CRUMBS Devon No.10 NOVEMBER 2016
Heart of the home! Jazz up your interiors with Ashgrove Kitchens
A little slice of foodie heaven
£3 where sold
HOT COFFEE! EXPLODING BAKERY! LAMB TAGINE!
SENSATIONAL D EE W A E S ER COTTAGE’S
rk’s WITH Gidleigh Pan Michael Wig all
There are three things we’ll never discuss: + religion, politics
WITH CHRISTOPHER PIPER
N i k p m U P Great
What’s your favourite sport, Mr Pumpkinhead?
c rumbsmag.c om
ce, fa ky o o p s a t s u j n a It’s more th Charlie Brown…
IN BETWEEN DAYS WE’RE IN THAT in between time at the moment, where it’s no longer really summer but autumn hasn’t fully kicked in yet, and so this issue’s Crumbs Devon is slightly schizophrenic, in a way: we’re simultaneously running pictures of pumpkins on the front (autumn’s poster child, if ever there was one) while recommending dishes for the very last barbecues of the seaon, as Orlando Murrin gamely does on page 30. We’re also – albeit briefly – in between editors too, for this issue is sadly my last in the Crumbs hotseat. From next time around Charlie Lyon, until recently boss at our sister title Crumbs Cotswolds, will be smiling out at you from this very page. Please make her welcome. As for me, well, I’ve been humming ‘Bye-Bye, Mein Lieber Herr’ these last few weeks. It was indeed a fine affair, but now it’s over, as I make way for someone who has the proper amount of time to devote to all of Devon’s brilliant restaurants and pubs, farmers and fishers, artisan food and drink makers, and all the rest who keep this fantastic magazine at the forefront of such a lively county-wide gastronomic scene. A huge thank you to all those uber-talented contributors who’ve worked with me on these last few issues. And since it’s October, aka ‘Hedgerow Heaven Time’, I’ll now make like chef Michael Wignall, writers Lauren Heath and Steven Lamb, and boutique B&B owner Daisy Kearey – all of whom have been raiding the Devon lanes to harvest wild foods this issue – and be off for a bit of foraging. Adieu!
Susan Clark, Editor email@example.com
Crumbs is now an app! You can read all editions of Crumbs – Bath+Bristol, Cotswolds and Devon – on iTunes or Android. Scan the QR codes opposite, search ‘Crumbs’ or go to crumbsmag.com
Based in rural Devon (near Exeter), Ashgrove Kitchens Ltd has gained a reputation across the UK as one of the very best bespoke kitchen designers, kitchen planners and kitchen furnishers, providing quality handmade and lovingly crafted bespoke kitchens, bedrooms and studies at aďŹ€ordable prices.
ASHGROVE KITCHENS 3 Marsh Lane, Lords Meadow Ind Est., Crediton, Devon EX17 1ES 01363 773533 â€˘ firstname.lastname@example.org
Table of Contents
NO. 10 NOVEMBER 2016
08 HERO INGREDIENTS Okay, so the jolly pumpkin might leer a little, but on balance it means well… 10 OPENINGS ETC 14 ASK THE EXPERT Think you can’t afford a bespoke kitchen? Think again! 22 KITCHEN LIBRARY
Amazing recipes from the region’s top kitchens
38 HOUSE CALL Daisy Kearey’s opened up her house as one of Devon’s poshest B&Bs, so you can admire it – and stay there too 46 THE WANT LIST Fancy getting your Christmas shopping in early? Then have we got some ideas for you…
26 Lamb tagine, by Luke Daly and Reece Thompson 28 Cherry Cola short ribs, by Christian Sculpher 30 Sweetcorn fritters with red pepper salsa, by Orlando Murrin 34 Dulse potato cakes, by Steven Lamb
MAINS 50 BUBBLE-ICIOUS! Need some fizz in your life? We know the guys to point you in the right direction …
52 A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM And foraging with Michael Wignall was just the beginning
AFTERS New & notable restaurants, cafés, bars 62 Boringdon Hall 64 Exploding Bakery PLUS
66 LITTLE BLACK BOOK David Jones of Manna from Devon knows what he likes, and is willing to share…
INNOVATIONS, REVELATIONS AND TASTY AMUSE-BOUCHES
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED CONGRATULATIONS TO THE owners of Lifton Hall Hotel − chef Robert Fleming and Richard Elworthy – who are celebrating the 10th anniversary since they took over the popular hotel/pub/restaurant in the mid-Devon village of Lifton, with a spectacular foodie birthday bash on October 25. The duo have made a name for their food through their regular Tuesday Night Food Club evenings, hosted at the elegant 17th century inn, and are pulling out all the stops for their anniversary party. It’ll be nothing less than an evening celebrating their favourite foods of the last 10 years. In the past, their food club themes have been as varied as School Dinners, Titanic Night and Chinese New Year, with inspiration coming from the pair’s world travels, historical events, or just the fact that they’ve not tried something before. And for the birthday bash? “Expect the unexpected,” says Richard, “and, of course, a cracking good night.” ✱ liftonhall.co.uk
S T A R T E R S
Pumpkins Back in the day, we were always told ‘don’t play with your food’. But some ingredients… Well, they’re practically begging for it
THE JOLLY PUMPKIN, that bright orange, gourd-like American squash – a small space-hopper, but without the horns – is one delicious treat that simply begs you to smile every time you look at it. No wonder the Scots and Irish, so used to carving up their smaller, harder local turnips into decorative Halloween jack-o’-lanterns, soon dropped those like hot potatoes (to mix our veggies with abandon!) once they’d rocked up to a virgin America. Waiting for them there: this beautiful beast, bigger, brighter and much easier to carve. Sometime in the 1800s, carved pumpkin lanterns became America’s gurning face of harvest season, then Thanksgiving, finally Halloween. Today there’s no symbol on Earth that says scary (but fun!) like a grinning, glowing pumpkin lantern – but carving leering faces into them is only one way we’ve found to have fun with the things. A good-size regular pumpkin maybe gets to 30kg or a little more, but here be giants too: mad geniuses have teased the Atlantic Giant variety to way over 800kg (that’s 128 stone in old money, or about as heavy as a cow). Elsewhere the Robot Wars gene kicks in with pumpkin-chucking competitions for home-made catapults – they make such a satisfying splat, of course – while everyone from Cinderella (with her pumpkin coach) to Charlie Brown’s pal Linus (and his bizarre belief in ‘the Great Pumpkin’) knows there’s a certain naughty magic to these most photogenic of squash. Not that there’s anything very naughty about them as a foodstuff, for it’s nearly all edible – even the flowers! – and it works well roasted, baked, steamed, boiled. Pumpkin mash is amazing; the pies, of course, legendary; and the seeds very yummy as a roasted snack. Pumpkin works especially well with cheese (try them together as a ravioli stuffing), or as a warming autumn soup, while the medicinal benefits are varied, bizarre but all good. (Got a chicken that refuses to lay? Try pumpkin! Your dog has diarrhoea? Same solution!) What’s not to love? Well, perhaps only that at this time of year can see a bit of a pumpkin overload: pumpkin spice lattes in the coffee shop; pumpkin ales on the craft
100g butter, chilled 2 tbsp caster sugar 1 egg yolk Filling 1 small pumpkin (or 1 medium butternut squash) 145ml maple syrup 1 tsp cinnamon ½ tsp ground ginger ½ tsp mixed spice 2 large eggs, beaten 150ml evaporated milk METHOD
beer shelves; heck, spiced pumpkin fragrances in Superdrug. (At least one of this trio is likely to prove somewhat unpalatable.) Some sourpusses even claim pumpkins are just for carving, and not for eating at all. To which we say, pah! Insane! Indeed, if the arrival of the pumpkin at these time of year isn’t proof of the existence of some sort of grinning autumnal god, we don’t know what is. They’re heaving with B vitamins and minerals, giving much-needed energy; they’ve got the useful cold-fighting quantities of vitamin C; they’re low in fat, so don’t sit heavily in your stomach; and you can cook them any which way, then throw the leftovers straight into your smoothie in the morning. (Do the same with all the slimy leftover mush from when you carve out your pumpkin, why don’t you?) Oh, and they’re bright orange. And if that alone doesn’t make you feel good, we don’t know what will..
PUMPKIN PIE (MAKES A 20CM PIE) INGREDIENTS
Pastry 170g plain flour pinch of salt
– Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Cut the pumpkin into quarters, scoop out seeds and discard. – Place skin side up in a roasting dish with 2 tbsp of water. Roast for 30 minutes until tender. Allow the pumpkin to cool slightly, peel off the skin, place the flesh in a food processor, and whizz until smooth. Place a fine sieve over a bowl and drain the pumpkin for an hour. – Make the pastry. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and grate in the butter, rub in until it resembles breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar. Mix the egg yolk with 2 tbsp iced water, then stir half of the egg mixture into the flour mixture and discard the rest. Stir with a knife until it comes together as a paste, then bring together with your fingertips. Turn onto a floured surface and roll out to a thickness of a £1 coin. Line a 20cm tart tin with the pastry, trim, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes. – Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and baking beans and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 5-10 minutes, until the base is golden. Turn the oven down to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. – Put 250g pumpkin purée in a large bowl, discard excess liquid, stir in maple syrup and spices then mix in the eggs. Gradually stir in the evaporated milk until you have a thick, creamy consistency (you may not need to use it all). – Pour into the pastry case and bake for 30-40 minutes until the filling is set, but is still slightly wobbly in the middle. Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before serving. ✱You’ll find this recipe and many more at Lakeland online; lakeland.co.uk/recipes
Openings Etc HOME COOK QUEEN Huge congratulations to Crumbs reviewer Sue Stoneman, who’ll be cooking her heart out on 15 October in her bid to win the 2015 South West Chef of the Year Home Cook title. Exmouth-based Sue is not just your standard issue home cook, though: she also works outdoors with wood fired ovens and BBQs, both in her own garden and at Bigfire, where she works, at The Shops @ Dartington, near Totnes. She’s been appearing at food festivals too – both locally and as far afield as Oxford and York – and has also cropped up on BBC TV show The Box, with James Martin.
DEVON’S BEST SLEEPOVERS
Two of the county’s top hotels – as voted for by the readers of Food & Travel magazine – are guess where? Devon, of course. Gidleigh Park, and its 2 Michelinstarred executive head chef, Michael Wignall (see page 52 for more on him), picked up Best Rural Hotel of the Year, and The Salutation Inn in Topsham scooped B&B of the Year. Congrats, both!
There’s not much – in fact, nothing – that Devon’s top cheesemaker, Mary Quicke, doesn’t know about the coagulated milk business. She’s won practically every award going and, just to prove the point, recently scooped up Gold in the Best Smoked Cheese category at the prestigious Global Cheese Awards, which have been running since (gulp!) 1861. Her winner? Only one that’s been been specially selected by Marks & Spencer.
✱ gidleigh.co.uk; salutationtopsham.co.uk
In the diary... (2 Oct) DELICIOUS DRAKE’S TRAIL Run, Eat, Repeat – that’s the mantra adopted by those taking part in the annual Delicious Drake’s Trail, a foodie fund-raising event that sees participants running a 15-mile trail that starts at Buckland Abbey (once home to Sir Francis Drake) and ends at the Moorland Garden Hotel. ✱ deliciousdrakestrail.co.uk (16 Oct) NORTH DEVON FOOD FESTIVAL Now in its 9th year, ethical foodie and Devonbased chef Tim Maddams (ex-River Cottage) will run a pop up restaurant to coincide with the Fest in the town's Pannier Market; expect street food, demos, et al. ✱ barnstaple.co.uk
@tasteofdevon says this unusual take on an everday veg is divine – maple glazed, bacon-wrapped carrots. Yum!
Exeter’s Ruby Modern Diner’s hot salt beef bun gets the thumbs up from @stirland1. Awesome! crumbsmag.com
CORRECTION: Manna from Devon has been appointed a brand ambassador for Morso wood fired ovens (not stoves). The cookery school is based in Kingswear. More info on mannafromdevon.com
S T A R T E R S
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S STTA A RRT E T RS E R S
New Kid kid on on the the Block block New So tell us what you do, Jorge? I’m the Head Chef at The Fat Pig, a pub, restaurant and brewhouse here in Exeter. I’ve been cooking seriously since I was about 13. After school I took the catering course at Exeter College, but it wasn’t until my second year I realised I wanted to cook professionally. That was entirely thanks to Matt Durrent and Ian Biggar, two very exceptional teachers. Can you tell us a fond foodie memory from your childhood? I would look forward to visiting my grandmother. She always had a delicious Pozole – a traditional Mexican soup or stew − prepared. First job in the industry? When I was about 14 I washed dishes in an Indian restaurant working parttime; my mother had told me I needed to ‘learn some responsibilities’. What’s the toughest job you’ve tackled so far? The Oddfellows in Exmouth opening. What’s been your proudest career achievement to date? I’m still cooking, and I’m still inspired daily by discovering new and great ingredients. I feel quite proud that I go to work with this much passion for what I do each and every day.
PIG IN THE CITY When he’s not at the local skate park, The Fat Pig’s head chef, Jorge Avalos, is part of a talented team making creativity the first thing on the menu at the popular Exeter freehouse
Where might we know you from? I was sous chef at The Rusty Bike in Exeter for three years, and I’m partial to a drink at The Angel. Or maybe you saw me at a local skate park? How’d you describe your style? I’ve learned loads about food here, including cooking techniques and terminology. At The Fat Pig it’s very European, but also influenced by my Mexican/American background. What attracted you to working here? I love the pub, the atmosphere, the way we source great ingredients, and working with the team here: three chefs and two kitchen porters.
How’ve you approached the menu? It will always revolve around the seasons, so I get the meat when it’s at its best − whenever that may be. Our dishes are creative but simple, and use the best ingredients I can source. Where else do you like to eat? The Hour Glass pub is great; Firehouse for a pizza, if it’s late; and I’d recommend the oysters and steak at Circa. The mixed Turkish salads at the Dinosaur Café are incredible, and The Crab Shack in Teignmouth is a treat. What makes the local scene so good? Devon is an exceptional place for produce – there are just so many passionate farmers, fisherman, butchers, chefs, and diners all living, working and eating here! Top ingredients at the mo? At the moment it’s got to be game and blackberries, but I’m also interested in the different wood chippings you can use for smoking ingredients. Do you grow anything yourself? Just houseplants and herbs. What do you cook at home? All sorts − anything from a roast dinner to Mexican quesadillas. What and where was the best meal you’ve ever eaten? A friend took me for an incredible menudo in Morelia, Mexico last year, but I also had a very memorable taster meal at The Pump House in Bristol. Got any foodie heros? Francis Mallmann, Enrique Olvera, Maria Otila Perez, Diego Hernande – and many, many others! Finally, what are your current favourite flavour combinations? Acidity cutting through fattiness − it gets me every time!
It’s the time of the year when people start thinking about new kitchens – either as a Christmas gift (to self), or as something to get installed for party season. Here’s Katey McDonald of Devon’s Ashgrove Kitchens to tell us what Santa can deliver in time…
Ask the Expert
Top left: a boatshaped island; below: this kitchen shows how effective colour can be, the green making all the difference
Hey, Katey. You guys started back in the late ’80s, didn’t you? So what key changes have you seen in the world of bespoke kitchens since then? In all honesty, everything has changed – and the big difference is that almost anything is possible now. For us, the big shift has been in the style of kitchens we make – it used to be just traditional designs, but we now do contemporary kitchens too. You have to move with the times, of course, and you have to be able to inspire your customers, and bring their ideas to life. Social media means our customers have usually done much more research than they used to, too.
an imaginative way – and we literally built a boat! Peter Barber, the designer, carefully came up with some designs that included a contemporary island unit that looked just like a boat, which he paired with a traditional ‘Beach House’ style kitchen in the background. The whole thing was meant to represent the company’s long history through different styles and periods, and also to reflect its links with boats and Devon.
So, tell us a little about the company, and its history. It was originally set up by Andrew Davis, right here in Crediton. That was back in 1987, but Andrew still remains the owner and director of the company. You can see our kitchens displayed in Cornwall through Frasier King, and here in Devon at Hearth & Cook in Exeter.
Must have cost a bit, but what’s the most expensive kitchen you’ve ever been asked to create? It was in the region of £95,000.
In all that time, there must have been some ups and downs… Oh, of course – but we’ve survived and thrived with a lot of hard work and perseverance. Plus, we’ve been lucky enough to have very loyal staff! Our products have always been designed and made here in Devon, and we are still small enough to be able to react very quickly to any style and trend changes, as well as meet a range of budgets. All this actually allows us to compete surprisingly well with high street prices. So what sort of customer do you get, and why have they decided they want a bespoke kitchen? You know what? Anyone can have a bespoke kitchen – it literally means “made for a particular customer’. For us, it’s about not limiting a customer’s ideas, but instead working with them to create an individual design to meet both their expectations and their budget. What’s the quirkiest kitchen you’ve designed, and who was it for? We were once asked to design a nautically-themed kitchen display for Beech Bros that would showcase their quality real wood worktops in
And what was the end result like? Pretty good! We’re proud to say the kitchen has been featured on Houzz (houzz.co.uk) a couple of times!
If you were having a new kitchen installed this year, what wouid be on your list of personal must-haves? For me, the number one thing would be a boiling water tap. These are a great alternative to using a kettle – they’re much faster, as the hot water is there instantly – and they’re very popular at the moment. And they’re not just for making everyone teas and coffees, but help with the cooking too. How important is colour in the kitchen these days? You know, colour’s very popular at the moment – and your choice of lighting is absolutely crucial. There’s a real trend for two-tone colour in kitchens, especially those with Shaker-style doors. Although the range of colours available these days is vast, we find that each customer has their own idea of what works and what doesn’t, which makes it hard to pinpoint particular colour trends. You might limit your use of colour to a splash back or a single cabinet door, but even such restrained usage can give a kitchen true personality. And lighting? The great thing about clever lighting is that it allows the ‘mood’ of the room to change, according to time or event – because they’re so versatile, downlighters and LEDs are still popular as they allow you to ‘zone’ a room.
Ask the Expert How does business change in the run-up to Christmas? The first thing to say is that it’s always a busy time for us as far as installations are concerned. Many people either like to have their kitchen as a sort of Christmas gift, or want it in time to entertain family and friends over the festive period. We relax on 25 December! How about outdoor cooking spaces? Yes, we do those too. They’re actually very on trend at the moment, and I’ve even designed one for my own garden. There’s a growing interest in outdoor living, and more and more great outdoor cooking appliances are available. We’re actually working very closely with Hearth & Cook, and Morso’s outdoor cooking range, in developing an outdoor kitchen to complement it. Does what the TV chefs do influence how people want their kitchens? Can’t say it’s something that comes up very often! But I think the increase in TV shows about cooking has certainly shifted the emphasis in many homes, and we’ve seen kitchens becoming a key entertaining space. More and more people want a big kitchen/diner, or even a completely open-plan living space. What are the key trends we can expect in bespoke kitchen design? I mentioned boiling water taps, and they’re still going strong, as is the use of
Though we’d love a kitchen as cool as those on these pages, we’re afraid we can’t guarantee that all we’d cook on it is healthy, picture-perfect fare like this Asian feast. (Sorry, but there it is)
induction hobs replacing the traditional ceramic tops. Steam ovens are popular, largely due to the healthy eating trend. Hidden appliances have become a key element too, while greys, earth colours and ivory are the key colours. Two-tone or multi-coloured painted kitchens are becoming more and more en-vogue all the time, and living spaces are generally becoming increasingly open plan, including the kitchen area.
How much will we be spending with you, then? We can work to any budget, but the lower limit is realistically around £7.5k. (There’s no upper limit, as we can do anything!) We like to look at budgets quite early on, so customers aren’t surprised at the final bill, but we’re not the expensive luxury some people think we are. Often we can compete at the lower price points – and with a better product, too. How important is sustainability to customers these days? We make sure all our products are bought responsibly, and can verify that they have come from a particular source. It’s essential, for instance, that our timber has been legally harvested from a sustainable managed forest, and we use standards such as the FSC and PEFC to ensure we can track processes. Finally, tell us about your own dream kitchen. What would it be like? I really like the good old traditional timber kitchens myself, with granite worktops and stylish butler or Belfast sinks – but incorporating all the modern gadgets. Of course, I would need the period property to match! ✱ ashgrovekitchens.co.uk
Gin that we make... beer that we brew... food that's sourced, caught and foraged locally... Taste what we do at The Rusty bike
67 howell road exeter ex4 4lz 01392 214440 www.rustybike-exeter.co.uk /rustybikeexeter
S T A R T E R S
Carlo Melchior: the man behind North Devon’s top chocs
THE ART OF CHOCOLATE Meet three of Devon’s top chocolatiers, all currently stepping up the pace for a busy run up to Christmas…
Getting a good grip on things at Choccie Bar
CHOCOCO CHOCOLATE HOUSE, EXETER
This award-winning independent chocolatier has just opened an eyecatching new Chocolate House in Exeter’s Gandy Street. Seek it out to dive into a giant, albeit sticky, pool of all things chocolatey, and start filling the present drawer with gift boxes rammed with Chococo’s hand-made fare. The shop also sells a range of hand-made studded slabs, origin bars, clusters and novelties – including chocolate fish and chips! (Not to your taste? Then try Jurassic Coast dinosaurs or chocolate robots.) The new shop’s stylish interior includes an upstairs seating area set aside for coffee, tea, local cakes – and, of course, hot chocolate.
So that’s two chocolate specialists on Exeter’s Gandy Street. Can we make it three? Actually no, we can’t, for Swissborn Carlo Melchior may be making his award-winning hand-made chocolates right here in Devon – ever since 1989, in fact, and always to traditional Swiss recipes – but he’s decided to create his at Station Road, South Molton instead. Carlo is a regular at some of the county’s top foodie festivals, but also sells his chocolates at his North Devon shop, and online. And like all the best artisan chocolatiers, he offers specialist workshops and masterclasses for those who want to learn more. ✱ melchiorchocolates.co.uk
Could you walk past this place? Come on, could you?
Exeter-based chocolatier Katie Jones runs chocolate gift workshops and, even better, half-day chocolate masterclasses. From 3 November, she’s also offering a Make Your Own Chocolate Gifts class (think yummy truffles), which will run on Monday and Thursday evenings, 6-8.30pm, right up until December 22. All the Choccie Bar chocolates are made in the chocolate studio right above the shop in Gandy Street, too. “If you can think it, we can make it,” says Katie, who has made chocolate bicycles – and even a chocolate squirrel! – for customers before now. ✱ chocciebar.com
S STTA A RRT E T RS E R S
Askthe your waiter Ask andlady L
Who knows the menu best? Who makes the greatest impact on your experience? Who knows the menu best? Who makes the greatest impact on your experience? Front-of-house is your friend! Front-of-house is your friend!
Who are you then, Binka? I’m landlady at The Ring of Bells pub, at Cheriton Fitzpaine, near Crediton. We opened in July 2014, after the pub had been closed for a couple of years. And where did you work before? I was at Côte Brasserie in Exeter, and before that a number of independent restaurants in Leicester. Catering is in my blood, and has been my chosen career path for a number of years. What’s the best thing about it? I love working for myself − it’s very challenging, of course, but also extremely rewarding. It’s a great feeling seeing the customers enjoy what we’ve worked so hard to create, too. What’s the most challenging part? It’s got to be dealing with the unexpected, of course! What sort of customers do you get? Lovely, lovely, lovely ones! We’ve some very supportive regulars, who are all starting to get to know one another, and I love the fact that now – no matter what night of the week it is – someone will always be able to walk in and see a friendly face. What are the bestselling dishes? Our spiced black pudding, green chillies, tomato and fried egg has been on the menu since we opened, and we can’t take it off now – there’d be an uproar! The bavette steak has gained a real following, too; it’s an unusual cut, of course, but very tasty. And the big hit drinks? Aperol Spritz certainly went down well this summer. We sell two real ales that are always in tiptop condition too, and we change them on a weekly basis. When it comes to wine, our Portuguese house red has become a total bestseller. It was a bit of a hard sell at first, I’ll confess, as people aren’t too familiar with wine from Portugal. But once they’ve tried it, they don’t look back.
What do you think makes the pub a special place to visit? A warm welcome, lovely locals and great food that under sells and over delivers − all served in a homely, inviting and relaxed atmosphere. So if you were a customer today, what would you order? Oh, probably the cod cheeks with chorizo and an onion and sherry purée, followed by lamb navarin with summer vegetables. And then most likely follow that up with our cheese board − we have a wicked selection from England, France and Spain. What do you think makes great customer service? Listening – and then remembering conversations and personal details about your customers. Making people feel welcome, relaxed and special when they come in for a drink or a meal is vital, too. Where have you visited locally where the service was excellent? Jasmine Thai in Exeter – you can’t fault it there. Where else do you like to eat on your days off? The Ghurka and The Curry Leaf, which are both in Exeter, or The Salutation Inn in Topsham. Another great pub, and quite close by, is The Lamb Inn at Sandford. Finally, what do you cook at home? I love making anything that requires a long and slow cook, especially a curry. (I can then disappear to the pub for a couple of hours, and come back to find the food is ready!) The house smells delicious too, and I always find I have friends in hot pursuit when they discover that I’ve made one. ✱ theringofbells.com
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RINGING THE CHANGES Running front of house at The Ring of Bells in Cheriton Fitzpaine is Binka Cavan who, along with partner-incrime David Allen (behind the pass), is bringing new life to a favourite historic pub
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The oyster Shack Time to cosy up this autumn and enjoy the cracking menu offers, events and cookery masterclasses at award winning restaurant The Oyster Shack in Bigbury...
estled into the Avon Valley, The Oyster Shack – aka ‘Seafood Paradise’ – will be as warming and cosy as ever this winter. Serving an array of mouth-watering Catch of the Day seafood and shellfish, depending on what’s landed daily and what’s in season, it’s a mustvisit for any seafood lover. Shack Sunday Roasts launch from 2 October (hey, Sundays are for feasting). They’ll have seafood roasts with all the trimmings, plus a meat option. And, of course, a cosy fire, fine wines and heaps of soul come as standard. The depths of winter demand comfort food, so the shack is launching just that – a Winter Classics menu (alongside the Daily Catch menu). Think herbcrusted fish pie, lobster thermidor, baked oysters, creamy mash, crab soup with melted parmesan toast and hot puddings. Yum! On Saturday 3 December, The Shack will be turned into a winter wonderland for a magical Christmas Barrow Market, a great family day out with Christmas trees, demos, 30 stalls and more... And if you are looking for a unique setting to host your Christmas party, there are bespoke menus, set menus and private cookery classes too. Surely it’s time to book?
MENU OFFERS and EVENTS Mussel Mondays Mussels of your choice, served with fries, for £10 Shackers Set Menu 3 October-16 December; two courses £14/ three courses £16 Seafood Sharing Feast 26 September-16 December; an array of seafood, served with Prosecco; £19.50 per person Interactive Masterclasses 5 November, 9.45am-12noon; Knife Skills, Soups and Sauces; £70 per person (including three course lunch and wine) Cookery Demonstrations 26 November, 9.45-12noon; Christmas Canapés and Cocktails; £45 per person (including three course lunch and wine) Beaujolais Nouveau 17 November, 6.45pm; three course sharing menu, paired wines, live music; £45 per person The Oyster Shack, Stakes Hill, Bigbury TQ7 4BE; 01548 810 876; www.oystershack.co.uk
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S T A R T E R S
Kitchen Library The freshest, most inspirational cookbooks of the month
MISO TASTY: THE COOKBOOK
TOAST HASH ROAST MASH
Fast becoming a go-to ingredient for healthconscious foodies, miso is full of culinary possibilities, as this book from Bonnie Chung reveals. The fermented soybean paste, which originates from Japan, is prized for its rich, complex umami flavour, alongside health-giving properties, and it has been used by the Japanese for centuries. In Miso Tasty: The Cookbook, Chung explores the versatility of this paste, with 60 recipes for everyday cooking. The recipes are a mix of classics and new discoveries, from swirling it into a hot stock for miso soup, to mixing with olive oil and mustard for a salad dressing, and using it in a deeply flavoured marinade for barbecued steaks or in spicy fried red miso aubergine. A must for all miso fans.
A fixture on countless ‘best cookbooks of the year’ lists, Dan Doherty’s debut, Duck & Waffle: Recipes and Stories, was a hard act to follow. The brilliantly named followup, Toast Hash Roast Mash, is certainly as good as its predecessor, with the author focussing on the dishes he cooks at home for family and friends. This is a book all about simplicity and informality in the kitchen, with dishes revolving around eggs, pancakes, toast, sweet bakes and other breakfast and brunch ideas. Accompanied by brilliant photography from Danish snapper Anders Schonnemann, stand-out dishes include ricotta, pear and honey on toast; smoked salmon, horseradish and sour cream hash; and shakshouka with mint yoghurt and toasted buckwheat. There’s even a handy chapter devoted to hangover food.
Dan Doherty Mitchell Beazley, £20
Bonnie Chung Pavilion, £14.99
SIMPLE: EFFORTLESS FOOD, BIG FLAVOURS
Hailed by Sheila Dillon as ‘Jane Grigson’s real heir’, award-winning Diana Henry is one of the most prolific food writers around, and her latest book is firmly up there with her best so far. Part of Henry’s appeal is the fact that she isn’t a chef but somebody who approaches recipes as a home cook, creating quick, simple and delicious meals for her family. There are no fancy techniques or cheffy tricks in her recipes, which often transform humble ingredients into flavourpacked dishes with a real wow factor. This is perfectly illustrated by recipes like salad of chorizo, avocado and peppers with sherry dressing; a simple red lentil and pumpkin dal; pappardelle with cavolo nero, chilli and hazelnuts; and roast apple, blackberry and whiskey trifles.
A rising star of the food scene, Alex Hely-Hutchinson runs 26 Grains, a porridge shop and café in London’s Neal’s Yard. Her love for ancient grains was inspired by a year living in Copenhagen, and there is a Scandi feel to her debut cookbook, named after her shop. Featuring 100 recipes that use a variety of grains – from oats and spelt to amaranth and buckwheat – the recipes cover energising breakfast porridges through to wholesome lunchtime salad bowls and nourishing comfort dishes for dinner. We particularly enjoyed the ginger and peach Bircher muesli pots; spelt salad with beetroot, feta, chickpea and apple; and the recipes that turn leftover porridge into pancakes or bread. An innovative book that will make you look at humble grains in an exciting and delicious new light.
Diana Henry Octopus, £25
Alex Hely-Hutchinson Square Peg, £20
26 Grains by Alex Hely-Hutchinson, published by Square Peg, £20
SICILY: RECIPES FROM AN ITALIAN ISLAND Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi Hardie Grant, £25
The meeting point between Africa and Europe, Sicily is a cultural melting pot with an exotic mix of foods married to some of the best local produce in the world. Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi explored the island for this book, meeting the street food vendors, osteria owners and home cooks in search of a true taste of Sicily. The result is a collection of sensational dishes, from antipasti of peppers stuffed with pork mince and herbs to family dishes like salmon baked with orange and thyme, and Sicilian slow-cooked pork, beef and sausage ragu. Sweet treats include almond and honey biscuits and a boozy Marsala semifreddo. With beautiful location photography as well as stunning food shots, it’s also a cookbook with a firm sense of place and history.
BROWN RICE INDONESIAN CHICKEN PORRIDGE (SERVES 4)
THIS IS A traditional savoury porridge from Indonesia, but with a texture similar to risotto. The combination of cloves, bay, galangal and chilli warms the insides and together make an incredibly unique dish. Galangal is a member of the ginger family, but is ginger’s very subtle cousin. You can find galangal in most Asian supermarkets and from many online suppliers. INGREDIENTS
For the porridge: 250g short grain brown rice, soaked in water for 1 hour, then drained 1 ½ ltr chicken stock 2 thumb-sized pieces of galangal (or use 1 piece of root ginger) 4 cloves 3 bay leaves 1 tbsp coconut oil good pinch of white pepper
To serve: 1 tbsp sesame seeds 2 tbsp unsalted peanuts olive oil, for frying 200g cooked chicken, shredded 2 spring onions, thinly sliced 1 small bird’s eye chilli, thinly sliced (deseed if you prefer less heat) 2 large handfuls of spinach handful of coriander leaves, picked and roughly chopped kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce) or regular soy sauce METHOD
– Place all the porridge ingredients, except the coconut oil and white pepper, in a pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes, topping up with a little water if it needs it. – While the porridge cooks, prepare the toppings. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying
pan over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously to stop them catching. Do the same with the peanuts, to give them a lovely crunch and depth of flavour. Be careful not to burn them. Once the peanuts have cooled, lightly crush them with a mortar and pestle. – In the same pan, warm a little olive oil and add the shredded chicken to crisp up. – When the porridge is cooked, remove the bay leaves and galangal (or ginger), stir in the coconut oil and white pepper, taste, and adjust the seasoning. – Pour into bowls and top with the spring onions, chilli, spinach, chicken, peanuts, sesame seeds, coriander and kecap manis (or soy sauce).
To book your table call 01626 777956 www.crabshackonthebeach.co.uk
Please telephone for a reservation and ask our crew what’s on the new menu... “Stunning food in a great location”
“For a place that has only been open a few years the Crab Shack has a great reputation. Well deserved. The food is exquisite, the atmosphere and service friendly and informal and the view out the window is stunning.” TripAdvisor ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Reviewed 26 September 2016
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M AG A ZINE
Chef! WHAT TO COOK, AND HOW TO COOK IT – DIRECT FROM THE KITCHENS OF THE REGION’S BEST CHEFS
This corn looks healthy, doesn’t it? But just wait until we fry it! (Or pair it with ribs!)
Highlights ONE POT WONDER
A warming lamb tagine, perfect for autumn Page 26
CHERRY OH BABY
Short ribs meet Cherry Cola for our last BBQ Page 28
FRITTERS NEVER WIN
Yes they do, insists a hungry Orlando Murrin Page 30
34 SHORE THING Steven Lamb makes seaweed sound tasty
e c i p s e h T ht si rig
The impossibly romantic (and uber dog-friendly) Prince Hall Hotel on Dartmoor is gearing up for both the game season and Christmas with a really warming winter menu, thanks to chefs Luke Daly and Reece Thompson Because of their huge emphasis on local ingredients, the chefs at Prince Hall Hotel are able to serve dishes that reflect the fact that one of them, Luke, has worked widely throughout Europe, and that the other, Reece (pictured), is a trained butcher. Put them together and you get the happy union you see here: a warming lamb tagine! The hotel doesn’t just pride itself on its food, though, but also on the way it welcomes our four-legged companions. (Though, in fairness, they rarely get the chance to try what’s reputed to be one of the best Sunday roasts in the county – and served up in one of our most spectacular locations, too, with great views across the rugged tors and open moors.) Owner (and Luke’s dad) Chris Daly is a keen photographer, and there is evidence of this in many of the rooms of this luxurious 18th country house hotel, built on the site of a yet older hall, dating back to the 15th century.
LAMB TAGINE with GRAPEFRUIT & OLIVES (SERVES 6)
1.6kg boneless shoulder of local lamb (diced)
3g saffron strands 400g onions (chopped) 3 garlic cloves (crushed) 300ml fresh chicken stock 50g butter 150ml water 300ml apple juice 1 tsp ground cinnamon ½ tsp salt 1 tsp ground turmeric ½ tsp of white pepper 200g olives 1 grapefruit (sliced) 4 cinnamon sticks 120g flaked almonds (fried) 300g pearl couscous METHOD
− Put the pieces of lamb in a large tagine dish or saucepan and mix the ingredients for the spice mixture. − Scatter the spices over the lamb and roll the pieces of meat in the mixture. − Add the prepared saffron. − Put the saucepan or tagine pot over a medium heat and then add the onions, garlic and oil, grapefruit, olives and butter. Leave to brown. − Add apple juice, water and chicken stock, cover and cook for 1 hour. – Before serving, remove the cinnamon sticks, add the rinsed pearl couscous and simmer for another 15 mins. ✱ princehall.co.uk
Street food outfit Eat the Smoke is the brainchild of Christian Sculpher, whose appetite for authentic, slow-cooked barbecue pit-food has led him to recreate Texas right in the heart of Devonshire
So okay, all things ‘Deep South and Soulful’ have recently been hitting the high street restaurant chains, but Eat The Smoke is way ahead of them: these guys have long offered authentic BBQ sauces and rubs to home cooks. Think 11 hour smoked pulled pork, eight hour smoked brisket or sweet and sticky ribs – just as in this recipe from main man Christian Sculpher. The Eat The Smoke team go to great lengths to track down the best ingredients to slowly cook over charcoal when they’re out on the road with their street food stall, and their food is all free from artificial colours, flavouring and preservatives. And they take the same care over the sauces and rubs they sell online, too. (Instead of making the rub detailed in the recipe, for instance, you could just buy their Winter Rub instead.) “Beef short ribs are fantastic, and easy to cook,” Christian says. “This sauce captures all the flavours of autumn, with the sweetness and fruitiness of the Cherry Cola and apple.” We particularly like Christian’s top tip towards the bottom of the method: drink what’s left of the red wine. But of course we should!
CHERRY COLA SHORT RIBS (SERVES 4)
For the rub: 12g each of the following: sugar, crushed pink peppercorns, thyme, sage, onion powder, garlic powder 6g cloves short ribs, enough for 4 people (ask your butcher) 1 large red onion 1 apple 3 crushed garlic cloves 1.5 litres of full sugar Cherry Coke 1 glass red wine 1 tsp cacoa powder 1 tbsp plain flour METHOD
− Make up the rub and add 1 tbsp to the flour. Coat the ribs with this and an additional pinch of pepper. − Slice the onion and apple and place in an ovenproof dish, along with the garlic, cacoa and half the wine. − Fry the ribs until sealed in a little olive oil, and place them in the dish with the onion and apples. Still over the heat, add ¼ of the glass of wine to the frying pan for 30 seconds to deglaze it and add that to the dish, along with 25g of the rub, the cacoa powder and half a glass of the wine. Add the Cherry Coke, just about covering the ribs. − Put in the oven at 140C/275F/gas mark 1 for 4-5 hours, depending on the cut of the ribs. Be guided by your butcher on this. − There should be some wine remaining. Drink this! − Once the meat is soft and falling apart under a fork, remove it from the dish. Remove the fat from the top of the sauce, and then place it in a pan. Put over the heat and reduce till thick (on occasion, I add cornflour to aid this). – Taste prior to serving, and add more seasoning or rub if you feel you need it. − Serve with the sauce. Try these ribs with a side of garlic mash, or some spiced polenta and greens. ✱ eatthesmoke.co.uk
( recipe )
Devon cook Chef!
fLAvOurs Of the sUN The best things – like autumn vegetables – should come in an old fashioned paper bag, says The Devon Cook, Orlando Murrin. He knows just how to stretch out the end of summer, and how to hang on for the last few barbecues of the year Food styling and photography by ANGELA NILSEN Xxxxxxx
e are now in that brief season when we can fool ourselves into thinking we live on the Mediterranean. Not necessarily because of the weather, but because of the gorgeous vegetables piled high in markets and greengrocers. Fashionable as it may be to knock supermarkets, they normally offer a very acceptable (if slightly boring) range of fruit and veg. But if ever there were a time to check out your local farmers’ market or fruit and vegetable shop, it’s right now. Where I live in Exeter we have a welcome new arrival on the food scene, in the form of The Grocer on the Green, on Magdalen Road. The grocer in question is Dan Taylor, and if his smiling face looks familiar it is because he used to work at Pipers Farm across the road. His enterprise is a clever blend of traditional and contemporary: among the everyday onions are speciality touches from local growers, such as soft fruit, herbs and squeaky fresh vegetables, often in short order. Best of all, your purchases are handed to you in brown paper bags, like in olden days. You may notice that I haven’t mentioned grow-your-own and allotment gardeners. If you are in this category, this description of a Lake Wobegone household, by Garrison Keillor, may ring a bell: ‘Pick up the paper, underneath it are three zucchini. They crawled in under there to get some shade, catch a few Zs, maybe read the comics. Pumpkins are moving in to live with them. At night they check the bed for kohl rabi. Turn out the lights, they hear rustling noises downstairs: a gang of cauliflower trying the back door. Go to sleep, dream about watermelon vines reaching out and wrapping their spiny little fingers around your neck, the Big Berthas, the forty-pounders. Those cantaloupe they planted, the Dauntless Dukes: why plant twelve hills? Why not two?’ “I like to have extra just in case and also it’s nice to have some to give away,” says Mrs Luger, her hair melted to her head from an afternoon of canning. But everyone else has some to give away.’ One of the better-behaved vegetables (actually a fruit) is the pepper. There are so many things to do with it beyond slicing and dipping, some of which
require you to chargrill and skin the peppers first. For years I found this exercise annoying, then I got the hang of it and I haven’t looked back; you might as well do two or three peppers at the same time (however many will fit on the grill pan), and put any not needed immediately in the freezer. So, heat your grill to the highest setting and line your grill pan or a big baking sheet with foil. Wash and dry the peppers, then slice off each end (throwing away the stalk) and put the ends on the foil, skin side up. Pull out the core and discard. Stand the pepper up and slice down one side, then unroll it and remove any seeds. Lay flat on the foil, skin side up – or if it won’t lay flat, cut into pieces as necessary. Grill for 5 minutes until spotty, then reverse the grill pan and continue until charred and puffed – 2-3 minutes longer. If your grill works with the door closed, this will speed things up, but keep constant watch. Now the important bit. Using oven gloves, gather the foil up around the peppers and scrunch it at the top, to form a sort of balloon around the peppers, in which they will steam. Leave for 10-15 minutes, then open the balloon, peel away the skins and voilà – you’ve got chargrilled peppers. Cut into strips, these make an elegant Moroccan-style first course, drizzled with your best extra virgin olive oil, crunchy salt and ras-el-hanout, or other herbs or spices. Or whizz in a blender with salt, pepper, a pinch of sugar and a glug of oil to make a simple red pepper dip – wonderful with cornbread. To prolong summer into autumn, make a luscious red pepper chutney. To do this, heat 1tbsp oil in a large deep pan and fry 1 chopped red onion until soft (about 7 minutes). Stir in 4 red peppers, cored, seeded and chopped, 250ml wine vinegar (red or white), 80g sugar, 2 crushed garlic cloves, 3cm piece of ginger, smashed, 1 tsp mustard seeds (optional), 1 tsp salt and a pinch of cayenne. Cook for 40 minutes until jammy, cool and keep in the fridge for up to a month, or freeze.
✱ Orlando Murrin is a food writer and chef. He wrote a daily recipe for the Express newspaper before becoming editor of BBC Good Food, and founder of olive magazine. He has written five cookbooks, including the No Cook Cookbook and A Table in the Tarn, and lives in Exeter.
( the devon cook )
Best EVER SWEETCORN FRITTERS WITH RED PEPPER SALSA Sweetcorn and peppers are natural buddies. Make this easy dish to accompany a grill or barbecue, or as a brunch dish. If you don’t have cornmeal, it isn’t worth buying specially – replace with an extra tbsp of flour. INGREDIENTS
(Makes 6 fritters) 2 ears of corn on the cob 2-3 spring onions 1 egg, beaten 2 tbsp self-raising flour 1 tbsp cornmeal 1 tbsp cream or crème fraiche ¼ tsp salt pinch of freshly ground black pepper pinch of cayenne pepper 25g strong cheddar, grated 1 tsp smooth mustard vegetable or rapeseed oil, for frying METHOD
− If necessary, remove husks and silks from corn (a damp paper towel is the easy way to catch all the silks). First prepare the corn, not a difficult procedure but slightly messy. Use a knife to shave the kernels off one of the ears of corn onto a board or into a bowl, then grate the kernels off the other, on the large-holed side of the grater, and add them to the bowl. Run the back of a table knife down the cobs, to squeeze out the milky juice and add to the bowl. − Finely chop the spring onions, both the white and green parts, and add to the bowl, then beat in the remaining ingredients except the oil. The mixture should be thick and chunky, not like a batter. − Add enough oil to a large, preferably non-stick, frying pan to cover the surface with a generous mirror finish and heat until just beginning to smoke. Carefully place spoonfuls of the mixture in the oil (it may spit a bit) and pat them into rounds or ovals. If you can’t fit them all in the pan, you will need to do two batches. − Cook for 1-3 minutes, checking the underside after 1 minute. When it is a rich toasty brown, flip and cook for as long again. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper and keep warm if you need to make another batch. Serve as soon as possible.
For the red pepper salsa
I dice the pepper using an amazing gadget called an Alligator, made in Sweden. It is on the expensive side – about £25 – but does its job so brilliantly that I haven’t chopped an onion since 2003. To use it, don’t press the chopper (it will get stuck) – use a karate chop, and hey presto!, your vegetable is transformed into tiny even cubes. INGREDIENTS
1 red pepper, cored and seeded 1 spring onion pinch of sugar 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil squeeze of lemon juice finely chopped parsley
− Finely dice the red pepper, preferably using an Alligator, and dice or chop the spring onion. Mix with other ingredients and plenty of seasoning, then leave in the fridge for an hour or longer. − To serve, strain the salsa to remove excess liquid, check for seasoning and serve.
LAMB POSTs STEVEN LAMB
@lambposts for Twitter & Instagram
It’s his birthday, which means our foraging foodie is hedgehog hunting – hedgehog mushrooms, that is – and making the most of coastline treats like dulse, the surprisingly delicious red algae seaweed…
DULSE POTATO CAKES (MAKES 10 -12)
These are a great addition to a cooked breakfast and, if fried in sunflower oil rather than pork fat, they make delicious vegetarian ‘fish cakes’ too… INGREDIENTS
500g potatoes, peeled 500g dulse, well rinsed and chopped 2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped 2-3 tbsp sunflower oil or bacon fat METHOD
− Cut the potatoes into 4-5cm chunks and put into a saucepan with the dulse, onions and enough water to cover by about 4cm. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated. (Keep an eye on the pan so that the contents don’t stick or burn.) − Mash the mixture very coarsely, or beat into a rough ‘mash’ with a wooden spoon, and shape into 6-7cm diameter patties. − Heat the oil or bacon fat in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Fry the dulse cakes, in batches if necessary, for about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until cooked through and slightly crispy on the outside. − Drain on kitchen paper and serve.
particularly like this time of year − the space between the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. Far from being a grey area, it is alive and burning with the late burst of vibrant hues in the trees and hedgerow. It’s the only season I can smell before it arrives, as if my senses are calibrated to its arrival. It also just so happens that it coincides with my birthday and, if I wanted to allow myself the grace of going all esoteric, then I might suggest that this has a part to play as to why I feel more alive, too. In seasonal food terms there’s an abundance to choose from, as if the whole of nature is racing towards the produce Prom Party. And this is a time of year when you can very much shun the shops, and engage with the great wild food larder that is the Devon countryside. Every hedgerow, meadow, woodland and coastline starts to offer up some of best free food available: native and seasonal berries, fungi and greens all sprouting mostly undetected by the casual walker or rambler. Of course, it takes a certain amount of knowledge to safely identify and eat an ingredient without the usual packaging and ‘sell by date’ scenario, but there’s a whole world of risk-free food to be foraged too. Learning to recognise these wild ingredients introduces an extra dimension to engaging with nature, and opens up a new world of flavour. Blackberries are easy to identify, of course, and are prominent in the hedgerow from early September onwards. These little clusters of pure, sweet juiciness are traditionally used in dessert pies and smothered in cream or custard. However, they work equally well if served as part of a main dish to accompany venison or most game. Elderberries have the same taste notes, as well as the advantage of being easy to recognise too. Just pop them in a pan and heat them until their skin relents and releases all that juice. Foraged fruits and roots are a particularly good combination − try roasting parsnips and blackberries together and you’ll never look back. Wild mushrooms are the extreme end of foraging, and one wrong pick could be your last ever. There are over 3,000 types
of mushroom in the UK, and only roughly ten percent of these are edible. The odds are firmly stacked against you and, if you consider that some of the edible ones closely resemble the deadly poisonous ones, it’s no wonder that people opt for the closed cup common variety found in supermarkets. But there is one edible variety that cannot be mistaken for any other, and it just so happens to be one of the tastiest. The hedgehog mushroom is unique in that it doesn’t have spores or gills underneath its taupe ‘chammyleather’-like cap. Instead, there are very distinct spikes, which obviously relate to its hedgehog handle and can only mean that it is good to eat when cooked. The very best thing about hedgehog mushrooms is that they are common and abundant, and so, if you are confident enough to pick them, you will be making no environmental impact − it is the equivalent of picking an apple from a tree. But if you are in any doubt as to whether a mushroom is edible, then please do not play fungi roulette, as any mycological mishap could be deadly serious. Perhaps the safest food to forage is from the shoreline, and this is particularly pertinent as we live in a county that has access to two separate coasts. Seaweed is the new superfood, and is full of minerals and vitamins – and there isn’t a single variety that is poisonous. The barrier with seaweed is that it isn’t particularly palatable, and the texture is rubbery. But, with a little bit of preparation, seaweed can lose all its negative attributes and be a delicious supplement to most dishes. All you need to do is dry seaweed on a baking tray in a really low oven until it is crisp. I whizz the dehydrated seaweed in my spice grinder, and sprinkle the fine dust of kelp and dulce (two of the key types) into stocks, sauces and once (in error) a cappuccino – which was a surprisingly good happy accident.
✱ This recipe’s from River Cottage’s Edible Seashore, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Nick Fisher, Bloomsbury; to buy it, or for more on Steven Lamb’s courses at River Cottage HQ, visit rivercottage.net
Armoury CHOOSE YOUR WEAPONS
SOME LIKE IT SHOT
This clever machine responds to a smartphone app, says Matt Bielby, delivering a perfect coffee that’ll be waiting for you as you walk in the door You’re making me uncomfortable with your sleek coffee maker thing. You’ve come over all charming and George Clooney. Trust me, this rapidly greying hair is just about the only thing me and Gorgeous George have in common. Well, that and a love of good coffee – coffee as made by Nespresso’s new Prodigio machine, in fact. The twist is that this clever thing can be run through an app on your smartphone, placing orders for new capsules or brewing a coffee for you while you’re on the bus home, so it’s ready when you get in. This is how Skynet started out, isn’t it? (Nespresso machines are made by Cyberdyne Systems, right?) Try Nestlé. Nestlé! But they’re nearly as worldconsuming, aren’t they? I’m sure I read that they’re the largest food company on the planet. Yep! And they make all sorts, from chocolate to baby food, though in the last few decades coffee has become massive with them too. Y’see, in the mid-’70s a guy working at this gigantic Swiss outfit came up with the Nespresso system – it would make real coffee supereasy, thanks to the neat way it used pre-apportioned foil capsules of ground coffee beans, sometimes with added flavourings. Initially,
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however, it flopped, but Nestlé stuck with, and it eventually took off a decade later, notably with the rise of the ‘Nespresso Club’, which offers discounts, special offers and the like. Loads of people make Nespresso compatible machines (Miele, Siemens, DeLonghi), and you’ve been able to buy ones with the Nespresso brand name on them since 2000 too. I don’t get the appeal myself… Oh, I do! The reason millions of people have signed on is that Nespresso takes all the effort and uncertainty out of brewing ‘real coffee’. Sure, each cup costs considerably more than coffee made using a cafetiere would – but, in this time-poor era, it’s a price plenty are willing to pay. Nespresso accounts for something like 30 percent of the European coffee market, some say – and its growth doesn’t look like slowing down any time soon. It certainly won’t if it takes over the world, Skynet style. Then you’d perhaps better get on its good side now, eh? ✱ The Prodigio costs £159; a posher version, with an integrated milk frother, is £199. Available at The Cook Shop, Exeter; Garton King, Darts Farm, Topsham; and many other retailers; nespresso.com
Photos by GUY HARROP
It calls itself a boutique B&B, but the newly opened Old Park Hall near Axminster is so much more, says Susan Clark. A quest for perfection is driving Daisy Keareyâ€™s approach to her new home, and happily sheâ€™s willing to share
( house call )
hat do you think of when you hear the phrase ‘bed and breakfast’? Not normally, I suspect, something that involves smashed avocado on pumpernickel bread for breakfast. Or where you’ll find dinky little French vanilla yoghurts in glass jars, served with fresh raspberries. Or, indeed, a DIY super juice bar, complete with a pot of health-boosting chia seeds. In fact, I’ve not come across any of those in any B&B I’ve stayed at before. This isn’t your normal House Call, as these guys don’t just live in their home but make it work for its keep too. But, the fact is, that I’d been hearing rumours about Old Park Hall (very good rumours, too) for a while now, and so when new owner Daisy Kearey started posting images on Instagram of her making rose petal wine, I suddenly had the excuse I needed to pay Devon’s latest foodie recruit a visit. After all, the chef tutors at River Cottage – just down the road – have all been urging me to stay there, and who am I to go against those guys?
Fancy making your home work for a living? Daisy Kearey has done just that, with the fanciest B&B on the Devon/Dorset border
Old Park Hall opened earlier this year, and is already getting five-star rave reviews on Trip Advisor. And now, having seen it, I have to say that I’d give it a 55star review, if that were but an option. The food Daisy offers for breakfast – which includes a full English (meat or veggie) with everything sourced or smoked locally – would be worth a sleepover alone, but this place has more to offer than just that. Daisy, after all, has styling and design training from her decade or so in Australia – more on that later – and it shows, from the moment you step through the imposing oak front door into the entrance lobby. There’s a baby grand piano in the vestibule (partner James is no mean pianist, and if you’re lucky he might play during your stay) and something else, too – a sense of another time, one when most of those stepping in from the rain were
not getting out of a car, but instead had been botanizing in the Devon hedgerows, or foraging for all they’re worth. Part of the reason for this becomes clear when Daisy tells us: “I come from a long line of doctors and anthropologists.” And, indeed, you can see influence everywhere. She’s captured the current vogue for driftwood and decorative test tube bottles (and even specimen jars), but done so with an artful authenticity that makes you think Darwin himself might just be about to walk through the door. (Truthfully it may look as if she’s raided the family pile, but much of her decorative booty has come from nearby Devon car boot sales, which is her second passion, after good food.) And then, just when you think you’ve got her botanical design number, you walk into the guest lounge to sink down into one of the inviting purple velvet sofas – Wicked Wolf artisan G&T in hand – and look up to see a witty pink Candy Floss neon sign adorning the wall that should be all at odds with the faded grandeur of the other artifacts in the room but, strangely, just looks fab. Daisy and James are both in their early 30s, and have decamped to East Devon from London with their dogs, Max and Louis; helping them out here at Old Park Hall is an international team from all parts of the globe, diverse enough that you run the risk of talking about making pesto at the breakfast table, only to have someone pipe up and say, “I’m from the part of Italy where we make pesto myself”, and make you wish you’d never started holding forth at all… Cooking and foraging (and then making and bottling and squeezing and drying and preserving) and then serving the end results to her guests is all part of the charm here. Daisy’s B&B is actually the middle third of a large Victorian mock gothic Grade II listed
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It may only be a third of a large country pad, but when you’re inside you’d hardly know…
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mansion, built in 1860, which somehow adds to its cuteness – it’s not even a whole house. There are just a handful of letting rooms, all as exquisitely furnished and eclectically ‘thrown together’ as the downstairs space, plus a smaller private room set aside for beauty treatments, massage and therapies. Daisy is clearly not a lady to let any detail escape her – there’s nothing that you might need or want to enhance your stay that she hasn’t already thought of, including a box of emergency cosmetics in the bathrooms. And, most ingenious of all, the suitcases-turned-bedside tables that prop up the night lamp have sockets sunk into them, so you don’t have to get out of bed to charge your phone or iPad. Elsewhere, glamorous chandeliers cast their shadows across the high ceilings at night, while skins are draped across chairs as if they’ve always been there. There’s even a classy midnight snack bar in the corridor between the rooms, with artisan crisps and choccies for those indulging and artisan energy bars for those taking the healthier snacking pathway. And, downstairs, an artisan gin bar and huge Smeg fridge full of Champagne and local beers and anything else you’d hope to find if you were planning a nightcap (or a night in). Daisy runs foraging classes here – you can also book yoga or pilates (or even dog sitting, if you want to head off to nearby Lyme Regis for dinner) – and, sure enough, we find her at the bottom of the rose garden sorting through the petals for her homemade wine. Daisy’s not alone in this mission, as her 94-year-old grandfather is visiting, and helping to make a blackberry whisky that will go into the pantry for two years before it’s ready for Old Park guests. “This couldn’t be easier,” says Daisy, cramming blackberries into a sterilized bottle that might actually be a specimen jar. “Use the cheapest whisky you can buy and then follow the 3:3:3 rule – one third blackberries, one third cheap whisky and one third brown sugar. No wukkas!” She makes it look and all sound easy, but Daisy is a serious cook and foodie and you can pre-book supper, too, when you stay. Indeed, she rustled us up a delicious (and deliberately rustic) Mocqueca-depeixe, a Brazilian fish peasant stew she made with fresh pollack cooked with peppers, coconut milk, chillies, lime and
coriander, which you drench over a bowl of pillowy rice. The stew was followed by an equally-impressive deconstructed lemon meringue pie with tiny blobs of homemade Italian meringue and, of course, homemade lemon curd. I can’t believe how quickly Daisy and James have winkled out the best eating spots along the East Devon coast (an area currently making a real foodie name for itself) in just a few short months, but then she shows me her cookbooks – hers, her late mother’s, even her grandmother’s – all with the pages glued together by old food splatters or burned by hot pans, and I know that I’ve found myself a true foodie soul-mate. Daisy – who in another incarnation was a wedding planner after graduating in Australia, where she lived and worked for 10 years (hence the Aussie words cropping up in the middle of a well-bred English accent) – describes Old Park Hall as a ‘quintessential country pile’, despite the fact that its only actually a third of the house. She first came across it on her return from a holiday in Ibiza. “I’d just got back, and when I saw it my first thought was to make everything white-washed and airy,” she says. “But the house itself told me no. It knew what it wanted, and how I should furnish it.” I’ve actually visited Old Park Hall twice now, the second time treating a grown-up niece to a sleepover before she returned to university, and she said, as we drove away: “I don’t think you can fault it.” And whether ‘it’ means the food, the hospitality, the décor or just the hotelstandard mattresses on the Emperorsized beds, she’s right. Daisy hasn’t put one foot wrong here, and her flexibility is compelling. She can cater for freefrom here, or she can deliver the full fry up works, if that’s what you want. She seems to be all about making sure your enjoyment of your stay is equal to her enjoyment in creating and running this unique place. Old Park Hall should be on your mustvisit foodie list. Just remember to take the dog and leave the kids – “it was one or the other,” Daisy says. “We could either be dog-friendly or child-friendly” – and treat yourself to a mini break at Devon’s best foodie B&B. ✱ oldparkhall.co.uk
THE WANT LIST You the sort who buys Christmas presents early? Then this is the page for you…
1. KILNER RED ENAMEL JAM PAN, £34.99 No self-respecting kitchen should be without a jam pan – especially at this time of the year − and if your Granny forgot to leave you hers, invest in this stylish contemporary version from Lakeland. Works on all hobs, including induction and has a helpful pouring lip (unlike Granny’s). Available online. ✱ lakeland.co.uk 2. JUDGE MINI CHOPPER, £66 Take the grind out of chopping your allotment harvest and avoid streaming eyes with this dinky food processor. Perfect for student flats and those with a New Yorksized kitchen, it does the same job as the grown up version but takes up half the space. Blitz breadcrumbs in seconds. ✱ thecooksshopexeter.co.uk 3. COUCH COASTER CUP HOLDER £19.99 It may not be aesthetically pretty, but imagine how much energy can be saved by not having to reach from the couch to the coffee table to get your hot drinks. What’s the word we’re looking for? Novelty! ✱ couchcoaster.com 4. JOSEPH JOSEPH GARLIC ROCKER, £13 Now that’s what we call a proper stocking filler gift! It crushes the clove as you use your weight to press down and rock over it – the minced garlic then sits in the curve until you need it. Want – a lot! ✱ johnlewis.com 5. CAFFLANO COMPACT COFFEE BREWER £54.99 Coffee on the go, and all you have to do is dig deep in your pocket – where you’ve kept your handy, light-weight Cafflano Kompact Hot & Cold Coffee Brewer gadget – then borrow a kettle. Add your ground coffee to the press, put in some hot water and bingo, you’ve got a fresh brew. Bliss! ✱ thefowndry.com
Award-Winning SWISS Artisan CHOCOLATIER in South Molton
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Mains NEW COMPANIES, AMAZING INNOVATIONS, CAMPAIGNS WORTH FIGHTING FOR, AND PEOPLE THAT MATTER
Our top tip for mushroom foraging: don’t read a book on it, but take a trip with an expert. Much more involving – and safer!
Highlights CHASING BUBBLES
WILD IN THE COUNTRY
What fizz should we buy for Christmas? The guys at Christopher Piper Wines have a few ideas…
Top local chefs, including Michael Wignall, rock up for foraging fun, thanks to The Chefs’ Forum
CHEFS AT THE CHEF’S FORUM Next time let’s make it 100…
WhY All Bubbles are Not Created EquAl Mains
Meet one-time wine maker Chris Piper and his old school pal (turned business partner) John Earle. These guys run the Ottery St Mary-based Christopher Piper Wines, and know all there is to know about Christmas fizz. So, guys, what bottles should we be splashing the cash onâ€Ś?
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When planning our seasonal bubbles, one of the first places we think of is Christopher Piper Wines, and its pair of West Country wine gurus. Here, then, are Chris and John, to tell us what we should be getting in this year… Let's start with something easy. What’s the difference between prosecco and Champagne? While they're both sparkling white wines, Champagne is produced from chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes grown in the Champagne region of northeast France, while prosecco hails from the Veneto region of Italy and is made mainly from glera grapes. Now let’s add English sparkling wine to the mix… The best English sparkling wines are winning blind tasting competitions across the world these days, and often against better known Champagnes. They’re generally made from the same grapes as Champagne, though other, less ‘noble’ grape varieties are used too. These ones are often less good than Champagne, but better than the cheaper proseccos. Why the big price difference between prosecco and Champagne? It’s a question of how much your grapes cost you to grow, then how much time and effort you put into the end product. Not all proseccos and not all Champagnes are created equal. The best proseccos come from a specific area called Valdobiodene, and can actually be as expensive as a wellknown Champagne. You imply that the end products are made in a different way…? Basic prosecco is made fizzy in-tank, whereas the better ones use the same method as proper Champagne – in other words, they’re made from still wines which have been bottled and to which a small amount of yeast and sugar’s been added. This starts off a second fermentation in the bottle, which over time produces those musthave bubbles.
A-ha! How do we spot the good stuff? As with all things, buying cheap doesn’t always mean you’re getting a bargain. To confuse matters, prosecco can be ‘spumante’ (sparkling), ‘frizzante’ (gently fizzy) and even still, very occasionally. Spumante will give you the full bubbly taste, but you will pay more because it costs more to produce and attracts a higher import duty. Frizzante is very refreshing – and you won’t burp so much! Try to find an English sparkling wine which uses the best Champagne grape varieties – but expect to pay almost as much as for more famously branded Champagnes. (There are good examples at under £20, though.) For Champagne, if you want a name like Bollinger you’ll pay a premium for the brand. Seek out a grower’s Champagne instead, which will be just as good but at a fraction of the cost. If you’re starting to stock up on your Christmas bubbly, here are Chris and John’s top recommendations… Under £15 Prosecco Spumante Borgo del Col Alto; £11.90 Lyme Bay English Sparkling Wine (made in Devon); £18.46 Lanson Black Label Brut Non Vintage; £14.99 (if on offer) Under £30 Prosecco Superiore Extra Dry Conte Collalto (DOCG Valdobiodene, where they make the best prosecco); £15.01 Jenkyn Place Brut 2010 (made in Hampshire from classic Champagne grapes); £27.16 Under £100 Rebuli Prosecco Cartizze Valdobbiodene Superiore; £35 Nyetimber Classic Cuvee Sparling Wine (made in Hampshire); £32.99 Pol Roger Brut 2004 (this was Winston Churchill’s favourite Champagne – he reckoned a good pint of it each day was about right!); £59.27 ✱ christopherpiperwines.co.uk
(& A FEW MORE)
GraO g N gI Mains
idleigh G e k li f to che starred ‘Fancy coming ny n li e h two Mic ll says waste a When aMichael Wigna s?’, you don’t oofs, says Park’s for mushroom ies and wetpr he Chefs’ forage ging out well vent was for T die for time digHeath. The e e food was to Lauren m, and yes, th Foru
When we make a dish from foraged â€™shrooms, it never comes out like thisâ€Ś
m ushrooms, game, wine… No, this isn’t a recipe, and nor just a list of my favourite things – though it’s certainly that as well. Instead, these were the themes for the latest Devon Chefs’ Forum event, held at Forest Fungi in Dawlish. The invitation to join local chefs for a morning foraging and a lunchtime chatting (with some clay pigeon shooting thrown in for good measure) certainly got my attention, so I grabbed my Chatham boots, the Joules allweather coat and my sunnies (I was being hopeful), and set off. The Chefs’ Forum is a networking group for chefs and restaurateurs, and stages quarterly events to enhance top chefs’ skill sets, putting them in touch with local food and equipment suppliers as well as enabling them to create strong links with local catering colleges. It also encourages catering students to escape their comfortable college kitchen environment and put their skills to good use in a real-life situation. A good chunk of what this is all about, then, is inspiring the next generation of culinary talent. The Devon Forum is headed-up by Michael Wignall, the two Michelinstarred Executive Chef at the awardwinning Gidleigh Park hotel, and at the Forest Fungi event he was on hand to demonstrate his skills and techniques, alongside Peter Gorton, himself an
award-winning catering consultant who’s held a Michelin star before now. The venues for each Chefs’ Forum event are different, with Forest Fungi the perfect location for a day themed around foraging. It’s owned by Scott Marshall, who’s been growing mushrooms here for three years now, and the site includes a shop as well as a café – it’s menu is, of course, mushroom-inspired, using ingredients either grown here or by local suppliers. “95% of our produce comes from within a 30 mile radius,” Scott says. If you’ve ever ordered mushrooms at River Cottage in Axminster or Watergate Hotel in Newquay, chances are they were Scott’s. We got to take a look inside his precious ‘Shroom Room’ – Scott plans to expand it soon, he says – and certainly learned a new regard for the humble fungi.
Gidleigh Park’s Michael Wignall – who retained two Michelin stars as Crumbs went to press – gives good demo, while the Monolith Kamado (bottom right) cooks a suspicious-looking dish
This was a wet old day, truth be told, but that didn’t seem to dampen the enthusiasm of any of the 90 or so chefs in attendance – one of the Devon Chefs’ Forum’s best turnouts yet, I was told – and if anyone was feeling slightly jaded, that was soon sorted out by a glass of South African sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir from Majestic Wines, and beautiful canapes made earlier in the day by Michael and a class of students from South Devon College. These included some familiar fare from the Gidleigh Park menu, including deer tartare with coal oil, parsley emulsion and coal powder, and shittake mushrooms cooked in seaweed tea, mushroom ketchup and beer bubbles, with wet walnuts. We were also treated to some fine venison with smoked mushroom treats that had been cooked on the Monolith Kamado Grills – big ceramic beasts from Japan that look like unexploded WW2 mines, and were the original inspiration behind the perhapsmore-familiar Big Green Egg – that were onhand for the chefs to try. As we ate, I chatted with Michael about Gidleigh, and his relocation from Surrey to Devon. He’s been here getting towards a year now, and is starting to know the area – as well as enjoy the “tiny little roads to scrape your car down”. He’s relocated his family, and they now live in a lovely barn conversion that needed no work, other than a lick of paint, to make it their own.
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One thing we’ve learnt about Michelin-starred chefs: they don’t just have good taste buds, but a strong eye for a colour scheme, too…
He’s also brought much of his Home Counties kitchen team down with him, and the restaurant has had a bit of a makeover, giving it a more contemporary feel. Many great local outfits have been supplying Gidleigh for years, of course, but – never one to rest on his laurels – he’s still getting to know them, and exploring further options too. One supplier Michael’s especially happy with, though, is a local lady who makes the restaurant’s beautiful Chagford vine plates, using a 16th century weave technique. “After all,” he says, “the presentation of fine food really is all in the detail.” With Wiltshire truffles now in season, they’re currently playing a starring role on his highly seasonal menu, and he’s enjoying the much larger kitchen garden Gidleigh now has to offer – especially the herb section, which is these days producing enough that they don’t need to buy any herbs in at all. For the event, Michael had put together some demonstration plates and talked me through them. The first used enoki (a long, thin, white East Asian mushroom), watercress, beer bubbles, fermented garlic, puff potato, wet walnut and Wiltshire truffle; the second starred hare cannelloni of kohlrabi, best end and loin, baked chocolate, maitake mushrooms (in England these are called ‘hen of the woods’), young parsnips and curry spice. I got to taste the fermented garlic later on, which somehow managed the sweet, intense flavour of garlic without doing much damage to your kissing chances afterwards. But Michael wasn’t the only one doing demos, and after watching him work others took to the stage, including the towering figure of Tom Mackins, chef and proprietor at Newquay’s Chapter 1 restaurant. His divine dish of venison and mushrooms with a shallot, tarragon, parsley and white wine cream sauce was cooked – seemingly effortlessly – on one of the Monolith Kamado Grills. After all this culinary and conversational indulgence it was time to take part in a clay pigeon shoot, with three experts on hand to give us individual lessons. Thanks to their knowledge and patience, I managed to hit seven out of nine targets, ending on a double shot. Not bad, and – apart from the slight shoulder jolt – rather exhilarating. Thankfully the rain had held back, so we
could enjoy being outdoors, and the view over the coast certainly made it painless waiting around for our turn to shoot. All in all, then, an excellent day – and, as we each made our way home down those lanes Michael Wignall finds so challenging, I couldn’t help thinking how lucky the profession is to have something like The Chefs’ Forum. Founder Catherine Farinha certainly made this event both enjoyable and informative, and clearly enjoys connecting the various facets of this hardworking, demanding, yet highly satisfying industry. I suspect that all 90something chefs who made it here will be back for more, and so will I – and, by then, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there aren’t well over 100 of us. ✱thechefsforum.co.uk
Trencherman’s Pub of the Year 2016
The Swan is the oldest pub in the charming historic town of Bampton, near Exmoor National Park, an area well known for its hunting, fishing, shooting and popular with ramblers and cyclists. We have a passion for food and with this we like to embrace the use of local produce, keeping menus simple, yet bursting with flavours and imagination. We take pride in our well kept, locally sourced ales and fine wines, to whet the appetites and suit all tastes.
Eat, Drink & Sleep At the Swan, Bampton
EORGE Hotel c.1450 Rebuilt 2010
HATHERLEIGH • DEVON
CHRISTIAN AND D I A N E W E L C O M E YO U TO THE GEORGE IN H AT H E R L E I G H !
A rebuilt 15th Century coaching inn
As we slide into Autumn, Peter is playing with the new flavours and textures of the season... game, wild mushrooms, roots are all a plenty.
Don’t forget “The George” as the perfect venue for your Christmas party!
T. 01398 332248 E. email@example.com www.theswan.co
We have 13 ensuite rooms, some with four poster beds and in-room roll-top baths, and all with unique, vintage interiors.
Bampton | Tiverton | Devon | EX16 9NG
Market Street | Hatherleigh | EX20 3JN 01837 811755 www.thegeorgeinhatherleigh.com
Need somewhere to stay?
SU NE X T IS
A little slice of foodie heaven
Crumbs is back with...
MYSTIC PIZZAS Dripping sauce on our legs with the best pizza pies
SUSAN CLARK firstname.lastname@example.org DEVELOPMENT EDITOR
MATT BIELBY email@example.com ART DIRECTOR
TREVOR GILHAM ADVERTISING MANAGER
SIMON HAWKINS firstname.lastname@example.org PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION MANAGER
SARAH KINGSTON email@example.com
SHOP FOR CHEFS Need someone new in the kitchen? These guys can help BEAN OF HEARTS Inside Devon’s coffee revolution
CHARLIE PINDER firstname.lastname@example.org CHIEF EXECUTIVE
JANE INGHAM email@example.com CHIEF EXECUTIVE
GREG INGHAM firstname.lastname@example.org
MediaClash, Circus Mews House, Circus Mews, Bath BA1 2PW; 01225 475800; www.mediaclash.co.uk large version
© All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without written permission of MediaClash. MediaClash reserves the right to reject any material and to edit such prior to publication. Opinions are those of individual authors. Printed on paper from a well-managed source. Inks are vegetable-based; printer is certified to ISO 14001 environmental management. THIS ISSUE we’ve been snuffling around in hedgerows and under trees, looking for the best in Devon’s free food (and loving what we find, too). Important note: we’ve had some expert help here, and so haven’t poisoned ourselves. Just sayin’…
We exit through the giftshop with dozens of amazing foodie present ideas
GIvING! Next issue will be in your stocking from Friday,
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W W W. T H E R I N G O F B E L L S . C O M C h e r i ton F i t z pa i n e , C r e di ton , D e von E X 1 7 4 J G
Afters NEW RESTAURANTS DEVOURED, NEW CAFÉS FREQUENTED, NEW BARS CRAWLED, AND THE TRUTH ABOUT WHAT WE THOUGHT OF THEM
We were chiefly here for the food, of course, but Boringdon Hall boasts a rather fancy spa, too…
Highlights FULL HOUSE
Well, Boringdon Hall is undeniably a house – and, after staying there, we were undeniably full
The real danger being the weight you’ll put on at Exeter’s up-to-snuff Exploding Bakery
blackboard explaining how to drink your coffee at Exploding...
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BORINGDON HALL A swanky new spaâ€™s opened at this country house hotel, meaning you can get into serious training for the eveningâ€™s fine dining with plenty of pampering first, says Susan Clark
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his is the tale of a modified record player (stick with me here), a talented chef, a historical venue, and a place where you can turn up, shut the world out, lie down for a while and succumb to being pampered within an inch of your life before you head to the restaurant for your supper. Where is this Narnia of the foodie imagination? Surprisingly, just a few miles out of the centre of Plymouth – and even closer to the modest suburban houses you drive past to reach the wide sweeping drive that is the biggest clue to the fact that you’re entering the Kingdom of the Country House Hotel. Boringdon Hall has it all – and more. But let’s start with the food, which is, after all, the main reason we ever get in the car and cross from one side of the county to the other. With the appointment of new head chef, Scott Paton, it is clear the management team here is aiming higher than ever on the food front. Scott, who secured 3 AA rosettes during his time cooking at a smaller country house hotel on the other side of the moors, is a very deft chef. Not theatrical, no – but then, I don’t really want to see another acrid hay-smoked dish heading my way in a cloud of dry ice. His food is colourful, delicious, and fun with it − which is where the record player comes in. When he and his team wanted to create perfect concentric circles with a sauce or syrup, they hit on the idea of modifying an old-fashion record player and replacing the vinyl on its turntable with a plate of food. The results, after a few trials, were just what the team wanted – so, when you dine here, make sure you choose a dish (like the crab) that makes the most of these circles, so you can see for yourself. It’s ingenious! And since the opening of the magnificent, state-of-the-art Gaia Spa, Scott and his team have expanded their repertoire from simply offering fine dining too. You can now, if you prefer, pick from a health-promoting menu at the Spatisserie restaurant, where the dishes have been curated for their impact on your wellbeing – they’re all either balancing, relaxing or awakening. If time is short, I’d suggest you do what we did and book in for 24 hours,
arriving just after lunch, walking the dog, and then disappearing into the spa for a two-hour signature Raindrop Therapy treatment. Sounds woowoo, true, but it’s actually one of the most relaxing treatments we’ve ever experienced – and, having written about Natural Health around the world for more than a decade in another incarnation, we feel qualified to say so. The ‘Raindrops’, by the way, are actually drops of aromatherapy oils, each chosen to help you achieve the wellbeing goals you will have discussed with the therapist before the treatment started. Once you begin, your only job will be to try and stay awake long enough to really enjoy the experience – it’s that relaxing. Next stop, your room – comfortable, welcoming and everything you would expect from a hotel of this calibre, where you can recover from all that pampering and get ready to eat your way through three (or more, with amuse bouches) of the dishes on Scott’s impressive new menu at the main Gallery Restaurant. We did the fish thing with one of our party opting for the seared Orkney scallops with spiced peanut, watermelon and lime (a man who can properly cook a scallop is a man worth hanging on to), and the other (me) a Brixham crab salad with curried emulsion, mango and cardomom. Both dishes were sublime – the cooking faultless and the balance of flavours a bold triumph by a chef who knows his onions. Mobile phones are banned (joy) in the restaurant, which is situated in what
would have been the Minstrel’s Gallery, and overlooks the cocktail bar and lounge seating in the Great Hall below. There’s a Tudor vibe running through the décor (which works for me, as it’s my favourite historical period), and an understated elegance which means you can focus on the food and not worry too much about pretending to be P.O.S.H. When I know the chef is this good, I often choose my dishes based on my favourite spices or herbs. Here it was cardomom (with the crab starter) and, for the main course, tarragon, which features in the fillet of turbot, lobster and tarragon blanquette with garden vegetables. Again, sublime. The other party opted for Hurdon Farm pork collar, Jerusalem artichokes, hazelnut and truffle jus, and barely exchanged a word with me throughout the mains, which is an excellent sign – he’s happy, and the food is great! ✱ BORINGDON HALL, Colebrook, Plympton, Plymouth PL7 4DP; 01752 344455; boringdonhall.co.uk
( E X PA N D E D C A F É S )
EXPLODING BAKERY In typical Exploding Bakery style, the iconic Exeter eatery has expanded − without saying a word about it to anyone. Lauren Heath checks out the new premises and discovers the perfect grab-and-go menu…
llie Coysh and Tom Oxford have owned Exploding Bakery for five years now, with operations in London, and one in our midst two doors down from Exeter Central Station. They have known each other since school and, with Tom coming from a long line of bakers (some still baking in Sherborne), and Ollie having been involved with food as a TV producer, this recipe for success was born. On browsing their website I found out the inspiration behind the name: ‘Many moons ago, Tom’s great granddad’s bakery exploded due to a static build up from the flour particles rubbing together. Luckily, we don’t keep that much flour.’ The growth of their reputation hasn’t been quite so explosive, but by mixing the right ingredients (the main ones: a sense of humour, and a desire to do the best they can) they’ve seen the business thrive nicely over time. But while they don’t take themselves too seriously, it’s a different matter with the food: the rules here are taste first, texture second and appearance third. The bakery and its once-tiny café had been living snugly together in one unit since they opened here, but after patiently stalking the unit next door their chance to pounce came earlier this year and, on getting the keys – and after a quick makeover – the new, bigger Exploding Bakery café was opened in just three weeks. Ollie admits it is still a work in progress, but says it’s great to
have more room for baking. The new café is a similarly comfy affair, with beautiful dark blue walls and ceiling, tall windows flooding light in, an open counter top serving area with a doorway view of the bakery, mismatched chairs, and a variety of table sizes for sharing. It all gives this café a nice, casual, community feel. This said, though, on looking down at the beautifully rich, dark parquet flooring – and on hearing the relaxing music they play – you could be forgiven for thinking you’re in an old stately home. Just one without the rules. Back to the cakes – all baked in-house and made as small batches by hand, they produce them as tray bakes in order to ensure quality and consistency for wholesale supply, and to protect their visual appeal in those outlets. Flavours include lemon and almond polenta cake (GF), raspberry and white chocolate bakewell, lumberjack cake, sour cherry and pistachio cake, as well as a few varieties of brownies. I tried their latest version of salted rye brownie with raw cocao nibs; a delicious, slightly savoury take on a brownie with crunchy nib topping for added texture. (I had already tasted their polenta cake, which was also not too sweet, but moist, light, and with a well-balanced tartness of lemon – enough to wake the taste buds, but with a luxurious texture.) The savoury selection includes a mix of local and not so local ingredients; they know they can’t make croissants better than the French, so the compromise, or perhaps the treat for the customer,
is that they’re all genuine French croissants, which are often filled with savoury fillings such as cheese and ham. I see these savoury offerings as the perfect grab-and-go/picnic food – no need for condiments, or even cutlery. A meaty sausage roll, encased in their homemade buttery flaky pastry, comes with juicy morsels of apple, balanced by a hint of fennel and topped with nigella seeds for that textural addition. The handsome Spanish-inspired potato tortilla is topped with a lovely crust of tangy Cheddar and herb coating, protecting a top layer of sweet red onion jam, enough to tease all areas of the palate and sizeable enough to satisfy your appetite. And yes, I tried both – resulting in a nearly exploding belly. With a local Rod and Ben’s soup on the menu served with a side of The Almond Thief bread, you can stay a while and warm the cockles of your heart if you’re not hurrying off to the railway line. Now the bakery can fully breathe, there are plans afoot to perfect their own bread recipes with a view to selling fresh loaves to take home. And last, but certainly not least, they ensure there is excellent coffee to accompany all this. There’s Monmouth as their house coffee, then a slightly higher-grade ‘quirky’ coffee for those who are up for something different. I tried the guest option of Kenya Kainamui from Crankhouse Coffee; described as bold blackcurrant up front with almond frangipane and a zesty lime accent, I found it to have a zingy start, biscuit middle and a cocoa finish – no need for sugar here, just let the cappuccino milk-and-coffee marriage do the talking. ✱ EXPLODING BAKERY, Queen Street, Exeter EX4 3SB; 01392 427900; explodingbakery.com
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Little black book With wife Holly, David Jones heads up Manna from Devon cookery school. But where are his go-to gaffs? BREAKFAST? It’s got to be Café Alf Resco in Dartmouth – great coffee, top breakfasts (including homemade granola and Kate’s award-winning marmalade), sausages for the dogs − and they’re huge supporters of the Dartmouth Food Festival, to boot. BEST BREW? We recently celebrated the cookery school’s 10th birthday with a barrel of The Main Event from the New Lion Brewery in Totnes – reminds us of the beers we drank on our last trip to the southern states of America.
David Jones is one half of the husbandand-wife team who’ve not only been bigging-up outdoor cookery as brand ambassadors for Morso wood-fired ovens, but also run the great cookery school, Manna from Devon
Now add this little lot to your contacts book Café Alf Resco, Dartmouth TQ6 9AN; cafealfresco.co.uk New Lion Brewery, Totnes TQ9 5JR; newlionbrewery.co.uk Peppers World Foods, Dartmouth TQ6 9PY; 07570 979096 Michael Sutton Cellars, Dartmouth TQ6 0LG; michaelsuttoncellar.co.uk Millbrook Inn, South Pool, Kingsbridge TQ7 2RW; millbrookinnsouthpool.co.uk The Seahorse, Dartmouth TQ6 9BH; seahorserestaurant.co.uk Rockfish, Brixham TQ5 8AJ; therockfish.co.uk The Curator Kitchen, Totnes TQ9 5DR; thecurator.co.uk Jasmine’s Thai Restaurant, Paignton TQ3 3BW; jasminespaignton.co.uk Dartmouth Ice Cream Company, Dartmouth TQ6 9PZ; dartmouthicecream.com
FAVOURITE GROCERY SHOP?
Peppers World Foods in the Butterwalk in Dartmouth: Simon has a remarkable range of ingredients in such a tiny space. We never get out without something we didn’t go in for – like the time I went in for some raisins and came out with Bombay duck chutney! BEST WINE MERCHANT? Michael Sutton Cellars near Blackpool Sands. Run by Jonathan and Suzie, they have a great range of wines for all pockets and regular tastings. I was in the RN a long time ago with Jonathan, old shipmates on HMS Cardiff. SUNDAY LUNCH? Not something we
manage often, as the cookery school is always busy at weekends. If we do have a Sunday off, we’ll head for the Start Point headland for a good dog walk, then go to The Millbrook Inn in South Pool for their top notch roasters!
QUICK PINT? We love The Ship Inn in
Kingswear, a great village pub with an excellent variety of beers on tap.
CHEEKY COCKTAIL? I have been known to indulge in the odd gin and tonic in Browns Hotel, Dartmouth. POSH NOSH? We love The Seahorse in Dartmouth for fabulous fish from
their Josper oven and unbeatable sweetbreads. The great thing is it doesn’t feel like posh nosh – it’s just heading to Mitch and Mat’s for good food and a warm welcome. FOOD ON THE GO? Smoked chicken pie from Riverford – can’t head to the A38 without stopping in! ALFRESCO FEASTING? The Gastrobus
at Bantham Beach – fab homemade burgers, cakes and coffees.
HIDDEN GEM? Deer Park Hotel in
Honiton. We run midweek courses there using the wood-fired oven in their garden kitchen, and just love it.
EATING WITH FRIENDS? The Curator, Totnes – the Osteria upstairs is fantastic. Fabulous fresh hand-made Italian food; I wish we lived closer! WITH THE FAMILY? Rockfish Brixham
overlooking the harbour – or the Start Bay Inn, as long as we’re early. Both are top notch for fish and chips!
BEST CURRY? I’m partial to a Thai
curry, and nowhere gets closer than Jasmine’s in Winner Street, Paignton – the least posh and the most authentic.
BEST ATMOSPHERE? Browns Hotel
Dartmouth on a Friday night for their tapas – a great meeting time for lots of Dartmouth and Kingswear locals.
SOMETHING SWEET? I’m an absolute sucker for the liquorice ice cream from the Dartmouth Ice Cream Company – alarmingly grey, but incredible. TOP STREET FOOD? My heart always
sings when I see Fiona and Kate of the Festival Food Company – tagines and chillies with a cheery smile.
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