Bumper Honey Harvest for Princesshay

Heatwave Quadruples Princesshay Honey Harvest

The exceptionally hot weather in June has resulted in Princesshay’s bees producing a bumper batch of honey. The beekeepers at Princesshay are expecting 400lbs of honey, 4 times more than in previous years, which will be sold exclusively at Chandos Deli in Princesshay in aid of Children’s Hospice South West.

Princesshay Beekeeper Jason Wallis, said: “This is our fourth honey harvest and it is set to be easily the biggest yet thanks to the exceptionally warm weather during the early part of the summer. The honey will be collected at the end of August, ready for sale in Chandos Deli at the start of September.”

princesshay_bees_03
Bee hives and flower beds on the roof of Princesshay in Exeter. © Photograph – Richard Austin Tel: 07831-566005

Princesshay’s City Bee project began in 2012, when a tranquil rooftop garden was created for honey bees high above the shopping centre as part of an environmental initiative which forms part of the company’s wider biodiversity strategy. Princesshay regularly encourages visitors to visit the project and get an insight into the busy world of bees.

To date, the city bee project has been visited by over 1000 school children, students and members of the public. Now entering its 5th year, Princesshay’s city bee project continues to grow, with the project now housing 5 hives with approximately 300,000 bees.

The bumper crop of honey comes just as Princesshay celebrates its 10th birthday this September with a series of events including an aerial art installation and a giant birthday cake being cut on 20th September.

princesshay_bees_02
Bee hives and flower beds on the roof of Princesshay in Exeter. © Photograph – Richard Austin Tel: 07831-566005
Advertisements

Cheese and Pickled Onion Sandwich

We’ve been busy coming up with sandwiches for Burt’s Chips Ultimate Crisp Sandwich project. Some have been disasters (you won’t read about those!)  The second one we had great fun making was a classic with a modern twist.  Search for #ultimatecrispsandwich on Twitter and get the latest on this excellent summer campaign.

Yes, its a Cheese and Pickled Onion Sandwich.  The culinary heights we go to at Eating Exeter eh?!

This has a nifty trick in it though, where you marinate the onions in balsamic and sugar in a bowl. This adds a whole new onion based dimension to the recipe.  If you’re worried that Eating Exeter’s recipes are a bit weird, fear not! Tom Allbrook has created us a lush lamb recipe.

If you want to try these crisp recipes for yourself, head to the Burts website and take your pick! 

INGREDIENTS (makes 2 sandwiches)

  • 2 x 40g bags Burts Sea Salt and Malted Vinegar Crisps
  • ½ red onion peeled and sliced into rings
  • 2 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 ripe tomatoes sliced
  • 150g mature cheddar cheese grated or sliced
  • 2 tbs mayonnaise
  • 4 slices thick wholemeal bread buttered on one side

METHOD

  1. Place the onion rings into a bowl along with the vinegar and sugar and leave to stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  2. Start to build the sandwiches by spreading the mayo onto two slices of bread, lay on the sliced tomatoes in a single layer then pile on the cheese.
  3. Divide on the red onions then finally add on loads of Burts Sea Salt and Malted Vinegar Crisps.
  4. Pop on the second slice of bread and steam in.

The hunt for Exeter’s best veggie breakie (part deux) by Stephanie Darkes

84 Queen St, Exeter, EX4 3RP – 01392 201 181

Last week it was my birthday and post-party night I was desperate for a top drawer veggie breakfast. So I turned to the oracle that is Twitter for some suggestions and plenty came back including: The Cosy Club, Tea on the Green and Bills, all of which have been added to my ‘Breakfast List’ – which is a bit like a ‘Bucket List’ but is made up purely of vegetarian breakfast eateries!

After some post-Prosecco faffing and website hopping we opted for Boston Tea Party, an eatery that was also recommended to me in my early days of moving to Exeter but I had never made it to.

BTP seem to be part of the new wave of indie eatery chains that recognise the need to act local and think Global. On their site, they describe themselves as a Funky cafe chain serving up breakfast, burgers, salads and baked goods with sustainable ingredients, they also say that they recognise bigger isn’t better and that they design each cafe to be a one off cherished local – a return to the tradition of the UK cafe as a social hub, and what a great ethos that is!

Downstairs is a bit like Pret takeaway, with places to eat, a quick grab fridge and busy tills to buy coffee and order. But that is where the Pret similarities end, BTP doesn’t feel generic and plasticised, it’s organic, wooden and wholesome.

That morning BTP was bustling, seemingly a favourite haunt for students, it was graduation weekend and all the students in town seem to be here with their parents. We hustled in, chose our food and ordered very quickly at the bar. Sweetcorn hash for me, with a soya milk cappuccino and a green vegetable juice smoothie. Espresso and stacked pancakes with bacon and maple syrup for the hubby. I headed upstairs to get a table and they were almost all taken!

Upstairs, the room was vast and very blue with mis-matched wooden furniture ranging from – what looked like – wallpaper pasting tables to little wooden chairs from church. There were some comfy padded chairs all of which are very brown.

I like the ‘reclaimed’ look and I love seeing venues that promote recycling and reuse, I also like an eatery with soul and BTP’s values – never compromising on quality, honouring collective social responsibilities and dreaming of a better world – sing to me in a big way.

I sat down and people watched and felt very at home.

image3

Cutlery, water and condiments are all self served and hubby returned with our table number and bits and bobs and sat down to read one of the cafe’s papers. On one of the walls there is a massive notice board where people are allowed to pin posters for events around Exeter, this was full to the brim. As someone who has previously run a local music venue, this is that kind of thing that really appeals to me, I’m very into giving local artist, groups and events exposure – keeping it local, supporting the community. The drinks came quite promptly and I drank my green veg smoothie in one go, it was a delicious combination of spinach, cucumber, banana, chia seeds, apple juice and lime, simple and refreshing. The soya cappuccino was also yummy and gave me the caffeine kick I needed. About 10 minutes later the food arrived, I was starving and not really sure what to expect, but the presentation was brilliant and world away from a bog standard, heavily greased cafe breakfast (not that the occasional greasy spoon fry-up is a bad thing mind).

image2

On my plate I had small balls of fried sweetcorn hash, slices of nicely grilled Halloumi, and two perfectly poached eggs placed lovingly on a mound of avocado smash with tomato salsa, drizzled in what I think was maple syrup and sprinkled with coriander and fresh mild red chill (not too much of the latter), it looked and smelt delicious.

I have to admit I was a bit concerned at the idea of Halloumi for breakfast and how it would taste with eggs but tucking in I revelled in the various flavours and textures, it was delicious, the softness of the eggs, the crunch of the hash and the chew of the halloumi combined with the sweetness of the syrup and the kick from the chillis was a taste sensation. I ate it as slowly as possible so that I could make it last for as long as possible and when I’d finished I wanted to eat it all over again!

image3

At this stage I’d like to point out that I am not exaggerating or being paid to write this, this was a seriously divine vegetarian breakfast! Hubby’s stacked pancakes and bacon also went down well but – on this breakfasting occasion – I had no bacon hankering and actually, I think he wanted to eat my food instead of his. It was that good. My breakfast verdict: This one will be hard to beat, it’s a great, imaginative, tasty and healthy vegetarian breakfast that a lot of thought has been put into (not a Quorn sausage in sight).

Boston Tea Party is a lovely eatery, with great staff and a great atmosphere, I was very, very impressed!

You can find Exeter’s very own BTP here and check out their website here.

Boston Tea Party also have restaurants in Barnstable, Bath, Birmingham, Briston, Cheltenham, Harbone, Honiton, Plymouth, Ringwood, Salisbury, Stratford-Upon- Avon and Worcester.

You can also read about my first veggie breakie in Exeter at Base & Barley here

Rosemary, Onion & Potato Pizza from Chef Tom Allbrook

DSC_0305

Ingredients for the white pizza sauce:

1x tbsp. Plain flour
4x Garlic cloves, thinly sliced
300ml Milk
150g Parmesan
25g Unsalted butter

Method: In a saucepan place the milk, sliced garlic, butter, salt and pepper. Bring this up to a simmer then add the flour, mix well, and leave to stand on one side for use later. It may thicken a little so if this does happen. thin it down by adding a little warm water.

Ingredients for the Pizza dough:

500g Strong white flour
7g Instant yeast
320ml Tepid water
10g Salt
10g Sugar
Glug of oil

Method: In a bowl add the flour, salt, sugar, oil and yeast, and mix together slowly whilst pouring in your water. Once all ingredients are mixed to a dough, tip it out on to a floured surface and need for a couple of minutes. Break into individual balls about the same size as an egg, roll them in your hands until perfectly round, place on a floured tray and leave for about 40 mins to rise. Once they have risen scatter some flour on your work top, flatten out the dough with your hands and finish by rolling into any shape you like, with a rolling pin.

Topping:

1tsp. Finely grated parmesan
½ Mozzarella ball, torn up
1 X Thinly sliced cooked potato
2 X Sprigs of rosemary
Caramelised onions (The equivalent of one red onion)

Cook Pizzas at 240C (or as high as your oven goes) for about 10 – 12 minutes. This will make 8 small pizzas or 4 large ones.

Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink – by Lauren Heath

Wow – what a weekend! I hope everyone who attended the festival had a great time, I certainly did. We are avid food market and festival go-ers in Devon, Cornwall and beyond, and I believe this is the largest and best food festival in the South West. Now in its 13th year, it is still going from strength to strength.

My poor Samsung phone was used and abused with the amount of pictures I took, so this review will be more of a feast for the eyes, in order to capture the spirit and joy of such an event.

20160424_112513[1]

I attended the event on Saturday and Sunday; the former on my own so I could whizz round a bit more, catch up with some foodie acquaintances who were exhibiting, and also enjoy the VIP lounge and the latter with my chef husband and my 6yr old son. I enjoyed myself thoroughly both days – this is certainly a festival for anyone – singletons, couples, groups and families. The initial area around the castle contains the ‘take-away’ food tents serving an eclectic mix of meals, along with a newly placed and larger bar area, with the music stage in the usual place.

C360_2016-04-23-19-32-15-856
VIP Lounge

Leading off the castle terrace is the VIP lounge which is a great treat if you purchase the upgraded ticket. It includes VIP access to a room where you can escape the hustle and bustle, enjoy a coffee at any time, 2 drinks from the bar, afternoon tea as well as a relaxing treat from a massage therapist (provided this year by the award winning Wear Park Spa, based at Exeter Golf and Country Club) – all included in the price! I sat down and enjoyed a wonderful hand exfoliation and massage, treating my weary typing hands to stress relief for 15 minutes. I grabbed one of my free refreshments in a take-away cup from the bar, and off I went, feeling refreshed.

I popped into the ballroom, just beside the stage area, to say a quick hello to Susy Atkins who kindly took part in my ’10 Questions’ feature last week (https://eatingexeter.co/2016/04/18/10-questions-with-susy-atkins-by-lauren-heath/) before she proceeded to host and educate enthusiastic tasters to an informative wine tasting session – a new and diverse addition to the schedule this year.

I continued down to Northernhay Gardens and caught a cookery demo in both the Cookery Theatre, hosted by co-founder Michael Caines MBE (pictured below with me) and the Westcountry Bakery hosted by Great British Bake Off contestant and local teacher-turned-cookbook author Glenn Cosby. Plenty of room for people to sit and enjoy the various demo’s from the array of local talent we are lucky to have in the county.

I sat at home that evening feeling very satisfied and on a bit of a high actually from a really delightful couple of hours.

The Sunday was a more thorough adventure, working our way through the Food and Drink Pavilions with over 100 artisan food and drink producers – I made a concious decision to have very little breakfast in order to really savour the delights on offer. Endless treats in offer – beer, wine, gin, cheese, desserts, jerky, cured meats, curry kits, pies, preserves – the list goes on. Well laid out, with enough room between each stand – this event is pushchair and wheelchair friendly thanks to the wide aisles in the tent – although on a very busy day it could prove a slight struggle but by no fault of the organisers, more so the effect of such a good reputation that many flock here in their droves.

We sat in the Food is Fun Teepee on a pretty yet simply decorated bench table to enjoy a demo from Darts Farm’s head chef Paul Matthews who cooked salmon over applewood smoke, the juiciest ever pork belly and then lemon mousse, whilst some matching wines from the renowned Pebblebed were discussed by an expert. Delicious tasters were passed round on wooden platters, along with wine tasters to match. All extremely delightful!

Behind us children were enjoying making their own pizzas, decorating cupcakes and then being entertained with food science by Fun Kitchen. Further along from the Food Pavilions was Little Cookies with Fun Fast Food (healthier alternatives), Food is Fun Kids Cooking and Kenniford Farm with their beautiful farm animals, as well a some face painting and junk modelling – enough to keep the children entertained.

A few craft stalls were place down the Queen Street end of the gardens if you fancied a purchase for your home, yourself or perhaps a gift for someone else. Walking back up the hill, we re-entered the Food Pavilions for round 2 and some final purchases.

All in all, a fantastic event for any food lover, in fact, anyone who wants a good time with food, drink and music a plenty. The After Dark Festival was on again this year, with live music going on until late, for which you could buy tickets separately and just have a good night out even if you didn’t want to attend the main festival in the day.

I can only imagine the amount of work that goes into making this a smoothly running and enjoyable day so a huge thanks and congrats to co-founder Michael Caines MBE and his teams for their vision and hard work. Of course all hail the brave and hardworking local suppliers too, without them there would be nothing to enjoy.

Thanks to mother nature for the fabulous weather on Saturday and Sunday, which makes this type of event all the more enjoyable. I can’t wait until next year! If you can’t wait either, I can tell you the dates to put in your diary already: 21st – 23rd April 2017. See you there!

Greendale Farm Shop, Farringdon

I recently took a trip to Greendale Farm Shop that sits just outside Farringdon near Clyst St Mary.  Like many Farm Shops it has grown from small beginnings, and is now hub of local produce in what I am dubbing the Farm Shop Belt; this runs between Dart’s Farm near Clyst St George, Kenniford Farm Shop at the other end of Clyst St George, and ending with Greendale Farm Shop.

Nor am I going to compare Greendale to Dart’s Farm as they are very different beasts. Dart’s Farm has a larger floor space, more counters and many other areas beyond the food side, Greendale just about selling food.  They also have a cafe and if you fancy meeting some of the livestock, you can walk around some of the enclosures.

Greendale Farm Shop reminds me of a supermarket.  Entering in to the shop, the fish counter takes a proud place overlooking the space.

With a fleet of their own vessels, Greendale Farm has one of the best fish selections I’ve seen beyond a traditional fishmongers.  Live crab and lobster are kept in salt water tanks to ensure their freshness for customers.  Although I personally disagree with this ‘pick your own’ ethos when it comes to seafood, there is no better way to ensure freshness.

With a master butchers and cafe on site, this has to be one of my favourite Farm Shops, and certainly will be my go to place for crab or lobster, should I ever have the urge.

Photo credits to Kathleen Hacking www.kfaphotography.co.uk 

Breakfast at Harry’s Restaurant

86 Longbrook St, Exeter EX4 6AP  Tel: 01392 202234  Twitter:@HarrysExeter

I don’t get out much.  For someone that writes a food blog, you’d think that I spend my days frequenting fine restaurants and hob-nobbing with the fooderati of Devon, but unfortunately I pay my bills, not via writing, but through a standard job that pays wages. It has nothing to do with food and given I dwell under the umbrella of education means that days off where I can go and have a breakfast or a lunch is a complete treat.  With a couple of days off for half term, I saw this as the perfect opportunity to sample the newest breakfast offering in Exeter from one of cities most established restaurants.

You might remember that I absolutely loved my visit to Harry’s Restaurant last year  and that I also counted in one of my Top Three Dining moments from 2015.  So I was thrilled to be invited along to have a look-see at their brand new breakfast menu.

The menu is a classic affair produced using the same excellent ethos that makes this restaurant one of my favourites.  Fancy something small? Bacon Roll.  Fancy something light? Avacodo Smash.  Fancy something epic to keep you going for the rest of the day? The Works (£9.50).  And being the greedy sod that I am, it was an inevitable choice.

Meat is sourced from Heal Farm at South Molton.  The sausage was a wondrous cylinder of meat that kept its shape, it really stood out for me as a highlight; along with the thick cut bacon too.  The beans are neatly kept in a ramekin, not spoiling the rest of the food which baked beans have a tendency of doing.  I like baked beans, but often the tomato sauce spills everywhere and overpowers anything that it comes in to contact with.  Baked beans need control and discipline, and Harry’s have control of their baked beans.

There is flexibility.  If you don’t like something you can order it without, swap it and exchange it.  And you get a choice about how you have your eggs too.  Tori doesn’t like Black Pudding, I’m always game for something different so she was able to hold back the Black Pudding and have her eggs flipped.  The eggs came exactly how we asked for them, everything was cooked wonderfully. Faultless.

The fact that Harry’s Restaurant has started doing breakfasts doesn’t take away from the core of the business, that being producing amazing food to a carefully composed menu. They are unpretentious, friendly, flexible and I will definitely be back soon to have more.

Powderham Food Festival – October 3rd & 4th

Its nearly time for the Powderham Food Festival and it sounds like its going to be an amazing weekend two-day event! See how our very own Steve Price got on at last year’s festival.

Building on the growing success of Powderham Food Festival, which first launched in 2012 and draws food-lovers from across the region, this year’s event promises to be even bigger and better than ever. The popular date in Devon’s culinary calendar has doubled its appeal for 2015, as it is due to take place over two days from 3rd to 4th October – perfect timing as it marks the end of British Food Fortnight.

Back by popular demand comes Powderham Food Festival’s dramatic Theatre of Fire ‘n Smoke, where some of Britain’s best BBQ cooks will be demonstrating their cooking skills over fire pits, BBQs and smokers. Set under the big brown tipi, watch out for Simon Dyer, winner of ITV’s BBQ Champ, Marcus Bawdon – King of Meatopia (2013) and a finalist in Devon Cook of the Year – and the amazing John Gower from Quietwaters Farm, using fish from the Exe Estuary, venison from Powderham’s own deer park, finest locally produced meats and, yes, vegetables too. Ever heard of a fish boil? Discover its magic with Toby Ingham from Lympstone-based Flippin’ Fresh Seafood with his sizzling lobsters. This is BBQ food at its tastiest – available to buy and enjoy too.

Foodies will also be able to sample the many delectable delights from over 100 of the South West’s finest food producers, from Kenton’s Humble Eggs – a pretty duck egg blue shepherd’s hut from which is produced all sorts of eggy favourites – to true artisan food producers Good Game, whose mission to make the best-tasting game and cured meat in the world is right on track. Keen cooks will also be able to learn some top cheffy tricks, and all in the magical surroundings of the 600-year-old Powderham Castle set beside the picturesque Exe Estuary.

The occasion promises saucepans full of fun for all the family, with entertainment at every turn. In celebration of British Egg Week (30th September to 6th October) and the vital role that the egg plays in so many mouthwatering culinary creations, Powderham Food Festival has teamed up with the British Hen Welfare Trust. The Devon-based charity set up to educate the public about laying hen welfare will be on hand to impart their extensive knowledge, and providing the ‘ahh’ factor will be hens clucking and scratching and maybe even laying some super fresh eggs.

For those keen to polish up their cooking skills, visitors can watch the action on not one but five demonstration stages. The main stage will be hosted by new foodie enterprise, Exeter Cookery School. Soon to set up on Exeter’s historic Quayside, Masterchef semi-finalist and founder Jim Fisher will take Powderham Food Festival attendees on a journey of fantastic flavours and offer tips and tricks on how to wow friends and family.

As well as performing his own inimitable style of cooking, Jim will welcome to the stage consultant chefs Richard Hunt and Peter Gorton. With a combined cheffing experience of over 60 years, Peter and Richard will be taking the Food Festival audience through a range of cooking knowhow and demonstrating some tempting recipes.

As well as the return of the Theatre of Fire and Smoke and the popular Field Kitchen courtesy of the Royal Marines, you can take a step back in time to learn all about 19th Century cooking in the Victorian Kitchen. Not forgetting the next generation of food aficionados, food technology teacher extraordinaire, Joe Mann from Fun Kitchen, will be inviting children to get messy and cook up a storm in the children’s marquee.

Powderham Food Festival Founder Bob Small says: “We always had big plans for the show, but have been overwhelmed by the warmth with which the Festival has been received within the local community as well as across the South West and further afield. And we are delighted that Helpful Holidays, as headline sponsor, and WBW Solicitors have given their loyal support.

“Whether you are perusing the trade stands, sampling the finest produce the region has to offer or just want to be amazed by the culinary skills of chefs, Powderham Food Festival has some exciting treats in store for visitors this year.”

http://www.powderhamfoodfestival.com

All images courtesy of Matt Austin Imagse

River Cottage Summer Fair 2015

In this end of the South West, we are quite lucky really.  We have a number of popular culinary landmarks that any good foodie must visit at least once in their lifetime.  Gidleigh Park, Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant, River Cottage HQ, The Riverford Field Kitchen in Buckfastleigh are for me, those placecs in the popular food arena which foodies need pay homage to, sacrifice a virginal aubergine, sing the hymn of the organic carrots to.  So, Chris, How many have you visited?   I hear you cry! Well…I’m getting there (slowly) but I have ticked one off my list when I visited River Cottage HQ for their lovely summer festival this weekend.

It is easy to fall in love with this part of the world, the Jurassic Coast has slowly turned itself in to one of the most desirable parts of the UK to live due to its nice climate and frequent appearances on property shows which profess the benefits of the area.  Lying near the sea with lots of beautiful rolling hills, peppered with forests and a patchwork of green fields that literally roll on as far as the eye can see (cliched but true). I would consider myself an apologist for Mid-Devon and the rugged tranquility of Dartmoor, but East Devon is definitely a sapphire on our doorstep.

If you haven’t heard of River Cottage then I can assume you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last 20 years.  In a nutshell River Cottage kicked off in 1997 when journalist/chef/ Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall bought a former keepers lodge on the Slape Manor estate in Netherbury called River Cottage.  It featured as part of the renowned TV and book series that showed on Channel 4 in the early noughties. Further series and books followed, and operations were moved from the original location to Park Farm in 2004, where the River Cottage ethos lives on.

Set in 44 acres of farmland, the farm sits on the same hill as Trill Farm (the amazing setting for my Johnny Does Dinner evening in a polytunnel where I met Tim Maddams!) and within spitting distance (pun intended) of Castlewood Vineyard, a boutique vineyard that creates sparkly stuff and has a Wine Festival too which we went to a couple of years ago.


Park Farm plays host to day events, cookery courses and is the base of operations for the River Cottage universe.  You can even book it for a wedding should you wish!  Learn how to forage, how catch fish, butcher and bake on one of their courses and now there is the opportunity to learn a chef apprenticeship at their Chefs School.

And…did I mention? River Cottage also runs a series of successful canteens in Plymouth, Bristol, Axminster and Winchester which brings the River Cottage food ethos to the masses. One might appear in Exeter, but for now I’ll have to settle for a train ride over to Axminster.

One of the many things that go on at River Cottage (here is their calendar) is their Summer Fair which is where I come in.

Our visit to the Summer Fair was an appendage to a longer trip.  We had been to see Polly, co-founder of Eating Exeter and possible future creator or Devouring Dorset (hint hint Pol if you’re reading this) who now resides in glorious Wimborne.  I’ll bash out a post about our culinary adventures in Wimborne after I’ve finished writing this post.  On the way back we decided to pass through and say hello and see what sorts of things were happening at this family friendly event.


Parking is a little way away from Park Farm which is halfway down the hill at the end of a track.  The tractor shuttle service means you’re transported from your car in style and landing safely at the bottom.  But you are allowed to walk the footpath if you feel up to the climb.

The first thing we needed when we arrived was food.  The street food stalls didn’t get much of a look-in with us as we spotted that the River Cottage Kitchen were doing plates of grub for £6.50.  This went down very well (not being a beetroot fan I am now a convert as the Slow-cooked Beetroot with Oregano was superb!  It was accompanied by River Cottage Baked Beans, Potato and Spinach Curry, English Yellow Split Pea Hummus and Pearl Barley Tabbouleh.


After we topped up our energy level, all washed down with a half of River Cottage EPA, it was time to do some exploring.  As we had arrived later then we had planned, its more than likely we missed some bits entirely as we got caught up with watching Falcons and wandering around the River Cottage Kitchen Garden.

Had we been more patient we could have had a garden tour, but for that moment we were happy wandering around this magnificent piece of horticulture.  The highlights for us were the flowering ball artichokes and the sweet pea arch.

Walking around neatly planted patches of vegetables does funny things to someone at a certain stage of their life.  It makes you want to go home and grow things, the inspiration largely washed off by the time we got home and looked at how much of our garden would have to be completely dug-over.  Could I rent an allotment? Only time will tell.  Certainly Tori being the Head Gardener has decided that we simply have to grow Bell Artichokes.

After a meander around the garden we hit the local producer’s tents.  Shaldon Bakery was represented and so was Conker Dry Gin.  Distilled in a copper still, they are Dorset’s only dry gin company and making a name for themselves with their blind optimism and fresh approach to distilling gin.  We’ll definitely be getting a bottle soon…very soon 😀


Further exploring took us up to the demo tent in the Meadow.  We just happened to catch the last part of Good Game’s Steve Williams, I really wanted to go up an say ‘hello’ but we were short on time as it was nearly time for the Falconry display!

Had we been able to come up for the whole day, I might have been tempted to sign up for one of the masterclasses that were running throughout the proceedings.  And it is a credit to the organisers that visitors are literally spoilt for choice in the sort of things that they can get involved with.


River Cottage is such an iconic piece of the food scene in Devon and the Summer Fair was a fantastic way to experience an up-close view of what River Cottage does.  Local producers, activities, large green areas for kids run around in, food to eat, masterclasses to master, things to buy, drink to drink and live music to listen to makes for a fantastic festival atmosphere.

Rob Dawe at the Topsham Lock Keepers Cottage Cafe

You might remember a few months ago we were invited to sample one of Chef Rob Dawe’s Pop-up Restaurants at The Heart of Oak in Pinhoe.  It was a fantastic evening, and something which we enjoyed immeasurably.

I’m happy to announce that Rob is going to be at The Lock Keeper’s Cottage Cafe in Topsham for a couple of weeks, from the 19th August until Monday 31st August (closed on 24th and 25th August).  The opening hours are 10:30am – 4pm weekdays and 10am – 5pm weekends.

The cafe isn’t accessible by car.  You can either park at Turf Lock’s pub and walk up, or its accessible via the Topsham Ferry.


There will be home-made cakes available with hot and cold drinks available throughout the day or how about treating yourself to a canalside cream tea with home-made strawberry jam and Devon clotted cream in the afternoon?  Rob is also providing a small but elegant lunch menu using local produce between Midday and 3pm with a selection of home-made desserts all served with honeycomb and vanillar shortbread & fresh strawberries.

Main courses are excellent value price (given Rob’s heritage) in the region of £7 and desserts £3.50.  Or fancy two courses for £10?

A children’s menu will also be available.  Although bookings are not being taken, if there are more than six people planning to visit, please ring Rob in advance on 07745438481

I’ve borrowed heavily from Rob’s email from his exclusive mailing list.  If you want to know more about Rob’s events, send Rob an email requesting subscription to chefrobdawe at gmail.com

Exeter Night Market @ The Quay – Not a definitive review

If you head down to the Exeter Guildhall on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday you’ll spot a cluster of street food stalls in the centre, surrounding the chapel.  This was the beginnings of Street Food Exeter, and with its popularity they opened a second event down at The Quay.  Called Exeter Night Market, it follows a similar thread with street food stalls but some live music too but happening less frequently.

Given the fact I’ve been such a fan of the Guildhall Street Food market I thought I’d give it a go and see what was making this event so popular.  In fact the Night Market must be popular as they’ve added an extra night too.  Full details can be found on their website www.streetfoodexeter.co.uk

The event itself is brilliant.  World food traders, local food traders and Otter Brewery were all represented under the transport shed on the Exeter Quayside. The sun shone, the Otter Amber flowed and we had a lovely evening generally.  Unfortunately, and this goes for anything that happens on the Quayside, there are cobbles and cobbles don’t generally bode well for people in wheelchairs.

Although we didn’t get to eat at this event (other reasons that I won’t go in to in this post), there are other events on the Exeter Street Food calendar to try, and its Friday today so I might head over to the Guildhall later and get my Hog Roast fill (they ran out last night)…

GUILDHALL SHOPPING CENTRE, EXETER – FRI(9-5) SAT(9-5) SUN (10-4)
NIGHT MARKET @THE QUAY – 1st THUR OF THE MONTH (5:30-9:30pm)
NIGHT MARKET @PIAZZA TERRACINA 3rd THUR OF THE MONTH (4:30-9:30pm)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.shaldonbutcher.co.uk

Follow them on Twitter: @gtorsman

Product Review: Shaldon Bakery Artisan Bread

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Shaldon Bakery,
16 Fore St
Shaldon
England

Tel: 01626 872401
Visit Website

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.

Dartmoor’s Blueberry Brothers Chutney Handpicked By Marks & Spencer

The imaginative Blueberry Brothers have launched a new spicy, handmade Blueberry Chutney, one of only 25 products selected by Marks & Spencer for their unique range of branded artisan products. These are now available to purchase in 350 stores, foodies nationwide will be able to savour the subtle blueberry flavour of this luxurious, rich purple chutney.

Guaranteed to pack a punch on any cheeseboard, and the perfect accompaniment with charcuterie, this novel chutney certainly has the wow factor. Bursting with flavours, this spiced condiment incorporates a delightful range of traditional ingredients enthused with an expertly developed blend of cardamon, mustard and fennel. This original product joins The Blueberry Brothers’ fruity Blueberry and Chilli Jam and zesty Blueberry and Lime Jam, both of which have recently been awarded accolades. The Blueberry Brothers’ Blueberry Chutney can be purchased from chosen Marks & Spencer stores nationwide (rrp £3.99).

Founded ten years ago as Yonder Berries Ltd, Nick and Toby Hewison are continuing their mother, Jenny’s love of growing blueberries on the edge of Dartmoor, Devon. As their passion for developing exceptional premium blueberry products flourished they quickly became nicknamed ‘The Blueberry Brothers’. Since their humble beginnings, Nick and Toby have developed an unrivaled knowledge of these popular little berries, using their expertise to develop an award-winning portfolio of innovative products including delicious jams, tasty beers, delectable muffins and baked products and exquisite chocolates and marzipan blueberries.

For further information on The Blueberry Brothers’ Blueberry Chutney and their other mouth-watering products go to www.theblueberrybrothers.co.uk, emailsales@yonderberries.co.uk or visit their stand at the Devon County Show in the food marquee on 21st – 23rd May. Follow The Blueberry Brothers on twitter@Blueberrybros, or ‘like’ on Facebook at facebook.com/TheBlueberryBrothers.

Source: http://www.pressat.co.uk/releases/blueberry-chutney-handpicked-by-marks-spencer-022362d688cf17b59fd04dc1ff012854/#ixzz3WoNJBXiX

Dartmouth Food Festival 2015

Friday 23 – Sunday 25 October 2015

The Dartmouth Food Festival is back for 2015 with a tempting blend of West Country produce, top chefs and engaging foodie talks and events.

The free festival, launched in 2003, takes place on October 23-25 2015. The festival sees around 20,000 people flock to the town each year and is paradise for food fans with more than 100 South West producers showcasing their delicious produce, a packed programme of events and a line up of celebrated chefs demonstrating their skills and inspiring festival goers.

Over the festival weekend, Dartmouth will play host to some of the UK’s top food writers and personalities in the ‘Eat Your Words’ talks and tastings. Events will take place in the Flavel Church, in the centre of Dartmouth.

Visitors can get hands on and stock up on skills in cookery workshops – from filleting a fish to baking the perfect scone, there’s something to suit all home cooks. It’s not just about the food either, the festival will offer a programme of drinks tastings and events for those who want to brush up on their knowledge.

Richard Hunt, chef and proprietor of the Devon Scone Company comments, “The Dartmouth Food Festival showcases all the best produce from the West Country. It is always a must for my calendar, as the whole atmosphere and welcome from the residents and visitors to the festival creates a buzz and passion that is nothing short of inspiring.”

As well as fabulous food in the exhibitor marquees, Royal Avenue Gardens and across the festival, many of Dartmouth’s renowned restaurants will be running special menus and other events.

A programme of children’s activities will be running in the Royal Avenue Gardens. Activities take place all day and are free.

Entry to the festival is free with a charge for some events.  Dartmouth Food Festival relies on the generous support of festival sponsors.

Full details at www.dartmouthfoodfestival.com

Twitter: @DartFoodFest

Facebook: www.facebook.com/DartmouthFoodFestival

Live Love Eat Awards 2014

Thursday 26th February was a bit of a special day for me, as it was the inaugural 2014 Live Love Eat awards and I had been invited along to take part in a grand celebration of locally produced food and drink, in an awards ceremony organised by Vicki Sargent and the Live Love Eat team.  It took place in the Deer Park Hotel (set in 80 acres of parkland) near Honiton.

Some of the best local food producers and foodies came together to celebrate those lucky enough to have gathered enough votes to earn themselves a place in one of the twelves categories.

So here I am writing about an event that happened nearly three weeks ago! Unfortunately life has a strange habit of getting in the way and I’ve only been able to sit down and write it up now. Despite the fact it was nearly three weeks ago, it was one of those experiences I am unlikely to forget.


The awards was kicked off with a really nice breakfast for delegates, an amazing plethora of local produce and items fresh from Deer Parks own kitchens.  We got a chance to network and have a chat but unfortunately the weather was against us so we were unable to tour the house.

I had the honour of sitting with Maurice from Hogs Bottom Delights who was providing the Marmalade and Jams as part of the breakfast, and who also won the Platinum Award for Devon in the Condiments & Jams section.


Head over to the Live Love Eat website for a full list of winners and take some time to go and see what Live Love Eat is all about.

Started 18 months ago by Vicki, a farmer’s daughter and 32 year-old mother-of-two, who has a distinct passion about the food and drink industry.  This comes from her parents who bought a farm in Hatherleigh when Vicki was 17.  They converted in into an award winning organic farm and butchery.

The organisation and love that went in to the organisation of the day really shone through.  It was a brief morning but it left me feeling humbled and lucky that we have such amazing food producers in the South West and certainly here in Devon.

http://www.liveloveeat.co.uk

Follow on Twitter @liveloveeat
Like on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/liveloveeatltd
Follow in Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/liveloveeatweet/

New Exhibitors queuing to be part of the Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink!

Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink is celebrating an exciting increase in the number of new exhibitors it will be welcoming to its 12th festival. Taking place this April from its city centre location at Exeter Castle and Northernhay Gardens, the Exeter Food Festival is a multi-award winning annual event that celebrates the very best of south west produce and producers as a not-for-profit initiative.

As Michael Caines MBE, festival co-founder who champions the event voluntarily explains: ‘As ever, competition for pitches was stiff for our 2015 festival and we are delighted to see new producers coming through. The Exeter Food Festival is all about highlighting the fantastic hospitality and delicious food and drink that we are producing here in the south west and I am delighted that new and growing companies      as well as much loved brands are coming to be part of if.’

As Michael continues: ‘The number of applications received from new exhibitors grew by 40% this year. It’s really exciting and demonstrates the growth in food and drink companies in this region and their interest in coming to the Exeter Food Festival.”

Visitors to the festival can expect to find a wide array of items to purchase, to eat and to drink including another collection of Fresh at the Festival exhibitors – championing those who’ve been in business fewer than 3 years. Fresh at the Festival exhibitors are offered discounted participation, training and free promotion; one of the initiatives of Exeter Food Festival to lend a hand to local start-ups.

One such company is Boom Kitchen who won last year’s most innovative product award from Taste of the West. The newcomers from Braunton, North Devon have reinvented the classic British Indian curry with their gluten free curry kits. Each kit contains freshly ground spice mix, their secret Boom Base™ and other chuck in the pan components that let you cook from scratch restaurant beating curries in less time than it takes to order a take away.

James Doel, co-founder of Boom Kitchen says: ‘We’re over the moon to have been selected for Exeter Food Festival for the first time this year. The South West has an incredible number of artisan producers and gastronomes so we’re really excited to be alongside some of the region’s finest names in food and drink. Most of all we’re looking forward to meeting like-minded foodies who share our passion for quality ingredients and a decent curry.’

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, workshops, live music and food-themed activities for all the family.

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 will be available online. For more information or to buy tickets visit: www.exeterfoodanddrinkfestival.co.uk.

Organic Christmas Hampers from Trill Farm, Axminster, Devon

The Trill Winter Seasons Box is a delicious organic hamper full of exclusive seasonal products from Trill Farm an organic farm in Devon owned by Romy Fraser OBE (founder of Neal’s Yard Remedies). The Trill Winter Seasons Box is the ideal Christmas gift for a discerning friend or loved one this year. Order now and expect delivery on Wednesday 17th December.

The Trill Winter Seasons Box costs £75 and includes organically grown and responsibly-made products from all parts of Trill Farm: food and drink, natural health and beauty, homewares and garden. Each item is a celebration of the organic and wild offerings of the land, skilfully created using minimal processing and packaging. The majority of the Trill Winter Seasons products are unique to the box, and not available to purchase through the Trill Farm Shop website.

It’s a chance to experience a selection of high-quality products based on what’s abundant right now, and share them with people who support the Trill Farm ethos; healthy and responsible living and education to teach the skills required to live lightly on the land. Look Inside The Trill  Winter Seasons Box The Trill Winter Seasons Box includes the following organic and responsibly-made products from Trill Farm (contents may vary):

TRILL FOODS
Winter Cordial There was a fantastic late autumn hedgerow harvest from the farm this year so we have bottled a host of berries and crabapples. It’s a lovely base for mulled wine and also offers a delicious non-alcoholic alternative. Quince & Crabapple Cheese Made from Romy’s garden quince and the finest sharp and tart crabapples, this sweet and aromatic delight should take pride of place on the best of cheese boards. Pickled Green Tomatoes Here we have captured the last of the green tomato crop from Kate and Ash’s garden and pickled it in Trill’s distinctive apple cider vinegar from last autumn.

The pickle is spiked with fruity Palivec chillies and goes perfectly with potted meats and pate. Celebration Cake Soaked in cider and sweetened with the last of the season’s honey, Trill’s celebration cake, best served with Devonshire cream, is the ideal way to spice up feasts.

Winter Tea Naturally spicy – can be drunk either as a tea or heated in warm red wine. Prepared with hand picked herbs and flowers grown at Trill, making the most of each season’s natural taster and goodness.  This tea features rose hip, mulberry, hawthorn berries, bay laurel, comfrey, fennel and apple. Dried Red Chillies Beautiful in the kitchen and delicious in your cooking. Three different varieties of chilli of varying heat to try out.
Palivec is a long variety originally from the Czech Republic which starts out pale green and ripens to dark red. It is not too hot, the spice is mainly in the seeds so can be left out if required! Cayenne is a well known variety often used for making chilli powder.

Alberto’s Lococo is an unusual round variety with fuzzy leaves, purple flowers and black seeds. It has a hot warming heat and lots of flavour. Potted Pheasant (Meat option) Dating back to the 16th Century potted meat was solely used as a method of preserving meat. Since then it has become one of Britain’s most iconic dishes. Served alongside the pickled green tomatoes or the crabapple and quince cheese this is a quick brunch ideal for those wintery mornings. Or Chestnut Pate (Vegetarian option) With a windy autumn on Trill there was a rush to gather and bring in the sweet chestnut harvest. These small creamy nuts are a delicious source of vitamins and minerals to keep us healthy through the colder months.

HEALTH & BEAUTY
Facial Oil A nourishing blend of omega-rich sesame and borage seed oils combined with antioxidant calendula and carrot extracts to replenish skin. Infused with a nurturing blend of pure essential oils. Winter Soap Trill Soaps are made with organic oils and herbal extracts from Trill. Packaged in sustainably sourced, screen printed wooden boxes, they are ideal for traveling and re-use. Due to the high glycerin content and rich, hydrating lather, this soap won’t dry out the skin and is gentle enough to use on the face. Herbal Bath Salts A soothing blend of winter herbs and cleansing salts. Add a handful to the water for a relaxing bath.

HOME & GARDEN
Beeswax Candles A pair of handmade Trill beeswax candles. The natural beeswax creates a gentle warming fragrance when burning – a festive ambience for winter celebrations. Ginger Biscuit Kit The gingerbread biscuit kit combines Trill’s barley flour with ginger, cinnamon, cloves and a little sugar making them a tasty companion to a warm mulled wine. Perfect for baking as a family. Trill Trust Christmas Cards Four beautiful farm-inspired designs by Tamsin Loxley.

The Trill Trust is an education charity dedicated to encouraging healthy and responsible living. Charity number 1094893. The boxes are sent overnight delivery to UK addresses only. Winter boxes will be shipped to arrive on Wednesday 17th December. Experience All Four Seasons The Trill Seasons Box is also available at a substantial discount as a subscription four times each year: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.

Purchase of a year’s subscription (four seasonal boxes) includes becoming a ‘Friend of Trill’, which includes exclusive invitations to seasonal events and 20% off Trill courses in 2015. For more details of the Trill Organic Winter Box – visit the Trill Farm Online Shop.

For additional information and high resolution images of all products, contact: Trill Farm, Pudleylake Road, Musbury, Axminster, Devon EX13 8TU Tel: 01297 631 113 Email: press@trillfarm.co.uk

 

Urban Burger, Queen St

EE RecommendsA few months ago, the independent family run Urban Burger Restaurant invited Beer, Burger and Beyond (Eating Exeter’s side project) to come down and pay them a visit and sample some of the delights that can be found on their awesome menu.  Whilst there, I really really wanted a burger and at the time couldn’t quite bring myself to hit the brand new Smoke Shack menu.  Burger Urge is a strong and powerful thing!

I also realised that Urban Burger didn’t have a place on Eating Exeter, so what else could I do? I just had to go back.  And this time it was with 8 other work colleagues on a social night, a gaggle of us rowdy lot taking up two of their tables and all wanting something different.  Annoyingly I didn’t have a camera with me, so I have reused some photos from our last visit, when the light was much better and I had a DSLR at hand.

Organizing a social night with work friends can be hard sometimes, especially if there are a vast array of needs to be catered for.  Thankfully, working with the lovely people that I do, it was very easy and Urban Burger made it that much easier. First point I have to make here, they reply to their email and were really accommodating to any changes we made. Second point to be highlighted is that they were very happy to accept any form of payment whether it was partly cash, card etc. there was no strange restrictions or charges.

With Urban Burger, there is no smoke-and-mirrors with the food they serve.  After our last visit I drew the conclusion that they really care about the food that emerges from their kitchen, and after a recent menu revamp they are proving that they are competitive and passionate about what they do.  The restaurant space is filled with natural light during the day, with a stonework floor and decor that gives the place a distinctively Urban feeling but without being too harsh and utilitarian as the name Urban might lead you to believe.

The menu is clean and easy to read, it is accessible and professional.  The side of the menu has information about  the Man Vs Food challenge which quite frankly is slightly mad.  20 minutes to eat seven 6oz patties, seven slices of American cheese, seven pieces of bacon, an organic bun and a little salad.  If you win it, you get the whole lot for free (costs £24.95 regularly), a t-shirt and your name on the leader board and photo on the website.  As far as I am aware, there is no where else in Exeter that has a similar challenge meal, only the brave should enter.

Other parts of the menu tell you exactly where the meat comes from and emphasises the fact that nearly all of their ingredients are locally produced and where possible, made from scratch on the premises.  In large characters it says that 95% of everything on the menu is made from scratch, just in case you hadn’t realised.

So. Lets get down to business. The food.

I was quite determined to have something from the Smoke Shack menu (if you want my take on the burgers, have a look at the BBB Review!) and today it would be ½ Hot Smoked BBQ Free Range Chicken (£11.95) and a bottle of Avocet from Exeter Brewery.  My other half, who happens to be a work colleague also, went for the Goats Cheese Salad (£7.95) consisting of Grilled Goat’s cheese, caramelised red onions, roasted red peppers, mixed lettuce, cherry tomatoes, beetroot, cucumber and house dressing finished with a balsamic reduction.  Other members of the party had various things, including two Chief Burgers (The Chief’s Burger £9.95 – Two 6oz prime Devon beef patties, bacon, fried onions, mayo, two slices of American cheese) that went down very well with a small portion of each sale of The Chief Burger going to

The first thing you noticed is the deep colour of the chicken, then the smell of chicory smoked meat.  Rubbed in spices and left to marinade overnight then smoked in Urban Burger’s very own American Smoker.

A whole half chicken (from Greenslade Farm, just outside Clyst St Mary) is a lot of meat, and its a strange thing when you get half way through and realise that your eyes are actually much larger than your stomach.  And this happened to be the dilemma that faced me as I chomped my way through the BBQ Brisket beans, the double fried fries and the coleslaw that came with my half chicken.

The grilled goat’s cheese salad that was being consumed next to me was served in a giant taco shell and looked amazing. Reports indicate that it was one of the nicest salads ever consumed and that we would be coming back primarily for the salad.

Unfortunately on this occasion we didn’t have space for any of Nicole’s Peanut Butter Pie, and I didn’t have a chance to sample any of their cocktails, but will return soon to sample some of their cocktails 🙂

Each meal I have ate at Urban Burger has always ended with a feeling of satisfaction.  It was no different on this occasion and although I didn’t managed to finish the entire meal, I was left with a sense of total and complete ‘happy-stuffed’ feeling.  The prices are average for the type of restaurant and location in Exeter, but the friendliness of the staff and the quality of the food is much more than average.

Visit the website http://www.urbanburger.co.uk/

Visit on Twitter
Visit on Facebook