Crumbs Devon - Issue 29

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A little slice of foodie heav

When you buy red cabbage, you have to buy mayo too


Yes, they’re calling it Cole’s Law


No.29 Winter 2019

True Norath te feeds

First-r table in Barns beyond and

Best d enjoyen by a re open fi

Because every day is Fryday (in our eyes!)

Warmse t ho es cockl


Green ey d e Meli sa s Hemsley talks eco-anxiety

7 smashing r f ro m the kitchens of top cooks

Beat the winter blues with ace cock tails f rom local pros


Ben's Wine and Tapas Orestone Manor Pink Moon



Chips ahoy!

What makes t he perfect f ish and ch ips? We ask t he country’s best chippy


We’ve new love for RED CABBAGE, winter 's most colourful veg

WHERE’S YOUR RED AT? Winter is a time of plenty in many ways. Like rain? It’s the golden season. Into big heating bills? Now’s your time. More likely, though (especially considering your current reading material), you’re into food. And when it comes to growing it, winter – especially the outside edges – is more a season of sparsity. As we move into the New Year, past the end of the UK’s growing season (marked by temperatures staying below 5°C and de-icing the car becoming a regular morning activity) the ‘hungry gap’ looms. (Sure, at your local grocery shop – especially in supermarkets – you may not notice a difference in terms of what’s available, but labels will show a change in country of origin.) Now is the time, then, to celebrate our hardy winter veg, like this most colourful of brassicas, red cabbage. And a celebration it deserves, with virtues and uses so plentiful. It makes a top sauerkraut, and is great in Elly Curshen’s colourful udon noodle stir-fry, which has become a staple at my gaff (we catch up with her this issue, following her Riverford event), and winter often sees me braising a batch to freeze in portions and smugly whip out as a ready-made side dish over the ensuing weeks (a practice that’s very much in the style of queen of leftovers, freezer champion and this issue’s Grilled interviewee, Melissa Hemsley). See you again in the spring!

Jessica Carter, Editor

Red cabbage makes sure our plates stay colourful throughout the winter















GREG INGHAM large version

MediaClash, Circus Mews House, Circus Mews, Bath BA1 2PW 01225 475800 © 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 wellmanaged source; printer is certified to ISO 14001 environmental management. This month we ate our way around various festive markets, kept warm with bowls of steaming noodles (we like it hot, in case you were wondering) and enjoyed tea and cake in top café The Curator to escape the rain lashing Totnes.

large version

08 HERO Red up 10 OPENINGS ETC The latest news from the local foodie scene

There are great feeds to be had over sea views at Orestone Manor

CHEF! 26 Kid meat tagine, by James Whetlor 29 Vegan katsu curry, by Sam Wormington 30 Almond and lemon cake, by Elly Curshen 33 Miso-cured pheasant, by Sam Rom ADDITIONAL RECIPES

9 Roast hake with red cabbage, by Mitch Tonks 23 Butternut soup, by Nigel Slater 56 Grilled mackerel with greens, by Melissa Hemsley



37 HOUSE-OLD A kitchen with original Medieval features

60 Ben’s Wine and Tapas 62 Pink Moon 64 Orestone Manor



46 NORTH GODS Top feeds to hunt down across North Devon 53 SLIM YOUR WASTE Melissa Hemsley talks using up leftovers and eco-cooking in our Grilled interview

66 LITTLE BLACK BOOK Joe Dixon shares his favourite foodie hotspots from across the county




Think again before slipping into hibernation mode this winter – there is just too much going on out there for you to hole up inside… 13 DEC EMBE R


Ben Cottam is a vegetarian and plantfocused chef based in Devon, and he’s going to be cooking up a feast at Exeter’s Sacred Grounds. Think two courses of fresh and imaginative plant-based food, all served up canteen-style with plenty of social vibes and good times in the cool caff. Tickets are £27.50 per person and include a glass of vino, too. 21 JA N UA RY


Get the insider experience at one of Devon’s most prestigious venues. Guests will go behind the scenes to check out the place where all the culinary magic happens and meet head chef Chris and his team, who’ll give a cooking demo before serving a three-course lunch with wine, followed by coffees and petits fours. Tickets are £85. 23 JA N UA RY


Private Victorian manor house Huntsham Court is opening its doors to the public for this special charity Burns Night celebration, in support of Hospiscare. Tuck into Scottishinspired canapés followed by the traditional haggis with neeps and tatties, enjoy the céilidh and listen to a reading of Robert Burns’ famous Address to a Haggis. Tickets £55. 26 JA N UA RY


The Beer Factory and Kitchen at Hanlons Brewery in Newton St Cyres is the place to get your burger on, come 26 January. For two hours,

you can eat and drink as much as you jolly well like, with an array of burgers, fries and sides on offer, as well as beer, cider, prosecco and softies to wash it all down with. Tickets are £35 per person. 1-28 FE B R UA RY


Venues across Exmoor will be getting in on the foodie celebrations for this year’s month-long food festival. As well as special events, you can expect lots of exclusive deals on food and drink from local businesses for the occasion. This North Devon patch is the place to eat in February – check out the website for more. 14 FE B RUA RY


For a special feast in the name of St Valentine, get down to River Cottage HQ. The evening starts around the log fire in a cosy yurt for cocktails and canapés, then moves into the barn restaurant for a two-course meal, to be revealed on the day, made from top-drawer seasonal ingredients. A special meal in a beautiful rural setting. Tickets £70. 29 FE B RUA RY


Gin fiends, listen up: super spirits from around Devon and Cornwall (along with some from further afield) will be gathering at Plymouth National Marine Aquarium for one night only, promising a unique tasting event. You’ll be able to sample a range of gins from the specialist bars and have the chance to get eco-advice from environmental specialists. Tickets £20.


Hero Ingredients


With its jolly colouring and endless health benefits, red cabbage really is the king of brassicas. Naturally, the lighter you cook it the better‌ 8 CRUMBSMAG.COM



ed cabbage is so glamorous and regal in his shiny red coat that many of us – cooking him just a couple of times a year as part of a traditional winter spread – tend to mutter to ourselves as we do so. And what we mutter is this: why don’t I eat this stuff more often? After all, red cabbage is delicious, easy to grow, long-lasting in the fridge (if the outer leaves go black and soggy, just peel ’em away to reveal glossy freshness beneath), and looks a delight on the plate. But perhaps red cabbage’s enduring qualities are part of his downfall. Like the Red King of Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, he’s happy to do nothing very much the entire winter (the Red King snores away under a tree for the whole book) in the sure knowledge he’ll still be fresh as a daisy when we get round to him. Perhaps that’s why, in no hurry, we buy a red cabbage each year – and then forget about him. More fool us!

So what should we be doing with it? Mostly thought of as a great accompaniment to a roast, red cabbage has other strings to its bow. It makes an excellent winter salad with nuts and Cheshire cheese, for one, and works in a stir fry too. There’s a mulled wine version that tastes like everyone’s favourite by-the-fireside tipple – perfect! – and then there’s Chinese braised red cabbage, which adds flavours like soy sauce and star anise. And though red cabbage goes brilliantly with everything from goose and venison to anything pig – even the humble bangers and mash – there are plenty of one-pot dishes it’s happy to star in, too. Perhaps our favourite midwinter classic, though, is the combo of braised red cabbage with smoky bacon and apple, a winner since Eliza Acton popularised the recipe in 1845. (Full disclosure here: she actually used ham.) Just heat some olive oil in a pan, chuck in the bacon and some fennel seeds, then add onion and cook until golden and sticky. Now introduce some sharp apple (Granny Smith or Cox work best), followed by the cabbage and some liquid. Stir together, and cook on a low heat for an hour. The result: a sticky-sweet cabbage dish you’ll want to eat straight from the pan. What liquid to use, though? Red wine vinegar and cider vinegar are most tempting – and we’ve even heard of Ribena being used! – but balsamic would be an interesting choice, adding a caramel-like quality. Others add cranberry sauce to help with the sweet side of things, and some bin the fennel in favour of cloves, nutmeg or cinnamon. Whatever you put in there, though – and there must be some vinegar, or the red colour will run, leaving an unappetising blue mush – the end result should be an entertaining mix of the sweet and the sour. Alternatively, red cabbage can be boiled or pickled, the latter stretching out the cabbageeating season and allowing you to add aromatics like mustard seeds, chilli and ginger. Red cabbage is a variety of brassica, fairly obviously, variously described as purple, red or blue, which grows differently depending on the pH value of the soil it’s living in. It goes red in acidic soils, purple in neutral soils, and a sort of yellow-green in alkaline ones. Harvested at the end of the year, it’s been part of the northern European diet since forever. Native to the Mediterranean, it was first popularised by Cato the Younger – a Roman statesman who lived just before Christ – who some credit with inventing coleslaw. A hundred years later, Pliny the Elder focused on its medicinal qualities. With these two backing it, the Romans quickly spread red cabbage across Europe. Picking a red cabbage is easy – you want one that’s bright, crisp and heavy, without puffy leaves or signs that the outer layer has already been removed – and prep’s a doddle too. Just strip off the outer leaves, wash, then slice into quarters, taking out the hard central core of each – though these are lovely to eat raw. Then chop or shred. Since it’s winter and everyone’s feeling chilly and skint – not to mention flu-hammered – it’s worth taking a moment to think on the further benefits of red cabbage. For one, it’s thrifty. A head will hardly break the bank, and goes a long way. But even more striking are the health benefits. Red cabbage heaves with vitamins A, C and K, and boasts plenty of minerals and antioxidants too, so eating it raw – or juicing it – provides a fantastic boost to the immune system. It combats inflammation and arthritis, is good for the bones, battles degenerative disorders (such as Alzheimer’s), promotes a healthy gut and even ranks high amongst the cancer-fighters. Though all cabbage is good for you, red is best – it has more vitamin C than oranges, even. Still not sold? Then keep in mind that the Danes swear by it – and with all things Scandi still in the ascendence it seems, it’s hard to envisage this king of the brassicas falling out of favour again any time soon.


Mitch Tonks has cooked up a treat with this colourful brassica “Red cabbage is pretty versatile,” says Mitch. “I love it in ’slaws, as it holds a nice crunch and has a sweet flavour. More traditionally, it’s braised with spices to accompany roast meats, while pickled it’s a perfect foil for smoked fish and cheese. “In this recipe I’ve braised it in red wine that cooks down to a sticky juice and is finished with sweet balsamic vinegar – make sure it’s a goodquality one to make this dish work. “I love the combination of sweet and sour with fish. Feel free to change the fish around; it would work with cod, gurnard and almost any good fillet.”

ROASTED HAKE WITH RED CABBAGE COOKED IN WINE SERVES 2 ¼ red cabbage 1 red onion olive oil 150ml Barbera or similar red wine 150ml water rosemary sprig (or savory) 1 tbsp sultanas, soaked in warm water 1 tbsp sugar 2 x 180g hake fillets 2 tbsp very good balsamic vinegar 1 Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. 2 Finely shred the cabbage and the red onion. Add a splash of olive oil to a pan and cook slowly over a medium heat until softened. 3 Add the wine, water, rosemary, sultanas and sugar, cover and cook until the cabbage is soft and the juices syrupy. 4 Season the hake and cook, skin side up, in a pan in the hot oven for about 8 minutes. 5 Finish the cabbage by mixing in the balsamic vinegar, then spoon onto the plates, sit the fish on top and peel off the skin so you have the white juicy flesh on show, contrasting with the cabbage. Mitch Tonks has Rockfish restaurants in Devon and Dorset and the Seahorse in Dartmouth; @therockfishuk

Openings etc ...and this little piggie went for afternoon tea

Way more than a watering hole...



The Bull Inn in Totnes has had one heck of a makeover. Now in the hands of Geetie SinghWatson – an organic-championing publican of 23 years and responsible for the well-known Duke of Cambridge in London – the boozer with rooms has been totally reimagined, and not just in terms of looks. Now a conscientiously run inn with fierce sustainability credentials, the pub’s culinary focus is on organic, hyper-seasonal food, with ingredients coming from local farmers and artisans. Great ales and wines are at the bar (yes, they’re organic too), but you can forget pre-packaged snacks and bottled water – Geetie intends for her newest pub to uphold the highest ethical standards. The decor, too, has been put together with these principles in mind, with plenty of recycled and repurposed furnishings and fixings. The Bull aims to be a fun, sociable community pub with a great atmosphere and top-drawer food and drink offering. We’re all kinds of keen to swing by.


Good news, Exeter coffee lovers: local micro-roaster Crankhouse Coffee is opening a café. The business was started five years ago by local Dave Stanton, who was inspired by the tip-top bean scene in Australia. While he continues to look after the roasting, coffee pro Tony Isaacs will be heading up the new hangout, along with baker Rosie Lamb. The intention is to create a chilled out, welcoming venue, serving speciality, ethically sourced coffee and freshly baked cakes with a few savoury snacks, too. There’s also the opportunity to get a bit more insight into the coffee roasting process, as it’ll all happen onsite at the new Fore Street caff. Expect this new kid on the Exeter block to open in January.



Afternoon tea just got some serious game. The Pig and Pallet in Topsham recently launched its own take on the British culinary custom, beefing up (literally) the afternoon offering and serving it with a beer flight. Instead of the usual finger sarnie and patisserie affair, this version sees the trad three-tiered stand (these ones crafted from enamel plates though, of course) packed with cheese scones with bacon and chorizo jams up top, Devon ruby steak, wild venison and pulled pork sliders in the middle, and fries, pickles and ’slaw below. The Pig and Pallet, based in Topsham, is known for its great-quality, high-welfare meat, with the team butchering, smoking and curing it all themselves. So roll up your sleeves, because afternoons are about to get messy.


This new coastal gaff is about more than just the fish


A new restaurant has launched in Brixham, inside the historic Old Coaching Inn on Fore Street. Behind the new venture is chef David Brown, who’s been working in kitchens since he was 15 and has cooked all over the UK. Intended as a relaxed joint with echoes of fine dining style, Restaurant 1688 is about quality food and service but has no time for stuffiness. Think refined, not fussy. There are a handful of dishes for each course on the concise menu, with starters ranging from Brixham crab tart to beetroot mousse, and mains including the likes of braised beef cheek with mustard and onions, and torched mackerel with clams and cucumber. Expect the chefs to be making the most out of their fresh bounty of seafood, but also meat and game from across the Devon countryside.


We’re going to need more crackers...

Long-established Devon cheesemaker Quickes has become a partner of The Academy of Cheese and is now offering certified courses on its working farm. The well-known producer got its classroom activities underway in September and will continue to offer regular dates for the Level 1: Associate One-Day Course, which sees students broaden their knowledge in areas including cheesemaking, provenance and terminology. This professionally recognised qualification is taught by cheese pro Sam Wilkin and is open to everyone, no previous cheese experience required. This is something of a homecoming for The Academy of Cheese, as Mary Quicke MBE was a key player in its founding. The next date is planned for Tuesday, 25 February.

NEW KID ON THE BLOCK Look, it’s Lyme Bay Winery’s new head winemaker, Michael Dollan

So Michael, how long have you been in the wine industry? Since the early 2000s, when I started out working as a sommelier before doing a winemaking and viticulture diploma back in 2006. And where were you before you joined Lyme Bay? I was in France, making wine for a very large cooperative, and was travelling back to New Zealand regularly to work on harvests and vintages there. Worked with any wineries we might know? Yes – you may well have heard of Oyster Bay and Cloudy Bay from New Zealand, and Lafite and Chapoutier in France. What was it about Lyme Bay that appealed to you, then? The English wine scene is genuinely one of the most interesting and exciting in the world right now, and Lyme Bay is right up there with the best in terms of quality and recognition – so being a part of that was a no-brainer. Plus we do many other drinks besides, and I couldn’t resist trying my hand at making mead, cider and gin! And what do you make of its existing range of wines? In particular, the Bacchus wines are great – an expression of the grape grown in this setting, not an attempt to replicate Bacchus wines from elsewhere. Perhaps the standout is the Pinot Noir – making an internationally recognised red wine in this country is no mean feat. To take that on, and even improve on that, is my ambition.


What challenges does the English wine scene face? It is an issue that the volumes produced are very small compared to other major producing countries and regions. And, given there are relatively few growing areas, it can mean very localised weather can have a big impact. How will Lyme Bay’s wines evolve now you’re at the helm? I want us to deliver the flavours from varietals and blends that are the best expression possible for a wine made from English grapes, so that people familiar with a crisp Marlborough white increasingly come to understand how one of our wines will be different, though just as elegant and crisp, if not more so. I’m also interested to see how we might develop the Pinots – the potential is really exciting. How was this year’s harvest? With an indifferent (and sometimes wet) summer this year we are seeing smaller grapes, and that concentrates flavours which could be very good news. What wines from the range are you particularly enjoying this winter? Colder temperatures and hearty, warmer foods probably mean Pinot Noir – a wine that has the character you expect from that grape, though it’s very well balanced. The Pinot Rosé is also a very great choice, with its complexity, body and structure.


In T he Larder 1

2 3

4 5 Coffee, meat and dairy – three things you want to be of the best quality, in terms of taste and ethics. You know, kind of like these… 1 Godminster Black Truffle Vintage Cheddar, £7.50/200g New to this Somerset cheesemaker’s organic range is this number, pimped up with real black truffle. (A little birdie tells us it’s already been awarded Gold at the International Cheese and Dairy Awards.) Creamy and rich with black flecks of truffle and a bold hit of flavour, this sustainably made Cheddar is a more than decadent addition to the cheeseboard. Buy it from Darts Farm Shop and online. 2 Capreolus Fine Foods Guanciale, £4.80/100g Guanciale is an Italian cured meat, made from the cheek of the pig. This Dorset producer is giving Continental varieties

a run for their money, though, with its West Country take on the traditional product. Meltingly tender, the translucent strips of meat have sweetness as well as depth, and the fat renders down beautifully when cooked. We’ve been getting it involved in everything from spag bol to leek tarts. Buy it online. 3 Jimmy’s Ice Coffee Flat White, £1.85/250ml The flat white is the skinny jeans of the coffee world – it’s never going to go out of fashion. South West producer Jimmy’s Iced Coffee, it seems, is as much of an advocate for the coffee shop staple as the rest of us, having just launched its own version – in a can. The Extra Shot Iced Flat White, with a

higher coffee-to-milk ratio than Jimmy’s other drinks, is made with ethically sourced Arabica beans. For the best taste, chug straight from the fridge. Find it in Langsmaids News, Exeter. 4 Pipers Farm Diced Mutton, £4.45/250g Mutton is pretty underloved these days, having once been the UK’s sheep meat of choice. It’s from animals that are two years or older, and so has a slightly more rich, developed flavour than lamb. Pipers Farm recently released a new range of mutton that’s totally grassfed and reared using sound, sustainable methods. Slow cook it in stews, tagines and curries to get that fall-apart texture and allow the fat to


render down, adding flavour. Buy it online. 5 Blue Goose Eco Coffee Capsules, £18/40 capsules Devon’s Blue Goose makes coffee that’s as close as we’ve found to café-quality bevs from a pod – and a compostable one at that. Pop it in your Nespresso machine and you’ll get a rich and flavourful cup o’ joe. There are four varieties, including a decaf option; our pick of the bunch is the mediumrich roast Peruvian pods that contain coffee produced from smallholder farms and that deliver a smooth, fruity flavour. And, when the pods are spent, just chuck them in your compost bin. Buy online.




Grown-up chocolates that you don’t have to be a connoisseur to enjoy

WHAT: Speciality chocolate WHERE: 22 Gandy Street, Exeter EX4 3LS WHEN: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm; Sat 9.30am-5:30pm; Sun 11am-5pm


t’s really very understandable, the way Charlotte Allison ended up working at this Exeter chocolate shop. After wandering down the skinny cobbled street it sits on (the very road that inspired JK Rowling’s Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter books, she tells us) and smelling the chocolate, she fell into a cocoa-infused rabbit hole and, three years later, is still yet to emerge.


Chococo, founded in 2002, makes allnatural, origin-focused chocolate. No palm oil, no sugar overload, just the natural taste of top-notch cocoa, sourced directly from suppliers all over the world and made into chocolate in Dorset. Despite its quality, this shop is far from pretentious. The colourful space is buzzing with visitors when we swing by (it’s a café too, you see, serving pretty belting hot chocs, amongst other things) and displaying all kinds of novelty chocolates in a huge range of styles. Fresh chocolate is a speciality here. Made with cream ganache, it has a shelf life of about two weeks (but if you manage to make them last that long there are bigger issues to talk about). Quite ironic, really, that it’s scoffed so quickly, seeing as it’s anything but speedy to make. “The chocolate takes so long to produce,” says Charlotte. “There’s no machinery for harvesting – it’s all done by hand. Then it’s a two-week process to dry out the beans. And everything is decorated by hand once the chocolate is made, too.” Developing the flavours is a collaborative process, and it’s all kept as seasonal and local as possible. We try an oak-smoked caramel number – delicious, by the way – and also gobble a few Gingerbread Caramels, made with treacle, allspice, ginger, clove and cinnamon, which have great winter flavours and a warming spice kick. Because of the focus on origin, you can taste the difference between the cocoa of different regions – Ugandan cocoa has smoky qualities, while the stuff from Tanzania is a little fruitier. There are also plenty of vegan varieties on the go, which are a far cry from a lot of the dark, dairy-free varieties you usually come across. For instance, we taste a bar made with Malagasy cashews, which give a creamy texture that mimics that of milk chocolate. “I guess I am a bit of a chocolate snob now,” Charlotte jokes. “More commercial chocolate tastes too sweet to me.” This kind of single-origin, fresh chocolate isn’t the form that most people are best acquainted with, though. “It’s my job to help train people’s palates,” she continues. “We offer such a different experience to those big, well-known brands. The taste, the texture – it’s like a totally different thing.”

y l l o J acks J Waterfront bar bistro

Fresh Locally Sourced Food

Situated on the Beautiful Mayflower Marina Good Food - Served Daily - 9am - 9pm

Tel: 01752 500008 • Mayflower Marina, Richmond Walk, Plymouth, Devon PL1 4LS


T rio


These cocktails by some of Devon’s finest thirst-quenching outfits will see you through the coldest months nicely TWELFTH NIGHT PUNCH DOCTOR INKS CURIOSITIES, EXETER SERVES 10

For the wassail syrup: 5 cloves 1 whole nutmeg, grated 1 cinnamon stick 20g ginger 500ml water 700g white sugar 300g light brown sugar 50cl Elephant Gin 100ml lemon juice 50cl pressed Devon apple juice 3x330cl bottles Powderkeg Cut Loose pilsner 100ml wassail syrup


To make the syrup, add all the ingredients except the sugars to a pan and boil for 10 minutes. Strain, add the sugars and bottle. For the punch, add all the ingredients to a large pan and heat gently. Ladle into warm brandy glasses to serve.



70ml Hattiers Premium Reserve Rum 500ml Hunt’s Cider 100g demerara sugar 1 apple, finely sliced 2 allspice berries dash vanilla essence 3 drops Angostura Bitters Combine all of the ingredients and mix well in a large saucepan. Warm gently over a medium heat, stirring occasionally and being careful not to boil. Strain, pour into cups and serve hot.



35ml Salcombe Gin Rosé Sainte Marie 15ml ruby port 10ml lemon juice Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic water lemon peel, to garnish Fill a large wine glass with ice and add the gin, port and lemon juice. Top up with tonic water, stir gently and garnish with a twist of lemon peel on the side of the glass.


Ask T he Exper t

WHAT THE CHIP SHOP OWNERS KNOW Having held the The National Fish and Chip Awards’ crown for best chippy in the country for the last year, Krispies in Exmouth knows its onions. We mean spuds. So, how popular are fish suppers these days, what makes a great one, and what does the future of the great British chippy look like? We get the low down from co-founder Tim Barnes



Kelly and Tim have over two decade’s worth of experience behind the fryers


Right then, Tim – let’s start with your deep-fried credentials. What’s your background in the industry? I went to catering college in Exeter and then got a job managing a fish and chip shop. It didn’t take me long to realise that I wanted to run my own shop, so my then-girlfriend (now wife) Kelly and I set up a shop in Dawlish. Two years later we bought Krispies and we’ve never looked back. We’ve been here so long now we have customers who used to come in as kids who now bring their kids in. Overall, I have been frying fish and chips for over 23 years – and I still love it! Tell us everything you know about the beginnings of our national dish. It is thought that, like a many great partnerships, fish and chips started life apart. Fried fish is believed to have been bought over by Jewish immigrants in the 17th century, but who invented the chip is disputed, with both France and Belgium claiming the invention. It is thought the first fish and chip shops opened in the 1860s, selling affordable, hot food to workers on the way home from their long shifts in the factories. This is where the habit of wrapping fish and chips in newspaper came from, as it was a cheap way of keeping the food hot until they got home. Got to love a culinary history lesson. So, more than 150 years later, how is the market faring? It’s extremely buoyant. Every year we sell more portions of fish and chips than the year before, and this is a trend that has been going on for all of our 20 years in the business. We sell approximately 135,000 portions per year, and there are around 10,500 fish and chip shops in the UK.

This is the kind of kitchen you need to really ace your fish and chip game, says Tim

constantly monitored for over 100 years, meaning that it escaped the overfishing that devastated the North Sea in the 1970s and has, therefore, a much healthier marine environment, which governments and fishermen alike are keen to maintain. We often see the MCS certification at our local chip shops – what does it tell us, and how is it judged? The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is a global organisation which safeguards fish supplies for our future by recognizing

Let’s talk fish. What’s the most popular for battering and eating with chips? The north of the UK prefers haddock and the south prefers cod. While we have additions like crispy squid on our menu, the traditional battered fish and chips still represent over 85 per cent of our total sales, and most of that is cod. And how do you make sure you’re sourcing yours sustainably? We buy all our cod and haddock from trawlers that fish the Barent Sea. Here, strict quotas are allocated by scientists who constantly assess marine life, increasing and lowering the quotas regularly to ensure that the fishing remains sustainable. In fact, the Barent Sea has had fish stocks

We’ve got that Fry-day feeling...


and rewarding sustainable fishing practices, wherever in the world they might be, by awarding them MSC Certification (this can be seen in the form of a blue tick logo). All fish sold with the MSC logo must have been caught by a certified trawler, sold by a certified market, distributed by a certified wholesaler and sold by a certified retailer. What under-loved seafood should we try if we fancy a change from the usual? Pollock used to be so unloved it was thrown back by fishermen, and yet it is a fabulous


fish and easily comparable in taste with cod and haddock. We want to nail our batter – what tips do you have for getting the crispiest, tastiest coating on our fish? First, lightly dust a piece of sustainable fish with flour – this is so the batter sticks. Then, working with ice-cold water, mix your batter to a single cream consistency and fry in oil at 180C for the crispiest crunch. Always allow the fish to drain off any excess oil before serving.

we do source potatoes from other counties – including Devon – as the sugar and starch content changes throughout the year. At home, though, we’d recommend a good Maris Piper – preferably muddy ones from your farm shop, for the best flavour. Ensure they are all cut to the same size, so they fry evenly. The ideal temperature is 175C for the perfect crispy chip.

Will that get us Krispies-level quality? Well, it’s really all about the equipment with frying fish, so it’s difficult to achieve the same quality of fry in a domestic kitchen. This, we think, is one of the reasons fish and chips has remained so popular – because you can’t really cook it at home the same.

There’s always talk about different oils and why they’re potentially bad for us – what kind of oil do you use? A high oleic sunflower oil [meaning high in good, monounsaturated fats] because this gives a great taste, but with only 20 per cent of the saturated fats compared to other oils. Over the years we have tried different oils, but we believe this is one of the healthiest, and it is important we deliver the nation’s favourite take away as healthily as possible.

And our chips: crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, please. Is it all in the potato variety? Getting the right potatoes is a real science. Every single delivery of potatoes into Krispies is checked and tested to make sure they are the best quality and have the right pH balance to fry correctly. Most of our potatoes come from Cambridgeshire, but

We’d ask you what you think the future holds for the great British chippy – but you’ve already started to create it, haven’t you? Well, we’ve just opened our new Krispies Click and Collect and Delivery premises on Pines Road in Exmouth. This serves up an identical offering to our award-winning menu, but solely caters to pre-orders placed 21 CRUMBSMAG.COM

through our dedicated app. This will cut back on waiting time for customers so they will be able to grab and go immediately. It’s the first chip shop of its kind in the UK, as far as we’re aware.


Ki tchen Library We don’t know about you, but our winter cravings are getting out of control. Happily, this month’s new batch of recipe books should satisfy all manner of comfort food hankerings


Flora Shedden (Hardie Grant, £22) The name here doesn’t refer to the Irish Aran Islands or the Scottish Isle of Arran, but the Gaelic word for bread; it’s what Flora Sheddon – memorable Great British Bake Off finalist from the 2015 season – has called her café and bakery in Dunkeld, a village just north of Perth in the Scottish highlands. The book is as charming as she is, mixing personal stories with tips and recipes, and combining ready warmth with cool, Scandi-style photography. It’s divided into loose chapters based on time of day (‘The Wee Hours’, for instance, when they’re up and about making brioche and croissants) and daily jobs (‘Pantry’ is all about restocking the shelves with chutney, frangipani and pickles). This is a book to make you feel good about people, and get you making a few sweet treats too: we’re going to start with the rhubarb pistachio danishes, then move onto blood orange meringue pies and ‘Anja’s appeltaart’, an intriguing Scottish take on a Dutch classic. MATT BIELBY


Christine Muhlke and others (Phaidon, £35) This handsome beast of a book is as much food history lesson as it is recipe compilation, comprising over 200 important dishes from almost as many chefs, and spanning over 30 countries and hundreds of years, starting with gelato – popularised by one Procopio Cutò at his Le Procope café in Paris in 1686 – and

finishing in 2019 with the epic whole turbot grilled by Tomas Parry at Basque-influenced East London restaurant Brat. Along the way we meet Jim Delligatti (who invented the Big Mac), Ottolenghi, Blumenthal, Chang, Henderson, Koffmann, Bourdin and dozens more. The selection is made by international food critics, one of whom – Christine Muhlke – writes pithy, informative text on each dish, while they’re all beautifully illustrated in watercolour. At the back are recipes for everything – in best-guess approximation form where official versions don’t exist. This is a gorgeous coffee table book and a challenging recipe collection – not to mention an amazing piece of cultural history. MATT BIELBY

THE BOOK OF ST JOHN Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver (Ebury Press, £30)

To coincide with the 25th anniversary of the famous London restaurant St John, its founders have released this rather special tome, with 120 recipes populating its goldedged pages. Champion and parent of the nose-to-tail concept, Henderson pays homage to satisfying, bravado-free food, and the multi-layered alchemy of great entertaining. The book references the evolution of the restaurant and shares recipes for its distinctive style of dishes, as well as advice on how to treat lesser-used ingredients such as heart, brain and trotter (the latter is paired with clams in a particularly enticing-looking dish). Of course, it’s not all about offal; the braised lamb with peas, crème fraîche and mint,


crispy duck leg with sour cabbage and prunes, and golden rarebit prove that. Staples like sauces and stocks are given attention too, as are puds, with many recipes accompanied by gorgeous photography of dishes set out on the restaurant’s white paper tablecloths. This may not be a cookbook you’ll use every day, but with its boundary-pushing British cuisine, relaxed and jolly tone and filling, comforting food to share, it’s certainly one to treasure. JESSICA CARTER


Vicky Bennison (Hardie Grant, £20) Vicky Bennison runs a brilliant hit YouTube channel called Pasta Grannies, and in this spin-off book – subtitled The Secrets of Italy’s Best Home Cooks – she meets oodles of Italian nonne (white of hair, twinkling of eye) and gets them to share the traditional fresh pasta dishes their families have been cooking for generations. We learn all about the most famous pastas, listed region-by-region, and explore the kitchens of 75 or so grandmothers, with each recipe credited to a particular nonna: think Marica’s strapponi with porcini mushrooms, Benedetto’s pappardelle with wild boar ragù or Lucia’s raschiatelli with salami and horseradish. Perhaps the most blood-stirring is the ‘maritati’ pasta, which means ‘married’ and combines tube-like minchiareddi pasta with round orecchiette, which polite society describes as looking like small ears, but which the nonne clearly mean to represent something more distinctly… female. Saucy! MATT BIELBY

Book of t he Mont h

t r y t h is r e c ip e !


GREENFEAST: AUTUMN, WINTER Nigel Slater (4th Estate, £22)

Nigel Slater’s writing is irresistible at any time of year, but with temperatures outside having plummeted and winter appetites raging, his new recipe collection – dedicated to the coldest months and heartiest food – is especially evocative. This is a small but chunky, simply designed book – the follow up to Greenfeast: Spring, Summer, released earlier this year – and will have you feeling nourished just a handful of pages into the heartwarming prose. Dishes – of which there are more than 100 – are meat-free and varied, pulled together by a common thread of simplicity (most ingredients lists stay in single figures), comfort and imagination. Roasted cauli gets doused in a creamy peppercorn, bay and clove-infused sauce; Brussels sprouts are baked with smoked mozzarella, dill and a crumb topping; and mushrooms and ginger bathe in a steaming bowl of stock, marbled with sour cream. (Vegetable stock is a staple ingredient in the book, and Slater shares his recipe for a dark, rich version right at the start.) Even the most devoted fans of summer won’t be able to read this without it stirring in them some affection for the colder weather. JESSICA CARTER


SERVES 4 1kg butternut squash or pumpkin 1 ltr vegetable stock 3 or 4 sprigs rosemary 3 tbsp sesame seeds 3 tbsp olive oil 3 tbsp chestnuts, canned or vacuum-packed 4 tbsp tahini 1 Peel and halve the butternut squash, remove the seeds and cut into large chunks, then put into a large saucepan with the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and simmer for 10 minutes until soft enough to crush. 2 Ladle the squash and its stock into a blender, process in batches until smooth and return to the pan. Remove the leaves from the rosemary and finely chop. You need enough to fill a tablespoon. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry, shallow pan over a moderate heat until golden, then add the olive oil and rosemary. Crumble the chestnuts into the pan and cook for a minute or so until all is warm and deeply fragrant.


3 Bring the soup almost to the boil, checking the seasoning as you go, then ladle into soup bowls. Speckle the soup with a tablespoon of tahini in each bowl, then scatter over some of the chestnut and sesame seed seasoning. TIPS Some people don’t peel butternut squash before using it in a soup. Much depends on the thickness of the skin and the age of the squash. If the skin is thin, then it is fine not to peel it. If you are using a pumpkin, remove the skin. It is important to process the soup in batches rather than all at once, when it is likely to overflow. A stick blender works a treat. Use mushrooms instead of the chestnuts. I prefer small brown buttons, sliced in halves or quarters and cooked for a minute or two with the sesame oil and rosemary. A few drops of sesame oil, trickled into the soup as you serve, are worth a thought. I like to eat this soup with thick pieces of toasted sourdough bread, spread with cream cheese.

Time to share... We’re Donna and Paul Berry, a husband and wife team, who have run pubs in Bampton for more than 12 years. The inspiration for Spelt came from our love of Barcelona, which we’ve been visiting for a number of years now. We love the Spanish idea of sharing food. However, Spelt is not a tapas bar but it is something similar, being more about the flavour of the food than fine dining. We serve a collection of dishes that have been developed for sharing, so no starters as such and no mains either, so if two people are going to eat, possibly they’d have four or five plates of food. It’s an exciting time for us but we will not be taking our eyes off the ball at the pub. We have a deep-rooted passion for The Swan, and it is just as important to us today, as it was more than eight years ago when we took it on.

To book a table, please call 01398 331044 Address: 42, Brook Street, Bampton, Devon, EX16 9LY f   Email:


Food opening hours: Monday – closed

Tuesday – 9.30am – 3pm

Thursday – 9.30am – 3pm & 5.30pm – 9pm Saturday – 9.30am – 3pm & 5.30pm – 9.30pm

Wednesday – 9.30am – 3pm Friday – 9.30am – 3pm & 5.30pm – 9.30pm Sunday – closed



They may be widely talked about as nuts, but almonds are actually seeds, don’t you know


26 THE GOAT BOOK Kid meat tagine from the bible of goat cookery


Almond and jam cake: simple to make, effective with tea


Up your game game, with misocured pheasant 25


C H E F !

Recipe from Goat by James Whetlor (Quadrille, £20); photography Mike Lusmore

KID SHANK, APRICOT AND PISTACHIO TAGINE SERVES 4 4 kid shanks 2 tomatoes, roughly chopped 2 onions, finely chopped 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped 60g butter, melted 1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground 2 tsp ras al hanout spice blend ½ tsp ground turmeric 400ml stock (or water) 10 saffron strands, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes small bunch coriander, leaves chopped, stalks reserved 150g dried apricots, roughly chopped 1 medium preserved lemon, rind only (discard the pulp), roughly chopped 50g pistachios, roughly chopped honey, to taste small bunch of mint, leaves picked, to serve


Devon-based chef and champion of goat meat James Whetlor has a killer of a slowcooked dish for us...

Adding the sweetness of dried fruit to the depth and richness of kid meat creates a dish that is one of the greats of world food, writes James. I always have a jar of ras al hanout in the kitchen – it’s a really useful seasoning. You can also use 800g diced kid here in place of the shanks. Serve with harissa and couscous.


1 Mix together the shanks, tomatoes, onions, garlic,

melted butter, spices (apart from the saffron), 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. 2 When ready to cook, put the marinated meat in a large saucepan and cook, uncovered, over a moderate heat for 20 minutes until a sauce has formed and thickened. 3 Add the stock or water, along with the saffron and its soaking water, the coriander stalks, dried apricots and the preserved lemon, then cover and simmer gently over a low heat for about 2 hours or until the meat is completely tender. Top with a little water if it dries out. 4 When the shanks are cooked, remove any excess fat from the sauce and add the pistachios, then the honey with salt and pepper to taste. Serve scattered with the coriander and mint leaves.


C H E F !

SWEET POTATO AND AUBERGINE KATSU CURRY SERVES 2 ½ onion 2 medium carrots olive oil 2 garlic cloves ½ tbsp curry powder ½ garam masala 1 tbsp plain flour, plus extra for coating 300ml vegetable stock 2 tbsp coconut milk 1 sweet potato 1 aubergine soya milk breadcrumbs, for coating vegetable oil, for deep frying 150g jasmine rice 1 red chilli, finely sliced 1 spring onion, finely sliced small handful coriander leaves, chopped, to garnish For the kimchi-style ’slaw: 50g white cabbage, finely shredded 20g leeks, finely shredded 10g carrots, finely shredded sriracha, to taste 1 tbsp sesame oil ½ tsp ground ginger


Don’t waste time thinking about whether veg counts towards your five-a-day if it’s fried – just get going on this vegan katsu curry by Sam Wormington Barnstaple’s 62 The Bank is a contemporary-style bistro housed in a centuries-old building in the centre of the town. The venue dates back to 1620 when it was built as a merchant’s house and was later converted into a bank (in case that part wasn’t obvious). The menus take inspiration from global cuisines and are created by head chef Sam, who’s been cooking here for four years, and with Brend Hotels (62 The Bank’s parent company) for 14. This is one of the latest additions to the menu, designed to banish those chills in the coldest season.

62 The Bank, 62 Boutport Street, Barnstaple EX31 1HG; 01271 324446;


1 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and prepare the ’slaw by combining all the ingredients. 2 For the curry, roughly chop the onion and slice the carrots into ½cm-thick discs, then add both to a frying pan with a splash of olive oil. Fry for 7 minutes on a medium heat. Peel and dice the garlic, then add it to the frying pan and fry for 2 minutes. Add the curry powder, garam masala and plain flour to the pan and fry for 1 minute, stirring frequently. 3 Pour in the vegetable stock and coconut milk, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the carrots are soft. 4 Blitz the sauce and pass it through a chinois to ensure a smooth texture. 5 Slice the sweet potato and aubergine thinly. Coat each slice in flour, then soya milk and then the breadcrumbs. Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy-based pan to 190C and deep-fry the veg until golden and crispy (about 4 minutes). This will need to be done in batches. Then, transfer the vegetable slices to a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes. 6 Cook the rice as per the packet instructions and warm the curry sauce. 7 To plate up, place the hot rice in a dome mould and flip into a bowl. Fill the edges of the bowl with the sauce and add the sweet potato and aubergine slices. Finally, add the kimchi ’slaw, and scatter the sliced chilli, spring onion and coriander on top.

C H E F !

Going off-piste in the kitchen is wholeheartedly encouraged by Elly


THAT’S HER JAM We caught up with Elly Curshen following her supper club at Riverford to talk about winter ingredients, kitchen experiments and how she wants you to change up her recipes... Elly (who’s best known as Elly Pear, thanks to her former Pear Café) is a South West-based but nationally known cook and food writer, with three recipe books under her belt. Her latest, Green, celebrates fruit and veg in fuss-free vegan and vegetarian recipes, designed for modern home cooks. “It’s never ever about telling people what not to do,” she says. “It’s about telling them what I want them to include rather than take out. For me, my job as a food writer and cook is to show people how delicious meat-free eating can be, and what you can do with vegetables.” She recently visited Riverford to cook up a plantfocused feast from her book, collaborating with the Field Kitchen chefs, using their homegrown produce and making every dish organic. “That’s the best thing for me about doing these sorts of collaborations – learning from each other,” she says. “For instance, the Brussels sprouts salad, in the book it’s got crumbled Twiglets on the top, but they’re not organic. So I came up with an idea: you can get organic yeast extract so, I thought, if we can make some breadcrumbs, some Marmitey breadcrumbs, it would be the same sort of thing. One of the sous chefs there had a play around and they came out absolutely

incredible. And now, when I cook that again, I’d be tempted to do it that way. So it’s always a learning curve. You learn so much from each other. “That’s why it was the perfect fit that I was doing this with Riverford, because the way that they work means their customers are constantly having to try to cook with things that they wouldn’t have chosen themselves because they’re getting a veg box delivered. They’re having to eat seasonally, and not just chuck green beans and asparagus into their shopping basket every week because that’s what they like; they’re having to push themselves and learn how to use other vegetables. “And that’s what I see my kind of mission as being. My recipes are really adaptable and it’s all about inspiring people. I’m absolutely fine with people making changes – learning what and how you can make changes is how you learn to cook. So going there and realising that my recipes worked really well in that adaptable way was really nice for me.” This almond and jam cake was one of the desserts at the supper club, and is another example of how Elly’s creations can be changed up. The team had made strawberry and basil jam in the summer, of which there was lots still left, so that went in instead of the raspberry jam and worked an absolute treat.

ALMOND, LEMON AND RASPBERRY JAM CAKE SERVES 8 140g plain flour 125g ground almonds 2 tsp baking powder ½ tsp salt 225g salted butter, softened 200g caster sugar 3 eggs 1 lemon, zest and juice 2 tbsp raspberry jam 4 tbsp almond flakes, toasted lightly in a dry pan 1 Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. 2 Mix together the flour, ground almonds, baking

Recipe from Green by Elly Curshen (Ebury Press, £22); photography by Martin Poole


powder and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together, then beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a tablespoon of the dry ingredients along with each egg. 3 Fold through the remaining dry ingredients and then mix in the lemon zest and juice. 4 Grease a 25cm loose-bottomed cake tin. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the centre of the hot oven for 25 minutes or until the top of the cake is light golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. 5 Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tin. Once cool, remove the cake from the tin, spread the jam over the top, sprinkle with almond flakes and serve. 6 This cake will keep well for 2-3 days when it is stored in an airtight tin, sealed, and kept in a cool, dry place.

We’ve got the cake sorted, so who’s making the tea?


A pub for locals & visitors alike We are proud to support local suppliers and serve a delicious range of locally grown produce and drinks.

The Bear & Blacksmith The Main Road, Chillington, Kingsbridge, South Devon, TQ7 2LD 01548 581 171 f î‚?î „

C H E F !

MISO PHEASANT SERVES 4 4 pheasant breasts 80g miso paste (the best you can find) 100g kale leaves vegetable oil pinch fine sea salt pinch golden caster sugar 4 tbsp mayo 2 tsp wasabi paste, or to taste For the marrow pickle: 500g marrow fine sea salt 5 chillis (medium-hot), sliced


It’s game season, and Sam Rom has a great recipe for making the most of all that local pheasant…

A good bit of pheasant sure puts a smile on Sam’s face

Sam runs Devon catering company Eat Nice Be Nice with wife Meg. The pair met while working at River Cottage and work with natural, seasonal ingredients to create imaginative but down-to-earth food. “This is a very beautiful, simple dish with very few ingredients which can’t be rushed,” says Sam. “Its depth of flavour comes from the curing process and it showcases pheasant at its best. We have such an abundance of the meat in Devon at this time of the year, but it’s often not utilised in the best way. In fact, it would be great to get everyone cooking with game – having such low food mileage, it’s a shame it’s not a more mainstream choice of protein. “This recipe helps with the common problem of overcooking and drying out the pheasant breast, as the curing process tenderises the meat and reduces the amount of time needed in the pan.”


1 First make the marrow pickle. Slice the marrow into pieces 8mm thick. Layer the slices in a deep tub with a sprinkling of salt and sliced chilli between each layer. Continue to stack the marrow using all the space in the tub. The more layers the better, with the least amount of air gaps possible. 2 Cover the marrow with a piece of greaseproof paper and place a weight on top, as this will allow the juices to come out and submerge the marrow. For best results, leave it for 3 weeks in a cold room, larder or fridge to develop. 3 Coat the pheasant breasts with the miso, taking the time to massage the paste in. Lay the first pheasant breast on a muslin cloth, stacking the others on top, with muslin in between each. Apply a weight to the meat (about 1kg – a tray with some tins on top works well) and leave for 2 days in the fridge. 4 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. 5 Slice the kale very finely. Put a little vegetable oil – about 1 tsp – on your hands and rub it through the kale (this way you won’t over oil it and make it greasy). Lay it out on a baking tray and bake for 3 minutes or until crispy – it won’t take long. Once out of the oven, season with a little salt and sugar while it’s still hot. Leave to cool, then store in an airtight container to keep it crisp. 6 When the meat is ready, remove the muslin and any excess moisture. Put a heavy-based pan over a medium heat, add a dash of oil and pan-fry the breasts for 2-3 minutes on each side (they will cook faster as they’ve been cured). Once golden brown, take out of the pan and leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving. This will allow the proteins to relax. 7 Meanwhile, mix the wasabi paste and mayo together in a bowl. 8 Finely slice the pickled marrow, arranging a small pile on each plate (any leftovers can be kept in the fridge for later use). Place the pheasant breast next to it and top with the crisp kale. Add a dollop of wasabi mayo on the side. If available, a small squeeze of yuzu juice won’t go amiss!





Fancy less fuss in the post-coffee clean-up – and a tastier cup too? Of course you do, says Matt Bielby – and for both, this clever swizzle-stick is just the thing What’s your favourite pick-me-up during the day? Me, I have coffee in cafés, but at home I have tea. Me too! Coffee’s much more of a faff to make – don’t you think? – so I don’t mind paying someone else to do it. Adding hot water to a tea bag, however… Well, my dopey old hound could do it. Nah, it’s actually nothing to do with that. It’s more the cleaning up. All those annoying grinds to scrape out of the cafetière with a spoon, and you still have loads left that you eventually have to flush down the sink. Then what you want is this handy little gadget: the Scoof. It’s designed to scoop them all out in a few easy twists, allowing you to then chuck ’em in the food recycling or, if you have one, bung ’em on the compost heap with ease. More advanced Scoofers might even use them as fertiliser, as soil for growing oyster mushrooms, or as a barrier to keep away slugs and snails.

Actually, I was thinking of pressing them into service as a homemade face scrub. Yeah? Looking at you, why bother? Are you being rude? Not at all! (I was a bit.) Moving swiftly on, listen to this: it turns out the Scoof has a secondary use too. You know how you actually get tastier coffee by stirring your cafetière before plunging? No…? Well, you do. And it turns out this thing’s two-headed design means if you swizzle it gently through your brewing coffee you get way more flavour. Inventor Joe Partridge reckons three twists should do it. Who’s he then? A British designer and coffee freak; the Scoof’s his baby. And three, it seems, is his magic number: around 95% of all the used coffee grinds in the average cafetière also come out in three twists, he says. In this case, however you use it, third time really is a charm.


Scoof is £9.95 and can be bought online;


The Swan is an AA Four Star Gold classic English country inn, and 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. Drop in for a drink and some friendly banter, or book in for a meal with us. And, if you want to stay over at our pub in Bampton, Devon, we have three contemporary, yet cosy, B&B rooms to choose from too.

Eat, Drink & Sleep At the Swan, Bampton T. 01398 332248


Bampton | Tiverton | Devon | EX16 9NG theswanbampton

This Devon home dates back around 600 years, to the Middle Ages…

House Call

MIDDLE AGED This kitchen tells a story of a very different time in history if you look close enough...



If these old walls could talk... they’d have enough material to go on for days

Sue and Geoff like a bit of colour; they had this oven in purple in their old house 38 CRUMBSMAG.COM



ue and Geoff Edwards knew that they were taking on a seriously old building when they brought it at auction, but they had no idea quite what they would be unearthing inside the historic walls. Before any building work could begin, an archaeological survey needed to take place. This was what shed light on the building’s fascinating past as an open hall house – a traditional Medieval dwelling, built around a central communal hall. In these kinds of buildings, an open hearth would sit in the middle of the space, for heat and also to cook over, and people from the village would eat and sleep here. Off the hall would usually be food and drink storage and private residence. This 14th-century building, which sits on the edge of Dartmoor, still had wooden beams that had survived since the Middle Ages in the roof, as well as candle sconces and a granite fire surround, which is estimated to date back to the 15th century. When Sue and Geoff got their hands on their historic digs, it was in a pretty sorry state and needed extensive work – which ended up taking 16 months to complete. As it’s a listed building, though, options were anything but endless, and only certain work was permitted. “The building had been altered into three small dwellings, and then into two,” explains Sue. “When we took it on, we were allowed to reunite the two sides, which needed a careful rethink in terms of layout.”


Water rings are welcome on this beautifully mottled zinc worktop


Lots of the items on display have been collected from far-flung countries

Modern touches like this light fitting contrast beautifully with the building’s historic features

The dining room’s worn stone floors are indicators of the house’s history

Some of the beams discovered in the house dated back to Medieval times

40 40


The kitchen, in particular, needed very careful thought. “I did lots of research on the design,” says Sue. “We were allowed to join the small kitchen to the later addition of the dairy, to make an L-shaped room, with the requirement that we retained the salvageable part of the dairy’s shelving in our design. Planners also allowed us to add skylights into this very dark space, which transformed the working area.” Kirsty Curnow-Bailey of LivingSpace Architects in Exeter worked with Sue and Geoff on the complicated build job, turning this Medieval dwelling into a 21st century home: “We could never have done it without her help,” says Sue. Indeed, it would have been tricky to even know where to start. Just one small part of the building was inhabitable, which the couple lived in until they had to move out to let the builders (RM Builders in Tavistock) work their magic. The kitchen was pretty barren too – comprising just a couple of old cupboards and a sink. Now, the space has a purposeful vintage style, with lots of reclaimed items such as an old French shop counter: “We like objects that have a history to them,” Sue tells us. And pretty much everything you can see in this unique room has a story. A lot of the furnishings and accessories were



This dining table was originally made for an antique shop in Ashburton




The plasterwork cleverly shows off the ancient walls beneath


collected on the couple’s travels: there’s an Indian tawa (a heavy iron plate for cooking chapatis) from Rajasthan; a collection of olive wood boards from Italian trips, which hang on the walls like works of art; a French wine bottle drier that is used to hang mugs on; and old confit de canard bowls, picked up in French markets and now used to store onions and garlic. Some pieces, though, are from closer to home: “Lots of the other items and the freestanding cupboards were sourced from Phil who runs Fishbelly, a vintage and antique business just outside Tavistock,” explains Sue. To tie in with their prefered aesthetic, Geoff and Sue designed the built-in cupboard fronts themselves, aiming for a rustic, reclaimed look, and decided on zinc for the worktops. Why? For its ageing qualities, of course.

“Zinc isn’t a choice for everyone, as it marks with use,” says Sue. “We love it because the constant use builds up a patina as it ages. It was always a choice in old French cafés and bars.” It’s no wonder this kitchen is so full of intrigue and artistic character: Sue paints in her spare time, working with an impressionistic style and focusing on colour, movement and light. Although calling herself “very amateur”, she has sold pieces from a gallery in the past. “I think our house is another artistic outlet for me,” she says, when I ask how she thinks her creative eye played a part in the design of this stylish, historically sympathetic kitchen. “It’s all about colour, with added interest from pieces of art and sculpture. I look for inspiration in everything I see to make changes to our surroundings. It keeps me stimulated.” 42 CRUMBSMAG.COM

Name: Sue Edwards Hometown: Dartmoor Occupation: Retired Must-have kitchen item: A good knife Most prized item: Our Lacanche stove You love the taste of: Pomegranate molasses Coffee or tea? Coffee Beer or cider? Wine, please! Go-to recipe: Chachouka Guilty pleasure: Hunks of parmesan, stolen from the fridge A food you couldn’t live without: Tomatoes Favourite condiment: Balsamic vinegar The style of your kitchen in three words: Rustic, vintage, recycled Your kitchen is awesome because: It makes me happy. And it has underfloor heating! Unexpected item in your kitchen cupboard: Bottle of organic beef-flavoured hemp oil for the dog One thing your kitchen is used for that doesn’t involve cooking: A race track and play area for our twin grandchildren



T he Want List It’s easy being green (and stylish) with eco-kitchen kit like this…

Children’s Bamboo Dining Set, £15 Decorated with illustrations from Roald Dahl stories, these dinner sets are made from sustainable bamboo. Find them at Moko in Exeter and online.

Alpaca Tote Bag, £18 Pass on the plastic carrier and transport your groceries home in style with this cotton tote bag. From Me and East in Totnes, and online.

Green Gradient Jug, £27 Made from recycled glass, this handmade, bubbled jug is green in terms of colour and production methods. From Devon e-tailer The Forest and Co. Sol Reusable Cup, £20 This cup is made from handblown glass and contains no plastic, BPA or other chemicals. Find it at Rise and Shine Living in South Molton and online.


Scorched Cork Placemats, £24 for four No trees need to be cut down to harvest regenerating cork, it’s just stripped from the trunk – and doesn’t it make nice placemats? From Leela in Exeter and online.

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The Farmers Arms in Woolsery knocks out some pretty spesh ensembles these days



Hunting down North Devon’s foodie hotspots




Upping our eco game with Melissa Hemsley



There’s more to North Devon’s food scene than fish and chips and country boozers, as Melissa Stewart is about to prove…



orth Devon is probably best known for its beautiful sandy beaches. The shores of Croyde, Woolacombe, Saunton and Putsborough attract holidaymakers all year round. It’s a bit less gentrified than the south coast too – charmingly rough around the edges with a laidback surfer vibe. Venture away from the coastline and you’ll find yourself edging into the wilds of Exmoor, which expands across North Devon and Somerset. Exmoor is proper farming country and the home of the county’s famous Ruby Red, an ancient breed of cattle celebrated for its beef. Among the rolling moorland you’ll find some fabulously old-fashioned country inns tucked away in hidden valleys – you just need to know where to look. Being such a chilled-out part of the world means that, perhaps unsurprisingly, North Devon has never really been revered for its food scene. Change happens here at a snail’s pace and, as it doesn’t have the year-round footfall of other areas, restauranteurs don’t tend to take the risk of setting up shop – or should I say kitchen – in the area. This means discerning diners tend to bypass North Devon completely and head to East or South. But, to discount North Devon altogether would be a real oversight; there are some super-talented

chefs quietly doing their own thing up here, knocking out awesome grub in one of the UK’s most unspoilt landscapes. Who’d want to miss out on that?

Restaurants you’ll rate

Perhaps the boldest chef in North Devon is Noel Corston (yep, we did interview him a couple of issues back, well remembered). He runs the self-titled Noel Corston in Woolacombe, which is a teeny 10-seater restaurant where guests sit around the kitchen as he cooks. His focus is on the relationship between what we eat and where it comes from, so he serves his ingredients as simply but as delectably as possible. Ideal for those who are as interested in the process of creating a menu as they are in eating what’s on it. Just a few miles up the coast in Ilfracombe is another big name on the Devon food scene: Thomas Carr. He runs The Olive Room, a cosy but contemporary restaurant which has a Michelin star. The food here is properly posh but the ambience is fairly informal, meaning you can enjoy top-class fodder in a relaxed environment. If you feel like splurging, go for the taster menu, which makes the most of Devon’s fresh catch. If your budget doesn’t quite stretch to a Michelin-star meal, then The Antidote


Check out those sea views at The Royal George (left); Number Eight (above) is small but mighty; modern British grub reimagined at The Farmers Arms (below)


down the road is worth a look; this place offers a no-fuss, three-course menu for £27. The kitchen team put their own unique spin on traditional favourites: think posh prawn cocktail and venison sausage roll. For full-on luxury, The Coach House by Michael Caines is part of Kentisbury Grange, a 17th-century country house on the edge of Exmoor. Michael has nurtured the young team who run the kitchen and, as you might expect from this chef, the menu offers modern European cuisine made using the best local produce. The lunch menu is good value, too, at £28.95 for three courses. Over in Bideford, on the Torridge side of the region, is Number Eight, a venue that’s quietly been building a buzz since it opened two years ago. Run by Chloe (front of house) and her partner Josh (the chef ), it’s intimate with only around 20 covers – meaning tables are always in demand. Dishes include treaclecured salmon with torched cucumber and black treacle yoghurt, and beef brisket with truffle and parmesan croquette, red onion marmalade, buttered kale and squash purée.

Posh pubs

If you’re less of a restaurant type and more of a pub-goer, you’re in luck – Devon is teeming with cosy country boozers. Local ales, pork

scratchings and log fires are pretty much around every corner. If, however, you’re after something a little more classy – less Fray Bentos and more chef’s kitchen – then there are plenty of options. The Farmers Arms in Woolsery opened just a year ago and attracts a well-heeled crowd. The kitchen is run by Ian Webber, who was head chef under Michael Caines at Gidleigh Park. The pub serves classics like fish and chips and cottage pie, while the la carte menu offers its innovative spin on modern British cuisine. My recommendation? Book in for a Sunday lunch; it’s served sharing style and is one of Devon’s best. A couple of other newcomers to check out are The Royal George in Appledore and The Red Lion in Clovelly. Well, I should rephrase that: neither of them are actually new; in fact, they were both built in the 18th century and are long-established watering holes by the sea. They have, however, both had recent makeovers. The Royal George has a trendy London vibe and serves upmarket pub grub to diners taking in the awesome views across the Taw estuary, while The Red Lion, in the historic fishing village of Clovelly, is a more stately affair. It has a formal dining room upstairs with a Regency-style interior and, being situated in a working fishing port, is known for its seafood.


Clockwise from top left: The Farmers Arms, The Masons Arms, Pyne Arms and The Royal George (we don’t know where his arms are)


Block is a cool, urban-style hangout with a global menu, while The Porthole (far right) is set right by the sea

Another pub that gets my vote is The Pyne Arms in East Down. It’s super cosy and does beautifully presented light bites like monkfish scampi with curry sauce and smoked ham hock Scotch egg. Husband-and-wife team Ellis and Amie have done a great job of turning a tumbledown inn into a must-visit gastropub. The Masons Arms near South Molton is another pub to have been given a new lease of life. The only North Devon pub to hold Michelin-star status, it was taken over by chef-patron Mark Dodson, who trained under Michel Roux, and his wife Sarah in 2005, winning the star just six months later and retaining it ever since. There’s a regularly changing a la carte menu, featuring quality Devon ingredients like Exmoor beef and venison, served in classic French style.

Seaside scran

Most visitors to North Devon hit the beach and, should the salty air make your belly rumble, there are a few joints worth seeking out. If you’re looking for a light bite head to The Porthole, a cute little café on Marine Drive, just above Woolacombe beach. It’s run by Beth and Jim from Seadog, the award-winning pop-up caterers, and they knock out fresh and filling salads, quiches and cakes, all made using locally sourced produce. Not far from there, in Woolacombe’s centre, is Brundle’s, which opened last summer. It’s a fab spot for a postsurf breakfast or a jeans-busting Sunday lunch. If you care as much about your sides as your meat when it comes to a roast, then this is the place to go. Also worth a look is the Beachside Grill at Saunton, which does bowls of mussels and other tasty seafood like sardines and seabass, alongside your usual burgers and steaks. On a sunny day, sit on the terrace and soak up the

The best of the rest

wonderful sea views. Or, if the thought of a curry on a beach with a cool beer floats your boat (and, frankly, why wouldn’t it?) then head to Barricane Beach Café. In its sandy cove in Woolacombe, it dishes up delicious curries during the summer months. Get there early as they sell out quickly. For those diehards who just can’t resist fish and chips by the sea, then Squires in Braunton is the place to go. Grab a takeaway and hotfoot it over to Saunton Sands to watch the sun go down.

Burger kings

There aren’t too many bangin’ burger joints in North Devon, but Custom House in Barnstaple is up there with the favourites, offering a build-your-own-burger menu. You can choose from beef, chicken, salmon, soy or bubble and squeak, then your bun, salads, cheeses, toppings and sauces. They also offer a fab range of loaded fries, including ‘big pig fries’, topped with pulled pork, barbecue sauce and cheese. Another burger fix comes from The Flame Factory in Appledore. This family-run business serves up meat patties topped with everything from guacamole to pulled pork. They also do a mean steak made from rarebreed Clovelly Longhorn cattle, and a range of wood-fired pizzas.


The market town of Barnstaple isn’t known for its eateries, but a lunch joint that really hits the spot is Block. The menu is properly international, with Greek chicken shawarma and Mexican burrito bowls rubbing shoulders alongside Vietnamese pho and Japanese ramen. The ingredients are fresh, the vibe is relaxed and the food is super tasty. If you like spice, the Everest Ghurka in Barnstaple is a cute little BYO restaurant run by a Nepalese couple who do the best curries for miles. Thankfully, most menus today do offer at least one or two veggie and vegan options, but for the full experience check out Grassroots Café, a sunny little joint in Ilfracombe which runs regular ‘bistro’ nights at the weekends, serving up yummy stuffed pancakes and roast vegetable bakes. To incorporate a bit of culture into your meal, Broomhill House, just outside Barnstaple, is a real treat. It’s a boutique hotel and arts venue, with the most amazing sculpture garden. While away the hours admiring the artwork before contemplating what you’ve just seen over a bottle of red and the area’s tastiest tapas. Finally, for a decent aperitif or a great nightcap, I rate the recently opened Ayka Rum Bar in Braunton. Choose from over 70 different rums (other spirits and wine are available) and soak up the old-school funk and soul tunes in a speakeasy setting.

Have we missed your favourite North Devon hangout? Tweet us @crumbsmag!


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MELISSA HEMSLEY We talk eco-anxiety, using up those leftovers, and why the West Country rocks with this foodie entrepreneur, as she heads to Devon to cook up a storm

That’s our lunch sorted, then. What are you having, Melissa? 53 CRUMBSMAG.COM


We take our tea with milk, no sugar and plenty of banana bread, thanks


he year 2020 marks a significant milestone for cook, entrepreneur and food writer Melissa Hemsley. See, it was a decade ago that she and sister Jasmine launched Hemsley and Hemsley – a service to help people with digestion and diet issues and promote positive relationships with food and cooking. Celebrities were soon on their books as private clients, as were brands such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Vivienne Westwood. Next came a column in Vogue, two recipe books (The

Art of Eating Well and Good and Simple), a café at Selfridges in London and a Channel 4 TV show, Eating Well With Hemsley and Hemsley. The pair even released their own spiraliser, having been amongst the first to champion the practice of turning vegetables into spaghetti. Their emergence coincided with the first waves of the ‘clean eating’ movement – a concept which, although the Hemsleys were linked to it in many people’s minds, they have verbally distanced themselves from. All glowing skin and glossy hair, they portrayed the ultimate vision of health, at a time when we were all looking to our diets more keenly than ever to enhance our lives. And not only were their health-radiating appearances nothing to do with Photoshop (we can confirm the glow is very much there IRL), but they were joined by animated, amiable dispositions to match. Of course we all wanted in on their secret – and we looked for guidance in their eating habits.


A decade later, the sisters are busy pursuing different interests, although their café at Selfridges is very much still run as a joint effort. Jasmine has gone down a wellness and nutrition path, while Melissa’s interests lie in shaping wholesome, satisfying dishes into practical and approachable everyday recipes, she says. This is what she wanted to focus on after the two books with Jasmine. “For me, [going solo] was about hoping to inspire people who didn’t cook at all, or very rarely, to get stuck into the kitchen – I’m drawn to people who say they hate cooking! So I started developing specifically 15-minute to 30-minute recipes, which had very basic methods and easy-to-get ingredients, but still tasted as good as any takeaway or ready meal.” This is very much the path that Melissa’s cooking has taken as a whole, her food evolving to appeal to a wider audience than perhaps the Hemsley and Hemsley books might. Thus, her first solo book, Eat Happy, published in January 2018, is very much designed for everyday use, and aims to keep things as stress-free as possible (most recipes require just one pot and take around 30 minutes to make) while also weaving in ideas on how to use up leftovers. “Some of my personal favourite recipes – and the most popular – have been dishes that were created from what was left over after recipe-testing something else,” Melissa notes. The new book, Eat Green, builds on Melissa’s first recipe collection, taking its ideas a step further by putting vegetables in the spotlight (although meat and fish are involved to some extent too) and having a real emphasis on tackling food waste. Recipes have been developed to not only be simple, affordable and delicious but also to use up the trimmings that often go in the bin – think herb stems and parmesan rinds – to save on waste and make ingredients go further. There’s even an A-Z of odds, ends and leftovers, to help inspire you with ways to use up any food you have remaining from the meal before. When writing the new book, Melissa says she took her lead from readers, who she met while touring with Eat Happy. “[They] asked me for more tips, details and recipe ideas for being more conscientious in the kitchen, as well as advice on how to cut down on plastic and food waste, eat more seasonally and get ahead with batch cooking. “I would ask them what fruit and veg they most often ended up throwing away at the end of the week, and based the recipes on those.” As with her focus on waste, other issues of sustainability, economy and climate are woven into Melissa’s work. For instance, when asked what the highlights have been from her food career so far, she mentions being made an ambassador for Fairtrade, presenting the Sustainable Restaurant Association’s Awards and cooking for Extinction Rebellion using rescued food. She’s also written about ecoanxiety in her Vogue column.

Melissa is all about food for the soul – think soothing miso noodle soup, filling summer salads, almond and chickpea stew and fruity breakfast pancakes



“I’m aware some people might roll their eyes at the term ‘eco-anxiety’, but it’s definitely a feeling I’ve heard a growing number of people talk about,” she tells us. “When I first heard it at the beginning of 2019, maybe the end of 2018, I really understood what people meant. It can feel incredibly overwhelming, which sometimes can make me despair or freeze for a moment, considering what to do and how to move forward. “My advice, if asked, is always that we can all do our part and that small changes, that work for you and that you can stick to and repeat every day, can have a big impact.” This broadening awareness that we’re all experiencing in the 21st century inspired Melissa to start the Sustainability Sessions in 2018 – live events involving panel discussions on everything from environmental issues to mental health. “The idea is to make an ever-growing community where we learn and share smart, easy choices that are better for our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing and, of course, better for Mother Earth too. We discussed tons of topics, from how to be more sustainable in food and fashion to upcycling at home and making wellness work for you, plus greener beauty swaps, your cycles and fertility, guidance through career crises, how to have a healthy and fulfilling work life, the power of mentoring and how to be confident in talking money and ambition.” So, what’s her best nugget of advice on doing our part to keep Mother Earth alive and well when it comes to the way we eat? “I believe in voting with your spending power. Spending your money with farmers, shopkeepers and companies who are trying their best with sourcing, packaging or growing food as close to nature as possible and caretaking the land.” Like many cooks and chefs, Melissa credits her mum with instilling in her a fierce set of culinary principles – many of which tie in with her environmental focuses. “She is the queen of leftovers,” says Melissa. “She taught me the best cooks don’t waste a thing, and she won’t go out food shopping until she’s cleared the fridge first. That’s a key lesson I’ve learnt and pass on. “When I look back at the four cookbooks [I’ve written] now, they have Mum’s wisdom – which, when I was younger, I thought of as nagging – all the way through them. I’d say 95 per cent of everything she told me when I was younger turned out to be right!” Although food has always played a huge part in Melissa’s life – brought up as she was with comforting, home-cooked meals – it wasn’t until she flew the nest that she began giving it real thought. “My Filipino mum is a great cook – not fancy, no recipes, just good home-cooked food. She makes great British food (as shown to her by my paternal grandmother) and brilliant Asian

food, then she just mixes them up to make her own fusion. “Like many in my generation, I wasn’t taught to cook, so didn’t cook until I left home. At first, I cooked because I needed to and missed my mum’s lovely nourishing soups and comfort family foods. Then I realised that I loved cooking for all my friends who missed their mum’s food, and I started feeding everyone.” And she’s still a feeder to this day, describing cooking as “bringing instant joy to people through something as simple and enjoyable as chopping, stirring and simmering.” She continues: “I love that cooking empowers people, especially less confident cooks who feel a ‘failure’ in the kitchen. I really enjoy giving lessons and watching people completely change their mindset around cooking, and then bounce out ready to take on the world.” That’s not all she loves about spending time in the kitchen, though: “I find cooking relaxing and chopping meditative, so it’s a good destresser for me.” For Melissa, who has spoken and written about issues of mental wellbeing in the past, food is very much a key element in her own. “I prioritise my mental health, and home cooking has a huge part to play – what we eat and the act of preparing it too.” Melissa will be cooking and talking at Riverford in January to celebrate the release of Eat Green, and is stoked to be back on our turf. “My first boyfriend came from Somerset and used to holiday in Totnes and Bantham, so I fell in love with these glorious regions in my late teens and early 20s,” she says. “I’m excited to be coming here on tour in 2020, and am trying to take things a little slower this time around so I can enjoy spending more time in Devon. I’ve got a date at The Bull Inn in Totnes soon – I can’t wait to see what Geetie Singh-Watson has created. We met via the Soil Association and I used to work near her pub, the organic Duke of Cambridge. I’ve learnt so much from her. “I’m, of course, a big fan of Riverford, too – I’ve been receiving their veg boxes for a decade or more, which is why when I thought about who I’d like to write a foreword, I had to ask Guy Singh-Watson.” Well, indeed. How can you love food and be anything but an avid enthusiast of this food-rich region that we get to call our home county? Eat Green (Ebury Press, £22) is published on 9 January and Melissa is hosting events at the Riverford Field Kitchen on 22 and 23 January;



Recipe taken from Eat Happy by Melissa Hemsley (Ebury Press, £20); photography by Issy Croker 1 tsp coconut oil or ghee 8 mackerel fillets (total 700g) For the Filipino-style tamarind sauce: 3 tbsp tamarind paste 1 tsp chilli flakes (or to taste) 1 tbsp maple syrup 2 tbsp tamari 1 lime, juice only For the greens: 1½ tbsp coconut oil (or ghee) 4 spring onions, sliced (green parts saved to garnish) 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped 3cm piece ginger, finely chopped 1 head of broccoli (about 300g), cut into small florets 250g green beans, trimmed 250g sugar snap peas (or mangetout), chopped To serve: large handful cashews, toasted and roughly chopped large handful mixed fresh herbs (such as coriander, basil or mint), finely chopped 1 Preheat the grill to high. Add the oil to a baking tray and pop under the grill for a few minutes to melt. 2 Whisk the sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Toast the nuts in a dry saucepan and then set aside. 3 For the greens, melt the 1½ tbsp oil in the saucepan, add the white parts of the spring onions, garlic and ginger and fry over a medium heat for 30 seconds. 4 Tip in all the green vegetables and stir-fry for 5 minutes until just tender. Add a splash of water if the greens are getting too dry and sticking to the pan. 5 Meanwhile, place the mackerel fillets on the greased baking tray, skin side up, season with salt and pepper then grill for 4-5 minutes until just cooked through. 6 When the greens are just tender, pour in the tamarind sauce and stir in. Increase the heat and simmer for about 30 seconds to heat through. Taste for seasoning, adding a little more tamari if you’d like it to be saltier. 7 Serve the greens with the fish, scattered with the green parts of the spring onions and the fresh herbs and toasted nuts.

This recipe is inspired by Melissa’s Filipino mum, she says, who loves tamarind, and it’s also a great way to use up green vegetables that you have laying around in the fridge


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Rustic small plates and vinos a-plenty at Ben’s Wine and Tapas


Pink Moon has California vibes and tacos galore

64 COASTING Pink Moon in Exeter’s interior is almost as worth checking out as its menu...



A stay at foodie hotel by the sea, Orestone Manor


BEN’S WINE AND TAPAS Not the most willing sharer of food at the best of times, Jessica Carter gets into the spirit of things at this cosy little spot



This is the kind of place where ‘a glass of wine and a snack’ turns into a full-on feast

Ben’s Wine and Tapas, 50 High Street, Totnes TQ9 5SQ; 01803 840853;


apas has changed the restaurant game in the UK, transcending traditional Spanish fare to create a small plates trend that, well, we can’t really even call a ‘trend’ any more, so long has it been around. Small plates are dividers of opinion, though. They get their share of flack: bigger menus mean more decision making, there’s never a spot of room on the table, and there’s real danger in eating with someone more greedy than you (sorry to anyone I’ve ever been for tapas with). Some people just aren’t into them – I get it. Well, only sort of – because there are all those pros, too. The relaxed feel and casual attitude, the sociability of sharing, the chance to try lots of dishes and the eradication of food envy all spring to mind. Set in Totnes, Ben’s Wine and Tapas (as the name suggests) specialises in this sharing style of eating and embodies its cool, laid-back vibe. An offshoot from the ethically focused Ben’s Farm Shop – founded by the same local farming family as Riverford, with Guy Watson of veg box fame being Ben’s brother – it is a wine shop, bar and small-plates restaurant. And it fits rather well in this Devon market town, where the independent food scene has been bubbling happily away of late, joined by the cool little shops and boutiques that line its old streets. In the dark of an early winter’s evening, this place glows happily, the warm light seeping through the small rectangular panes of glass in its windowed facade and out onto the quiet street. The ground level – which houses the shop as well as some of the more casual bar-restaurant space – is buzzy when we stroll in, with punters sat on bar stools, huddled around small tables and studying the shelves of wine. We’re taken up to one of the two dining rooms on the first floor – they’re a little quieter and not as atmospheric as downstairs, but look smart in dark, chalky blues with tall lamps and varnished wooden floorboards. Vintage-style posters of European destinations like Tuscany, Madrid and St Tropez hang framed on the walls, and jazz plays through the speakers, with a notch or two more oomph than the usual sink-into-the-background playlist. The wine here is a massive draw – trading directly with the producers in most cases, the team manage to


secure great varieties at more than reasonable prices – starting from £8 a bottle (take it away or drink it in for £6 corkage), and £3 a glass. We go with the house white and a medium-bodied red, recommended by the manager, who’s serving us. Both great, and even better with the price taken into consideration. Slices of sourdough come with crunchy dukkah (£3), the kitchen’s spiced nut mixture having proven so popular that it’s now sold in the shops too. There’s also rich-green broccoli (£4.50), delicately fiery with chilli and peppered with sesame seeds, and bouillabaisse (£8), out of which we scoop mussels and chunks of white fish with our spoons and the accompanying crispbread. The smoked sausage cassoulet (£7.50) is a real favourite of the night, its smoky aroma noticeable as soon as it’s set down in front of us, and the chunky texture – made up of meat, carrot, celery and beans – giving it a rustic, comfortingly homemade feel. As well as European influences, this menu also has a bit of the North African about it, not least in that dukkah but also in the chargrilled harissa cauliflower (£5). Nicely blackened in parts – but not cooked so much as to lose its texture – it comes with coarse and peppery romesco sauce. If all veg was served like this, that seven-a-day quota wouldn’t be any effort at all. More of that romesco comes on the sweetcorn and feta fritters (£5), which were the firm favourite dish across the table. A chocolate, orange and cardamom pot (£5) and bread and butter pudding (£6.50) put an end to the meal – the former dense and smooth, and the latter marbled with chocolate and raspberry and served with ice cream (the only misfire for me: I’m custard all the way, every day – especially in winter). Everything is served really rather speedily – we’re done in less than two hours. Had I not been reluctantly driving, I’m sure we’d have spun that out with a bottle of something red, mind. With a keen and eager team, willing and able to help with everything from food choices in the restaurant to wine to take home for dinner, as well as a cosy, bubbly atmosphere and hearty, well-executed food, this place is a spot-on little hideaway for quick drinks as well as big feasts.



Jessica Carter finds a remedy for dark winter days in this bright young addition to Exeter’s indie food scene



We dare you to be in a bad mood here, among tacos, sunshine vibes and, well, a lot of pink...

Pink Moon, 44 Queen Street, Exeter EX4 3SR; 01392 905550;


here’s something a bit romantic, quite comforting, about grey, drizzly days. The wet pavements shimmer with reflections, umbrellas bob up and down as they make their way through the streets, and people dive into coffee shops and bars to escape the showers, cupping steaming hot chocolates and rich dark ales in their cold hands. This is only, of course, what we tend to notice at the very beginning of winter. When the novelty of nights in and knitwear subsides (for me, it’s about a week in), most of us are left with nothing positive to say about the darkest, wettest season. Instead of pretty lights mirrored in the wet concrete, all we see are cars drenching pedestrians with gutter water, wet socks when we take off our shoes, and jars of vitamin D supplements that are never going to make up for the total lack of sunlight penetrating our tired, dry skin. Luckily, there are sunny hangouts like Pink Moon to remedy those down-and-out winter feels. And I mean sunny in more ways than one in this case, as the concept of the indie café, restaurant and bar is based on the far more sunlight-afforded climes of California. It has a cool, chipper vibe, a young team of front of house staff and a menu of fresh and often nutritious food. This site has had a handful of identities in recent times and was empty for almost a year before Pink Moon moved in, opening at the end of March 2019. It’s in good company on Queen Street (stumbling distance from Exeter Central station), though, which has a colourful food scene. None of the other venues, however, are quite as colourful as this one. The interior is pink all over, give or take splashes of bright turquoise. Rows of pendant lights hang from the ceiling with geometric wire shades in black and copper, while plants (both of the real and faux variety, the latter bunched into waterfall-style arrangements on the walls) are peppered about the space in generous quantities. Twinkling strings of light are hung in the arched windows, and peachy-pink ceramic tiles cover parts of the back wall. Basically, this is a space that you can’t help but be fond of; an antidote to the misery of the weather gods.


All-day brunch comes in the form of virtuous bowls like avo yoghurt with kiwi and seeds, buttermilk pancakes, eggs (baked with tomato, or ‘royale’ with miso hollandaise, for instance) and variations on the full English. Lunch and dinner, meanwhile, is a mishmash of tacos, small plates and large plates – think burgers, Korean mussels with sourdough, and nachos loaded with sweet potato chilli. A Pink Moon cocktail (pink gin, regular gin, grapefruit juice, cranberry juice and sugar syrup) is ordered mainly for its festive nature, but is happily not at sweet as expected, that bitter grapefruit balancing things out nicely. We watch meals make their way to the other tables around us and see that tacos and fries is a pretty popular order. So, when our waiter recommends the very same, we go with it. Tacos come in pairs and are of course in the Cali style – infused with global influences – rather than of the authentic Mexican order. The first soft tortillas come packed with tender belly pork, dark shiitake mushroom slices and shredded veg, topped with creamy satay sauce (£7). Better still are the cornflake bream numbers (£6.50), the white fish wearing crisp golden coats, partnered with tiny cubes of fresh tomato and drizzled with pimped-up sour cream. Happily USA-style in size as well as substance, these aren’t of the need-three-portions-just-to-fill-a-hole type. From the small plates arrives the chicken boa bun (£6.50 for two), with more of that satay sauce but benefiting from an added kick of kimchi, which cuts nicely through the creaminess. The meat is soft with a satisfyingly crunchy coating, and the bun pillowy and light. And those obligatory fries? They come skin-on, just thick enough to have fluffy insides, and really nicely seasoned, with a garlic dip (£3). It’s easy to forget your weather-related troubles in this stylish, jolly joint (troubles of any kind, come to that – especially if you’re taking advantage of the cocktail menu). So if you’ve got a touch of the winter blues, I prescribe a visit and one taco too many. And if your mood really turns around, there’s a club downstairs you can carry on the party in, to celebrate.



Tucked away in a tiny Torquay hamlet, this country manor house continues to do what it knows best, with no interest in following fashions, finds Jessica Carter

Set overlooking the sea, Orestone’s restaurant affords gorgeous views



O Classics done well is the name of the game at this manor house hotel

Orestone Manor, Maidencombe, Rock House Lane, Devon TQ1 4SX; 01803 897511;

ne of Devon’s most compelling draws is its combination of land and sea; expanses of lush countryside set agai st rippling s A picture of these blues and s is conveniently by the windows of Georgian hometurned-hotel Orestone Manor. These digs were once those of painter John Calcott Horsley, and count Isambard Kingdom Brunel among their most prestigious visitors. Nowadays it’s a hotel, run by husband-and-wife chefs, Neil and Catherine D’Allen, along with son Craig and his wife Laura. And, thankfully, far less civically accomplished guests – i.e. me – are permitted. There are 14 guest rooms (three of which have hot tubs overlooking the sea, if you’re feeling decadent), with rates starting at £95. We stay two nights, justifying our second three-course meal in as many days by talking a long (okay, probably not long enough) walk on the South West Coastal Path between feeds. Located in the hamlet of Maidencombe in Torquay, the hotel has a couple of different walking loops you can pick up nearby. The scenery is rugged – coves are rocky and largely unmaintained – with a rough charm. The area wears its history unapologetically, as does the hotel. To look at it, the dining room has an air of oldschool formality. It’s very much Georgian country house in style, with oil paintings in serious gold gilt frames hanging on the claret-coloured walls; stained glass panels in the windows, which are inset in painted stone and flanked by hefty curtains; and white-linen-cloaked tables set with antique-look silver, polished glasses and salt and pepper mills that match the paintwork. That said, the atmosphere transcends its traditional fine-dining setting; there’s a real hum of conversation on both nights, with regulars and locals (it’s mostly a seasoned crowd here) making jokes with the team. The dinner menu is a set price of £25 for two courses and £28.50 for three, with around half the dishes carrying a supplementary cost. The crab Martini (£4 supplement) sees fresh and sweet Brixham crab heaped on top of shredded


iceberg lettuce with a wedge of avocado in a Martini glass. The lot is finished with a large scoop of mango sorbet and peppering of poppy seeds. The sorbet is a little icy, and there is perhaps a spot too much of it for me, hogging the limelight from the delicious crabmeat, but it’s a fun, retro starter that sets the precedent for the rest of the meal, which will not be adhering to the 21st-century culinary trends book. It’s pretty clear rather quickly that classic British is the order of the day, here – and confidently so. Hunks of venison and pheasant are slow-cooked until fall-apart tender and bathe in a ceramic dish of herby gravy, topped with a flakey puff pastry lid to form the rustic game pie. A pile of chunky homemade chips sits on the side, perfect for dipping. The venison loin (£8 supplement), meanwhile, is super tender and cooked just so, to maintain a consistent muddy red colour throughout each slice. It has a thwack of gamey flavour – the earthiness echoed in the accompanying celeriac and beetroot – and sits in a juniper and red wine jus. We find a slightly different menu in front of us for dinner number two, the kitchen clearly tweaking the offering daily. Brixham scallops (£5 supplement) are seared for lightly caramelised crusts and wonderfully creamy centres, and come with curls of crisp bacon and silky pea cream, bringing fresh, sweet and grassy flavour. Confit duck leg with orange and brandy jus and fluffy mash gets the seal of approval from across the table as a really well-done version of a midcentury classic. Desserts stay on brand: a handsomely presented millionaire shortbread with an uber-glossy chocolate ganache top, and sticky toffee pudding, the sponge happily drenched in caramel sauce. Using Devon’s culinary bounty to recreate classic dishes has earned Orestone Manor several awards, and its owners are still pushing for more. The team clearly know what they’re about, meaning there is a cohesiveness and comforting familiarity about the place. It’s a little old-school in style, sure, but tired it isn’t, and while traditional might not be for everyone, keen service and food cooked with solid experience surely is.




JOE DIXON Part of the Salcombe Brewery team, Joe is about to let us in on his favourite food and drink spots...

Hidden gem? Situated just off the main high street in Exeter, Oddfellows is a great place for a spot of lunch. It also boasts local ales and a rather large selection of gins. I love the openplan kitchen and the amazing Sunday roast. Best atmosphere? Being a huge rugby fan, I love The Stand Off in Exeter. There’s a real buzz when the rugby is on and it’s always a great place to meet up with friends and colleagues. Quick pint? The Bowling Green in Exeter has been named in The Good Beer Guide for the first time, so you can guarantee there is a good pint to be had. It is dog-friendly, with two pub dogs in residence: a dalmatian called Siren and a retired dog for the blind called Paula. Wine merchant? Barrel and Still in Kingsbridge offers a wealth of knowledge backed up with great customer service – and they stock some amazing white Burgundies, which are always popular in our household. Comfort food? It has to be The Fortescue Inn, Salcombe. The food is amazing and the range of beers is exceptional. This is a firm favourite of mine, and Dave the landlord, who is a Kiwi, is a great host. Posh Nosh? Salcombe Harbour Hotel isn’t somewhere I dine every week, but Jason Parry and his team understand the importance of making things great when it comes to dining and service. The restaurant probably has some of the best views in the country, too. Super cosy? The Millbrook, South Pool. If you have never been, it’s a must. Warm and friendly, Charlie and his team have endeavoured to make this place the perfect retreat. Best views? This is really difficult. You have The Steam Packet Inn in Totnes that has views across Vire Island and over the historic River Dart, and then there’s The Kings Arms in Salcombe, which looks over the bustling Salcombe Ria. Both sell a great pint of locally sourced ale. One to watch? The Treasury, Plymouth. This place manages to appeal to a broad genre of people, from coffee-lovers to business lunchers, evening diners to casual drinkers. When in Plymouth I always make a beeline for this place. Breakfast? Valley Vue Café, Aune Valley, is my stop-off on the way to the brewery. This award-winning café serves a worldrenowned breakfast. Brew? Italian Food Heroes in The Curator Café. They serve the best flat white here, and it is an absolute must if you are on Totnes Plains. Casual dining? Waterside Bistro, Totnes. I have always liked this place. It has great customer service matched with good food, a nice selection of drinks and a view over the River Dart.

Quick! Now add this little lot to your contacts book... Oddfellows, Exeter EX4 4EP; The Stand Off, Exeter EX4 6AB; The Bowling Green, Exeter EX4 6ST; Barrel and Still, Kingsbridge TQ7 1AB; The Fortescue Inn, Salcombe TQ8 8BZ; Salcombe Harbour Hotel, Salcombe TQ8 8JH; The Millbrook, South Pool TQ7 2RW; The Steam Packet Inn, Totnes TQ9 5EW; The Kings Arms, Salcombe TQ8 8BU; Treasury, Plymouth PL1 2AD; Valley Vue Café, Kingsbridge TQ7 4DA; Italian Food Heroes, Totnes TQ9 5DR; Waterside Bistro, Totnes TQ9 5YS;