Fine Food and Drink in Devon
Perhaps because of its beautiful countryside and fertile farmland, Devon has given rise to many artisan producers of fine foods in recent years.
You could see this as a return to the natural way of producing food, which England enjoyed for centuries, or you could see it not so much as a Renaissance and more as an adventure in the combination of old values and modern techniques.
But whatever the reason for this renaissance or revival of traditional food and quality production, we're truly blessed to be able to eat products which are sourced and produced locally, transported with few food miles, and of course, consumed locally as well – although successful producers will always find a national market for their products.
Paignton - Truly Treats
First company to mention is Truly Treats, who are bakers with a difference – making a whole range of delicious small batch cakes and scones and tray bakes with completely natural ingredients, and more importantly no artificial colourings or preservatives.
Everything is made from scratch in the bakery in Paignton, and their love for the county in which they live and work shows in everything they do. They are committed to keeping food miles to a minimum, sourcing everything that they can from local producers – so, for example, all the eggs they use their baking are free range and locally sourced.
In keeping with the concept of low food
miles, they distribute their products within the South West, but
once they have found a way of distributing nationally while also keeping
green values in mind, they deserve to find an expanded market. It's a
combination of old-fashioned production methods, combined with commitment
to quality, pride in what they do, and excellent customer service.
Totnes - Sharpham
A very interesting company is Sharpaham Partnership. Based in Totnes, this produces fine English wines and speciality cheeses. Now it's not always been easy to produce classic English wines because the UK climate isn't exactly favourable to wine production – or at least, to be more accurate, it's not consistently favourable.
But, given the right soil variety, a suitable microclimate, and particular grape varieties suited to the English terroir, it is possible to make good wines, and as Sharpham put it, "nature has bestowed her gifts freely upon us here". Having said that, making wine isn't just about growing great grapes in the right climate, it's about using absolutely hygienic techniques in the vineyard and winemaking process.Sharpham have combined traditional techniques from the Old World and modern knowledge and techniques from the New World to develop the best quality wine which shows off its unique regional characteristic. Now they are one of England's foremost wine producers, and their products are well worth exploring.
In addition, they make absolutely splendid English cheese! Once again, the product very good indeed because of their meticulous attention to processing under scrupulous hygienic standards, using traditional methods – all performed entirely by hand. If you're suspicious of your food producers and you want to be sure that you're getting what they claim, the great thing about Sharpham is that you can actually watch them producing the cheese in the dairy, and tour the vineyard and winemaking facilities as well. Highly recommended and you can find them at www.sharpham.com
Laydilay is an organic egg producer with wonderful quality and flavour in their eggs. You might think that egg production was a simple matter – but not only are eggs affected by the happiness of the hens, but they're are also affected by the age of the hens, quality of stockmanship, the feed given to the hens, the breed of the hens, and of course more than anything perhaps, the quality of egg management and supply chain.
So to get a great tasting egg with a rich coloured yolk, firm white and strong shell, Laydilaystart by providing the hens with good quality pasture, scratch wheat and vegetables, and free-range food which encourages them to stay outside all day. They are accustomed to human contact, which keeps them calm, and leads to an atmosphere in the paddock which seems to be conducive to laying good eggs. Find out more their website which is www.laydilay.co.uk
Salcombe - The Crab Shed
Now if you happen to be a fan of
shellfish, you're in for a treat if you're near Salcombe. There's a
wonderful business called The Crab Shed which provides fish and shellfish
directly from the fishing boats operating off Salcombe fish quay. All fish
is sourced from sustainable stocks, harvested from the amazing clear
waters of the beautiful South Devon coast. And because they combine the
business of fish provision with a delightful restaurant, we as consumers
get the best of all possible worlds! The restaurant is one in which to
enjoy fresh fish and shellfish directly from the sea, together with
skilful cookery and production, and a beautiful location in which to enjoy
Elements For Life - Somerset
We are moving sideways to Somerset for a moment to give you the opportunity to buy some delectable raw chocolate! Elements For Life are a company based in Somerset, but the inspiration for their product arose in Devon. The question that people often ask is – "what exactly is raw chocolate?" and the second question that people want to know about is "why is it so good for you?"
First of all it's produced using low-temperature methods so there isn't a corruption of the ingredients that can arise when things are heated. Ordinary chocolate is heated many times during production process to around 300 Degrees Fahrenheit, which clearly can produce by-products that may not be desirable, and certainly will destroy many of the nutrients - if not all of them. In raw chocolate, there is small-scale production at low temperatures, which allows all the nutrients to be preserved – what's more, there isn't anything artificial in Elements For Life's raw chocolate. There's no refined cane sugar, there's no dairy, there's no gluten there's no packing agent, no bulking and no artificial additives of any kind. Despite the fact that you might believe your normal chocolate bar is wholesome and good, the likelihood is that it contains many additives which you might not even be aware of unless you study the small print on the label.
Raw chocolate by contrast has low glycaemic sweeteners derives from coconut blossom, nuts and seeds. There isn't an E number insight! Now this is all very well, but raw chocolate on its own is very intense, and it needs to be made into a product that gives you not only the beneficial aspects for your health but is also delicious to eat. Elements for Life have managed to produce absolutely wonderful raw chocolate brownies that are pure and delicious. One of the great advantages of eating raw chocolate in this way is that you still get the wonderful buzz from chocolate, but you're not taking in loads of sugar! In fact, you're actually eating something that's pure, natural, nutritious and good for you. It almost sounds too good to be true but in actual fact it really isn't. The question is - will you try your own raw chocolate adventure? See more at www.elementsforlife.co.uk where you can also buy the product online and get an initial 10% discount.
Holsworthy - Blackberry Farm
Now here's one for the meat eaters! Blackberry Farm, in Holsworthy, Devon, breed pedigree Aberdeen Angus cattle, and have a mixed breeding flock of sheep including three different varieties. Needless to say the meat they produce is highly rated for quality and flavour, and available in their extensive farm shop.
This also has a tearoom in keeping with the ethos of local production and quality. Much of the food served in the tea shop is home-made, and uses local produce. Now, if you want to be sure that meat is produced in a sustainable and compassionate way, the great thing about Blackberry Farm is that it offers you tours of the farm so that you can see exactly where your food is coming from. Highly rated, and you can find them at www.blackberryfarmshop.co.uk
Dartmouth - Edward's Fudge Kitchen
Moving on to what we might call provision for the sweet tooth, Edward's Fudge Kitchen is located in Dartmouth, and is committed to producing authentic Devon fudge. Edward Bosworth, the owner, has only one goal in mind – to absolutely make the best fudge available to everybody in UK, particularly those who been disillusioned by the poor quality sweet masquerading as fudge which is sold in many high street supermarkets.
In fact he has two shops, one in Brixham, and one in Dartmouth, where you can sample many flavours of absolutely scrumptious fudge! All of the suppliers and producers in this brief guide to Devon food are noted for using wholesome ingredients, of the highest quality, and organic where possible, and Edward's Fudge is no exception – in fact Ed puts his success down to the purity of his ingredients: whole milk, real butter and the finest flavours. If you can't get to the shops in person, you can of course buy from the website. Find Ed's Fudge at www.edsfudge.co.uk
Plymouth - Column Bake House
Now we move to Plymouth for our next featured producer which is Column Bake House & Stores. This is a multiple award-winning Artisan bakery and cafe. It's located in one of the wonderful old buildings in Royal William Yard, and it serves everything you could expect for a lunchtime treat or a delicious morning coffee or a super afternoon tea. You can find home-made bread, cakes and pastries amongst other lunchtime treats which vary from day-to-day. Once again everything that's sold here is made on the premises, and their objective is to use the maximum amount of local produce, to support local businesses and farmers.
The cafe & shop are closed on Monday, but open Tuesday to Sunday. We recommend you check out times on the website before you visit. You can find all the information you need at www.columnbakehouse.org
Budleigh Salterton - Georgie Porgies Puddings
For fans of deserts, there can hardly be more exciting business
than Georgie Porgies Puddings. As you might expect, they produce all kinds of
puddings, exciting deserts, traditional puddings, steamed puddings – and
they are one of the market leaders in this country in the production of
the highest quality, handmade desserts and puddings. They're based in Budleigh Salterton, and you can find out all the things you need to know
about satisfying your sweet tooth with a delicious pudding at
Lovaton Farm - South Tawton
Farm stays also available: Chagford, Okehampton, North Tawton and Belstone are all within easy reach.
One I particularly want to mention is Lovaton Farm, where Dexter cross breed cows produce the most delicious meat I've ever tasted (apparently also rich in omega-3 fats, so it's good for you too!) They also produce Gloucester Old Spot pigs and Lleyn lamb. Now, raising your animals on clover pasture is almost certain to result in something quite extraordinary and outstanding! And so it is, for their lamb is meltingly soft and full flavoured, their pork has an absolutely delicious flavour and proper crackling, and the flavour of the beef is so rich you can almost taste the meadow pasture on which they raised!
A truly outstanding effort in returning to our roots for traditional meat production in a humane and compassionate fashion, while also reducing food miles – this has to be the way to go, making meet something so special that we want to eat it once a week as a treat rather than consuming it everyday (with all the questions around production methods and the environment which that raises). This is absolutely my favourite meat of the moment, and I highly recommend it to you too! Yu can also stay on the farm! See www.traditionallyrearedmeat.co.uk