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CRUMBS Devon No.14 March 2017


A little slice of foodie heaven


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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 above, search ‘Crumbs’ or go to

SUSHI: IT’S DELICIOUS, isn’t it? Filling rice, check. Healthy fish, check. Salty soy, check. Flavoursome wasabi, che… But wait! Hang on a minute! That green paste in my tray: what actually is it? Turns out that my little sachet probably isn’t wasabi at all. Well, not really. More often than not, it’s a combination of horseradish and colourings, probably with a hint of wasabi in there somewhere – but sometimes as low as just 0.6%. This is a somewhat misleading state of affairs, but there are good reasons for it, as we discover on page 8 this issue – even if you do have every excuse for feeling a little diddled. Devon is, however, luckiler than most, as rare-outside-Japan genuine wasabi is grown more or less on our doorstep, and can be found at many of the region’s best restaurants. (No ‘label padding’ here, as the industry calls it!) Thank the wonderful Wasabi Company, which grows this fiery ingredient in abandoned Victorian watercress beds, as they have similar properties to Japanese mountain streams. Yes, really. Here, wasabi grows right throughout the year, with March and April seeing the bigger plants shooting up again after winter. Now that the sun’s raising its head, and we’re looking for lighter, fresher tastes, it’s time to embrace their little green offerings. No knocks to horseradish (we love that too), but when we hear wasabi, we want wasabi. I tell you where you can find out more about suppliers of delicious seasonal food stuffs to Devon restaurants and independent shops, and that’s at the Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink. Find out more about the region’s fast-approaching, super-exciting event on p56. Happy chomping!

Charlie Lyon, Editor


Table of Contents

NO. 14 MARCH 2017











MediaClash, Circus Mews House, Circus Mews, Bath BA1 2PW; 01225 475800; 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 month we had a hot tub before breakfast at Orestone Manor (way to work up an appetite), and visited our pals at Jack in the Green, which turns 25 in May!

STARTERS 08 HERO INGREDIENTS Wasabi’s looking good 10 OPENINGS ETC Find out what’s cooking 18 TRIO …of wedding day eats

CHEF! Amazing recipes from the region’s top kitchens 24 Hot cross buns in time for Easter, from The Devon Cook 28 Juicy, tasty faggots from the Pipers Farm crew 30 Super-quick leek tart, courtesy of Riverford 32 The Rams Head chef spices up mullet

KITCHEN ARMOURY 36 HOUSE CALL Notorious chef John Burton Race gets affable with Crumbs 44 THE WANT LIST Japanese buys to make your sushi rolls rock

MAINS 48 GRILLED Heard about new Polpo Exeter? Founder Russell Norman fills us in 52 BITCHIN’ KITCHENS Devon pros give the lowdown on how to make your kitchen cool for 2017 56 FESTIVAL KLAXON! We’re revving up for the biggest Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink


New & notable restaurants, cafés, bars 62 Rockfish Exmouth 64 The Barbican Kitchen PLUS

66 LITTLE BLACK BOOK Shh, keep Polly Hilton’s tip-offs under your hat!


#CrUmbSsnaps HEY, INSTAGRAM PIC! We’ve noticed you around. That’s why we’re giving you your moment of glory right here, and also in the regular Instafeed on p10. We spotted you thanks to your hashtag #CrumbsSnaps – it’s the all-new hashtag that sits alongside #foodporn #foodpics #foodstagram #instafood #foodphotography and all the other popular foodie tags that are great, but that won’t get you your moment of glory in the Crumbs printed edition. And will anything ever touch the prestige of print? Of course not! And nothing will beat the month-long cementing of your snap in the four-colour process on our luxury paper stock. So, Instagrammers, get tagging! ✱ To see who all these glorious pics belong to, visit or search the hashtag #CrumbsSnaps




A right feisty little condiment, wasabi’s potent green globs add delicious waves of fire and sweetness to Japanese dishes, but it can be a real pain to cultivate, too‌ 8

BRIGHT AND STICKY, fresh-smelling and sinus-searingly hot, wasabi remained well off the Western radar for hundreds of years, but has recently, with the rise of sushi, become near ubiquitous – even if few of us are actually eating wasabi itself. (And certainly not in a lunchtime supermarket sushi set.) Let us explain. You see, the problem with wasabi – the stem (and not actually root or rhizome, though it’s often referred to as such) of a Japanese Brassica plant – is that it’s a very sensitive thing, and a right pain to both cultivate and prepare. Indeed, as it’s impossible for even experienced Japanese farmers to keep up with demand, most ‘wasabi’ you’ll find is actually a mixture of horseradish, mustard (both close cousins) and green food colouring. Okay, so anyone who’s taken too large a smear of wasabi may scoff at the idea that it’s a delicate plant, but it’s certainly a demanding one, with the best versions requiring all sorts of very specific climactic conditions (cool temperatures, the close proximity of a mountain stream, stuff like that) to flourish. Indeed, though strains of wasabi can be grown in fields, the top-notch stuff – known as ‘sawa-wasabi’ – is actually semi-aquatic, the ‘sawa’ bit referring to its love of well-shaded, nutrient-rich running water. Legend has it, when the first farmer to discover and grow wasabi – initially, it’s thought, for use with raw trout and venison, though it soon expanded its culinary range to include, notably, sushi and sashimi – got around to showing it to his local warlord, the warlord fell so hard for it he declared it a treasure, and only to be grown in his province. This was well over 1,000 years ago, and probably in the area now known as Shizuoka – still a major centre of wasabi production – but, though always wellknown and valuable, wasabi has never been common. Indeed, for the diva-ish reasons already detailed, but a handful of prefectures have ever farmed it much, and only the rich could ever afford it. THE RAW WASABI stem is not actually very hot at all – chew on it, and it tastes more bitter than anything – but the grating process boosts this quality hugely, as cells are broken to release the volatile compound allyl isothiocyanate. As a result, clean, pungent, potent vapours are keen to shoot right up your nasal passages – wasabi affects the nose rather than the

tongue – meaning the impact is always short lived, if potentially rather painful. (Contrast this with the punch of chilli peppers, which work on the mouth, and are much harder to wash away.) With genuine wasabi, peak hotness tails off soon after grating too, so for optimum flavour you need to grate and eat immediately. Though too much wasabi may set your brain on fire – not long ago, a Japanese sushi chain was accused of ‘racist wasabi terrorism’ when its Osaka restaurant was discovered to be adding twice the normal amount to foreigners’ food – it’s actually rather good for you, heaving in the likes of vitamins B6 and C, calcium, and magnesium, and featuring strong antibacterial properties that do everything from support the liver to killing off some forms of E-Coli. And it wants to help in other ways, too. Scientists have long experimented with using wasabi vapour as a spray to wake the deaf in event of fire, and one breakthrough in this even won a Japanese team the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. BECAUSE GROWING AND preparing it is a fussy business, people have been trying to work out how to provide the authentic wasabi experience more easily for decades now, with the development of new breeds of easier-to-grow wasabi – Misawa is one, Mitsuki another – ongoing. For most purposes, however, European horseradish – considerably less picky – makes a handy substitute. (Think the Japan-only wasabi-flavoured KitKat uses the real stuff? Think again.) Though horseradish and wasabi look like very different plants, the chemical compounds that help generate their distinctive flavours are essentially the same. Indeed, the average horseradish is actually considerably hotter than most wasabi, and even in authentic Japanese wasabi products it’s used as a flavour-enhancer. It’s these substitutes that we largely have to thank for the near-universal popularity of wasabi these days, though – this said – there is authentic wasabi to be found growing outside Japan, not least by The Wasabi Company of nearby Dorset ( Tending towards a paler green than the ampedup ‘fake’ versions, and more like a pile of sticky gratings (think minced carrot) than a paste, it has a milder, more nuanced, more herbal flavour. C’mon, don’t you owe it to yourself to try it…?




For the salmon: 2 large dinner-plate sized circles of baking paper 2 salmon fillets (about 150g each) 8 asparagus spears, woody ends trimmed 2 sprigs lemon thyme 2 tsp white wine a drizzle of olive oil For the beurre blanc: 125ml white wine 1 shallot, very finely chopped 1 bay leaf ½ tsp whole black peppercorns 100g cold unsalted butter cut in 1cm cubes freshly grated wasabi, to taste (about 10g, or a couple of teaspoons) METHOD

– Preheat oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Lay a salmon fillet in the centre of each baking paper circle. Arrange 4 spears of asparagus and a thyme sprig on top of each piece of fish. Sprinkle over 1 tsp of wine and a drizzle of olive oil. Season well. – Fold and crimp the two sides of paper together as if you are making a pasty. Repeat with the other parcel. Lay both on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 15 minutes. – While the fish is cooking, make the beurre blanc. Add the wine, shallot, bay leaf and peppercorns to a small, heavy-based saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer slowly for 5-7 minutes, until you are left with about 3 tbsp of liquid. – Turn the reduction off and grate wasabi. Set aside. – Bring the reduction up the boil again before reducing the heat to low. Add the cold butter, a cube at a time, whisking constantly until it melts and emulsifies into the wine. Strain the sauce through a sieve into a warmed bowl – it should be the consistency of single cream. Using a fork, stir through fresh wasabi to taste, and season. – Serve the fish, still in its bag but opened up, on a plate. Drizzle a little beurre blanc on top of each and serve the rest on the side. Serve with new potatoes.


Quick add these contacts to your address book! Suppliers and restaurants buying their wasabi fresh and local The Holt, 178 High Street, Honiton EX14 1LA; The Treby Arms, Sparkwell, Plympton PL7 5DD; Gidleigh Park, Chagford TQ13 8HH; Total produce, Newton Abbot TQ12 6RY;


A GOOD CATCH Three cheers fOr WiGnall

Time flies when you’re having fun, eh? It’s only been a year since Michael Wignall took over Gidleigh Park, but already he’s transformed the food and drink offering and secured the hotel its two Michelin stars and five AA rosettes. Not been to experience the restaurant yet, which includes dishes like Lancashire suckling piglet, pig’s head croquette, fermented parsley and garlic, sancho pepper and abalone mushroom? Well, there’s no better time than now, as until 31 March there’s a special lunchtime offer running: three courses, a couple of surprise ‘extras’ and coffee for £50. The offer’s valid Monday to Friday, 12-2pm. ✱ Get in on the #CrumbsSnaps tagging, and your pic could be featured next month!

A new restaurant has opened up in what was The Glassblowing House on Sutton Harbour, Plymouth. The Harbour Surf and Turf is in a prime position on the Barbican, looking out over the harbour. It’s a chic, modern eatery with metrowhite tiles and wooden furnishings. Surf includes Salcombe crab salad (£9.95), charcoal-grilled seafood misto (£16.95) and scallops burger (£11.95), while turf is a mix of steaks and burgers, from £10.95. There’s a takeaway menu, plus – thanks to a top-notch kitchen – everything is available gluten-free for coeliacs. ✱


fIX UP, LOOK SharP A taster of what’s to come from Michael Caines @lympstone_manor

We’re digging that hue! Apple macarons from @masonsarms_kitchen

Results of the 2017 NFU Mutual Food Hygiene Ratings report have been announced, with a strong warning that restaurants should clean up or lose custom. In 2019 the ruling will change, and proprietors will be legally required to display their hygiene rating, whatever the score. The Food Standards Agency has warned that restaurants with three stars or below may see a drop in custom, but – at the other end of the spectrum – among this year’s five-star winners were Crumbs’ faves The Fat Pig, The Exploding Bakery, Pipers Farm, Good Game at the Pig & Pallett, Emma’s Bread and Chandos Deli. ✱


(25 March) DELICIOUS DART TRAIL A 10- or 15-mile run (or jog, or crawl!) from Totnes to Dartmouth with a fine variety of local produce along the way, including beer, wine, savouries and pudding! Entry costs £35. ✱ (27 March) COOKERY SKILLS & TAPAS COURSE The Holt at Honiton is putting on a full-day course to get you making sauces, tapas and food for entertaining with ease and confidence. The price is £140. ✱ (8-9 April) BUDLEIGH SALTERTON FOOD & DRINK FESTIVAL A fun-filled, two-day event in the Easter break celebrating the best of East Devon food and drink. With live music, kids’ entertainment and demos. After party is £15. ✱


New kid on the block What was your very first industry job? My first real job in the industry was working as a kitchen porter at The Terrace in Tavistock. Since then, what’s the toughest job you’ve tackled? For me, it wasn’t so much about a single job, but three put together! I was a sous chef at a National Trust property, but in the evenings I would help out a friend at a pub in Chagford, which was about an hour’s drive away. On top of that, I was helping out part-time at the Moorland Garden Hotel, too – the combination of different kitchens and food styles made for a busy time and very long days, but it was the making of me.


This here is Jake Westlake, and he’s the new head chef at Moorland Garden Hotel, Yelverton So, Jake, let’s start with when you began cooking… Almost as early as I can remember, my grandmother used to run pubs and fish and chip shops. I spent a lot of my time helping out, just for fun! Soon enough I realised I wasn’t too bad at it, and my passion for cooking was set alight. What are your fondest foodie memories from childhood? Picking blackberries with my mother, and baking them into muffins at home, is something I remember like it was yesterday! It’s probably one of the earliest memories I have of cooking.

Proudest career achievement? It has to be attaining a position as head chef. It’s what most chefs aspire to be – to run their own kitchen, and share their own food with the rest of the world. Where might we know you from?  I worked at Cotehele House in Cornwall for a couple of years as the sous chef, alongside working part-time at The Three Crowns in Chagford. How would you describe your style of cooking?  At the moment a lot of root vegetables and low and slow-cooked meats, beef cheeks, lamb shoulders, ham hocks and venison haunch. What attracted you to The Moorland Garden Hotel? I worked here previously for a number of years as a commis and chef de partie, so there was already a bit of history between myself and the hotel; I have a lot of really good friends here, too. For it to have grown into the successful hotel it is now is great to see. To come back and help grow that success is an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up. How many of you are there in the kitchen team? There are eight of us: seven full-time and one part-time (she is actually my partner, who is a chef too!), and three kitchen


porters. They are a great team who I’ve worked with for years. We are like a real ‘kitchen family’. How have you approached the menu? With a very open mind! There are a lot of aspects to the catering: a 44-bedroom hotel with an AA-Rosette restaurant; a bar; and also the weddings and events, which can see us serve 180 guests at any one time in just the ballroom. You try to be many different things to many different people. I think that the menu that we released at the end of February hits the spot – a lot of dishes to satisfy the foodies, as well as a wealth of classic favourites for our Dartmoor Bar (our more relaxed dining spot), where a lot of our regular guests come to eat. What makes the local foodie scene here so great?  Definitely the vast wealth of locallysourced produce. With Plymouth fish market on the doorstep, and the huge choice of meat and veg that surrounds us, it’s certainly something to get hyped up about. What are your favourite ingredients at the moment?  Root vegetables, celeriac, swede and turnips. But also tenderstem broccoli – a good source of vitamin C! Wild garlic is now also coming into season, so I can’t wait to get my hands on that! And who are your favourite suppliers that you use for the restaurant?  M C Kelly is a great butcher, based in Crediton. We get pretty much all of our meat from them. They regularly go above and beyond the call of duty to meet our needs. Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?  My sous chef! (Only joking.) In all seriousness, probably our trusty Hobart mixer. We would certainly have some work cut out for us if we didn’t have that, as sometimes we kick out 300 scones in just a couple of days. ✱

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

T. 01398 332248 E. Bampton | Tiverton | Devon | EX16 9NG



3 4 5


fresh treats

Look at all these snacks, sides and slurps that are rocking the local scene right now 1 TEA-ING OFF Heath & Heather Organic Super Teas, £2.99/20 bags Here’s a new range of teas that taste as good as they look. The Organic Super Teas are from herbal specialists Heath & Heather, and come in cool illustrated boxes that are too good to pack away in the cupboard. The Relaxing Night Time blend is a camomile and spearmint infusion with valerian root, but we’re giving the biggest thumbs up to the Digestive blend for its coriander, anise, fennel and fenugreek mix, which is perfect for guzzlers like us. Buy from Greenlife in Totnes and The Bran Tub in Exeter. ✱ 2 WINE YOUR NECK IN Sharpham Bacchus 2014, £15.95/75cl We only recommend our

favourite eats and treats in these here Larder pages, but when it comes to Sharpham wine you don’t just have to take our word for it. The Bacchus 2014 scooped two gold gongs at the Taste of the West awards, as well as numerous silvers, bronzes and highly commendeds in other wine competitions. It’s the fresh fruit flavours and crisp finish that gets the judges’, and our, attention! ✱ 3 PUT YOUR SNACK INTO IT Nom Oat Bars, £1.49/52g Don’t you just love it when you read an ingredients list and you can identify every single thing that’s on there? No regulators, dioxides or stabilisers to cause confusion. Nom’s ingredient lists are short and sweet: only organic

oats, coconut oil, cacao nibs, and sometimes freeze-dried raspberries or banana chips, depending on what flavour you buy. They taste delish, and are the perfect vegan snack for when you’re hungry and need fueling fast. Buy from Holland & Barrett, Exeter. ✱ 4 OTTERLY DELISH Otter Vale Chutneys, £2/200g We wish we were 21 again! Lucky for Otter Vale, they’ve just hit their 21st birthday and, to celebrate, have built a brand new kitchen in Cullompton. If you’re not already a complete Otter addict, join in the party with their award-winning Onion and Pineapple Chutney or hot Devon Fire Chutney. They’re both zesty and fruity preserves that’ll cut through the creamiest of your


favourite Devon cheeses, or freshen up a good old Ruby. [You know, as in Murray.] ✱ 5 LOOKING PASTY Warrens Vegan Pasties, £3.25 each Would you ever have thought it? A pasty with not only no meat, but no dairy at all in it? Sacrilege to some, but despite that, South West pasty maker Warrens has created two recipes, inspired by the ever-growing vegan movement, that are still hearty and wholesome. The Fiery Mexican is filled with beans, potato and swede, plus a good kick of chilli, while the green Thai is packed with pulses in a creamy coconut sauce. If you can’t kick your pasty habit, and want a lighter option, these are your go-to. ✱

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Asktheyour waiter Ask sommelier Who knows the menu best? Who makes the greatest impact on your experience? Who knows her Greco Front-of-house from her Grechetto? Who can give you a hand with that is your friend! stubborn cork? Front of house is your friend!

What’s the most challenging part of the job? Behind the scenes is always tricky – dealing with suppliers and finding a good balance for the selection of wines on the lists, to ensure good value for money as well as interest. What skills have you learnt since coming here? Multitasking is something you learn only when you are under pressure – being able to master the famous aim in hospitality of being like a swan, paddling under the water but always smiling.

ChiN ChiN!

What sort of customers do you get in this lovely place? Our clientele here is very varied, which is great when it comes to the wine list. You can have a young couple wanting to drink Prosecco, and the wineconnoisseurs celebrating a special day with a bottle of Bordeaux.

Raise a glass to Selene Genovesi. She’s the new head sommelier at The Pig at Combe Hi Selene! The Pig’s not been open long – were you there for the launch? Yes, I’ve worked here since the opening, on 11 July 2016. Where were you before that, then? I was the assistant head sommelier at The Pig near Bath for a year and a half. Ah, so you’re a dedicated member of The Pig Litter! What’s the best thing about working here? I love engaging with guests and being able to share my biggest passion with others. Also, trying new wines and experimenting with food and wine pairings is always exciting.

What are the best-selling wines at the moment? The top five include: Hambledon, our English sparkling served by the glass; a Chilean Malbec; a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc; a lovely Bulgarian Pinot Noir; and a more classic Sancerre.

Have you noticed any recent wine trends taking hold? Yes, surely. White Rioja seems to be the new fashion, as well as a growing interest in biodynamic wines. What makes the restaurant a special place to visit? Going out for dinner is always such a treat, and when you are sitting in one of our comfy sofas in the lounge, enjoying a glass of fizz – or in our buzzy, vibrant restaurant, close to a cracking fire – we really try our best to make your time as special as possible. Good food and a decent glass of wine, or a well-made cocktail, are only a small part of the whole experience.


If you were a customer today, what would you order – and what would you pair it with? From our menu today, I would certainly go for the crab fritters with fregula and crispy artichokes. Chef Dan uses the white meat to place on top of the Sardinian pasta, and the brown meat is used to make the lovely crispy fritters. I can see myself sipping Grechetto, an Italian indigenous grape from Umbria, while enjoying this masterpiece. What do you think makes great customer service? The tough part about customer service is that, if you try too hard, and want to please everyone by being over the top, then you achieve exactly the opposite. For great customer service, treat everyone as if they were guests in your own house (after all, you wouldn’t want them thirsty, unhappy or not having a good time). Read your table, and foresee what they might need, calling them by name and treating them as friends, but never being over-familiar. Give them exactly the same treatment you would like to receive for yourself. Where have you visited locally where the wine was excellent? I always have great wines in Rendezvous Wine Bar in Exeter, plus I love the atmosphere in the restaurant there. Where do you like to eat and drink on your days off? Depending on the occasion, I would go for tapas in a nice pub in Honiton called The Holt, or in a Spanish restaurant in Exeter called Forn. The Fat Pig is also lovely, with a great selection of local beers. What’s in your wine rack at home? A very odd selection! It goes from an Alsatian Pinot Gris to an Uruguayan Tannat. I also have a few bottles calling for a special occasion, like a One Point Five Cabernet Sauvignon Shafer Vineyards 2010, and the G.A.M Mitolo 2001. ✱



Opening Easter

The Green Table at Dartington Hall Estate Grown and Reared Produce Simple & Fresh Flavours | Cracking Coffee Devon Drinks | Cream Teas & Cake Daily Specials | Fully Licensed Café Relax in Comfort | Dog friendly Opening hours 10am- 6pm Sunday - Thursday 10am - 9pm Friday & Saturday Set in 1200 acres of stunning countryside near Totnes in Devon Beautiful Grade II* Listed Gardens, Medieval Courtyard and Deer Park opening soon @GreenTableCafe

Dartington Hall, Totnes TQ9 6ED


Fun for all the Family | Crafts, Arts and Learning for Leisure | The Shops at Dartington | White Hart Bar & Restaurant | The Barn Cinema

We are a seafood fish and chip restaurant selling local in-season Brixham fish and shellfish for lunch and dinner with an option to take away if you wish.

Two Course Lunch Special Local fish and chips with a choice of starter or dessert – £14.99 Offer runs until 1st April 2017 (please mention the website special when you are seated) We run extra specials most days depending on what's landed that morning!

We cater for & food allergies es nc ra le into

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All fish can be grilled to order

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Fresh Brixham fish


Take a vOw When it comes to weddings, food is critical. Check out this trio who have nuptial noshing sorted MEDIEVAL MAGNIFICENCE

Describe Dartington Hall’s weddings in just three words: Magnificent, medieval, bespoke. Can you give us a taste of the menu? Our slow-cooked blade of beef, horseradish mash and caramelised carrots with red wine jus is always a popular choice, and gets great reviews. The caramelised carrots and horseradish mash complement one another fabulously.



Can you give us a taste of the menu? Our edible table is beautiful and delicious: ‘Seaside’ includes mussels, scallop ceviche, crab on toast, razor clams, ‘pebbles’ and samphire; while the ‘Pig Out Platter’ features cured meats, ‘dirt’ and crackling.

Can you give us a taste of the menu? Executive chef Mike Palmer and his talented team serve the finest Devon produce, prepared with care and presented with flair, as befits the hotel’s two AA-Rosette award. The signature dessert, ‘Everything Chocolatey’, includes white chocolate marquise, dark chocolate tart, chocolate hazelnut mousse, and peanut butter ice cream. Fabulous!

Describe your Rusty Pig wedding catering in just three words: Creative, scrumptious feasting.

Anything else we should know? Our two AA-Rosette chefs will prepare your wedding breakfast tailored to your specification. We use local, seasonal produce where possible, and take great care over quality, flavour and presentation. Dartington Hall is the largest medieval manor house in the West of England, and a magical setting for year-round weddings. Our award-winning venue offers five licensed ceremony rooms, 50 on-site bedrooms, and the stunning Great Hall for your wedding breakfast. The Grade II* gardens provide the perfect setting to capture your wedding day forever.

Anything else we should know? Rusty Pig offers bespoke wedding feasts designed through creative culinary collaboration, using the freshest, most ethical ingredients sourced locally in Devon. Our service is flexible, from the traditional three courses to a feasting table or a wood-fired wedding breakfast. Need a bar and a cocktail menu? No problem. We cover the South West, and there’s no minimum booking. For one wedding, the bride used to work at Asda, so we were asked to incorporate that. We got packets of Asda crisps, emptied them and replaced the contents with Rusty Pig parsnip and artichoke crisps and a pickled egg, resealed the bags and served them at the reception.

✱ Dartington Hall, Dartington, Totnes TQ9 6EL;

✱ Rusty Pig, Yonder Street, Ottery St Mary EX11 1HD;


Describe a Two Bridges wedding in just three words: Beautiful, individual, relaxed.

Anything else we should know? The Two Bridges Hotel is a Dartmoor oasis, and combines a stunning location, hundreds of years of history and awardwining dining to create a rather special wedding venue. Outside, the riverside pagoda and lush gardens overlook the clear waters of the West Dart river. Step inside, and it’s all about oak panelling, crackling log fires and a priceless atmosphere, just right for your day. ✱ Two Bridges Hotel, Dartmoor National Park PL20 6SW;

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The freshest, most inspirational cookbooks of the month

COOKING LIKE MUMMYJI Vicky Bhogal Grub Street, £25

First published in 2003 but out of print for a decade, this award-winning book has been revised and redesigned, complete with new photography. The 100 recipes in Cooking Like Mummyji cover traditional Punjabi dishes as cooked by families in British homes, rather than the Anglicised food served in most Indian restaurants. Lighter, fresher and healthier, they range from simple vegetarian dishes like sukke chole (dry chickpeas) and ‘cheat’s saag’ to main meals like coriander masala tandoori roast chicken, and roast lamb Desi-style. The chapters on Indian breads and accompaniments (including ten-second yoghurt and mint chutney) are worth the price tag alone. As far as books on Indian home cooking go, this is a modern classic.



Jane Baxter and John Vincent Conran Octopus, £25

Claire Thomson National Trust Books, £20

The seventh book from Leon is subtitled ‘free-from recipes for people who really like food’, and every recipe is gluten, dairy and refined sugar-free. As a chain, Leon has always championed ‘freefrom’ options on its menu, and owner John Vincent and chef Jane Baxter have pulled together a fantastic collection of recipes that demonstrate that cutting out gluten, dairy and sugar doesn’t mean compromising on flavour or enjoyment of food. Using substitute ingredients (there is a detailed section on creating a ‘free-from’ store cupboard), these recipes take inspiration from all over the globe, and include the likes of almond milk porridge with banana and cinnamon; aubergine polpettini; soba noodles with avocado sauce; spiced chicken liver salad with a mustard seed vinaigrette; and lemon polenta cake with blueberries.


The follow-up to her debut, Five O’Clock Apron, Bristolbased food writer (and family food ambassador for the National Trust) Claire Thomson continues on her mission to improve family mealtimes with this delightful collection of childfriendly recipes. Quick and healthy breakfasts, school lunchbox ideas, speedy postschool suppers and relaxed weekend lunches: this book covers all eventualities and, with three young children of her own, Thomson’s recipes are all tried and tested several times. From three-bean and cheese quesadillas and pea and halloumi fritters to cauliflower jalfrezi and boiled clementine cake, many of the recipes are thrifty and easy to make using what you have in the fridge or cupboard. This book is packed with solid, no-nonsense family fare.

THE REALLY QUITE GOOD BRITISH COOKBOOK Edited by William Sitwell Nourish, £25

What do you cook for people you love? That was the question asked of the 100 chefs, bakers and local food heroes who contributed to this beautifully designed book. A delicious snapshot of the diversity of British food culture, the book features recipes from the likes of Rick Stein, Angela Hartnett, Mark Hix, Russell Norman, Jeremy Lee, Thomasina Miers and Richard Corrigan. The book looks at British dishes that originate from far-flung places, which means chicken tikka masala pie sits happily alongside such quintessentially British dishes as toad in the hole. Even better: a portion of the royalties from the book’s sales goes to The Trussell Trust, which runs food banks all over Britain.


Pavilion Books, £14.99

What started out in a garden shed in London 32 years ago has turned into an international business for Popa Singh and his family, with his ‘secret recipe’ chilli sauces and pastes sold all over the world. Influenced by the family’s Indian, Kenyan and English heritage, the fiery products feature heavily in these Anglo-Asian recipes. Whether it’s Granny Singh’s spicy scrambled eggs or Punjabi paprika porridge for breakfast, a lunch of spicy chicken couscous and fragrant lamb curry with cumin rice, or main meals such as black chickpea stew or classic chicken and rice, this spicy collection of simple recipes is sure to inject some welcome heat into your cooking during these colder months.

From: LEON: FAST & FREE by Jane Baxter and John Vincent (Conran Octopus, £25)




2 onions, peeled and chopped 2 tbsp olive oil 750g lamb shoulder, diced 1 tsp ground turmeric 300ml chicken stock 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley 1 bunch mint 1 bunch coriander small pinch saffron, soaked in 2 tbsp hot water 1 lime, juice only 500g rhubarb, cut into bite-size pieces coconut sugar, to taste extra herbs, chopped, to finish

– In a casserole dish, soften the onions in half of the olive oil for 5 minutes, then remove from the pot and set aside. – Brown the meat over a high heat in batches. You may need to add a little more oil. When all the meat is browned, return the onions to the pan and season with salt, pepper and turmeric. – Add the stock, or enough just to cover, and bring to the boil. Then turn the heat down to a simmer, cover and cook for about 1 hour on a low heat. – Meanwhile, finely chop the


parsley, mint and coriander and heat the remaining oil in a pan. Fry the herbs, stirring all the time, for 7-10 minutes. This concentrates their flavours and gives them texture. – Add the fried herbs, saffron and lime juice to the lamb after it’s cooked. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes. – Now add the rhubarb, and simmer for 10-15 minutes more. – Taste for seasoning – you may want to add a touch of coconut sugar at this point. – Serve sprinkled with the extra chopped herbs.



Highlights BUN TIMES

The Devon Chef unleashes his best ever hot cross bun recipe Page 24


Meaty, hearty faggots from our friends at Pipers Farm Page 28

Riverford’s recipe was all too healthy, until they added the Parmesan, and the pastry, and the butter. That’s when it really started tasting good...

WIKID LEEKS Criminally good dish made with one of Riverford’s fave veg Page 30

Plus 1



that got a taste of the East (p28)

The Devon Cook

Nice BUNs Food styling and photography by ANGELA NILSEN


No need to keep your fingers crossed for this one. All-time foodie hero Orlando Murrin shares his failsafe recipe for the best ever hot cross buns…


s a child I remember that the arrival of hot cross buns in the shops was an exciting moment: Easter was on its way! Now, like chocolate eggs, they never go away. Perhaps it’s my imagination, but they’ve also lost their personality. Any soft, sweet roll with a cross on the top and a few bits of fruit in the middle is deemed worthy of the name. There can be no comparison whatsoever between these pale imitations and the real thing – rich, glossy and packed with fruit. Hot cross buns are worth making, just for the heavenly smell of baking that will fill your home. I would go so far as to say that of all the breads you can make yourself, this is the one that is most worth the effort. When it comes to effort, do not be discouraged by the fact that the recipe looks long. (One reason it may give that impression is that I have explained everything with particular care.) Yeast is a living organism and you cannot rush it, so make this recipe at the weekend, and make it an excuse to stay in for the day. If you haven’t made bread before, this is an excellent and rewarding recipe to start with; the step-by-step photographs show what you’re looking for at the different stages. If you’re a seasoned bread maker, you may wish to try one of the variations. It is worth noting that if you don’t like kneading by hand, the dough (without the fruit) can be made in a food processor: allow 1-2 mins, then scrape out and add the fruit as described. If you own a bread-making machine, you can make the dough by simply tipping in the ingredients in the usual way; add the fruit at the end, then leave to prove in the machine and shape by hand. No one who eats one of these could have the faintest doubt it was homemade, but I have suggested a couple of variations. Another way to customise the recipe is when you serve it: hot cross buns are traditionally split and served generously spread with butter, but I find clotted cream even better!


SUPER-FRUITY HOT CROSS BuNS Sultanas are traditional in hot cross buns, but you can also use mixed dried fruit. I particularly like a tangy mixture, including dried cranberries and tiny pineapple chunks. Some people don’t care for peel, so although it is a characteristic flavour of hot cross buns, you can simply use more fruit if you prefer. Although this recipe is not difficult, it uses a surprising number of bowls and implements, so I advise getting all your equipment and ingredients assembled before things start getting sticky. If you are kneading by hand, you may wish to put on the radio to while away the minutes. INGREDIENTS

For the fruit: 75g dried fruit mix, or sultanas 50g chopped mixed peel 1 eating apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped 2 tsp mixed spice (or spices of your choice, including some cinnamon) zest of an orange, finely grated 1 tbsp brandy or sherry For the dough: 250ml whole milk, plus extra as necessary 50g salted butter, roughly cubed 500g strong white flour, preferably organic, plus extra if necessary 75g soft brown or light muscovado sugar 1 tsp salt 1 large egg 25g fresh baker’s yeast, or 7g sachet of fast-action yeast For the crosses: 75g plain flour 25g caster sugar 2-3 drops almond extract 5-6 tbsp cold water For the glaze: 4 tbsp apricot jam METHOD

– Put all the fruit ingredients in a bowl and toss to mix. Leave to macerate while you prepare the dough. (You can do this a day ahead, if convenient.) – To make the dough, heat the milk to boiling, remove from heat and stir in the butter to melt. (Dough made with boiled milk rises better, though it must be allowed to cool before using.) Set aside until it is pleasantly warm to the touch – you can speed this up by pouring back and forth between jugs, otherwise allow up to 40 minutes. Put the flour and sugar and salt in a bowl. If using fresh yeast (which you

should be able to buy at artisan bakeries or supermarket in-store bakeries), cream it with a couple of tbsp of the cooled milk; if using dried, mix with the flour and sugar. – When the milk is the right temperature, whisk in the egg with a fork. Now add the milk mixture in stages to the flour, along with the fresh yeast mixture if using, stirring until the mixture comes together. Turn it onto a floured surface and start to knead. Flour varies, so after a minute or two, you may need to add a little extra flour (if the dough feels too wet) or milk (if it is too dry). That being said, as a general rule, the moister your dough the better the flavour, so don’t worry if it is slightly sticky. – Knead for a full five minutes, occasionally throwing the dough onto your work surface with a loud slap – this is technically known as crashing and helps work the liquid right into the flour. Now roll the dough out to about roughly the size of a tabloid newspaper, sprinkle over your fruit mix (including juices, if there are any) and roll up like a Swiss roll. This is the easiest way to incorporate the fruit. Shape it into a ball then knead for another minute or two on a well-floured worktop, until the fruit is evenly distributed, and transfer to a large oiled bowl. Cover with a tea cloth or oiled cling film and leave in a warm place to rise. This is an enriched dough, so give it about 90 minutes, until roughly doubled in size. – For the next stage, you will need either one large or two medium baking sheets, lined with baking paper. If using one sheet, aim for three rows of five hot cross buns (total 15). If using two sheets, two rows of four buns per sheet (total 16). Turn out the dough and either divide by guesswork, or if you are a perfectionist, weigh the dough and then weigh out each roll (it will be 70-80g per roll). Shape each roll into a ball with floured hands, pulling the surface taut all round and pinching underneath, then set on the baking sheet. Continue with other rolls,


allowing 2cm between the rolls, to allow for rising. Use a knife to cut or press a shallow cross in the top of each bun, which will help the shape at the next stage. Cover again with a tea cloth or oiled cling film and leave for 60-90 minutes, until the rolls are touching. – 10 minutes before they’ve finished rising, heat your oven to 210C/190C fan/410F/gas mark 6-7, and mix the flour paste for the crosses, adding just enough water to make a stiff, sluggish paste. Put this in a plastic bag and, before baking the buns, make a tiny snip in the end, then pipe out to form a cross in the indentation you already formed. – Bake for 15-18 minutes, watching carefully, until the buns are dark gold and risen. – While the buns are in the oven, heat the jam to near boiling in a small pan or the microwave. You may wish to sieve the jam to make it perfectly smooth, but I prefer a more rustic look, so I don’t. When the buns are cooked, slide onto a rack and paint generously with the jam, using it all. – Serve the buns cold, with clotted cream or buttered, or warm for 5 minutes in the oven. Also great toasted.

GO ALL OUT! CHOCOLATE HOT CROSS BUNS For a real crowd pleaser, sprinkle 100g chopped, best-quality dark or milk chocolate, or best-quality chocolate drops, over the dough along with the fruit, and continue as before. SAFFRON HOT CROSS BUNS For a touch of sophistication, toast a good pinch of saffron in a frying pan (no oil) until slightly darkened and fragrant (2-4 minutes). Add this to the milk and bring to the boil, as stated in the recipe; it will flavour and colour the milk. You can either strain the milk before continuing with the recipe, or leave the saffron in (I like to see the occasional fleck).

( the devon cook )

âœą ORLANDO MURRIN is a food writer and chef. He wrote daily recipes 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.


an OffaLLy GOOd dins Abby Allen of Pipers Farm has de-liver-ed the best faggot recipe



Hurrah! Faggots are making a comeback. And, rest assured – thanks to modern, ethical farming methods that ensure the highest quality meat – they taste even better than the original WWII incarnations, and are a damn sight more satisfying than the Mr Brain’s oddities from our youth, too. With lamb season upon us, the lovely Abby Allen from Pipers Farm has shared her heartiest, most delicious recipe. “Offal is such an under-used ingredient,” she says, “but it can make your suppers really pack a punch. The deep flavour of these faggots is achieved by using the hearts and livers of Pipers’ purely grass-fed sheep, matched with the fatty and sweet flavour of our Saddleback pork belly.”


500g lamb mince 250g lamb heart, finely diced 200g lamb liver, finely diced 250g pork belly, minced 1 handful of parsley, finely chopped 5 sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped 1 onion, finely diced 2 garlic cloves, crushed dash of port 1 egg 50g oats olive oil or beef dripping, to cook in METHOD

– Mix the lamb mince, heart, liver and pork belly together until well combined. – Mix in the parsley and thyme. – Warm a skillet with a little oil in it, chuck in the onion and garlic, and sweat until soft. Pour in the port to deglaze the pan, and cook until syrupy. Add this to the faggot mix and season with salt and pepper. – Add the egg and oats and mix well. – Take a small pinch of the mixture and

add to a warm pan. Cook and taste to check the seasoning. Add more seasoning, if needed. – Roll the faggots into even balls. – Brown all the faggots in a warm skillet (not too hot, or it may cause them to split) before placing into a 180C/350F/ gas mark 4 oven for 15 minutes. – Serve with buttery mash, crispy bacon bits, onion gravy and fresh peas.


✱ PIPERS FARM, Cullompton EX15 1SD; 01392 881380;


LeeKING GOOD! This scrumptious tart from Riverford looks absolutely divine, and tastes even better

It's time to celebrate the mighty leek, and thank it for seeing us through the winter! This verdant veg is at its best during the cold months, adding a beautiful splash of green to plates normally heavy with more sedate root veg. It grows strong in March but fades back in later spring, so be quick to market to gather a bunch of these beauts for this quick and easy mid-week meal. The secret of this recipe lies in cooking the leeks long and slow, so that they become sweetly caramelised. The rest takes no time at all, and you can exercise your imagination adding extra toppings.


– Heat the oven to 200C/400F/ gas mark 6. – Heat the oil or butter in a heavybottomed saucepan and add the leeks and thyme. Slow-fry the leeks until they are very soft and starting to brown, a good 10-15 minutes. – Cover the pan initially to help them sweat, then take off the lid halfway through so the liquid evaporates. Stir at intervals to stop them catching. Season with salt and pepper, then cool. – Meanwhile, lay out your pastry flat on a lightly greased, non-stick baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, until it has completely puffed up and is golden brown. (Check that the bottom of the pastry is cooked, too.) – Flatten the pastry back down by covering it evenly with the leek mixture, leaving 5mm around the edge. – Sprinkle with the Parmesan and any other toppings (perhaps anchovies, olives or different cheesess), and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes, until the cheese has melted. Serve warm.


3-4 tbsp olive oil, or 50g butter 6 large leeks, washed, dried and thinly sliced bunch of thyme, tied with string 1 x 300g ready-rolled sheet all-butter puff pastry 25g Parmesan (or vegetarian equivalent), finely grated salt and black pepper

Put a twist on it – Onions work as a replacement for, or combined with, the leeks. ✱ Find more tasty recipes, and other inspiration, at





Fish tOniGht? MuLLet Over… There’s still a bit of chill in the air, so Alex Pallatt adds warming Indian influence to his fish dish

Alex Pallatt has been the executive chef at The Rams Head, Dolton since June 2016. Before he landed at this cool country inn, he built up experience working in a whole host of award-winning establishments, including The Pig on the Hill, at Westward Ho! and The Mill End Hotel in Chagford. His attitude towards cooking and creating dishes is that good food should also be fun and, at The Rams Head, he’s putting this into practice in his seasonal menus, to make sure you have a top dining experience. Here’s one of his fish dishes with a twist.

½ tsp cayenne pepper ½ tsp cumin 3 large baking potatoes, diced


For the mussels: 500g live mussels (approx 8-10 mussels each) ½ onion, finely diced 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped 1 tbsp desiccated coconut 100ml white wine 100ml double cream 200ml liquid fish stock greens, finely chopped (rainbow chard, spinach or cavolo nero work well)


For the Bombay potatoes: 1 tsp mustard seeds 1 tsp turmeric ½ tsp garam masala

For the bhajis: 1 tsp coriander seed ½ tsp garam masala ½ tsp turmeric 2 carrots, julienned 1 large onion, finely sliced 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped ½ tsp salt 2½ tbsps chickpea flour (or plain) For the fish: 4 x 6oz silver mullet fillets, pin bones removed



To make the Bombay potatoes – Grind the spices together. – Heat some oil and fry off the spices gently for 1-2 mins. Add the diced potatoes and continue to fry for another 3-4 mins, making sure you coat the potatoes in the spices. – Add 100ml of water to the pan, season with a pinch of salt and cover. Allow to cook for 5-6 mins, until the potatoes are just cooked. To make the bhajis – Grind the spices together. – Add the salt to the onions and carrots in a bowl and leave for five minutes. Drain off excess liquid (but do not completely dry). – Add the spice mix and flour. Shape into 2 inch-diameter discs and fry (deep fat is best, but they can be shallow fried). To make the fish dish – Heat a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Add mussels, replace lid and leave for 30 seconds. Add onion, garlic and white wine. Cook for 1 min with lid on. Add stock, and cook with lid off. Remove the mussels from the pan and take them out of their shells. – Add the Bombay potatoes and desiccated coconut to the cooking liquor. Add the cream and cook until it thickens. Finally, add the mussels and finely chopped greens. Cook until the greens wilt (about 1 minute for soft greens like chard or spinach; about 3 minutes for cavolo nero). To make the mullet – In a large, non-stick frying pan, heat up some vegetable oil. Season skin and flesh of the mullet and fry, skin side down. Depending on thickness, fry for approx 4 minutes on the skin side, then 2 minutes on other side. To serve – Divide potatoes, mussels and greens between four shallow bowls. Lay mullet across and finish with a bhaji. ✱ THE RAMS HEAD INN, South Street, Dolton EX19 8QS; 01805 804255;





TEL 01460 221639 OPEN MON-FRI 9AM-5.30PM SAT 9AM-2PM





Here’s a question for you: what food does social media love best? I’d say pizzas or burgers, maybe, but then there are plenty of folk posting avocado dishes and sushi, too… What about the humble waffle? Okay, so they are slightly American – or, rather, Belgian by way of America – but people love sharing their late breakfasts and brunches, and plenty of the most decadent of them now feature waffles front-and-centre, whether topped with blueberries and honey, or bacon and maple syrup. As comfort food, a warm waffle is hard to beat – fluffy and crunchy and golden like the sun – but they can be messy to make, and hard to get right. That, of course, is where the Smart Waffle from Sage by Heston Blumenthal comes in.

WAFFLY NICE You are waffle, says Matt Bielby, but I like you

It looks like a posh Breville Sandwich Toaster... A tiny bit, but while most sandwich toasters leave you with crumbs and molten cheese everywhere – and remember, they’ve got a much simpler task on their hands than successful waffle making – the Smart Waffle’s wrap-around moat captures and cooks any sticky overflow for easy (and tasty!) clean-up. Plus, the waffles always come out perfect. It’s still a lot of kit to make just one thing, though. Perhaps – but have you really considered all the variations the waffle offers? This beast can automatically work out the cooking time required for whatever style you’re after – Belgian waffles, classic American waffles, chocolate waffles or buttermilk waffles – and their colour too, from pale to dark; it even lets you customise the settings to invent your own. And if the Smart Waffle is too much of an investment for you, there’s a smaller, cheaper version – the No-Mess Waffle – too. This makes a single round waffle rather than two rectangular ones, so aesthetic considerations (and sheer greediness) may well impact on which one you go for. Okay, say I buy one. Now what do I do? Eat waffles for every darn meal? You say that like it’s a bad thing. But no, think of all the variations possible: waffled stuffing! Waffled French toast! Waffled mac ’n’ cheese! There’s a whole world of easy culinary adventure to explore with this thing – not unlike those student days, in fact, where the only inroom choice was a toastie, using whatever odds and sods you had lying around… ✱ The Smart Waffle costs £169.95 (and the No-Mess Waffle £99.95) from branches of John Lewis, Debenhams and Lakeland;






House call

VIVE LA REVOLUTION! He may still dream of a life in Provence, but for now John Burton Race is sticking to Devon. His latest mission? To power up The Grosvenor Hotel Torquay with an injection of French flair



athetic fallacy: you might not have thought much about it since school days, when you scrawled spidery paragraphs about the violent thunderstorm that raged as Heathcliff scarpered from Wuthering Heights. Sure, it’s there in my subconscious every time I watch a young teen walk into a dark forest as lightning cracks in a film, but it’s never come quite so fiercely to the forefront of my mind as today, on my way to meet legendary ‘grumpy chef’ John Burton Race. The House Call shoot and interview is booked for the day Storm Doris rampages across Devon, strewing branches across the Dartmoor country lanes and causing lorries to get stuck on bridges. My Sat Nav ETA pushes way past our scheduled meet time, and while the wind hammers onto my car, I wonder what kind of storm will

be waiting for me when I finally arrive, impossibly late, at John’s house. The photographer’s been and gone by the time I’ve circumnavigated the Kings Ash Road closure, but – defying the reputation that precedes him – John is all smiles, welcoming and gracious, when I eventually pull up, explaining it’s his first day off in five weeks and that, actually, my tardiness has given him time to get stuff done. “So, some good comes out of bad,” he smiles. Phew. (He even goes so far as to say “Well done, you”. Well done me? I’ve never been congratulated on my incompetency before. I like this chef.) John’s partner, Suzi Ward – a tall, genial blonde with a warm nature – arrives at the house as I do, and explains why, even when you finally locate the hamlet in which they live, it’s still mighty tricky to find their actual farmhouse. “We took the sign down, so nobody can find us!” she laughs. “We took it down on


purpose. If we want you to come here we’ll get you here, but, otherwise, stay away!” Suzi’s a top host. She’s friendly, energetic, straight-talking and a lot of fun. She’s quick to set about fixing coffee and ‘dippy dips’, lamenting they’ve no Champagne in to offer me. Then she puts herself to task, polishing the silverware with a pair of bright red pants. (They’re not John’s, I’m reassured.) John and Suzi do obviously like the finer things in life, but live here quite simply. They moved to this old farmhouse, which only has a small amount of land still attached, almost five years ago from Strete. And they love it because they have, “more space, and a couple of stables”. As well as their 12-year-old son Pip, there are the four dogs and three horses to keep Suzi busy. The house was built in 1635, and was previously a dairy farm with 40 cattle, Suzi explains. It has understated rural

charm. They had to clear out the 1980s Formica kitchen, and Suzi decked it out with furniture that she’d collected over the years. “I hate modern fitted kitchens, I can’t stand them,” she stresses. “I can’t stand steel and glass. I’ve had that dresser for 30 years, and the sink was from our garden in Strete. It had a lot of plants in it, so I just pressure washed it and it was fine. “We then just painted the rest of the house, really, and the rotting bits were replaced. We like it how it is now – simple. Unless you gut it and spend half a million pounds putting it right, there’s no point. It’s a house for country bumpkins, like us.”


At the moment, it’s rare that John’s at home in the day. At the start of the year he took up a new role as executive head chef at The Grosvenor Hotel in Torquay. The hotel refit and a new restaurant have been keeping him busy, plus he’s also done some consultancy work for the other five hotels in the restaurant group. John took the job at The Grosvenor over an offer in London – he was keen not to go back to living out of a suitcase in a studio apartment. Working locally means he can come home every night, and take

his son to rugby when needed. Although, since he started, he’s been flat-out. When it comes to the restaurant, he’s been given carte blanche, and a mission to turn the food and drink offering around. “I have the best kitchen I’ve ever had,” explains John, who has previously worked as head chef for Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and run his own restaurants in London and France, including a couple where he gained two Michelin stars. “I’ve got all the equipment I wanted – everything I asked for has been bought,” he says. “I’ve got water baths, vacuumpacking machines, and a Pacojet to make instant gelato (I love making ice cream as garnishes). I’ve got a chocolate tempering machine, too. I’ve got every bit of kit any chef could dream of.” And the list goes on: “I’ve got a walk-in cold room downstairs. The actual kitchen is the only thing that’s been taken 100% from empty shell to brand new – the flooring, ventilation, ovens… You know I’ve got five ovens? And I had complete say in the design. The whole kitchen is sealed – ultra-flooring, with no skirting boards, so it’s all heat-sealed into the wall. The walls are plastic-clad and can be hosed off with a jet wash. There are


“CLAMS HAVE TRIPLED IN PRICE SINCE LAST SEASON, SO NOW THE BLOODY GARNISH COSTS MORE THAN THE FISH DISH” open gullies that I can open up, and all the muck goes down. I have a separate pastry section, cold hors d’oeuvres section, and a satellite kitchen for setting up for parties. There’s nothing he hasn’t bought me. “He said, ‘John, what do you want?’, and I gave him my wish list, thinking I’d get half of it: I got everything. Father Christmas came. Well, it was December. Plus, he did everything in five weeks, all from just a scribble on a piece of paper.” When he says ‘he’, John’s referring to Keith Richardson, owner of the six hotels in the Richardson Hotels group, which also include The Royal Beacon in Exmouth, The Grand in Torquay, The Grosvenor, and three others in Cornwall. And it’s not only the kitchen and restaurant that’s being given a cash boost: The Grosvenor’s bedrooms and ballroom are being refurbished, too. It’s all in an effort to break the legacy left by Mark Jenkins, who pushed the hotel into the limelight through Channel 4 TV

( house call )


( house call )


series The Hotel, and gave it its infamous Fawlty Towers reputation. But despite all the kit, it’s not going to be an easy ride, John admits. “Mr Richardson wants quality; he wants results.”


But what about the food? Is Torquay ready for the quality John is used to offering? “In the evening there’ll be a JBR taster menu – six courses for £50,” he explains. “Then there’s the lounge menu, with three, possibly four vegetarian dishes – I like vegetarian food.” John gets up and shuffles off to get a sample menu for me. The tasting menu looks good, including roast quail salad, lobster and fillet of fallow venison. The a la carte offering features dishes like vegetarian Parmesan gnocchi with charred leeks, and sweet and sour belly of pork. “I was born in Asia,” John says, “so I try to do my own version of pork belly in a French way – it sounds odd, but it’s actually really good. It’s the most popular dish on the menu at the moment, apart from the spider crab tortellini. The problem” – and he sounds disgruntled – “is it’s a right bastard to pick those things.”

Conversation turns to pork fat, as it does quite a lot in Crumbs interviews, and I’m keen to learn how to make the ultimate pork scratchings that John boasts about. He’s keen to share his secrets, too: “I put the pork belly in a brine bath for two days. Then I take it out, take the skin off, and cut it at a slant. I dehydrate it in my dehydrating machine [sigh, it’s not everyone who has the kit John’s been lavished with], then I cut it into ringlets, then I deep fry it. It blows up like puffballs.” He can’t help sounding a little smug as he finishes explaining, I think.


As well as all the Asian influences, there’s one other country John will always revere: France. Get him talking French cheese and you could be there a long while. He and Suzi most like to share Epoisses. “It’s not everyone’s cup of tea,” explains Suzi. “It’s very smelly, but delicious. We’ve been known to eat a whole one before now, in minutes. It’s 3.5k calories in one. “It’s dipped in marc de Bourgogne from Burgundy, and it has to be walking. You either love it or hate it,” John adds. I ask what it smells like. “It smells disgusting,” says Suzi, frankly. “So the dogs


“THE SPIDER CRAB TORTELLINI IS POPULAR, BUT IT’S A RIGHT BASTARD TO PICK THOSE THINGS” don’t beg for it, then?” I ask. She pauses. “It actually smells like dog,” she says.


Despite having everything he needs (John’s demanded 12 extra chefs for the kitchen, too), he’s not going to be looking for a host of Michelin stars, as being located in Torquay there’s a price point he has to consider. “It’s not the West End of London,” John explains. “You’ve got to be sensitive to a very competitive pricing structure. There are certain ingredients that I’d love to use that are outside of my budget. But I think we’ve got it just about right.” It’s not only the diners’ purses he has to consider when planning menus, but everfluctuating food prices. “In the last 12 months food prices have gone through the bloody roof!” he rues. “Do you know, last year I bought 150g Madagascan vanilla pods for £26;

( house call )

this year the same amount is £84. I was doing a fish dish and the price per kilo was okay. But the clams I was putting with it have tripled in price since last season, so now the bloody garnish is more than the price of the main thing. Everything’s gone bonkers! It’s now we realise we’re importing so much stuff from other countries. As the pound’s gone to hell against the euro and against the dollar, we import these fruits and veg and certain meat products and the only way you can carry on doing it is to offload the cost to the customer, but they’re not going to pay. “It makes you, as a chef, take a step back, and it becomes important to use things that are local, regional and seasonal. “We’re lucky in that we’ve got great dairy produce, lamb, seafood and fish in Devon, and, to some extent, great beef, too. It’s a good larder, a resource, and it just makes sense to use it.” Although John does make an exception when it comes to cheese. “French cheese is the best in the world. And French wine is better than any New World wine. I’m old school,” he says. “No, you’re just old,” Suzi laughs. “To get a good New World wine you’d have to pay a fortune for it,” he argues. And when it comes to local wines? “Sharphams has a good one,” he admits. “Camel Valley has slaughtered some good French Champagnes in blind tasting, but I still love my Burgundies, I’m afraid.”

And still talking of French superiority, when it comes to pastry John won’t use anyone but his favourite French pastry chef, who he’s recruited to open a new bakery in The Grand Hotel, again financed by deep-pocketed Keith Richardson. “Downstairs in the hotel is a huge space that cost a small fortune,” says John. “I’ve got my old pastry chef, Julien Picamil, from The Angel at Dartmouth, to make every croissant, pain au chocolate, pain au raisin, and all the bread for The Grand. Later on we’re going to expand that to handmade chocolates and cakes. “The idea is that we’ll be able to train people in the group at the bakery in a classic French way, so they can learn and take an apprenticeship with us.” So what’s the standard of baking like in the area at the moment? “There isn’t one,” he says, bluntly. “They were buying in, as they didn’t have the skill set and they didn’t have the facility. Now we have all of that, it’s very exciting.” With ‘dippy dips’ eaten, coffee drunk, silver polished and red pants put away, John’s keen to get on with his day. He’s got a tough road ahead of him – hands-on working in a relentless hotel service where meals blur into one and there’s no rest day – so I quickly scarper back out to Storm Doris and the Crystal Maze of country roads that cover Dartmoor, leaving him to enjoy some rare time at home with Suzi.


KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL Name: John Burton Race Occupation: Executive head chef, The Grosvenor Torquay Must-have kitchen item: My favourite knife, made by Porsche. It’s such a tactile object and it sharpens up to like a razor blade. I love what it does, the feel of it. It doesn’t go to work with me, though, as it will go missing I love the taste of: Truffles. French, of course. And Epoisses cheese Favourite condiment: Black pepper Coffee or tea: Coffee Beer or wine? Wine, usually Burgundy Go-to recipe with wine? Coq au vin. Something with big fruit The look of your kitchen in three words: A crumbly mess Why you love your kitchen: It’s comfortable; you don’t have to be fussy. It’s not a cheffy kitchen. My kitchen at work is like a hospital. Why would I want to come home to another sterile place like that? Most unexpected item in your cupboard: A slug! Probably. If you come in summer, probably a mouse. I’m not joking, you’ll probably find a mouse If your kitchen could talk it would say: Clean me!

✱ THE GROSVENOR HOTEL, Belgrave Road, Torquay TQ2 5HG; 01803 294373;

T H E WA N T LI S T Get your Japanese cooking on-point with this hoard of sharp kitchen kit 1 1 TWO-TIER BAMBOO STEAMER £24.99 Steam all your Eastern faves – fish, buns, dumplings – plus foods like couscous and homegrown veg in this chic bamboo steamer that’s well made and will last. Pick it up from Lakeland in Exeter. ✱


2 ROSEWOOD CARBON KNIVES from £79 Not only do these look the part, but the white paper shirogami steel wrapped in a softer jigane steel will have you chopping like a pro – plus, they’re super-easy to sharpen. Buy online, or from the new Niwaki showroom you’ll find in Shaftesbury. ✱ 3 UKA STRIPE NIBBLE BOWLS £7.95 each Good-looking enough for your shelfie but robust enough to use at dinner parties, these handpainted nibble bowls are inspired by traditional Japanese design. Find them in Nkuku, Totnes. ✱


4 JOSEPH JOSEPH RICE STEAMER £20 Have you got the perfect ricecooking technique? It is seriously failsafe? With this microwaveable rice cooker you get all the tools necessary to measure, wash, cook and serve flawless fluffy rice. Buy from John Lewis, Exeter. ✱


5 YUKUTORI WALLPAPER £86 a roll The name means ‘birds flying away in a group’, and this supercool wallpaper is inspired by Japanese hand drawings. You might need to go hungry for a few days to afford it, but the ‘wallpaper diet’ is totally worth it. ✱



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Russell Norman is bringing Italian small plates to Exeter. Here he explains why... Page 48


If you’re still rocking laminate, it’s time to give your kitchen an update. Find out how... Page 52


Hundreds of foodies are heading to Exeter for the annual food fest. Here’s when...  Page 56

Polpo: splicing TwentyThousand Leagues Under the Sea with potatoes (p48)





...that’s actually really cool

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he arrival of cool London operation Polpo this month is one of the biggest, and most talkedabout, launches we’ve had for a while in Exeter. And it’s not just us who’s excited; Russell Norman – also known as ‘The Restaurant Man’, thanks to his hit BBC2 TV show of the same name, in which he acts as an industry troubleshooter – seems pretty thrilled about it too. “We love the city, of course,” Russell says, “and really felt it has that perfect balance of culture, sophistication, beauty and energy. We also really like the location of Queen Street Dining – it’s an architecturally attractive pedestrian centre that reminds me a little of the small squares and courtyards of Venice. “For everyone at Polpo, it’s very important that we contribute to the culinary life of Exeter, rather than simply open our doors and hope for the best. And we have some exciting opening ideas, to make a bit of a splash.” Polpo is a ‘bacaro’, which is a word used to describe the sort of charming

back-street wine bars you’ll find in the alleyways and canalsides in Venice. It serves simple dishes of seasonal flavours that are there to share, the food going best with a glass of Prosecco, a spritz, or a bottle of young, northern Italian wine. Since the first urban, rustic and stripped back Polpo opened in Soho’s Beak Street in September 2009, six more have cropped up in London, one in Brighton, and most recently one in Bristol, which appeared at the end of 2016. Russell and his business partner, Richard Beatty, also own a spin-off, Polpetto, and Spuntino (which does for the New York diner what Polpo does for Venice), both in Soho. It felt almost inevitable that a food-driven city like Exeter would be their next target. The look of Polpo is quite distinctive, with reclaimed Art Deco hardwood flooring, Victorian glazed bricks and deep red leather banquettes, but the team are making a few additions for Exeter. “There’s a beautiful Carrara marble bar top, antique Venetian light shade and, for


the first time ever, a fully open kitchen, so you can see your food being prepared in front of you,” reveals Russell.


Part of Polpo’s appeal and success is down to the way that it somehow seems to retain its credibility, despite continual growth. It’s on its way to being an established national brand now, but it’s still run day-to-day by the original founders and a small team, without the financial leverage of venture capitalists. So, how difficult has it been to get across the message that Polpo isn’t ‘just another chain’, and that the food is cooked to order from fresh ingredients, unlike at many large restaurant groups? “When I’ve spoken to other operators, they’ve been astonished that we have head chefs in each of our restaurants,” Russell says. “People ask me why we don’t have a central kitchen, but I wouldn’t have a clue how to do that. The idea of having another building on a ring road

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Clockwise from left: Polpo interiors are stripped and rustic; fritto misto with squid, whitebait and prawns; grilled flank steak; the famous pizzetta

industrial estate somewhere, where we’d have to produce food and then transport it to all the different restaurants, is alien to me. Surely it would be more expensive than hiring good chefs who order real ingredients every day, and make food from those ingredients? “There are some businesses that write on their menus ‘all our food is made fresh every day’, and I think that’s horrible – it almost sounds like the lady’s protesting too much. We change the menu five times a year, and we are constantly trying and tasting new dishes. We have a roster of around 200 recipes, 40 of which are on the menu at any time. The other 160 are in a holding area waiting to land, so it’s quite an exciting process.”


Polpo occupies a unique position in the saturated Italian restaurant chain world, but Russell puts its success down to simply doing things slightly differently. “When you go to an Italian restaurant, you expect certain dishes served certain ways,” he says, “but in the seven years we’ve been open, we’ve never really had a signature pasta dish. You can’t walk into a Polpo and ask for spag Bol or choose from 17 types of pizza, but you might find a linguine vongole on the specials board. “It’s not an Italian restaurant in most people’s understanding of the term; it focuses on a very small region of North East Italy – Venice and the Veneto – and is inspired by the signature dishes of those backstreet restaurants I’ve been visiting for years.  “It also borrows from other regions in an appropriate way, but the menu has always been about having so many dishes that sound exciting and interesting and flavoursome that you want to order all of them. That’s why we’ve always done small plates – it encourages sharing and stealing from other plates, with people putting dishes in the middle of the table and creating their own feast, rather than conforming to the usual ‘starter, main, dessert’ environment. This breaks down those awkward social boundaries,

encourages people to interact and chat, increases the noise levels, and it makes the Polpo experience more like a party – and I like that. I’ve always enjoyed those restaurants that are as much about the atmosphere as they are about the food. I want people to enjoy it and to smile.” As Polpo has grown, Russell has found his time spread ever thinner, with writing books (there are cookbooks for Polpo and Spuntino, and a third on the way), magazine columns, and his TV show. Although he is still hands-on with every aspect of the fast-growing Polpo empire, he admits that he has had to delegate more as the business has expanded, which wasn’t easy at first. “It was difficult to let go, but it was impacting on my health the amount of hours I was spending in each restaurant. Because I’m obsessive over detail, there was a time when I thought the only person who could do it right was me – and then I realised that was the way to an early grave. If you refuse to let go and refuse to delegate and trust


those people you’ve hired to do things the way you want them done, then there will never be any progress, and they’ll be nervous and looking over their shoulder saying, ‘Oh god, he’s still here’. “When I first started to let go it was difficult, but after a time I realised things were going fine. It was like taking the stabilisers off your bike. I am less handson than I was, but for the right reasons. “I do occasionally jump behind the bar and make a drink, though, and it freaks the staff out. I’m 50 years old, and suddenly there’s this old man behind the bar. It just looks wrong. I realised a couple of years ago I can no longer pull off the vaguely 30/40-something look. There are too many lines and creases. Until a couple of years ago I would still pull on an apron and help to clear plates, but it just looks a bit weird now!”


The Polpo ball is rolling ever-faster at this point, but Russell says there was never any plan to expand so quickly. “We set out to open one restaurant, but it’s my business partner, Richard, who has been at the front of the charge to develop and grow our business, and I’m completely happy to go along with that. We will continue to open them until it becomes evident that something needs to change. Indeed, we’ll have an announcement soon about another new restaurant in the South West – and it won’t be a Polpo! Sadly, though, I can’t say any more at this stage.” It’s perhaps best, then, to watch this space for more… ✱ Polpo, 18 Higher Market Guildhall, Queen Street, Exeter EX4 3FB;


WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KITCHENS… Shaker-style is out; cool, clean lines and industrial chic is in! Get your favourite room looking tip-top with these tips from some Devon folk who know a thing or two about amazing spaces…



1 INDUSTRIAL CHIC What the expert says: The industrial look is a trend that’s becoming more and more popular, and will continue into 2017. It celebrates the idea of converted industrial spaces with a refined kitchen against a backdrop of exposed brick and concrete walls, weathered timber and exposed pipes. The use of copper and brass is big – our clients are looking to find alternatives to stainless steel. Kate Gray, Gray + Gray architects, Exeter Doing it on a budget: The look can be achieved at home by introducing industrial light fittings, or solely replacing the kitchen island. Copper accents can be achieved simply in an existing home by replacing handles and sanitary ware, says Kate.

Clockwise from left: System Six keep colours cool; exposed copper lighting is in; Loaf love neutral greys; cooking with wood is hot!



What the expert says: Over the decades we’ve seen vast swings in the traditional range cooker market. It’s gone back and forth from the fuel-hungry oil and gas-fired heat store cookers to more economical electric options. When Britain first experienced a massive fossil fuel price rise, wood-fired cooker sales went through the roof, but they slowed down as the fuel prices dropped again. The appetite for wood-burning stoves is still very strong and we often install into openplan kitchens, making it an area far more inviting for a family. Simon Chew, company director at Dean Forge, Buckfastleigh Doing it on a budget: If you’re lucky enough to have an indoor fireplace, you can always user this as an open cooker with just a few extra utensils. A cast-iron tripod and cooking rack means you can heat food directly over the coals. A hanging chain attached to a hook above the fire is good for cooking stews and one-pots in a cast-iron bowl.

What the expert says: Two of this year’s colour trends go hand-in-hand: whitewashed wood and ocean-inspired greenblue tones. With influence sailing over from the Nordic countries, backed by our ongoing love of the sea, this composition creates a beautifully calm, airy and relaxed ambience. Who doesn’t want to come home to that feeling after a long day at work? Helen Bartlett, System Six Kitchens, Marsh Barton Doing it on a budget: The quickest and easiest way to completely change the look of your kitchen is to change the doors. Okay, you’ll need to check that your cabinets and worktops still have plenty of life left in them, but if the answer is yes then it’s straight onto the fun part – choosing a style and colours! Make a note of the colour of your worktop (photos are even better), and get browsing. Lifestyle magazines and websites such as Pinterest, or apps like Instagram, are great tools for gathering ideas and inspiration, Helen says.


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Clockwise from left: amazing hob induction for those without a cooker hood; minimalisim is in; wood accents are winning


4 BRINGING BACK WOOD What the expert says: The kitchen furniture trends for 2017 include sophisticated styles that are more in touch with nature, with the warmth and natural beauty of oak leading the way. This lighter wood tone suits the new country-kitchen style, and will still look stunning in years to come. Subtle finishes are ideal for timeless appeal in a luxury, classic or contemporary scheme. The latest trends feature lighter neutrals, which complement solid wood and wood veneer perfectly. Doug Haswell, furniture manager, Caple, Bristol Doing it on a budget: In kitchen cabinetry, real wood finishes may be popular, but you can achieve this look for less with oakeffect veneers, which are cost-effective, as opposed to solid wood. Or a five-piece foil-wrapped cabinet door will look like solid oak, and this technique allows the grain of the door to lie in the same direction, says Doug.

5 UPDATE YOUR OVEN What the expert says: One of the biggest trends has been the development in cooking appliances. Steam ovens are a

great way to gently cook delicate foods like fish and vegetables, and it makes sure they retain their colours, aromas, tastes, textures and nutritional content. With combi steam ovens, you can pretty much steam all your favourite meals. It allows you to do amazing things, like get perfect Yorkshire puddings without preheating the oil. We’re now seeing lots and lots of people choose steam ovens over microwaves. Mike Richards, showroom manager, Bradburys Doing it on a budget: Not an easy way to do this, we say, but an oven is a big investment, so getting it right is important. Contact Mike for the best deal! Mike adds, the latest hobs with built-in extraction offer a practical and efficient solution where a conventional hood cannot be fitted. On some models the air can be filtered and recirculated, so there’s no need for ducting to an external wall.


What the expert says: The handleless and minimalist look is in, with simple but elegant lines. The designer kitchen is now more comfortable and stylish with more space – the appliances are built in, there are internal drawers and more pullout accessories. Karin Bisogno, Integral Designer Manager, Berloni Kitchens, Exeter Doing it on a budget: We say getting a no-frills kitchen is easier than you think. Firstly, do you need all those gadgets? If not, do away with them! Take off tiles and any fussy wall coverings and paint in a light, neutral colour, like soft grey or white. Choose one other shade for your kitchen and stick to a two-tone theme. Lighting should be integral and hidden away. Choose sleek, glossy materials for surfaces and floors.

Quick, add these to your contacts book Bradburys, Unit F2A Denbury Court, Matford Park, Exeter EX2 8NB; 01392 8259401; Caple, Fourth Way, Avonmouth, Bristol BS11 8DW; 0117 938 1900; Dean Forge, Dean Prior, Buckfastleigh TQ11 0LS; 01364 643574; Gray + Gray, 20 Southernhay Way, Exeter EX1 1PR; 01392 249664; System Six Kitchens, 4 Christow Road, Marsh Barton, Exeter EX2 8QP; 01392 285945;


Food hero: Caroline Quentin, actress and coeliac campaigner Home: Renovated barn, near Tiverton The look of her kitchen in three words: Colourful, cool, contemporary Caroline says, “I designed the kitchen myself, as a social space where I can cook and entertain at the same time, and where I can make the kids’ dinner while helping them with their homework.”

Food hero: Michael Caines Home: Barn-style new home, near Exeter His kitchen in three words: Contemporary, stylish, practical Michael says, “I got involved with the kitchen design right from the beginning. I wanted two spaces: a cooking area, and a bar. I wanted clean lines and everything built in.”

Food hero: Barbara King, managing director of The Shops at Dartington Home: Barn conversion, South Devon The look of her kitchen in three words: Calm, entertaining, ordered Barbara says, “When you spend your working days surrounded by lovely kitchenware, you’re not going to be able to resist buying!”

Food hero: Polly Hilton, cider maker Home: Converted church hall in Rewe The look of her kitchen in three words: Industrial, reclaimed, functional Polly says: “When I first walked in here and tried to imagine living in this dark, damp, horrible village hall, I couldn’t see it!”

Food hero: Harry Boglione, organic farmer Home: Farm house in Musbury The look of his kitchen in three words: Country, rustic, functional Harry says, “Every day all the workers stop for lunch together. It gives us a chance to talk about what’s going on at the farm.”

Food hero: Mary Ann McCaig, co-founder of Otter Brewery Home: Renovated dairy farm The look of her kitchen in three words: Functional, homely, chaotic Mary says, “I’ve always kept jugs; I’ve got hundreds stored away, too. And there are certain knives that I simply have to hang on to.”



Every issue we peek into the kitchen of a local food hero. Here’s a round-up of our favourites so far...




There’s music, meals, demos, dancing and – most importantly! – hundreds of tasters to snaffle at the 14th Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink BRACE YOURSELF, EXONIANS, for your city is about to be invaded by an army of chefs, producers, farmers, musicians, entertainers and food fanatics, and – having moved the date to the May bank holiday, running 28 April to 1 May – organisers are expecting stampedes bigger than ever before. The date may have moved, but the amazing location is still the same – Exeter Castle and adjacent Northernhay Gardens – where more than 100 artisan food and drink producers from the region will be setting up stalls and tempting you with their delicious wares. With food festivals popping up all over the country (Jamie Oliver, and even Tom Kerridge, now have their own), the game’s been upped, but Exeter has long been known for hosting the biggest kneesup around, at least when it comes to celebrating the South West’s top produce. This year is expected to be spectacular, with a whole host of entertainment running over the three days: live demos in the Cookery Theatre, including those from Michael Caines (more from him in a mo), Mark Dodson and Simon Hulstone; a ton of other hands-on workshops (sausagemaking, anyone?); plus, lots of brilliant activities for the little people. The legendary Festival After Dark parties will run on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights too, where you can grab yourself some hot food (not that you need warming up – the weather’s going to be balmy, we’re assured), a local beer, wine or cocktail, and bob along to the bands: The Locked Horns, Leigh Coleman Band, Bill Ding & The Skyscrapers, plus many, many more. Anyway, we could spend the rest of the mag bringing you the highlights of what’s set to be Devon’s biggest food


extravaganza ever. But there are plenty of people out there who know more, including co-founder (and all-round Devon hero) Michael Caines, so it’s over to him... Hi, Michael! So, you’re the man with the plan. Can you give us an idea of how much work you’ve been putting into the Festival this year? Planning for each year’s Festival starts immediately after the previous year’s Festival. There’s a wash-up meeting the day after, when the entire board and committee come together to discuss all of the various factors. We look at the numbers, and go through what worked and what didn’t. Then we start to plan how we might do things differently the following year. We work on the Festival plan constantly, and discuss our progress in committee meetings. One of the key things that came out of last year was that the inclement weather held us back from hitting the record numbers of Festivalgoers we received during the bank holiday when the royals got married. So we decided to move the Festival to a later date, over the three-day bank holiday, so that we’d get more trading days – plus three nights of Festival After Dark. We’ve optimised it! Where will we find you over the three days of the Festival, then? I’ll be running the chef demonstration area in Northernhay Gardens, popping into the VIP area, and generally running about! I’m looking forward to the Festival After Dark nights – we’ve some great acts lined up. What is it you enjoy the most about organising the Festival? We get a lot out of the whole experience, and love being able to give back to

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the local food community. We take pride in being able to put on an amazing event for both Devon people and visitors to enjoy, as they share our passion of regional food, tourism, and celebrating the produce of the South West. Ultimately, I’m a foodie – and this is the ultimate foodie celebration. I’ve always said the South West is one of the best larders in Europe. What have you changed for this year? Obviously, holding it over a bank holiday is the key change. We’re working more closely than ever with our existing food producers to make the event even better in other ways, though. And, as always, we have a good line-up of chefs for the Cookery Theatre. Tell us three personal highlights? Definitely the launch event, and the first Festival After Dark party, which takes place on Friday. And it’s always such a pleasure to open the Festival itself with my first demonstration. Seeing so many food

producers and foodies in the same place is great, and, for the first time, we’ll have Gloucester boy Tom Kerridge joining us on stage, too.

Is the sun going to shine? We’ve ordered the weather, and I’ve been doing my sun dance, so with a bit of luck it’ll be good!

What makes this food festival stand out? It’s not just a question of standing out, really, as we’re not competing against other events. It’s more about celebrating together, and – though we’re now just one of many food festivals that celebrate local food, farming and tourism – the fact that we’ve been going 14 years is testament to the quality of our event. It’s well organised, and enjoys the outstanding location of Northernhay Gardens and Exeter Castle. And the music is fantastic! It’s interesting to note that Tom Kerridge now has his own food and music festival, as does Jamie Oliver. But we’ve been going for over a decade now, and hope that our ongoing success is something that’s inspired others to do their own in a similar vein. We’re all about celebrating local talent, which includes the acts we have on stage.

Anything else you want to tell us about? We’re not-for-profit, and all the proceeds go back into the event. We’re always looking for new sponsors to get involved too, so we can ensure that the Festival will continue to be a success for many years to come. And we couldn’t do it without our sponsors – working with Exeter City Council, and the free support of our directors. Finally, there’re all the visitors – so, to all you Crumbs Devon readers, we hope to see you there! ✱ Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink runs Friday, 28 April to Monday, 1 May. For the latest festival information, and to book tickets, visit; alternatively, follow on Twitter @ExeterFoodFest

THE WONDERS IN WHITE Haven’t worked out which chefs to check out? Here are a few to try…

What one thing about your demo in the Festival Cookery Theatre will blow visitors away?


Tom Hine, Lympstone Manor, Exmouth “Teaching people how to cook restaurant-style food from the comfort of their own home. I’ll also be displaying a taste of what you can expect at Lympstone Manor. Finally, I’m looking forward to relaxing at the After Dark Parties with a brew.”

Matt Mason, Jack in the Green, Rockbeare “My demos are always relaxed, informative and offer an insight into goings on at our little roadside inn, the Jack in the Green! If you like the best seasonal produce cooked with passion and pride, then I’m your man!”

Dez Turland, Saunton Sands Hotel, Braunton “I’ll be demonstrating cooking techniques and methods using the Clifton at Home water bath, which now means home enthusiasts can cook like professionals. I’ll be showcasing the fantastic larder of produce that’s available on our doorstep here in the South West, too.”


Darrin Hosegrove, Ashburton Cookery School “I will be using the finest Dartmoor lamb and vegetables, plus different cooking methods, to maximise presentation and flavour. It will be the West Country on a plate. I can’t wait – there’s such a feelgood atmosphere. at the Festival!”

We’ve teamed up with the Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink to give away six pairs of tickets for the ultimate foodie weekend, including two pairs of tickets for the day festival and access to the After Dark Music Festival on the Saturday and the Sunday, and two pairs of tickets for the day festival on the Monday. Enter online at; the comp ends Monday 10 April at 10am

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Get a load of what our fave producers are going to be up to Ebb Tides, Sidmouth

Why should we visit your stand? “Discover the flavours, goodness and how amazingly versatile seaweeds are, plus try our superhealthy smoothie.”

Darts Farm, Topsham

Why shouldn’t we miss you? “We’ve named our teepee ‘Food is Fun’, and that’s exactly what we are trying to achieve, combining local artisan food producers with exciting workshops and activities that all the family can enjoy.”

Good Game, Topsham

Why should we visit your stand? “To see the only people who can sell you nitrate-free cured meats. And for our Naga Chilli Chorizo!”

Pebblebed, Topsham

What one thing on your stand is going to blow visitors away? “Our Pink Fizz, grown and produced just a few miles away. We are just one of many producers at the Festival, but after dark the fizz helps to put smiles on faces and brings out the dance moves!”


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GO PERFECTLY PINK FOR MOTHER’S DAY! Celebrate Mothering Sunday on 26 March with a trip to a boutique Devon hotel, and help raise funds for a charity close to the owner’s heart at the same time


he Jubilee Inn in West Anstey, near South Molton, is supporting Cancer Research UK by hosting special ‘Perfectly Pink’ Champagne teas for mothers on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 March. Claire Sellar-Elliott – co-owner of the luxury country inn, which offers gastropub and fine-dining food as well as B&B rooms – is both a mumof-four and cancer survivor herself, so the charity is close to her heart “Mums are the unsung heroes of the world,” she says, “without a pay cheque, or the numerous ‘thank yous’ they deserve, so at least once a year we should remember how lucky we are to have them.” After a divorce and disabling liver cancer diagnosis, Claire left a career as a partner in a London law firm to follow her dream of running a country house hotel on Exmoor, where she used to spend her childhood holidays riding.

“MUMS ARE THE UNSUNG HEROES OF THE WORLD” “With my four young children, and the incredible support of my family, we set about renovating and rebuilding The Jubilee Inn while I fought hepatocellular cancer (HCC),” she says. “I underwent countless operations, received a live donor liver transplant from my brother, and continued to live with and treat the recurring HCC in my lungs. My family has shown remarkable fortitude throughout, and my mum was a rock – this is why we’ve chosen to support this wonderful charity in this way.”

Claire Sellar-Elliott, co-owner of The Jubilee Inn, West Anstey


Claire invites you to bring your mum for a special Mothering Sunday or Saturday treat, while also raising funds for Cancer Research UK by donating £5. For every mum booked in to stay, they’ll donate a further £5. The Jubilee Inn is offering its ‘Perfectly Pink’ luxury Champagne tea on both days, 2.30-6pm. “Enjoy a selection of pink finger sandwiches, homemade pink scones, strawberry clotted cream, homemade pink cake, mini pink desserts with pot of tea, and a glass of Brut Rose Pierre Gobillard Premier Cru,” Claire says. It all costs £24.50 each, or £45 for two, but you will need to book in advance.

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The Jubliee Inn had been closed for three years when Claire and her family refurbished and relaunched it in 2015, with the help of executive chef, and co-owner, Sam Salway. “We’ve created a successful restaurant and boutique B&B with an excellent reputation for ambience, service and food,” Sam says. “We’re open all week, except Mondays, serving seasonal dishes with ingredients sourced nearby. We also have six beautiful and individual guest rooms. We always wanted to create a real home from home, with all the little extra luxuries!” All the bedrooms are different, but all have en suites and some have four-poster beds – and on the Mother’s Day weekend there’s a special way to enjoy them too. “We’ve put together a special one-night stay at the s,” Claire says. hotel for mums,” If you book your mum and a “If guest in for a one-night break, either the Friday or Saturday night of the Mothering Sunday weekend, it will cost just £180. or every additional And, for generation of mother in any family booking – for example, where there is a mother and grandmother booked in together – we will donate £5 per mum to Breast Cancer Research.” The Jubilee Inn, West Anstey, South Molton EX36 3PH; 01398 341401;


Afters Highlights ISN’T SEA LOVELY? Working our way through the latest catch at the new Rockfish Exmouth Page 62


The Barbican Kitchen plates are piled pleasingly high Page 64

It’s worth scrambling for the seaview pews at Rockfish’s newest opening Including…




all hand-dived in Devon

Af ters

( N E W R E S TA U R A N T S )


Do we really want new-age seafood restaurants to replace our good ol’ chippies? If they’re anything like Rockfish, we do, reckons Charlie Lyon


o we actually need upmarket places in which to eat fish and chips?“ asked a broadsheet journo recently, while talking about Rockfish.

I’m standing on a cracked pavement outside my local chippy (which I won’t name and shame); the window’s grimy, and a stale odour wafts out each time the door opens. Yes, I think to myself. Yes, we


bloomin’ well do. Aren’t we finally over the days of dark and greasy high street holes serving up frozen, trawled fish with rehydrated sauces and neon sides? Don’t we want more from our chippie now that we’ve learnt a thing or two about sustainability and heart disease? We’re scoffing half the number of portions we did in the ’70s, so if they’re going to survive, many a local fish and chip shop will have to reinvent itself. It’s lucky, then, that we have Rockfish, trailblazing the way for a new wave of fish restaurants. There are already four operating – in Brixham, Dartmouth, Plymouth and Torquay – and now a fifth has just opened on Pier Head in Exmouth. Yes, it’s not quite a fish and chip restaurant in the traditional sense, but it does serve up your classic favourites: cod

and chips and haddock and chips. (It’s just that here the cod is MSC-certified and the haddock line-caught.) On the menu are other staples, done well: cockles with malt vinegar, buttered garden peas, fried pickled onion rings, freshly made aoli – it’s all that you could want, but better. There’s a burger, but it’s jalapeño steak; the scampi is monkfish; the squid and scallops are caught locally. What’s more, you can get a decent glass of wine or ale with your meal. I order ‘Mitch’s Choice’ (Mitch Tonks being the restaurateur and chef behind this group, and Dartmouth’s Seahorse restaurant), a Bourgogne Blanc that’s sprightly and minerally and will cut through the grease of anything you order. The interiors are smashing: think upmarket beach shack with white tongue

and groove and aquamarine accents. The windows are huge, letting all of that coastal sunshine beam in. The best seats in the house are in the conservatorystyle decked area, which boasts a wall of windows where you can watch the tide roll past as you eat. The chips are limitless (although you’re served a modest portion to start with, to aid those with no will power), but it seemed well worth splashing out an extra £1.50 to get my tartare sauce with a Cornish seaweed twist. Today we’re here to try out the best offerings on the menu, not necessarily the favourites, and I kick off with mussels (£9.95) that are taken from beds you can actually see from the restaurant. They’re sizeable and sweet, their freshness ringing through the tangy marinière sauce.


Even better, they’re served with slices of fresh white bread (who can mop up that delicious winey juice with a stringy old French fry?). Scallops (£9.95) are even sweeter, roasted in the shell with a good dose of garlic. What’s more, they’re handdived from, again, just up the river. New in this Exmouth eatery is the chargrill, where Dover sole, scallops and squid can be barbecued in style. Today, some good and meaty slabs of monkfish have been landed (£17). There’s the option of crisp-frying, but I’m keen to test out the plancha, as fresh fish is perfect for the grilling treatment. Served with a side of parsley butter and lemon, and the chips and tartare, I’m a happy chappy. We’ve also ordered pollock, which is good and meaty. Our genial server had said it would be nice grilled, but you shouldn’t really go to Rockfish without trying their crisp-frying, and – when we spy piles of pollock being taken to nearby tables with the lightest smattering of crisp and crunchy batter – food envy kicks in. Still, we’ve got a salad too, which is good and juicy, with a light tarragon dressing. It rounds off a fine meal. As a nation we’re not over our love of fish and chips. But with Rockfish in our lives, we don’t need to be. ✱ Rockfish, Pier Head, Exmouth EX8 1DU; 01395 272100;

Af ters

( C O O L R E S TA U R A N T S )


The regeneration of Sutton Harbour and its environs are bringing new people to this old favourite, says Charlie Lyon


here’s a tough crowd in The Barbican Kitchen tonight, but the FOH heroes are nailing it. I’m in early at 6pm (they’ve just opened the doors for dinner service) with my usual barrage

of questions on provenance, pairings, and where in the restaurant has the best lighting to take photos of my food, but they’re taking it all in their stride. Tripping on my heels are a trio of American businessmen, eager to assimilate UK


dining habits as they go. They begin by deliberating over wines. Slowly, with the help of a junior but very composed waiter, they whittle down the choice to New World (turn to page 36 to see what local celeb chef John Burton Race would have to say about that), then down again to the Malbec. When it comes, however, they’re dismayed to find it has a screw top. They want a cork. The deliberation resumes, and I consciously tune out. I kick off with a Plymouth Gin and Fever Tree tonic (no one wants brands like Schwepps any more, it seems), which is a no-brainer seeing as this restaurant is actually housed in Plymouth Gin’s magnificent 15th century distillery. For those of you who’ve not been (and, if not, you’ve been taking your time – the restaurant’s been open for 11 years now),

picture a long, open space lined either side with banquette seating and simple wooden tables. The ceiling is boarded and beamed, and the thick stone walls painted a warm, natural hue. Obligatory oversized bulbs, bare so their filaments glow through, hang low on single wires. It’s cool and comfy, rather than try-hard. And that’s what I like so much about this area – the Barbican and around. The recent regeneration means that, these days, it really has everything most of us could wish for – the history, the waterfront living, the creative hubs and the good food

– but has yet to attract the seriously rich set to go with it. Everyone’s friendly and relaxed, with not a stereotypical hipster in sight. The menu’s the same: simple and understated. Tonight there’s a set menu – good value at £16.95. The slow-cooked ox-tongue with celeriac and beer-pickled onions to start, and the caramelised cauliflower risotto with mascarpone and toasted hazelnuts for mains, sound like winners – but I’m keen on a light starter, so jump to the a la carte. A bowl of chorizo (£3.95), sticky with blossom honey, helps settle the hunger pangs as I pick. In my opinion, salt-baking vegetables is totally worth the effort (unless I’m the one in the kitchen), so I plump for salt-baked heritage beets, which come with Vulscombe goats’ cheese that’s whipped to perfection. The plate is topped with pickled beetroot, a beetroot purée, and a drizzle of truffle honey, which stays with me long after my plate’s been cleared. A micro-thin linseed crisp is the perfect pal for the cheese. Torn between the seared calves’ liver, Creedy Carver duck breast (both served good and pink, my able server explains, before I have chance to provoke the chef by asking to have it well done –


as if I’d ever dream of it) and the glazed ox cheek, I leave it up to chef to decide. (They’re all priced at £18.95.) My dish comes, loaded with two huge pieces of ox cheek, proud on a bed of ‘bourguignon garnish’. Except it’s less of a garnish, more of a glut – great! Greedy me likes a sizeable portion, through it was wrong to order the extra Chantenay carrots – as earthy-good as they were. There are green beans tucked under the cheek too, and a huge dollop of smoked creamed potato. Indeed, the rich potatoes are just about the end of me. (Looking around, the restaurant patrons are about 80% male tonight. Is that why the portions are so generous?) Pudding is pleasingly girly, though. My clotted cream parfait (£7.50) is smooth and light, and the ultimate soother to the tart rhubarb served three-ways – poached, puréed, and as dehydrated snaps. At about 7.30pm, the restaurant starts to fill up. A couple next to me order bubbly. “Is it a special occasion?” my genial waitress asks, happily. “No,” comes the flat response. Her smile doesn’t waver, and I hope as I leave that the tips are big here, for a lot of my enjoyment of the night was down to FOH’s wonderful nature. ✱ THE BARBICAN KITCHEN, Plymouth Gin Distillery, 60 Southside Street, Plymouth PL1 2LQ; 01752 604448;

When she’s not milling and pressing, you will find Polly Hilton of Find & Foster Fine Ciders in one of these… BEST BREAKFAST? Venus Beach Café,


nestled between the unspoilt bay and backdrop of pine trees at Blackpool Sands in Devon, is a really nice spot. The ingredients are locally sourced, and the view is beautiful.   BEST BREW? It’s got to be Chimney Fire Coffee. They source beans from lesser-known origins, which makes things interesting, and they ensure everything is sourced ethically.   FAVOURITE GROCERY SHOP?


Now add this little lot to your contacts book Venus Beach Café, Blackpool Sands TQ6 0RG; Chimney Fire Coffee, Exe Valley Farm Shop, Nr Thorverton EX5 5LZ; Smith’s Wines, Exeter EX2 4TA; The Beer Engine, Newton St Cyrus EX5 5AX; The Angel Bar, Exeter EX4 3SR; Doctor Ink’s Curiosities, Exeter EX2 4AN; Gidleigh Park, Chagford TQ13 8HH; The New Horizon, Exeter EX4 6AW The Anchorstone Café, Dittisham TQ6 0EX; The Turf, Exminster EX6 8EE; The Lazy Toad, Brampford Speke EX5 5DP; Urban Burger, Exeter EX4 3SR; Curry Leaf, Exeter EX4 3QR; The Hour Glass, Exeter EX2 4AU; The Creperie, Exeter EX4 4RT (Weds to Sat)

Exe Valley Farm Shop is about as unpretentious as farm shops get. Everything is sourced as locally as possible, but no money is wasted on marketing. When the owner wanted cider vinegar, he asked me to make it – I’ve just delivered his first batch!   BEST WINE MERCHANT? A trip to Smith’s Wines on Magdalen Road is always an adventure. It’s the best place to discover new wine; the owner stocks natural wines and ciders made using the ‘Champagne method’.   TOP SUNDAY LUNCH? The Beer Engine is the perfect country pub for Sunday lunch. They brew their own ales, and you can request that the train stops right at their doorstep! The new landlords have done a great job.   QUICK PINT? Definitely The Angel on Queen Street in Exeter.   CHEEKY COCKTAIL? Doctor Ink’s Curiosities has incredible colonialstyle decor, and they’re genuinely passionate about provenance and sourcing local ingredients. Look out for my Champagne method cider on the spring/summer cocktail menu!   POSH NOSH?

You can’t really beat Gidleigh Park, and its view of the moor, for posh nosh.


FOOD ON THE GO? The New Horizon

Café makes the best deluxe falafel wraps in England (probably), and they’re always served by very lovely people. Their Turkish coffee is really good, too.   ALFRESCO FEASTING? A barbecue on the beach is the best alfresco feasting – ideally with freshly caught fish, but that doesn’t always work out!   HIDDEN GEM? The Anchorstone in Dittisham is my favourite hidden spot (and also my favourite restaurant for alfresco dining). It’s right on the edge of the River Dart, and serves local shell fish and freshly caught fish.   WITH FRIENDS?  The Turf in Exminster is probably my favourite place to go with friends, because getting there always involves a bike ride or a boat trip. Getting back in the dark can be quite funny, too!   COMFORT FOOD? It has to be The Beer Engine again; their fish pie is proper comfort food!   WITH THE FAMILY? I love walking with my husband to The Lazy Toad in Brampford Speke, along the river from our house. The food is good, and it’s dog friendly, so Suzie (my parents’ yellow Lab) can come too.    BEST ATMOSPHERE?

I like the atmosphere in the bar at The Hour Glass in Exeter. It’s always busy, and there’s an eclectic mix of pictures, plants and lighting.     TOP STREET FOOD?

The Creperie is a van that’s been serving the yummiest crepes for as long as I can remember. They’re cheap, and you can get all kinds of toppings. ✱

Crumbs Devon - Issue 14  
Crumbs Devon - Issue 14