using that to infuse his chillis for a fuller, sweeter flavour.

This year, for the 3rd year running, they have won a Taste of the West award for one of their products – the new Sri-Lankan curry kit that is yet to be released on the public; we can’t wait to try it!

I asked Boom Kitchen® 10 questions so we, and you, can find out more about them and their award winning products. These guys are passionate about what they do and have a great sense of humour…here goes:

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Jim and Carl at Exeter Food and Drink Festival

1. Who is behind Boom Kitchen®?

Carl and Jim. We married a couple of Devon Maids who happened to be friends. Shortly after we met we discovered a mutual respect  for craft beer and all things spicy.

2. Where is the business based and when did it start?

Today Boom HQ is at Mullacott Business Park, 10 mins from our homes in Braunton near the stunning North Devon coastline. As industrial estates go it’s pretty stunning with panoramic views across to South Wales and Lundy Island.

It all started around Christmas time 2012. It was Claire (Carl’s wife and packaging designer extraordinaire www.buffdesign.co.uk) who was the catalyst for Boom.

Claire was pregnant at the time and craving spices. Carl obliged by cooking curries and spicy dishes in large quantities and to keep up the variety he revisited some of the many recipes he’d gathered from his globetrotting (previously thought to be misspent!) youth. I (Jim) was lucky enough to sample some of Carl’s recipes and was blown away buy how fresh and tasty they all were.

At the time the craft beer scene was exploding and we thought if you can get people passionate about the craft of beer making you could do the same with curry.

3. Why curry kits?

While I can’t remember the exact Eureka moment we’d just started watching Breaking Bad which is all about ‘entrepreneruail cooking’. I’m convinced it was Walter White’s exploits that inspired Carl to get all scientific with his recipe formulas.

There are a few of reasons why we settled on the kit format…

The first is we wanted to put the spices centre stage and pass the enjoyment of cooking with fresh spices over to the home cook. Why fill Lloyd Grossman’s factory with aromas when you could have those in your own kitchen!

The second is the kit format allows people to make the curry their own. You’d be surprised how many people buy our kits because of the stuff we leave out. We provide the building blocks for curry flavour (spices, chillies, coconut etc) but we leave you to add the oil, salt, sugar, meat, veg, dairy or dairy -free alternative.

The third is the kit makes it fast and fresh. No more grinding and measuring out the spices and watching the lesser used spices  on your spice rack collect dust!

The final reason is we don’t have to add any nasties. We looked into supplying a wet sauce then realised all the nasties we’d have to pump into it to make it shelf safe – no thanks.

4. How long does it take you to perfect a recipe/kit?

It took about 9 months to get the first 3 kits off the ground from a standing start. We now have 5 with a 6th coming soon!

The recipes aren’t the difficult bit, it’s giving them the Boom treatment that takes the time. Once we’re happy with the flavours from the recipe it’s about getting the blend right and by that we don’t just mean the spices. It’s about the…

*healthiness of the dish and the ability for the customer to keep it healthy if they want (or indulgent if they don’t!)

*speed of cooking – has to be sub 30 minutes prep and cook or else it’s not Boom!

*sense of craft our customers get when making the dish – has their involvement been instrumental?

*the quality of the ingredients we can source and their availability year round

5.What happens on a typical day?

All sorts! Although we only have 5 kits we have 12 curry building blocks made up from about 50 different ingredient and packaging components.

All it takes is for you to run out of methi or a Boom whole spices sticker for the entire operation to grind to a halt. So there’s a lot of stock checking and planning / reacting!

Our production cycles between making and packing the inner building blocks (blending spices for the mixes, sourcing coconut, chillies and whole spices etc) then bringing the 3-4 different components together to make-up the final kits.

It really is different every day with the added excitement of having to get all the online, retail and food service orders out. No matter how busy we are the perk is we can always have curry for tea. We have it about 3 nights a week in my house and more if we’re testing!

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Image courtesy of Boom Kitchen Website

6. We have seen on your social media, about large packs that pubs are using to do curry nights – what a great idea! How did that come about?

We have the Bell Inn at Chittlehampton to thank for that. Mark and Lyns’s son Matthew loved our curries and wanted us to do bigger packs so they could put Boom Kitchen® on the menu.

We’re also using the large kits to help a charity called Frank Water who provide fresh drinking water to some of the most marginalised communities in India. If you want to get involved and host your own Karma Korma charity night for Frank or a charity of your choosing get in touch via our website to request a fund raiser kit. We’ll give you everything you need to host a curry night for friends and family and put good curry towards a good cause of your choice!

7. What are your plans for the future?

We’ve got a new Sri Lankan recipe coming out later this year which we’re really excited about. It’s going to be a zero sugar recipe – we don’t add sugar to any of our kits but advise the home cook to add some in line with our instructions to replicate the flavours you’d get in a restaurant or to add to taste.

Our new Sri Lankan kit doesn’t need a grain of sugar and i think it’s our tastiest recipe to date. With all the recent controversy with the amount of sugar in Dolmio sauces we think our healthy Sri Lankan will go down a storm.

8. Where can people buy your products – outlets, food festivals?

 It used to be mainly in the South West and independent farm shops and delis but now we’re starting to branch out across the country with stockists in London the North of England, Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland.

We also sell direct from our website and through a number of gifting sites like Not on the High Street. We tend to do local food festivals like Exeter, Dartmouth, Powderham and support the monthly Barnstaple Real Food Market which is right on our doorstep.

9. You have collaborated with Okemoor pies as well – how did that happen?

We met them at the Darts Farm producer banquet (amazing annual event where you get to meet producers and eat all their food). We got chatting and they mentioned they’d tried making a curry pie before but found it hard to get the curry consistent. We said we might be able to help and have been supplying them with humungous curry kits for about a year now. They’re going really well and have even picked up a few awards from Taste of the West so we’re thrilled. Chuck steak and Lady Naga is my favourite.

10. And to finish off – tell us something funny, random or interesting!

Random? Russell Kane (off the telly) uses our Bhuna Curry Kit to curry omelettes.

And…We seem to have a bit of a following in the Shetlands – I suppose it’s a long round trip to a curry house!

Funny? I used to find it funny when I could smell Carl cooking from about 200 meters down the road. His entire house stank of curry and it took about a year after we moved into the unit for the smell of onions to completely go from his house and his clothes. He has very supportive neighbours!

How about a joke? Oh god?! Had a pelican curry the other night. Tasted OK but the bill was enormous. Awful.

Interesting? We can only pack our coconut when the weather is cool. If it gets too warm it clogs the nozzles on the machines!

BOOM!

Products can be bought on their website, direct from them at Barnstaple Market or from Darts Farm near Topsham. If you want to know if there is a stockist near you, visit http://boomkitchen.co.uk/pages/find-us for a current list or just tweet them, they are always happy to help!

Foraging in Sidmouth with East Devon – by Lauren Heath

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Last week, the lovely people at East Devon invited me along to their foraging course in Sidmouth; I jumped at the chance to do this as I have always wanted to learn about our edible countryside, but I have found nearby courses to be a bit out of my price range.

The event, one of many run by East Devon but involving local specialists in their field, would start at 6:30pm and finish approximately 8:30pm, which fitted in perfectly on a weekday evening timewise. The cost is £10 per person which sounded excellent value. So after work Thursday, I drove down to Sidmouth and found The Knapp which is just on the downhill road before the town.

On arrival, there was a Wild Food banner, which confirmed I was in the right place, and I was then greeted by Chris  Holland who left me in no doubt that he was the foraging specialist thanks to his Indiana Jones hat – stereotypical I know but hey – I was right. The other leader was Tim who is one of the East Devon rangers/managers. We waited for the other people to arrive and we ended up with a group of 14 of us. One lady was telling me she had already attended their other event the week before and raved about it. There was another Sidmouth local, and a few people from slightly further out. A good mix of people all ready to listen, learn and taste!

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Chris walked us up the path only 100 yards or so and started the evening. He initially asked us all to introduce ourselves and just mention a river, sea, or forest we lived near or that we enjoyed. This gave him a feel of the people around him. He then explained we would do some foraging, collecting leaves for a salad, nettles for a risotto and some plants to make tea with.

Almost immediately we were by the most common plant that anyone should know – nettles. I’m sure plenty of you have either been a victim of this plant whilst gardening or when hiding in it by accident as a child (yes I really did that!) Chris explained about their nutritional values (up to 40% protein with many further benefits – but please look this up if you wish to have more accurate info) and explained why the plant ‘stings’ us. It in fact is a stimulant and activates the synapses in the nervous system. He explained that the little hairs on the stem point upwards and therefore to pinch the tips, come at it from below pulling upwards to avoid being stung.

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So off we all went, pulling some tips and adding them to his basket. I questioned the truth behind the dock leaf being nearby and being an antidote and he confirmed this was true. Dock, in fact, are also edible and he even uses them in lasagne; steep the leaves in hot water first then lay them in alternate layers instead of pasta. Curly dock is slightly tastier apparently. He also showed us that you could roll the nettles firmly in between your fingers and eat them straight away.

So we then moved on and stopped a bit further up at some Beech trees. We were shown the older beech leaves that were darker in colour and are also hardier. To the left were younger leaves, softer in texture, lighter in colour. We all had a taste of them, then collected leaves for the salad bowl.

Passing some daisies, Chris confirmed that they are perfectly edible and great in a salad. We then stopped at some pine plants. Pine needles are great for tea, rich in vitamin C and he recommends when you put them in hot water you put a lid on whilst stewing to keep the oil in the cup. We pinched the pollen balls off them as they would add a sweetness to our salad.  We came across another plant at the foot of the trees called Jack By The Hedge or Garlic Mustard – with 4 petals they are the same family as oil seed rape. These plants had very distinctive  leaves, pointing upwards like the cactus’ you see in a western movie. We tried the flowers and true to his word, they gave a mustard kick at the end. So we foraged some of these for the salad bowl too.

Another plant we foraged was ground ivy, with its beautiful purple flowers, it has minty leaves which are perfect for a foraged tea. Tim and the rest of us gave it a good sniff!

After gathering enough to feed us all, but respecting the landscape and leaving enough for others, we moved on to our camp fire area. Chris and Tim had a camping table set up with some wraps and balsamic vinegar ready for our salad wraps to be made and with gathered firewood keeping dry underneath.

Chris quickly got a fire going whilst Tim got the special fire tea pot on the go. The wok then went on the fire and he threw in some pre-prepared onions, water and the risotto adding the nettles in the middle and a bit of parmesan near the end. Both the salad wrap and the risotto were absolutely delicious. The tea was not necessarily to my taste but then I don’t even like herbal teas.

It did rain on us for a few minutes but the trees provided the necessary shelter and we were all dressed appropriately anyway so it didn’t bother us too much. It was really enjoyable eating what we had gathered whilst being round a camp fire.

Chris and Tim were really friendly and easy going people – it wasn’t in your face or ‘hippy’ if it’s OK to use that phrase – just really informative and I am already confident enough to forage nettles and have a go at home.

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Please note: I believe what I have written to be correct based on what I was told and tasted and the notes I made – I suggest going on a course, buying a book or researching a bit before foraging so you know what you are looking for. As always, if you are unsure – do not eat it! Some books that were recommended include ‘Food from the wild’ by Ian Burrow or ‘I love my world’ by Chris Holland himself.

This outing was a good length of time, easy to get to and incredible value for money – I highly recommend it and urge you to give it a go and support our countryside.

The more interest they get then the more foraging events can be put on. This event and more, including bird and wildlife events, can be found on http://eastdevon.gov.uk/countryside/countryside-events/ or follow them on Twitter @wildeastdevon or Facebook “East Devon Countryside”.

10 Questions with Veg In A Box – by Lauren Heath

As it does these days, it all began with a tweet…my husband Steve was singing the praises of Devon based BOOM Kitchen and their curry kits (further info on these guys to follow in due course) and a twitter flurry occurred between him and a small local business called Veg in a Box about how good the curries really were – “excellent” we said – “give them a try, you won’t be disappointed”…a week later, we heard a deal had been struck and a ‘veg curry in a box’ was in the making.

We have since met the owners, Julie Corcutt and Bela Dobrovenszki, on a few occasions and found them to be so down to earth, friendly and incredibly passionate. Based at the back of Clyst St Mary, in a little cluster of barns, buildings and businesses they are possibly the hardest working people we know.

Their ethos is to buy the best they can for their customers, customising their boxes as you desire and taking orders up to the night before to match demand and fit in with the busy lives we all lead nowadays. This does mean they are working their socks off…but then success never comes easy and they are already planning the secondary side to the business called The Devon Meat Co, making up meat boxes for those more focussed on protein, the major BBQ fan or just thegeneral meat lover.

They are also passionate about partnering with other local producers including BOOM Kitchen, Eat the Smoke, Privateer Jerky and Quiet Waters Farm (to name a few) to make their offering even more exciting whilst supporting other small businesses like them. Their produce and boxes are portayed to their full potential and beyond in their marketing thanks to the photography skills and food passion of Marcus Bawdon of Country Wood Smoke and Editor of UK BBQ mag.

We finally got to visit The Old Piggery, their home from home they have been working very hard on recently, to take a few pictures and catch up with them over their plans.

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1. Who is behind Veg in a Box and where are you based?

The business is a real labour of love for me and my partner Bela.  It’s lucky that we get on so well as we do everything ourselves – picking and sourcing the produce, ordering, marketing, customer service. It’s really important for us to be available for our customers whenever they need us so it’s pretty much a 24/7 operation. There’s not much time for sleep! We recently moved to new premises in Courtway Farm, Clyst St Mary. We’re still settling in but we really love it there.

2. Has this always been your job?

No, we’ve had a real change of career! Before starting Veg in a Box we were actually property developers with a property maintenance group.

I made my first fruit and veg box as a gift for a friend. I collected the produce from local farms. I thought it looked pretty good so I posted a photo of it on Facebook. By the end of that day, I had 25 orders and by the end of the week I had 90 orders! That persuaded me that it was time for a change of direction.

Bela and I started making the boxes in the spare bedroom of our tiny cottage. One day I was passing Darts Business Park and spotted Dartfresh produce, a fruit and veg wholesaler. It must have been fate. I went in and met with the owner, John Pritchard. He offered me a space to rent that same day and has mentored me ever since. He has 30 years’ experience and really knows his stuff – I’ll always be grateful for his support.

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3. I can tell you work long hours – describe your typical day

We’re up at 3am to pick up supplies for the boxes – there are no lie-ins in this business. The first thing I do each morning is check my inbox for overnight orders while Bela deals with the important work – feeding our cats and making the coffee!

We drive to the farm, where we put away any deliveries and start bagging up mountains of potatoes. Bela heads out to collect more produce from our wonderful, local suppliers. Then we start making up the boxes ready for Bela to deliver. By the time he gets back I have another batch ready for him – I like to keep him on his toes! We normally get home about 7.30pm but business continues – I carry on answering customer enquiries and placing all of our orders with our suppliers ready for the next morning.

4. You won an award in 2015, tell us more…

Last September, we decided to take a very rare day off and go camping. I wasn’t planning on answering my phone but one caller was particularly persistent so I relented and was very glad I did. It turned out to be a representative from the Devon Life Food and Drink Awards inviting us to their ceremony. A few weeks later I received a posh invitation telling us that we had been shortlisted for ‘Best Newcomer’. I actually burst into tears!

We were up against some very well established businesses and I didn’t think we had a chance of winning – I was happy just to be nominated. When we actually won, it was like a dream come true. It made all of those early mornings worthwhile.

5. Where do you get your lovely produce from?

High quality produce is the lifeblood of our business – we want the best for our customers so we’re lucky to be surrounded by wonderful, local farmers where we live in Crediton.  We source as much of our produce from Devon as we can. My mentor, John, from Dartfresh has put us in touch with some excellent local suppliers. Our neighbour, Michael Thorne, provides a lot of our tasty vegetables and the rest come from farms in East Budleigh and Yeoford. Our delicious apples are from Four Elms farm.

We’ve just started getting our salads from a new producer just outside of Bradninch and we’re meeting with local community growers to plan some lovely salads for the summer. We’ve also just had our first field planted with greens for the months ahead – I never thought I’d be so excited about a field!

6. What type of boxes do you make and approximate price range?

Today we have around 40 different boxes. But that can change quickly – sometimes I wake up feeling inspired and have a new box available online within a few hours!

Our lowest priced box is a Child’s Fruit Box at £15 and then a medley of fruit, veg and salad boxes ranging from £20 to £65. Our Deluxe Box (£45) is a customer favourite, it holds 12 free range eggs and as much fruit, veg and salad as I can squeeze into it – it’s a real whopper! Locally sourced meat boxes range from £55 to £65. We have a new range of meat boxes in development for those in training or following a particular diet or nutritional plan which I hope will be very popular.

7. I have seen a lot of redecorating posts on your Facebook page, what are you up to?

Yes, we’ve just moved to our new HQ. A lovely guy who owns a farm in Clyst St Mary showed me around some rental units but none of them seemed to fit the bill. He told me there was one more available –The Old Piggery – but he was pretty sure I wouldn’t want it. The ceiling was hanging down, the windows were rotting, covered in dirt and cobwebs and the floor had concrete pig stud in it but I just fell in love with the space. I knew I could transform it with a bit of love. It’s taken about three months and it’s almost complete – just the flooring to be finished. It’s like our second home now!

8. So what are your overall plans/vision for the future?

Now we have our HQ up and running, we plan to grow Veg in a Box significantly. We’re going to focus on letting people know who we are and what we do. We’ll be attending as many local fêtes, shows and festivals as we can – really getting ourselves out there. We’ve just commissioned the Prop Factory to help us get noticed at festivals so the next few months should be a lot of fun.

We’re also are going to continue to do as much fundraising for our chosen charities as we can. With the help of our generous customers, we’ve raised thousands of pounds for Hospice Care which we were thrilled about.

9. What makes you different from other veg box schemes?

We must be the only one that is totally run by just two people. I think that makes us unique (and exhausted!). It means that we really know our customers, their families – even their pets!

We make our boxes fun – we have themed boxes for every occasion imaginable. We’re even launching a kids master chef box soon which we hope will encourage children to have an interest in where their food comes from.

10. Tell us something funny, random or interesting!

Cats love our deliveries as much as their owners. Bela is so crazy about cats that he keeps cat food and treats in our delivery van. When we pull up, our customer’s cats are always the first to give us a friendly welcome!

Thanks to Julie for answering my questions in between her busy schedule. Devon is lucky to have a couple of veg box schemes available for the busy household, but if you like even more flexibility and choice and want to experience the epitome of personal touch – then give Julie and Bela a try! We can’t wait to see what they offer next.

To see their fantastic range of veg boxes and more visit:

www.veg-inabox.co.uk,

www.facebook.com/veginaboxdevon or

www.twitter.com/veg_box

 

VEGANISM PROPELLED ON TO POLITICAL AGENDA

Vegan issues have been catapulted into the political spotlight by The Vegan Society, whose supporters have been using its General Election Tip Sheet to challenge prospective MPs on vegan-related topics ahead of UK polling day on 7 May.

“Thousands have already accessed our Tip Sheet, many of whom are now calling potential MPs to task. The level of response from the politicians has been remarkable, too” said Amanda Baker, Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer of The Vegan Society.

“The leading parties are being pushed harder than ever to be clear on these issues. The office of the Conservative Party Chairman (on behalf of Grant Shapps), for example, responded to us re-stating their intention to ban wild animals in circuses, and a wish to encourage other countries to follow the EU’s lead in banning animal testing for cosmetics.

“The Green Party set out their plans to end the badger cull and introduce CCTV in slaughterhouses in their Animals Manifesto, and the Labour Party have stated their intention to abolish the badger cull and defend the ban against hunting with hounds. The Animal Welfare Party (fielding four candidates in London) seeks a world in which animals are not exploited, and plan to end the badger cull, phase out animal testing and move farming subsidies from animal to plant-based methods. The Lib Dems have signalled their intent to also end the badger cull, and set a new legally binding target for a zero-carbon Britain by 2050 – which would have to address the huge greenhouse gas emissions from human farming of non-humans – while UKIP say they will abolish the live export of animals for slaughter.

“Vegan issues are climbing up the political agenda faster than ever before, in line with the increasing prominence of veganism as a mainstream belief in society,” added Baker.

The Tip Sheet probes ten policy areas around animal use, plant-based nutrition and equalities, as well as plant-based solutions to global climate change and food security, with specific questions to put to Parliamentary Candidates. It is a platform to inspire debate, and encourage discussion of vegan issues which have, in the past, been so frequently missed off political programmes.

Source: http://www.pressat.co.uk/releases/vegan-issues-propelled-onto-political-agenda-4429d7ac784da722b42e69ac47cb3ca3/#ixzz3YAdeX9TD

Easy Chicken and Pesto Pasta – Ideal for beginners

Our kitchen is about the size of a knat’s testicle and given the tiny amount of surface space we actually have, I am all for the student modus operandi when it comes to cooking.  There is no shame in using a jar of pesto opposed to fresh pesto that you make yourself, and I can’t start to say that it matches it in taste but for ‘everyday’ its a fine substitute.  So with this I present a budget/student version of Chicken and Pesto Pasta with my signature vague instructions.

There are a few recipes floating about for Chicken and Pesto Pasta if you don’t like the look of this one.

The wonderful thing about this recipe is that you can adjust it and suit it to your tastes as you wish.  Generally it should work with more pasta and less sauce or vice versa and that is the beauty of pasta.

I used chicken for this, but this would also work with quorn pieces should you be that way inclined.  If you have broad beans lying around then use those instead of peas.  If you have pine nuts to hand then even better, but for this I am using sunflower seeds as they are far cheaper.  They still add a satisfying crunch to the dish, and if toasted in a bit of butter, they keep the slightly buttery flavour.

You will need:

3 tbsp Sunflower seeds (more the merrier)
3/4 Jar Sacla Basil Pesto
2 large chicken breasts or 3 handfuls Quorn Chickens pieces
Frozen Peas 1 large handful, (or not. Depends if you like peas)
Half a clove Garlic
Parmasan

1. Start the pasta off. It’ll need cooking for about 15 minutes in a large pan.
2. Toast the sunflower seeds. Put aside.
3. Fry the chicken with some garlic until slightly brown.
4. Add peas to chicken in pan and heat till peas are cooked. Add pesto and sunflower seeds and heat through for a couple of minutes.
5. Drain pasta, combine with chicken/pesto in the large pan and stir on a low heat for a minute.
6. Grate Parmasen. Boom.

Food: Spinach soufflés. Image.

Thanks Times Food 🙂

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These look delicious. Just had to share.

The Cosy Club, 1 Southernhay Gardens, Exeter, EX1 1SG

EE RecommendsSet in the magnificent surroundings of the old Dean Clarke Hospital’s Halford Wing in Southernhay, The Cosy Club opened last year (April 2013) to what seemed to be a quiet fanfare.  Ever since it opened, I have heard rumours of the amazing interior, walls adorned and festooned with bits and pieces, and some absolute killer cocktails.  Unfortunately, it being a school night and all, I wasn’t able to take advantage of the cocktails but I was able to see what it had to offer in terms of food.  Word of mouth had said that the food was good, in fact I have never heard anything bad about it amongst my foody friends.  Trip Advisor gave a spectrum of reviews as ever, mostly glowing but some not.

Entering through what had been the chapel entrance of the old hospital, you are presented with one of more unique bar designs in Exeter.  Lofty ceilings with walls adorned with large pictures, the bar area is filled with natural light during the day and fends off any feeling of claustrophobia during the busiest evenings.  Through to the dining area, the clusters of lampshades and the reclaimed lights from the hangar that housed Concorde, cast a yellowy glow across the tables.  Two painting that stuck in my mind was the full length portrait of Lenin and another called Lenin’s Plans for Electrification by L. Shmatko, which dominate the walls they sit on.  There is also a bookable room called The Snug which I wasn’t able to visit, but I will save this for another day.  The interior is a fantastic cavalcade of stuff, it is interesting without being cluttered.  Varied, yet sticking to distinct style and variety.

There were about eight of us, so the staff were going to have their work cut out.  I know its not really a ‘fair review’ given some places I have reviewed just on my own, but my lasting impression of the service at The Cosy Club was that they could handle big parties.  This was a place that says, “yes, bring your birthday parties and leaving dos to us as we can handle a party large than six!”.  This is demonstrated in the fact that they were happy for us to pay separately which is great when its a large party of work colleagues.  The service throughout our visit could not be flawed, and our waitress Abi was absolutely brilliant.  The thing that stuck in my head was the timing and the friendliness of all of the staff that we spoke to, and at no time were we made to feel harassed for a quick decision on our choices or neglected.

So. Lets talk food.  The menu is varied yet still manages a degree of safety.  Burgers feature on the menu like many places do these days, but also things like Beer battered Cornish pollock, Duck shepherd’s pie and Thai beef salad.  Nothing weird or off-putting.  The prices reflect the fact that this is a restaurant in Southernhay, although not bank busting for the average diner we’re not talking Wetherspoons or Hungry Horse prices.

I had the ‘Hero Hamburger’ which had consisted of a “6oz hamburger, chorizo, mature cheddar, fried red onions, chimichurri (Chimichurri or chimmichurri is a green sauce used for grilled meat, originally from Argentina. Thanks Wikipedia), chipotle mayo and marinated chilli served with skin-on fries”.  The skin-on Fries were frankly delicious and some of the nicest fries I have had since Ruby Modern Diner’s ‘Double Fried Fries’, but there was just simply not enough of them in my opinion.  I felt a pang of disappointment when I had finished them all, and after trying to steal my wife’s fries unsucessfully I accepted defeat. More chips Cosy Club, more chips!
The taste made up for it as expected, with a distinctively fine burger which would give a few places in Exeter a run for its money on, it took me a long time to devour the dense beef patty which was something I would be having again in a flash.  At £9.25 for the fries and burger, it was worth it when compared to other places that do burgers in Exeter, and with a pint of Copper Glow (one of the guest Ales) I was happy.  Unfortunately I wasn’t up for a pudding, but I was happy to have a small pot of tea (which was brilliant value at £1.75 for a big-assed pot of Clipper tea).  I know that in journalistic terms ‘big-assed’ isn’t really a term one should use but I had to ask the chap who brought it out if it was actually a small pot and it was. And I was happy.

The service throughout was excellent (big kudos to Abi for dealing with us so professionally) and I have to conclude that although I moaned about the portion size of the fries, I would be happy to recommend this place to anyone who wanted to go somewhere special, different and safe in the knowledge that they could cope with a larger gathering of people.  Is it kid friendly? I wouldn’t think twice of bringing a sprog with me, they have a kids menu and the many different things in view is ammunition enough to keep them entertained.  Given the presence of a Vegan and Gluten free menu too, I would be more than happy knowing that they could cope with nearly any demand that was thrown their way and that they would be more than happy to accomodate.

The Cosy Club
Halford Wing, Dean Clarke House
1 Southernhay Gardens
Exeter
Devon, EX1 1SG

01392 848744
exeter@cosyclub.co.uk

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CosyClubExeter

Cosy Club on Urbanspoon

Cafe At 36, Cowick Street, Exeter.

Cowick Street is frankly the wrong side of the river. I used to live in Farm Hill many years ago and although the views were lovely, the overriding sense that I had was that it wasn’t on the right side.  Is there a right and wrong side? If so, what makes it right and/or wrong? Such great philosophical debates are not in the realms of a humble food blog, but for Exonians this can be a hot debate which can lead to fist fights, riots and fiercely worded letters to the Express & Echo.

But a little sojourn to the ‘other side’ led to me finally paying a visit to a hotly anticipated little cafe in Cowick Street which has brought a touch of classy coffee culture to a part of Exeter which is quite underrated.  They serve Origin Coffee, there is art festooned across the wall, they serve Black Forest Gateau flavoured Latte’s, they stock Joel Segal second hand and out of print books amongst other things, and their Rocky Road slabs are simply divine.  And and and…They do a gluten free breakfast as well, which for those who are gluten intolerant is a minor-godsend especially when most places tend to casually ignore those who have special dietary needs.

Cafe At 36 displays well deserved awards and accolades on their window, and it is well deserved.  Food is sourced locally where possible with their bread coming from the glorious banks of the River Teign from Shaldon Bakery, meats from Courtenays (the local butcher) owned by Burrow Farm, eggs from Exe Valley Eggs, and fruit and veg from Milfords (a local Exeter business) to name a few.  They serve, as said, Origin Coffee which is roasted in Cornwall and are a growing number of cafes in Exeter that serve coffee from this responsibly sourced and local-ish business (Artigiano in the High Street, Exeter Phoenix and Darkhorse Espresso in Magdalen Road are a few that come to mind).   I love a place that goes out to prove how good they are to the world and normally a place that has the amount of awards as Cafe At 36 have are one of those places.  Not only coming Bronze in their category in the Taste Of The West awards they have been nominated for the Echo Local Business awards for two categories, and for that we wish them the best of luck.  And we wish them lots of luck in the Taste Of The West awards this year too 🙂

Cowick Street is a strange part of Exeter, with its own vibrance and feeling.  Some parts of St Thomas are not as afluent and attractive as other parts of Exeter, but Cowick Street itself is very underrated.  Quite a few independent shops, charity shops and yes, a Tesco Metro has appeared at the other end of the street, but this is fended off by the bastion of smaller local shops which still gives me hope that Exeter can soon lose that ‘clone city’ label which it has had for years.  Cafe At 36 blends nicely in to the indie surroundings, it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb and it does provide a haven with good coffee from the mania of shopping.  John and Sue who own and run the cafe are active twitter users, and are one of only a few cafes that have really ‘got’ Twitter, actively taking part on @Devon_Hour and @Exeter _Hour.  They are pleasant in person, and online as well as the service was friendly and welcoming.

With all indie cafes and restaurants, they need supporting more than these big ‘ol clones.  They are on the Cafe Culture Exeter Trails leaflet so visit them, say hello and enjoy their Rocky Road. Or their breakfasts. Or both.

EE Recommends

The Rusty Bike, 67 Howell Road

I am chuffed to present a Guest Post from fellow food blogger Emilee Tombs.  Emilee keeps a cracking food blog called Eaten by Emilee, which I strongly recommend you subscribe to :).  If you want to see the original post, have a look here.

When I told my brother last week that I was going to ask a meat-obsessed restaurant to cater for my vegetarian Mum’s palate he wished me good luck and hung up on me. I’d offered to book somewhere for dinner on Saturday night to celebrate Mum’s birthday, and I’d be damned if she had to settle for a dull and unimaginative plate of of stuffed peppers or butternut squash risotto for the zillionth time. Having been meat-free for over 10 years she’s suffered myriad boring vegetarian options in Exeter because, with the exception of Herbies on North Street, there really isn’t much choice when it comes to the smaller independent places, even the ones that do exist often rely on the same half-hearted offerings usually involving a lot of pasta, rice, sauce or all of the above.

So when I contacted the Rusty Bike last week to request the unrequestable, I was shocked to receive an email reply saying that the chef would be happy to prepare an entire bespoke menu especially for the birthday girl. Even more incredulous was I to learn that not only does the Rusty Bike specialise in the cooking of meat, but has its very own hunting team to go out and get it.

“We think doing it this way is actually much more humane than ordering-in bulk buy meat,” general manager Paul told me on our arrival. “Most bulk-bought meat has had a terrible life and has been frozen or travelled the length and breadth of the country before we see it. Here we go out to hunt for food  the week ahead and as a result our menus are planned around what we’ve managed to catch.”

I’m not surprised this trend for catching what you cook has surfaced of late, after a summer celebrating hedgerow finds at restaurants like Noma in Copenhagen and Michael Smith’s Pothminster Beach Café in St Ives, menus and epicureans all over the world are getting more involved in the process of sourcing their produce, and for the locavores among us this is great news.

The Rusty Bike interior is no bad thing either. In a former life the converted townhouse near Exeter’s Prison was occupied by the Eagle Tavern, a place popular in my Mum’s college days and avoided in mine. There remains no trace of the Eagle, save for a name- toting light box which now hangs on the exposed-brick wall above our table. The Rusty Bike is both the spirit-lovers pub of choice and the foodie’s haven, with seating for around 30 in the main dining area, a collection of tables for drinking and a separate room for functions on the other side of the bar (when we dined it was burns night and the place was awash with tartan and unshaven legs.) The furniture is deliberately mismatched and everything from the wall art to the flowers on the tables and the vintage crockery adorning the shelves has a hunted-down feel, just like the menu.

After an education in the varying degrees of botanicals in different gins we ordered nibbles and starters to share. Deep fried Sharpham Brie with homemade tomato swish, fennel seeded granary loaf with peppery butter and a canvas of beetroot, blue cheese and pickled walnuts, which satisfied both vegetarian and carnivores.

The menu is separated into two sections; ‘classic’ and ‘modern’, classic being ruby red ribeye steak, mash and wild (foraged) mushrooms, roasted pork loin, parsnips and prune sauce or fish and chips. Modern being salmon, brown crab and prawn (in two acts), Boudin of Langford lamb belly, goats cheese, kale and white anchovies and local pheasant, truffle oil mayo, partridge ham and pheasant sausages.

Intrigued by a double act of seafood I went for the salmoncrabprawns which arrived as promised, on two plates. On top the salmon was roasted to pink perfection and arrived lounging on a bed of finely chopped, salty leeks. The crab stood stage right, nestled in the soft embrace of a Chinese-style dumpling. On top of both was a halo of crispy seaweed straws and paprika dust. Plate two was a modern take on shrimp aspic, the dish spread out rather than moulded and dotted with watercress sprouts. Of the two I favoured plate one, but I’ve never been a great fan of gelatine and undoubtedly this dish would suit some more than others.

Mum, being utterly in awe of a menu made just for her, was indecisive, but eventually selected the green olive cake with honey and goats cheese, which split and melted gloriously into itself on the plate.

EE RecommendsThroughout the meal miniature bottles of homemade pink raspberry gin were brought to the table, expected to be shot back between mouthfulls. Regular-sized gins were matched to their best accompanying mixer; Pink Sicilian lemonade with Botanicals gin, elderflower presse with Millers and tonic with cucumber for the Hendricks.

We left a good three hours after sitting down, having devoured two cheese boards between us for desert. I’d clearly recommend dinner here to anyone be you locavore, carnivore or herbivore, but do remember to ask ahead of time if you’d like to steer clear of the meaty menu, because turning up unannounced with a taste only for veg here be tantamount to blasphemy here

Telephone: 01392 214440
Website: http://www.rustybike-exeter.co.uk/
F
acebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Rusty-Bike/115296068526552
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RustyBikeExeter

Rusty Bike Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato