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.

C360_2017-10-02-22-58-34-998

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.

C360_2017-10-04-18-40-31-415

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.

C360_2017-10-02-22-57-30-304

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.

C360_2017-10-02-22-58-15-334

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.

C360_2017-10-02-23-00-17-208

C360_2017-10-02-23-00-51-673

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.

20170915_214138

C360_2017-10-04-18-39-59-594

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.

C360_2017-10-04-18-41-05-472

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!

IMG_20170915_235824_245

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

Website          Facebook           Instagram          Twitter

Recommended

Advertisements

South West Chef of the Year announces 2017 finalists

This year’s South West Chef of the Year competition continues to pick up the pace with the announcement of its 2017 finalists following closely-contested semi-finals on Saturday. Now in its 14th year, South West Chef of the Year champions the very best of the region’s professional chefs and junior and home cooks as well as its exceptional produce for which the peninsular has gained a worldwide reputation.

Places in the competition are much coveted with chefs and culinary enthusiasts from 11 years up entering for their chance to cook for the panel of highly regarded regional chefs including Michael Caines MBE of luxury country house hotel Lympstone Manor.

Of the level of skill displayed during the competition, Michael said: “South West Chef of the Year is hotly contested and I and my fellow judges are always impressed with the skill and flair demonstrated by those who enter. The competition aims to be nurturing and supportive whilst challenging chefs to grow and learn from each round. I can’t wait for the finals and to taste what I know will be some fantastic food from the South West’s next generation of culinary talent.”

Michael is joined by other award winning chefs, Michael Wignall of Gidleigh Park winner of 5 AA Rosettes and  Chris and James Tanner of Barbican Kitchen and Kentish Hare to mention but a few. The competition is renowned for its aim to champion professional cooking as a rewarding and exciting career choice as well as the skill of home cooks in the region.

Finalists in the Professional, Young Professional and Student/Apprentice Chef categories will now go through to their grand final on Wednesday 25th October at Exeter College while Junior and Home Cooks will battle it out at Ashburton Cookery School on Saturday 14th October.

The competition culminates with a glittering awards presentation evening and a sumptuous dinner held at Exeter Golf and Country Club on Wednesday 25th October. Tickets to this event are available to all. Guests will enjoy a delicious dinner prepared by three highly acclaimed and award winning chefs: Michael Caines MBE; Jamie Coleman, Head Chef at The Masons Arms, Knowstone who won South West Chef of the Year 2016 and James Mason, Head Chef at Kentisbury Grange and winner of South West Young Professional Chef of the Year 2015. The evening will start with a drinks reception with canapés followed by a three-course meal with wines for each course. The evening will conclude with the announcement of the winners of South West Chef of the Year 2017. Tickets can be purchased online at just £85 each.

SW Chef of the Year competition 2017_Claire Andrew

This year’s finalists:

Professional Category Finalists

Sponsored by Ritter Courivaud

  • Martin Blake, Senior Sous Chef, The Manor House Hotel, Castle Combe, Wiltshire
  • James Checkley, Sous Chef, Kentisbury Grange, Barnstaple, Devon
  • Robert Cox, Head Chef, Tudor Farmhouse Hotel and Restaurant, Clearwell, Gloucestershire
  • David Mann, Sous Chef, Boringdon Hall Hotel, Plympton, Devon

Young Professional Category Finalists

Sponsored by Lympstone Manor and Michael Caines MBE

  • Claire Andrew, Commis Chef, Kentisbury Grange, Barnstaple, Devon
  • Harrison Brockington, Chef de Partie, Grosvenor Hotel, Torquay, Devon
  • Joshua Murphy, Demi Chef de Partie, Lucknam Park, Bath
  • Paul Wearing, Senior Chef de Partie, Boringdon Hall Hotel, Plympton, Devon

Student/Apprentice Chef Category

Sponsored by Nisbets

  • John Brimicombe, Exeter College and Boringdon Hall Hotel, Plympton, Devon
  • Katie Endicott, Bridgwater and Taunton College, Somerset
  • William Hamzij, Exeter College and Driftwood Hotel, Porscatho, Cornwall
  • Ford Thanyapat Khwanyuen, Truro and Penwith College, Cornwall
  • Eleanor Thuell, Exeter College and Rodean Restaurant, Kenton, Devon

Home Cook Category Finalists

Sponsored by Ashburton Cookery School

  • Andrew Callaghan, Verwood, Dorset
  • Lucinda Ellicott, Paignton, Devon
  • Emy Mordue, Exeter, Devon (Devon Life Home Cook 2016)
  • Kelly Shannon, Stonehouse, Gloucestershire
  • Sue Stoneman, Exmouth, Devon

Junior Chef Category Finalists

  • Cornwall

Anna West, Penair School, Truro

Anna will be mentored by Stephane Delourme at The Seafood Restaurant, Padstow

  • Devon

Samantha Taylor-Clarke, Stover School, Newton Abbot

Samantha will be mentored by Mark Dodson at The Masons Arms, Knowstone

  • Dorset

Emily Henson, Bournemouth School for Girls

Emily will be mentored by Brett Sutton at The White Post, Rimpton

  • Gloucestershire

Amber Clay, Alderman Knight School, Tewkesbury

Amber will be mentored by Gus Ashenford at Restaurant 5 North Street, Winchcombe

  • Somerset

Munopa Nhete, Queen’s College, Taunton

Munopa will be mentored by Liam Finnegan at The Castle Hotel, Taunton

  • Wiltshire

Vikki Pearcey Thorn, Lavington School, Market Lavington

Vikki will be mentored by Hywel Jones at Lucknam Park

Dates

  • Junior and Home Cook categories finals: Saturday 14th October
  • Professional and Student categories finals: Wednesday 25th October
  • Awards Presentation Evening: Wednesday 25th October

Guest Chef Days Announced at Manna From Devon Cooking School

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

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

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

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

peter-greig
Peter Grieg

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

mitch-tonks
Mitch Tonks

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

romy-gill
Romy Gill

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

charlotte-pike
Charlotte Pike

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

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

Follow Manna from Devon on:

Twitter (@mannafromdevon)

Facebook (facebook.com/mannafromdevon)

Instagram (mannafdevon)

South West Chef Winners Announced Following Tense Final

Winners of this year’s South West Chef of the Year were announced last night at a glittering awards ceremony and dinner held at Exeter Golf & Country Club. The evening was hosted by competition co-founder Michael Caines MBE and his team of judges, each a top chef from the region, including Stephane Delourme of The Seafood Restaurant; Consultant Chef Peter Gorton; Matt Mason of Jack in the Green; Hywel Jones of Lucknam Park and Seth Ward of Bidvest Foodservice. The competition was also judged by Paul Ainsworth of Paul Ainsworth at Number 6; Neil Haydock of Watergate Bay Hotel; and Michael Wignall of Gidleigh Park who spoke highly of the skill and dedication of the entrants.

jamie-coleman-2

 

The tense grand finals of the two professional classes and the student chef class took place during the day at Exeter College with chefs battling it out for first place in their category as well as the coveted South West Chef of the Year 2016 award. Entrants in the Home Cook and Junior categories, whose finals had taken place earlier in the month, joined competitors for the awards presentation and dinner to find out if they had won an award in this year’s competition.

The awards dinner comprised a feast with courses prepared by three top regional chefs: judge Hywel Jones, a Michelin-starred Executive Chef at Lucknam Park, Bath; Jamie Rogers, a previous winner of South West Chef of the Year (2015) and Head Chef at Belgrave Sands Hotel, Torquay and Scott Paton, also a previous winner of South West Young Professional Chef of the Year (2009) and Head Chef at Boringdon Hall Hotel, Plymouth. Hywel, Jamie and Scott were supported in the kitchen and front of house by students of the Michael Caines Academy.

Despite the competition being in its 13th year, the quality of cooking demonstrated by the entrants continued to surprise judges with its complexity and technical skill. Of the standard, Michael Caines said: “I have been delighted by the standard shown by the competitors. It’s not just about technical skill and the ability to put together mouth-watering flavours; we are also looking for innovation and flair together with the desire to really get behind locally sourced ingredients and give them the culinary treatment they deserve. I am passionate about our regional produce and have been really struck by the dedication our competitors have shown too.”

This year’s South West Chef of the Year was awarded to Jamie Coleman, Head Chef at Saunton Sands Hotel. 2016 was Jamie’s second entry to the competition, proving that perseverance pays. Of his experience and win Jamie said: “This means a lot; it’s my second time competing at South West Chef of the Year and it feels amazing to have won. The competition has provided me with excellent experience and feedback; I came to the heats this year feeling much more prepared. I knew the larder and the process; I knew what I needed to do. My plan now is to keep working hard and learning as well as entering competitions.”

jamie-coleman-5

 

As well as the opportunity to win a prestigious and respected title for their CV, competitors also received invaluable feedback from the judges, each a highly respected chef in their own right. This year also saw the return of previous competitors seeking to repeat their experience and progress up through the categories.

| Winners of this year’s competition |

Best Use of Regional Produce: Sue Stoneman of Exmouth, Devon

Best Menu: Timothy Kendall, Chef de Partie at The Seafood Restaurant, Cornwall

Best Presentation: Jamie Coleman Head Chef at Saunton Sands Hotel, Devon

Best Dish: Shaun Cassidy Sous Chef at Jack in the Green, Devon

SW Junior Chef of the Year: Ethan Macdonald The Kings School, Ottery St Mary, Devon

South West Home Cook of the Year: Sue Stoneman of Exmouth, Devon

South West Student/Apprentice Chef of the Year: Harrison Brockington of Exeter College and Apprentice Chef at Dart Marina Hotel, Devon

South West Young Professional Chef of the Year: Timothy Kendall Chef de Partie at The Seafood Restaurant, Cornwall

South West Professional Chef of the Year: Jamie Coleman Head Chef at Saunton Sands Hotel, Devon

South West Chef of the Year: Jamie Coleman Head Chef at Saunton Sands Hotel, Devon

 

| Finalists of this year’s competition |

South West Professional Chef of the Year:

Martin Blake, Senior Sous Chef at Manor House Hotel, Wiltshire

Shaun Cassidy, Sous Chef at Jack in the Green, Devon

Joseph Fallowfield, Sous Chef at The Square, Cornwall

Magic Kijewski, Head Chef at Molecular Magic, Dorset

 

Young Professional category:

Joshua Martin, Junior Sous Chef at Deer Park Country House Hotel, Devon

Lily O’Donoghue, Commis Chef at Mount Somerset Hotel, Somerset

Jade Stephens, Chef de Partie at Lucknam Park, Bath

 

Student/Apprentice category:

Maia English, Apprentice Chef at The Elephant Restaurant, Devon

Sophie Kennard of Somerset College and Apprentice Chef at The Swan Inn, Devon

Lauren King, Apprentice Chef at The Horn of Plenty, Devon

 

Home Cook category:

Andrew Callaghan, Verwood, Dorset

Oonagh Egerton, Salisbury, Wiltshire

Beverley Milner Simonds, Burnham on Sea, Somerset

 

Junior category:

Abbie Brockway, Lytchett Minster School, Dorset

Ashley Gilder, Penrice Academy, St Austell, Cornwall

Ethan Macdonald, The Kings School, Ottery St Mary, Devon

Laura Phipps, Severnvale School, Gloucester, Gloucestershire

Daisy Taylor, Lavington School, Devizes, Wiltshire

 

For more info:

Website:                www.southwestchef.co.uk

Twitter:                  @SWChefComp

Facebook:             www.facebook.com/southwestchef

New Features Inspire and Engage at Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink 2015

Friday 24th – Sunday 26th April
Exeter Castle and Northernhay Gardens, Exeter

The 2015 Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink, taking place at Exeter Castle and Northnernhay Gardens from 24th – 26th April is introducing brand new features for visitors in search of the ultimate foodie weekend. Each year, the Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink – Exeter’s only city based foodie festival, brings together a host of south west producers, activities for all the family to enjoy, live music and plenty of delicious food and drink to enjoy.

New for 2015 is Festival Question Time, hosted by Radio Devon taking place throughout the 3 days of the festival with 9 slots in total covering a variety of themes. Visitors can drop into the Festival Question Time marquee to join live Q&As on ‘of the moment’ topics in the world of food hosted by BBC Radio Devon presenters Michael Chequer, Fitz and Bill Buckley. Foraging, making the most of garden grown produce and sugar free recipes are just some of the areas to be aired as well as those common tricky areas such as encouraging children to eat well and dinner party solutions. A panel of experts has been carefully selected for each topic with representatives from local businesses, south west food and drink producers including exhibitors – in keeping with the regional focus of the festival.

For a moment of tranquility, Comins Tea from Dorset will be bringing their unique take on the experience of ‘taking’ tea. With a passion for a good brew and exotic travel, Rob and Michelle Comins personally source Single Estate teas from around the world, visiting plantations to ensure the quality and taste of their product before importing it into the south west where they sell it to tea lovers to enjoy at home or in their very own Tea House. Rob and Michelle will be recreating traditional tea ceremonies in their marquee using their own range of bespoke teaware. Michelle said: ‘We are looking forward to our first Exeter Food Festival. As a Fine Tea Merchant we will be selling our Single Estate and Single Origin leaf teas but also inviting visitors to sit at our unique tea tasting tables to experience traditional Gong Fu tea service.’

Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink 2015 runs from Friday 24th to Sunday 26th April in Exeter Castle and Northernhay Gardens, with Festival After Dark parties from Thursday 23rd running until late. The three-day festival celebrates the outstanding food and drink of the South West, featuring more than one hundred regional producers, top chefs, a Westcountry Bakery, workshops, live music and food-themed activities.

Now in its twelfth year, the Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink is supported by Exeter City Council. The festival is a not for profit event.

Tickets can be booked in advance and are available online from Exeter Phoenix or Exeter Tourist Information Centre. For more information or to buy tickets visit: www.exeterfoodanddrinkfestival.co.uk.

Crazy carrot cutting skills –

Johnny Does Dinner – The Polytunnel Dinner at Trill Farm, Axminster

You are unlikely to find many foodies who can say that they have a meal in a horticultural polytunnel and cooked for them by a chef, using ingredients from the very polytunnel being dined in. And to be honest, I never thought I would be able to say I am one of those lucky few. But last week Eating Exeter was lucky enough to be invited to the inaugural meal of Jonny Does Dinner, an exciting new Pop-up Dining venture coming to a stately home or unusual location near you.

The story of Jonny Does Dinner started when Fan met Jonny who had recently escaped from London (as the about page says!).  Bringing his experience from working at Mark Hix, The Groucho Club and Brindisa, Johnny Does Dinner is about bringing gourmet food to foodies in unique and spectacular locations (fancy dinner in The Great Hall at The Great Fulfords in Cheriton Bishop?)  Jonny himself has a natural flamboyance, and the skill of his cooking really shone through the evening.  The dishes were down to earth, the entire menu felt well put together and well thought out.

The event was held in the grounds at Trill Farm which is located just outside of Axminster, less than ten minutes away from the A35.  Forty five minutes from Exeter, but a million miles away from anywhere I had been before.  Trill Farm Garden (in which the polytunnel lives) is ran by Ash and Kate.  It supplies fresh produce to nearby River Cottage HQ and the Axminster River Cottage Canteen too, also some restaurants in Lyme Bay.  Trill Farm runs courses and a festival to name but a few things, I would recommend visiting their website to see what sort of things they do; it is quite a place and definitely worth a visit to their Farm Shop.

Driving up to the Farm, I was greeted by Nicky who gave me directions to where the tunnel was located.  Following the lanterns, I was transfixed by the Trill Farm Herb Garden and the aroma of herbs which hits the nostrils like a herby slap to the olfactory nerve endings.  The polytunnels were hard to miss and it was here that the scene was set for our amazing dinner.

After creeping around the polytunnels and finding the gathering well under way Fan introduced herself and presented me with a Blackberry Mule which included foraged blackberries and a wonderful gingery kick to it from the ginger beer.  This was accompanied by Salsa Verde Crostini’s, a lovely aromatic green sauce, deep in colour with a very intense yet pleasant taste.

With events such as this, you have to be prepared to make some new friends. It is part of the deal with attending Pop-up events, and for anyone who would want to meet other people it is a great way of doing so. Twenty four strangers stood in the middle of a field of vegetables drinking cocktails will ultimately talk to each other, and I started chatting to a charming lady called Tamsin. A city girl at heart, we walked around snapping photos and talking about her time living in London. For me this was what the whole supper club thing was about.

It is a strange thing when you find yourself sat at a table with people who all have a passion for seasonal produce; I learnt a thing or two whilst we enjoyed the food that Jonny was producing from his polytunnel kitchen next door.  The dining table was set over a crop of red basil and backed on to by various varieties of tomatoes. As we sat down, I had the luck of sitting next to Ash at the end of the table and opposite two River Cottage Luminaries, Tim Maddams @timgreensauce and Joe Draper @draperjoe who were both charming and happy to talk to a strangely dressed man who sat quietly on the corner listening and observing occasionally taking photos.  Tim told me about a Pop-up Restaurant venture which he is involved in called Hall and Hearty, bringing Tim’s flair and skills to Village Halls across East Devon and beyond.

The first course was a lovely smoked salmon, it was (excuse the cliché) melt-on-tongue and dissolved like an expensive pillow as I chewed.  Yes I compared it to an expensive pillow, and I stand by that analogy.  Sitting on a bed of beetroot and salad with a sweet dressing.  This was the one time that I had eaten Salmon with total confidence that I would enjoy what I was about to eat, and would you believe it, I did.  Closely following this course was a barbequed Trill reared lamb, marinated with wild garlic, rosemary, mint and marjoram.  This was a beautifully cooked example of what really good meat should taste like.  Handed around with the lamb was a wild rice salad studded with roast squash, radishes, pomegranate and peas and a Greek salad which were absolutely packed with some delightful tasting ingredients.

Fan, Nicky, Alan and even Jonny served the guests with each course and they appeared out of the dark of the polytunnel with head torches announcing their presence.  The courses were moved quickly once everyone had finished, and we were not without food for any long intervals.  The organisation and running of the night was seamless, which for me really stood out.

Next the cheese course landed gently in front of us, a fragrant soft cheese called Francis with crackers and a really nice sweet Apple and Thyme jelly.  Then we were on to the Blackberry and Almond Tart, served with some clotted cream; for me this course was a highlight of the evening.  The sweetness of the almond and the sour of the blackberry worked perfectly and reminded me of the sort of tart that would not go amiss from the distant years of my childhood.

Sitting with a delicious French pressed Costa Rican coffee at the end of the meal, the candle light enshrouded the diners in a warm glow sitting in a place that would unlikely ever house a dining experience like this one ever again.  Restaurants and cafes have many energies around them, different people leaving their print on the surroundings and you know as you get up from the table that your place will be quickly filled by someone else in a matter of minutes.  As I got up from my seat I knew that this seat wasn’t going to be there again, and that feeling was quite special – something I doubt I will feel again for a long time.  In the morning, I knew that this polytunnel would again become a place of work, not a place of dinner and consumption.

The price of the tickets reflect the fact that Jonny Does Dinner is about the experience.  It is gourmet food, served in a magical setting by a skilled and charismatic chef in locations that are unlikely to be dined in again.  There are no re-runs, there are no ‘second servings’.  Once you get up to leave, you’ll find that it is unlikely you’ll repeat the experience.  So remember your camera.

To see where Jonny is doing dinner next head over here.

http://www.jonnydoesdinner.com

@jonnydoesdinner on Twitter

Jonny Does Dinner on Facebook

South Sands Hotel’s Coastal Forage – Event Report

South Sands Hotel hosted a Costal Forage led by expert Devon Forager David Harrison and Michelin-starred Chef Simon Hulstone and a surprise bug cookery demo by Peter Gorton!

Expert forager David Harrison led top chefs and catering students for South Devon College around the stunning South Sands cove, rocks and costal scrubland.  As the various edible plants and weeds were discovered, chef Simon Hulstone showed fellow chefs the best way to incorporate the haul of sea plantain, Wild Carrot and Mallow  into their restaurant menus.

“Sea Plantain is fabulous in risotto, this important thing is not to over-cook it so add it near the end of cooking time.  Rock Samphire is great as a cooked herb on top of roasted fish”!

Simon Hulstone, Chef Patron, The Elephant, Torquay

Rock Samphire, Sea Beet and Ivy Leaf Toad Flax all grow in abundance in and around South Sands Beach – Now Chefs’ Forum Member Chefs and students from South Devon College  know exactly how to identify and cook with these fabulous wild, free ingredients .

David also warned the group against mistaking similar looking species like confusing  deadly hemlock for harmless chervil.

The fantastic Peter Gorton then performed an impressive bug cookery demo of Thai-style meal worm risotto with a good helping of personality and humour, then garnished with samphire!

Peter Gorton recently held a ‘bug night’ with Mr Smitters (entomologist, Plymouth University) at his Devon restaurant ‘Gorton’s of Tavistock’.  The critters went down a storm at a sell-out evening – They proved equally popular with Chefs’ Forum Members at yesterday’s event, Peter Said:

“In a few years time, bugs will be far more mainstream. Other cultures eat them as a staple as they are an incredible source of protein.  You have to compare it to sushi 20 years ago.  People said they wouldn’t take it, but look at it now. You see it in a lot of restaurants and supermarkets, so who’s to say bugs can’t be the next superfood?

Chefs munched on meal worms, crunched crickets and lunched on locusts in the great tasting risotto cooked in the demo to around 50 top Devon Food Heroes!

Chefs also enjoyed a delicious barbeque cooked by Head Chef Stuart Downie of South Sands Hotel showcasing local fish and meat, then tutored coffee tasting by Owen’s Coffee, Modbury.

The Chefs’ Forum continues to go from strength to strength with more chefs realising the importance of inspiring the next generation and engaging with this extremely positive organisation.

The Chefs’ Forum aims to enhance the skill sets of top chefs in industry through updating them with the latest techniques being used by their peers – This time it was costal foraging for menus and the versatility of bugs as a credible ingredient – This also motivates and inspires students and shows them how amazing ‘chef life’ can be!

chefs forum

Magdalen Chapter Launches Signature Sausage Supper

Eating Exeter has some exciting and tasty news!

AJ Butchery's 'Magdalen Boerwors'
Food lovers are in for a real treat at The Magdalen Chapter in Exeter, which has teamed up with Devon’s leading sausage experts, Andrew James Butchery (was Turtons of Devon up to recently), to add a ‘Magdalen Boerwors’ to its bar menu.

The South African-inspired sausage has been made using a bespoke recipe created for the boutique hotel. It is the result of a new collaboration between head chef, Ben Bulger, and the local sausage specialists who supply top chefs around the country.

Packed with the highest quality beef and pork, guests can bite into the expertly spiced Boerwors – the name comes from the Afrikaans words boer(farmer) and wors (sausage) – and enjoy it with a bottle of locally-brewed Otter Ale from the Honiton brewery for just £10.

Head chef, Ben Bulger, says: “We are thrilled to be adding this new dish to our menu. The Magdalen Boerwors is big in flavour and Steve Turton at Andrew James Butchery has created this sausage especially for us, to our own specific design.

Head chef Ben Bulger (left) with Steve Turton of AJ Butchery
Head chef Ben Bulger (left) with Steve Turton of AJ Butchery

“We have worked with Steve since the day we re-opened in 2012, and it’s this quality service, which goes the extra mile, that makes us fiercely loyal to him. We know we are offering the best possible, locally-sourced meals to our guests”.

“I’m really excited to be cooking this dish and I hope and expect it will prove a real hit with everyone who orders it.”

Established in Exeter in 1962, Andrew James Butchery is a third generation family-run business based in Cullompton. Expertly creating sausages using authentic recipes, Andrew James Butchery supplies sausages with only the finest ingredients. All meat is sourced and can be traced back to Farm Assured UK farms.

Director and Master Butcher, Steve Turton, says: “We are delighted to be working with Ben once again and are proud to offer the people of Devon a dish that’s completely unique.”

“We only use quality meat, and this has been the family ethos since my mother and father started the business in the 60’s. The origin of our meat is of the utmost importance and that; combined with the talents of Ben and his team, means we can truly showcase a great Devonshire dish.”

Available from March onwards the Magdalen Boerwors meal and a bottle of Otter Ale can be enjoyed for just £10. Table reservations at The Magdalen Chapter can be booked by calling 01392 281000.

The Magdalen Chapter has a Twitter account too!

Restaurant Guide – Southernhay House

http://www.southernhayhouse.com/ 01392 435324 @SouthernhayHome

Al Fresco dining on the veranda at Southernhay House, Exeter, Devon

The beautiful Georgian quarter of Exeter’s Southernhay hides many hidden gems.  Including this one, Southernhay House.  Reviewed in the Telegraph, it got a fairly good review.  But all food critics are ultimately wrong until proven right, so ignore the star rating.

This is a definite fine dining restaurant so be prepared to pay over £100 for two people if you have the whole nine yards.  The Restaurant’s sister establishment, Burgh Island, is notoriously lovely to eat at so be prepared to have a brilliant dining experience.

 

Southernhay House on Urbanspoon

Lloyds Cafe & Bistro, Catherine Street

EE RecommendsIf I was in to fluffing out my review titles with a tagline, I would say that it was ‘A little bit of London in Exeter‘.  The atmosphere, the bustle and professionalism of the service felt like something that was more akin to central London fine-dining than an Exeter cafe.

Tori and I met some friends who we’d not met in person before on Saturday afternoon, the whole experience was a very positive one and this was (not just because they were lovely people) helped immensely by the fact that we went somewhere that was so nice.
We met them outside The Royal Clarence hotel and after a bit of debate we said that we’d head up to the Giraffe Cafe in Princesshay which I had not been to in years, and I was feeling up for a revisit review.

But after a few steps up towards Princesshay along Catherine Street our curiosity got the better of us and we had a quick look at Lloyds menu and I was tempted immediately by their Olympic Breakfast.  Something that heralded back to my youth when I would go to the Haldon Little Chef with my grandmother to eat very traditional English cafe food, and the Olympic Breakfast that was a signature dish of the Little Chefs.

So Lloyds is quite a new addition to Exeter’s already brimming portfolio of places that serve food.  In terms of cafe’s Exeter doesn’t have many traditional cafes as I have lamented in previous reviews.  The centre of Exeter has the Milk Maid and Gourmandine and now Lloyds Cafe and Bistro.

What makes this establishment stand out though is that Lloyd’s can turn itself in to a restaurant in the evening, continuing the service beyond the realms of the cafe’s next door.

The prices are about average for such a central location.  They might be a bit more pricey than a few other places but you pay for the experience.

I think the ultimate test to any service is trying to get a table when it is at its busiest.  It was a Saturday lunchtime when we visited, so by definition it was busy, really really busy.  There was a queue to get in, I don’t think I have ever queued to get in to a place apart from the odd occasion in London when you wait to get in to some of the more popular restaurants, but a queue to get in? This place must be either good or very small.

It is not a small establishment, there is a fair number of covers but I was reassured when I counted five service staff (including the manager) too whizzing around. Not panicked or flapping but calmly and professionally.  As you can imagine, when it gets this busy there is no encouragement to sit and chat after you have finished your meal, the manager was assuring those trying to get a table how long they would have to wait, normally between five or ten minutes at the most.

We were lucky and were able to sneak in and get a table for four relatively quickly.  The table was cleaned before we sat down and we were handed our menu’s.  We ordered drinks, mine as usual was a cup of tea at £1.75 for an almighty mug, not in a pot which was a nice change.

The service was quick to bring our drink orders and take our food orders.  We had to ask the waitress to come back as we were not finished deciding which she did very willingly.  A couple of minutes later another waitress came back and we had to say that we hadn’t made up our minds just yet (we were being very indecisve).  So again another waitress came back after this, and we were ready to give the orders.  In a classic comedy of  miscommunication the waitress misheard Ryan when he said ‘I’m sorry I will just have to have…’ she thought that he was about to say ‘I’m sorry we’ll need to have another minute’ and she stomped off to deal with another customer just as Ryan said what he wanted to order.  We were all stunned that she had just walked off, but laughed about the fact it was only more evidence to further prove that Ryan scares off waitresses.
The fourth visit by a waitress finally got our food orders down on paper, we did mention this comedy moment to the waitress who took our orders, and she was quite apologetic and a bit stunned,  although we felt it was a bit rude for the other waitress to assume what was about to be said it didn’t necessarily impact on the whole experience.

Our food orders were very quick.  They all came out at the same time, and they were hot.  The presentation was consistent, there were two Olympic breakfasts on our table and they both looked relatively the same.  Portions were fair and equally laid out.

Although you would go to other places and find that you would get maybe slightly more for your money in terms of quantity the quality of the food was very good.  The sausages were evenly cooked and flavorsome, the bacon was crisp but not incinerated.  The poached eggs were well-done, the mushrooms were moist but not greasy and the tomato wasn’t cooked to oblivion.  It was a very well cooked meal with minimal grease on the plate.  The bread was toasted to perfection and the whole thing just felt like it had been done by a chef, not a cook.

After we finished our meal, the service was quick and the bill came at lightening speed.  As I was eating my meal, I had noticed that the queue had diminished but then come back at various points, clearly Saturday was a day not to come if you were averse to waiting for a table but then I am averse to waiting for a table.  I hate waiting, but the service was so professional I didn’t mind as I knew how long I would have to wait and that when I got there, I would be taken care of.

My concluding thoughts are positive.  A well cooked meal, although higher in price than I might choose to normally pay, was reaffirmed by the professional and competent service.  The bustle and standard of this cafe is really a little bit of London in a small pocket of Exeter.  A lovely Cafe & Bistro with an appealing Brunch menu which is still affordable.  If you want to keep in touch with Lloyds Cafe then they have a website which seems to be under construction at the moment, but they are on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/eat_Lloydscafe here.