Jamie’s Italian to open in Exeter, Strada to close: Opinion

Ah…Jamie Oliver.  It seemed like only yesterday he was prancing around our TV screens with his Essex twist, cooking grub for his mates under the guise of the Naked Chef.  Now look at him; a multi-millionaire, multi endorsing force of nature.  And you have to hand it to him, a rags to riches story to aspire to for any young and budding chef.

The Naked Chef series started Jamie off on his long road to success and fame. The campaigning against bad school lunches, all those books published; unfortunately for Jamie it ended up building his ‘love or hate’ relationship that many foodies have with him.  You either love his adorable Essex-ness or you run screaming when you see the price of his kitchenware.

I never really understood Strada to be honest (modern Italian is overdone and badly delivered in this country…rant rant), although the food was always quite nice sadly, it is due to close and a Jamie’s Italian is due to open early next year in its place.  So, luckily we’re not adding to the number of chain restaurants but we’re not getting rid of any more soon.

I am reserving judgment on how nice Jamie’s Italian will be, the amount of positive feedback I’ve had about Jamie’s Italian means that it would be foolish to make any early speculation.  Chain restaurants are endemically impersonal, corporate and soulless, so it would be uplifting to finally see somewhere that doesn’t leave me cold after paying the bill – with the exception of Giraffe Restaurants as they’re always really friendly and personal.

Go on Jamie, impress me…

Express and Echo reported this originally.  The photo I have used was mercilessly pillaged from some other website.

Sylvain’s Little French Cakes: Pattiserie Perfection

For Eating Exeter, product testing is a bit of a rarity.  Once Gourmet Garden sent us a whole bunch of squeezy herbs which I tried to love but failed to, and now and again we get the odd thing sent through which either gets a write up because its lovely or casually ignored if it is just naff.  But this is the first time that I’ve had to arrange to pick up something that was created in Exeter.

Popping down to The Salutation Inn in Fore Street, Topsham, where Sylvain’s Little French Cakes is based after I finished work was a little like stepping back down a cobbled lane of memories as it had been quite literally years.  The last time I had stepped in to The Salutation Inn’s courtyard it had been cobbled and open, but now it was quite different.

The Salutation Inn has changed greatly in the last few years, along with the general demographic of Topsham and that area of East Devon.  Imagine my surprise when we visited it to pick up our cakes to find that the courtyard had transformed in to a magnificent glass walled dining area, filled with natural light.  It is clear that The Salutation Inn is now positioning themselves into the fine dining arena with their Chef Director, Tom Williams-Hawkes at the healm.

But today my visit wasn’t about The Salutation Inn, it was about Sylvain’s Little French Cakes which operates out of The Salutation Inn as their in-house patisserie and the star of the show, Sylvain Peltier.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to meet Sylvain, on this occasion but I was able to meet a waitress who insisted on telling me that I had pronounced his name wrong, at least three times after I had actually made the mistake. Ah well…

Sylvain (pronounced Sil-van for the non-French speakers amongst us) has an impressive CV when it comes to his craft and its worth exploring his website as it really conveys what Sylvain’s Little French Cakes is about.  It is (where possible) a personal cake delivery service, a patisserie school and a trade supplier. And there is one thing these little French cakes are, magnifique!!

We were lucky enough to have a selection of éclairs, Petit choux and macarons.  So here goes with our run down of each one:

Millionaire Eclaire – Salted Caramel with hazelnut crumb, and a thick chocolate (70% cocoa) filling with caramel pillowed in between a soft choux pastry case.  The pastry was strong enough to hold the contents and it didn’t dissolve when I bit in to it and had a silky smooth texture to it.

Pure Noir – Dark and rich chocolate filling with the same amazing choux pastry.  The chocolate (65%) centre held by the light yet strong choux pastry again had this amazing texture to it which was like licking silk.  Although I found the chocolate centre quite bitter (personal taste) this had an amazing chocolaty punch.

Vanilla Bourbon – Vanilla icing made from real vanilla (spot the vanilla seeds!) with a creamy delicately flavoured bourbon centre, which felt like it was almost whipped!  The light vanilla marshmallows just dissolved in mouth, and really worked well with the combination of centre and icing.  Whole thing was kept together with the strong yet light choux pastry case.

Raspberry Petit Choux – The raspberry had a wonderful fruity sharpness  and the texture of the pastry made this a lovely sweet bite.  I found this hard to eat in small nibbles and the presentation (and this goes for all of them) was immaculate.

Salted Caramel Petit Choux – Raspberry icing worked well with the pastry and the little crust of sea salt added a depth of flavour to the caramel insides.  It was, like the eclairs, silky on the inside in texture with a lovely rich salted caramel centre.

Macarons: 

So here is a lesson for you, they are nothing to do with Macaroons and they have a little bit of history behind them too.

Although the macaron is predominantly a French confection, there has been much debate about its origins. Larousse Gastronomique cites the macaron as being created in 791 in a convent near Cormery. Some have traced its French debut back to the arrival of Catherine de’ Medici‘s Italian pastry chefs whom she brought with her in 1533 upon marrying Henry II of France.[8] In 1792, macarons began to gain fame when two Carmelite nuns, seeking asylum in Nancy during the French Revolution, baked and sold the macaron cookies in order to pay for their housing. These nuns became known as the “Macaron Sisters”. In these early stages, macarons were served without special flavors or fillings.[9]

It was not until the 1830s that macarons began to be served two-by-two with the addition of jams, liqueurs, and spices. The macaron as it is known today, composed of two almond meringue discs filled with a layer of buttercream, jam, or ganache filling, was originally called the “Gerbet” or the “Paris macaron.” Pierre Desfontaines of the French pâtisserie Ladurée has sometimes been credited with its creation in the early part of the 20th century, but another baker, Claude Gerbet, also claims to have invented it.

Thanks Wikipedia :)

So nothing to do with Macaroons, and I have to admit this was the first time I had had a Macaron (always up for new experiences) and I wasn’t disappointed.  Macarons are a lot sweeter than you think they might be at first, and they make excellent partners with coffee.

Lemon and Pistachio – A pistachio ganache and confied lemon centre which had a really fruity kick to it.

Raspberry and Tonka Bean – Amazing colour and a really strong raspberry flavour which worked well with the sweetness of the macaron itself.

Just Chocolate – Chocolaty and punchy, the high cocoa content coming over in its amazing flavour

Cassis and Violet – Unfortunately the not being a massive fan of the taste of violet, this had a wonderful blackberry taste but for me the violet reminded me of Parma Violets.  But apart from that it, like the rest of them, had a delicious ganache centre (confied Blackberry’s) with a delicate crispy shell.

Thanks to Elle and Sylvain for the opportunity to taste these awesome pieces of patiesserie perfection.  If you want to know more about Sylvain’s Little French Cakes, head to the website:

www.sylvainslittlefrenchcakes.co.uk where you can buy eclairs, macarons and get more information about Sylvain and what he does.

Follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LittleFenchCake

Follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SylvainsLittleFrenchCakes?fref=ts

The Nobody Inn, Doddiscombleigh, Exeter

In all honesty, I’m not usually one for pub grub. I’m not being snooty or fussy, I’ve just experienced my fair share of bland and boring pub meals, not to mention the microwaved plates of yellow they serve at Weatherspoons’.  However after years of snubbing pub food, a trip to The Nobody Inn in Doddiscombleigh last week opened my eyes to the world fantastic foodie pubs, which can actually be easily found if you wonder from the comforts of city life.

Nestled between the Haldon hills and Teign Valley, The Nobody Inn is located in a truly picturesque setting. Luckily we had picked a beautifully warm day to visit, so grabbed one of the large spacious tables in the beer garden, where we were able to bask in the sunshine. With the garden being located at the front of the pub, there are some gorgeous views to be enjoyed over the rolling hills, and although there’s a small country road that runs by, it’s a quiet and peaceful place to relax.

After securing our table, we walked into the pub to grab some menus and order a drink. Upon arrival we were greeted by the cheerful landlord who immediately treated us as if we were returning friends. The first thing that I noticed about this lovely old building was the impressive whisky collection behind the bar (if you’re a fan of the brown stuff you have to visit as they have over 240 varieties to try). Sadly I’m more of a rum kinda girl and upon asking the landlord for his best advice on weaker tipples; I opted to try a pear and peach cider, produced by local cider makers, Annings.

Sitting back down outside I tried the cider (served in a wine glass as “we’re ladies”, big thumbs up from me) as I browsed the foodie offerings. The lunch menu looked great, with lots of traditional but well thought out and intriguing dishes such as cumin and honey glazed ham with eggs, and steak ciabatta with caramelised onions and mushrooms, I had a hard time whittling the options down to one. After much deliberation I went for the smoky pork burger, topped with smoked apple wood cheese and bbq sauce, served in a toasted ciabatta (£10.95). The cider was delicious as well, not too sweet like many ciders can be, and not too fizzy either, it was as Goldie Locks would say, just right, with a good amount of peachiness!

After placing our orders at the bar, we enjoyed our drinks in the sunshine, and within 15 minutes the food was on the table. My lunch was certainly something to look at when it arrived, beautifully presented, the burger standing tall alongside a bucket spilling with petite French fries, I just knew this was going to taste as good as it looks. Tucking into the burger, I was in heaven. The pork patty was juicy and really flavoursome with hints of spice and sweetness, and was complimented so well by the smoky cheese and the tangy bbq sauce.

I’m going to put it out there; this was the best burger I’ve ever had.

It was huge as too, but tasted so good I had to eat every last bit, sweeping up the remnants of the chunky bbq sauce with the scraps of toasted ciabatta bun. The French fries (what I could eat of them) were really good too, perfectly seasoned with just a little wobble in their structure. This was the perfect plate of food.

The fantastic food, quirkily friendly service and attractive setting at The Nobody Inn has renewed my faith in good pub grub. Although it’s a 30 minute drive from Exeter, it is well worth the journey as the free-house stands head and shoulders above most of the cities pub-restaurants. I will definitely be returning and can’t wait until I get the chance to sample their exciting evening menu.

http://www.nobodyinn.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheNobodyInn

To read more from Kathryn, head over to http://adayinmyshoeskathryn.blogspot.co.uk/ and subscribe to her wonderful blog :)

Johnny Does Dinner – The Polytunnel Dinner at Trill Farm, Axminster

You are unlikely to find many foodies who can say that they have a meal in a horticultural polytunnel and cooked for them by a chef, using ingredients from the very polytunnel being dined in. And to be honest, I never thought I would be able to say I am one of those lucky few. But last week Eating Exeter was lucky enough to be invited to the inaugural meal of Jonny Does Dinner, an exciting new Pop-up Dining venture coming to a stately home or unusual location near you.

The story of Jonny Does Dinner started when Fan met Jonny who had recently escaped from London (as the about page says!).  Bringing his experience from working at Mark Hix, The Groucho Club and Brindisa, Johnny Does Dinner is about bringing gourmet food to foodies in unique and spectacular locations (fancy dinner in The Great Hall at The Great Fulfords in Cheriton Bishop?)  Jonny himself has a natural flamboyance, and the skill of his cooking really shone through the evening.  The dishes were down to earth, the entire menu felt well put together and well thought out.

The event was held in the grounds at Trill Farm which is located just outside of Axminster, less than ten minutes away from the A35.  Forty five minutes from Exeter, but a million miles away from anywhere I had been before.  Trill Farm Garden (in which the polytunnel lives) is ran by Ash and Kate.  It supplies fresh produce to nearby River Cottage HQ and the Axminster River Cottage Canteen too, also some restaurants in Lyme Bay.  Trill Farm runs courses and a festival to name but a few things, I would recommend visiting their website to see what sort of things they do; it is quite a place and definitely worth a visit to their Farm Shop.

Driving up to the Farm, I was greeted by Nicky who gave me directions to where the tunnel was located.  Following the lanterns, I was transfixed by the Trill Farm Herb Garden and the aroma of herbs which hits the nostrils like a herby slap to the olfactory nerve endings.  The polytunnels were hard to miss and it was here that the scene was set for our amazing dinner.

After creeping around the polytunnels and finding the gathering well under way Fan introduced herself and presented me with a Blackberry Mule which included foraged blackberries and a wonderful gingery kick to it from the ginger beer.  This was accompanied by Salsa Verde Crostini’s, a lovely aromatic green sauce, deep in colour with a very intense yet pleasant taste.

With events such as this, you have to be prepared to make some new friends. It is part of the deal with attending Pop-up events, and for anyone who would want to meet other people it is a great way of doing so. Twenty four strangers stood in the middle of a field of vegetables drinking cocktails will ultimately talk to each other, and I started chatting to a charming lady called Tamsin. A city girl at heart, we walked around snapping photos and talking about her time living in London. For me this was what the whole supper club thing was about.

It is a strange thing when you find yourself sat at a table with people who all have a passion for seasonal produce; I learnt a thing or two whilst we enjoyed the food that Jonny was producing from his polytunnel kitchen next door.  The dining table was set over a crop of red basil and backed on to by various varieties of tomatoes. As we sat down, I had the luck of sitting next to Ash at the end of the table and opposite two River Cottage Luminaries, Tim Maddams @timgreensauce and Joe Draper @draperjoe who were both charming and happy to talk to a strangely dressed man who sat quietly on the corner listening and observing occasionally taking photos.  Tim told me about a Pop-up Restaurant venture which he is involved in called Hall and Hearty, bringing Tim’s flair and skills to Village Halls across East Devon and beyond.

The first course was a lovely smoked salmon, it was (excuse the cliché) melt-on-tongue and dissolved like an expensive pillow as I chewed.  Yes I compared it to an expensive pillow, and I stand by that analogy.  Sitting on a bed of beetroot and salad with a sweet dressing.  This was the one time that I had eaten Salmon with total confidence that I would enjoy what I was about to eat, and would you believe it, I did.  Closely following this course was a barbequed Trill reared lamb, marinated with wild garlic, rosemary, mint and marjoram.  This was a beautifully cooked example of what really good meat should taste like.  Handed around with the lamb was a wild rice salad studded with roast squash, radishes, pomegranate and peas and a Greek salad which were absolutely packed with some delightful tasting ingredients.

Fan, Nicky, Alan and even Jonny served the guests with each course and they appeared out of the dark of the polytunnel with head torches announcing their presence.  The courses were moved quickly once everyone had finished, and we were not without food for any long intervals.  The organisation and running of the night was seamless, which for me really stood out.

Next the cheese course landed gently in front of us, a fragrant soft cheese called Francis with crackers and a really nice sweet Apple and Thyme jelly.  Then we were on to the Blackberry and Almond Tart, served with some clotted cream; for me this course was a highlight of the evening.  The sweetness of the almond and the sour of the blackberry worked perfectly and reminded me of the sort of tart that would not go amiss from the distant years of my childhood.

Sitting with a delicious French pressed Costa Rican coffee at the end of the meal, the candle light enshrouded the diners in a warm glow sitting in a place that would unlikely ever house a dining experience like this one ever again.  Restaurants and cafes have many energies around them, different people leaving their print on the surroundings and you know as you get up from the table that your place will be quickly filled by someone else in a matter of minutes.  As I got up from my seat I knew that this seat wasn’t going to be there again, and that feeling was quite special – something I doubt I will feel again for a long time.  In the morning, I knew that this polytunnel would again become a place of work, not a place of dinner and consumption.

The price of the tickets reflect the fact that Jonny Does Dinner is about the experience.  It is gourmet food, served in a magical setting by a skilled and charismatic chef in locations that are unlikely to be dined in again.  There are no re-runs, there are no ‘second servings’.  Once you get up to leave, you’ll find that it is unlikely you’ll repeat the experience.  So remember your camera.

To see where Jonny is doing dinner next head over here.

http://www.jonnydoesdinner.com

@jonnydoesdinner on Twitter

Jonny Does Dinner on Facebook

The Pickle Shack Pop-up Restaurant at The Real McCoy’s Arcade, Exeter

Eating Exeter was lucky to be invited to a Pop-up Dining experience hosted by The Pickle Shack; an exciting new company hosting a number of Pop-up events across East and South Devon.  At the helm of The Pickle Shack is Josh McDonald-Johnson, a talented Michelin star trained chef who has previously worked for three two Michelin starred chefs, Michael Caines (our local food hero), Daniel Clifford (of Midsummer House in Cambridge) and John Campbell (previously of The Vineyard at Stockross, Berkshire).  He has recently returned from travelling the world in search of curious cuisines and cookery methods after spending a year and a half in New Zealand working in some of the countries most highly acclaimed restaurants.

The Pop-up Dining experience is definitely a bit of a rarity in Exeter, and it will be interesting to see if we start getting more events ‘Popping up’. Excuse the pun.  This was my first Pop-up Restaurant experience and I would definitely recommend it.

Taking place at The Real McCoy’s Arcade in Fore St, Exeter the scene was set for a night of tapas and cocktails from the Pop-up bar (operated out of The Real McCoy’s Cafe) with a selection of drinks including Avocet Ale from the very local Exeter Brewery which was less than a mile away as the crow flies.  The dining area in the courtyard normally serves cafe customers, but tonight Exeter’s foodies clustered together to eat and drink cocktails in this little landmark, with music provided by an Exeter band called Hazaar which really gave the evening quite an Iberian feel.  Cocktail’s included a Strawberry and Rosemary Mojito, White Sangria (White Wine, Somerset Apple Brandy, Local Apple Juice) and one that went down well with diners, Lemonbalm and Pink Peppercorn Gin & Tonic.

Some things in life are definitely best shared, and food is often one of the first things you want to share.  The ethos of the night was very much ‘make new friends’.  The communal seating might not be to everyone’s taste (we are British of course?), but this is part of the Pop-up restaurant philosophy.  We found ourselves squeezing in to the last few spaces and getting comfy with our surrounding diners; we met some lovely people as a result and happened to exchange phone numbers with one lady who we spent most of the evening chatting to.  The non-watermarked photos are courtesy of Josh’s photographer on the night as we had a few camera issues!

Once we were happily seated, the food was the next thing on my agenda. Our little menu which came packed in a nice envelope gave us the six dishes that were going to be served, each one seemed to have a different culinary personality, some were a little experimental and others were more familiar.

The first course was Seared Chorizo with Zarzuela, a punchy garlicky/herby sauce with a chunk of fine Chorizo.  So why Tapas? I chatted to Josh after the meal; Tapas was logistically easier to create given the fact the kitchen was on the third floor of the building, food being delivered on a lift down to the cafe on the ground floor.
Tapas also gave the diners a greater variety of tastes and styles to sample as well.  Even though the portions came out at 10 minute intervals, it was quite amazing how filling they seemed by the end.  Never underestimate the deceptive power of Tapas dishes!

Second up was a Seedy slice with beetroot houmous, fresh goats curd and crispy onions, the earthiness of the beetroot and the goats curd worked really well together and was held together with a nutty slice which was far from dry and gave the whole thing a moistness which was really nice.

Our third course was for me, the most unusual of the night.  Smoked mackerel doughnut with chilli and apple jam. For me the Smoked Mackerel worked well with the chilli and apple jam, but the doughnut didn’t have a place with such a strong tastes.  This was very much a personal thing, as some diners liked it and some agreed with me. I have a feeling that I was meant to coat the doughnut in the jam first, but as it was it was certainly one of the more experimental dishes of the evening.

The fourth course saw Pulled salt beef brisket, sour flatbread, pickled carrot and mint yoghurt appear to us on slate serving platters.  I have to apologise to Josh for calling this the nicest Tzatziki I’d ever tasted when I chatted to him afterwards!  But it worked wonderfully with the saltiness of the brisket and the flatbread.  The Salted beef wasn’t too salty (as this sometimes can be a little overwhelming if you don’t like overly salty foods) but the combination worked well and balanced itself nicely.

So now we are on to the desserts.  Our first was Plum & pear with honey, spice and tarragon meringue.  My portion had a whole plum and some pear too, the plum melted off the stone and the meringue gave it a sweet side to the bitter-sour of the plum which really worked.

Our final mini dish of the evening was Blackberry and apple, Almond milk infused with foraged chamomile and salted oats.  Again a well balanced dish and one of my favourite of the night.  The chamomile was foraged from Josh’s own back garden, which really says a lot about the event as a whole.   Have a look at Pickle Shack’s Produce Promise just to get an idea of how important this ‘local’ is to this company.

The Real McCoy’s event isn’t the only one that The Pickle Shack will be doing, in fact it sounds like the events themselves take a heck of a lot of planning in advance.  The next one is also in Exeter and it taking place at The Real Food Cafe in Paris Street on the 13th September at 7:30pm.  Head over to the events page for some more dates for your diary.  One event coming up is the Chagford Grub Club where the ingredients are coming from two suppliers based in Chagford themselves, this is certainly one for the diary if you don’t mind a little trip to Chagford.

Follow The Pickle Shack on Twitter @pickle_shack and Facebook

For contact details and information on further events head over to http://www.pickleshack.co.uk/ 

Great News from The Oddfellows Bar: Buffalo Trace Cocktail Competition Winner Headed For Kentucky

Time to celebrate!

Exeter bartender Ben Bravington-Sim is packing for an all-expenses paid trip to the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky, as the winner of the Buffalo Trace 8 Steps cocktail competition.

Ben, who works at The Speakeasy in Exeter, saw off strong competition from other South-West bartenders to take first prize in the contest, organised by Hi-Spirits, the UK distributor of Buffalo Trace Bourbon.

The competitors were asked to create a unique drink reflecting one or more of the eight steps required to make Buffalo Trace, from milling the grain through to bottling the spirit after at least eight years of barrel aging.

Inspired by the eight steps of the production process, Ben’s winning cocktail is called “The Crossing Point”. Ben impressed the judges by explaining the whole production process and likened this to an adventure that the Buffalo and other users of the Buffalo Trace might have experienced on their travels. Marks were awarded based on a range of six criteria including product knowledge, technique and taste.

Second prize went to Charlie of Amoeba with ‘Where the Buffalo Smoke’, while third place was awarded to David -“Fitz” of Ten Mill Lane with ‘Frontier Medicine’.

Ben will be joined this October on the trip the world’s most-awarded distillery, Buffalo Trace in Franklin County, Kentucky, by seven other bartenders who have won regional competitions held around the UK.

Dan Bolton, managing director of Hi-Spirits, said: “Bourbon is the basis of some of the world’s greatest cocktails, and so it takes real flair and imagination to come up with new Buffalo Trace drinks to rival the classics.

The Crossing Point

Created by Ben Bravington-Sim of The Speakeasy in Exeter

  • 37.5ml Buffalo Trace Bourbon

  • 12.5ml Amaro Montenegro

  • 12.5ml Benedictine

  • 2 drops Bob’s Lavender Bitters

Garnish by coating a copper mug with rose oil and serve with “Trail Mix” made of Pistachios, sugared Rose petals & sugared Violet petals.

Eating Exeter Update: Number 2

One day I will come up with a consistent name for these updates.  I might even give it a snappy name like Eating Exeter Express, The Irregular Eating Exeter Update or something along those lines. 

So summer is over, like some distant memory the enslaught of autumn is upon us like the brown and wet entity that lives up to the stereotypes.  Its already getting colder, the Back To School sales are well and truly underway and for those of us who exist in the world of education (like me) the beginning of the annual cycle is well and truly starting.

But we have some fun things in store to come over the next few weeks which will be exciting for us to attend and hopefully entertaining and enlightening for you to read.

1. Pickle Shack Pop-up

This was a last minute addition, but we’re going to the Real McCoys Arcade tonight to experience the Pickle Shack Pop-up Restaurant.  This is one of a number of pop-up events that have been…um…popping up, around the Exeter area recently, and I am really looking forward to this.  Devon Life have an article the Pickle Shack which is definitely worth a read.

2. Johnny Does Dinner

Johnny Does Dinner is a supper club, providing a unique dining experience for South West foodies by holding dinner events in places that you would never normally be able to eat dinner.  This event will be held in a Polytunnel somewhere in the deepest Devon countryside and Eating Exeter will be there to write a full review of the evening!

3. Little French Cakes

Sylvain’s Little French Cakes is ran by Sylvain Peltier, an experienced chef with quite a CV.  From the Salutation Inn in Topsham, Sylvain’s Little French Cakes has brought together years of experience in creating high class cakes and pastry products.  A full review and some nice photos to come :)

So its actually quite a busy kick-off for the new season (so to speak).  Remember to follow Eating Exeter on Twitter, Instagram and like on Facebook for some exclusive non-blog posts and other goings on which don’t make it on to the main page!

Chris – Co-founder and Editor
eatingexeter at gmail dot com

The Jasmine Thai Restaurant, 153 Fore Street, Exeter

photo 1 (35) photo 2 (36)

I’ve been meaning to write a review about Jasmine’s Thai restaurant since I first visited in April, so when I made my third visit last week I knew I had to find time to rave about it. A little out of the city centre, tucked away on South Street, you wouldn’t think much of this Asian eatery from the outside, with a simple exterior and a few neighbouring scruffy shop you can easily miss it, however once inside, you’re transported in to a sleek and stylish restaurant. Each time I’ve visited, both week nights and weekends, this place has had a lively atmosphere, the tables filled with cheerful customers.

On our third visit we were shown by one of the friendly waitresses to our table on the raised seating platform which, showered in sunlight by the large dome sky light, sets a light and spacious ambiance. Browsing through the menu, the options are endless, with all the Thai classics in there, including green, massaman and jungle curry and some intriguing and inventive specials such as the crispy deep fried sea bass. Although I love to try new things there was no question to what I was going to order, my all-time favourite dish pad thai, and as a family we also decided to share one of the starter platters.

The service can be a little slow here at busy times and we had to wave down one of the waitresses to the table, though when she did come over to take our order she was very apologetic and we weren’t in any rush. Along with the food I ordered a medium glass of rose, which was slightly pricey at around £4.50, but was a nice bottle. The foods not cheap here either, with my pad thai costing £10.95, however the quality of the food make it well worth the expense for a special occasion.

Our mixed platter starter arrived at our table swiftly after we ordered and included a selection of Asian appetisers, including prawn toast, satay chicken skewers; prawn cakes, spring rolls and a range of dips. Each was a delicious as the last, but by favourite was probably the prawn cakes dipped in the tangy sweet chilli sauce. The platters are also pretty filling, so if you don’t have a massive appetite, try sharing a platter for two between four of you. Our main courses again arrived quickly after our table was cleared; each dish was presented beautifully with vegetables carved into flowers dressing the plates. My chicken pad thai certainly didn’t disappoint, although the portion looks small, it was extremely filling, with plenty of succulent chicken pieces entwined with the sweet and salty noodles and fried vegetables. The rest of the family enjoyed their meals too, and having a little taste of each I can say the curries were fantastic!

Although the service can be a little slow and the prices are a little higher than other Asian restaurants, I still couldn’t recommend anywhere higher than Jasmine’s. The foods delicious and authentically Thai, the waitresses are some of the kindest waiting staff I’ve ever encountered and the restaurant provides a beautiful and relaxed setting to your meal. They even give you After Eights with your bill, what more could you want!?

153 Fore Street
Exeter
Devon
EX4 3AT

Telephone: 01392 689988

Jasmine Thai on Urbanspoon

Rugby stars ultimate taste test of Exeter’s First Genuine American Smokin’ Menu

Exeter Chiefs and UrbanBurger

Garth Pearse with Exeter Chiefs (L-R) Phil Dollman, Henry Slade, Sam Hill and Jack Nowell.

Exeter’s original gourmet burger restaurant has launched a smokin’ range – but only after local rugby stars tested out the new menu first.

Famed for its gourmet burgers made with Devon beef from Greendale Farm, the Queen Street restaurant has today launched the Urban Smoke Shack.

Beef, pork and chicken cooked in the newly imported American ‘smoker’ for up to 10 hours at a time, were all put to the test by amongst others, Exeter Chiefs’ Jack Nowell, Sam Hill and Jack Yeandle.

Owner and chef Garth Pearse says providing new food experiences for customers is crucial, in a city that continues to improve its culinary offerings.

“It’s fantastic that Exeter is building a great reputation for good food. We pride ourselves on the best food, local meat, cooked to perfection at the best prices.

“With the new Smokin’ menu, we wanted to put it to the ultimate taste test, with customers who we know adore their food. That’s why we invited the Exeter Chiefs down and they didn’t disappoint. They tucked in with gusto.”

The new Smoke Shack menu includes smoked pulled pork, free range chicken, brisket and St Louis spare ribs. The meat is rubbed with a special spice mix and marinated overnight.

Then it is slowly cooked over indirect heat with hickory chips providing the smoke. Part way through, the meat is wrapped in foil to retain all its moisture, to ensure the best possible end result.

Exeter Chiefs full-back Jack Nowell, who played for England in this year’s Six Nations tournament, was delighted with the end result.

He said: “I’ve tried the new Urban Burger barbecue range. I came out with a bit of a full stomach but it was amazing.”

Sam Hill, Exeter Chiefs centre and England international, had three helpings at the taste-testing.

He said: “I’ve tried the new barbecue range and it’s very nice. I definitely recommend it. I may have gone back for some more a couple of times. I loved the chicken – fantastic.”

Joint owner Melissa Pearse said: “The guys were brilliant. I think some of our customers were pretty shocked to see so many Chiefs tucking away on trays of food being brought up from the kitchen. But there were a lot of hungry players and coaches to feed – and they’ve got big appetites!”

Users of Twitter can enjoy a 50% discount if they tweet a photo of an order off the new menu, or £30% by quoting #smokin to @UrbanBurgerExe in July.

Watch the Chiefs try out the new Urban Burger Smokin’ menu at www.urbanburger.co.uk

Eating Exeter Update – 23rd July 2014

This is a new idea that I have thought might work.  It’s very much an experiment, so like all great experiments it might explode with a big BANG. The idea behind this is that quite a lot happens in connection with Eating Exeter, and when there are things on the horizon it’d be nice to share them with the 1560 subscribers who follow this blog in one way or another.

New contributing editors:
You might have noticed a few new faces on Eating Exeter.

Dr Steve Price is an associate lecturer at Exeter College and a foodie who loves eating out and culinary creations.  He has been offering me advice and recommendations for a number of years and has now taken the next level to writing some reviews on places in and outside of Exeter.

Kathryn Lewis has also joined and certainly for the summer, (if I ask her nicely I am hoping she might come back!), she is writing some fantastic reviews of places in and around Exeter as well.  Kathryn is a Journalism student at Cardiff University and has her own blog which I urge you to go forth and view, and even subscribe to it too!  Follow Kathryn on Twitter @kathrynlewis92

A massive welcome to them on to the team :)

Recommendations
Good or bad, ping us an email and let us know if there is anywhere in Exeter that you reckon is briliant or terrible.  I am always interested to hear our subscribers/readers opinions, and if there is a place you feel particularly strongly about then we might even go there!

Local Businesses on Eating Exeter
Eating Exeter has always been completely free.  We don’t have advertising on the front page apart from the ones that WordPress put on automatically.  We don’t get any revenue from these, so please keep your Ad-Blocker on as we don’t benefit from them.  Any expenses that are paid are paid out of our own pocket (which is why we have a donate button on the side!) so any donations are always gratefully received.
An idea that I have had for a while is offering free advertising to independent local businesses for a limited time.  This is just an experiment and it might not work, but it will hopefully give a local business an opportunity to take advantage of the 100-150 page views a day that we get (its not much compared to other websites, but I’m quite chuffed with it!)  If you’re interested, ping us an email and we can start compiling a list!

Exeter Picturehouse, The Bar, 51 Bartholomew Street West, Exeter

Besides my love of food, the love of film and cinema is the next on my list.  And in my opinion there is nowhere else in Exeter worth going to for cinematic consumption than The Exeter Picturehouse.  Exeter has three main cinemas, and this is the only one where you can get good food and reasonably priced drinks before you go in to the auditorium.  And you can even take your drinks with you.  But turn off your phone.

One of the main criticisms levied against cinemas is the price of their convenience snacks and drinks which are famously extortionate.  But the reality is that a cinema only makes a small profit on showing a film, most of the revenue comes from the popcorn and Maltesers that are for sale and anything else that they have to offer.  The Exeter Picturehouse is lucky as it has a bar area that is licensed and also happens to serve food as well.  To non-members, there are things that are expensive but ultimately cheaper than a few places I could tell you about.

The main staple foodstuff in The Bar are the range of pizzas that they do along with cakes and a few other snacks.  They stop serving pizzas at 9pm but are normally open until later, which makes The Bar a fantastic little venue for meeting up and the bi-monthly infamous Exeter Picturehouse Movie Quiz which is a challenge for even the most seasoned movie fanatics.

The one thing that strikes me about this Bar is the amount of natural light that it invites in.  The views over the River Exe from the mezzanine are hard to match in other bars in Exeter, let alone a cinema bar.  But it really is its own entity, hosting live music and other events during the week.
The bar can get quite busy before and after showings, but visit during a screening and its easy to find a place to plonk yourself with the free Wifi and the lovely views.

Toby Carvery, Digby, Exeter – (2/5)

ROASTThe great British roast dinner, something that all residents of this peculiar little island hold close to their hearts, and even the picky eaters among us are catered to with the wide variety of elements which compile this classics dish. It became apparent that this strange connection that the British have to the good old roast intensifies at university, and the home cooked roast dinner is glorified beyond belief. Bearing in mind that I had just finished a long term of procrastination chat (with a surprising amount being dedicated to roast dinner dreaming) and not enjoying a Sunday lunch since Christmas, when a friend suggested we meet up at Toby Carvery for dinner I couldn’t say no.

Situated just off Middlemoor roundabout, parallel to the dual carriage way, you definitely wouldn’t be visiting Toby Carvery for the location or the views. The pub, come hotel has a large car park and out door seating, although scenes of the rush hour traffic don’t make for a peaceful ambiance. Arriving at around 7 o’clock on a Tuesday evening we were not expecting the restaurant to be busy, however we were greeted by a long queue once through the doors. I wouldn’t of minded waiting if there was a server there to advise on how long the wait was going to be but the whole service was very unorganised. After a 10 minutes of waiting with no contact from the staff we were seated in a very poky corner of the very crowded pub, by a grumpy looking waitress who I don’t think even grumbled a word to us.
Luckily a polite waitress was assigned to our table and took our drinks order quite swiftly before advising us that we could collect our carvery when it suited us.

Although we planned to wait for our cokes before getting our food, we spotted a lul in the queue and decided to go for it whilst it was quiet (this was a good idea as a couple minutes later we had atleast 10 people waiting behind us.) At the carvery we were greeted by another rude member of staff, the chef who ignored us waiting there for atleast 5 minutes whilst he played around with the food aimlessly, without even acknowledging us. Eventually when he decided to serve us I chose the turkey from the selection of meats ( which also included gammon, pork and beef.) The remainder of the meal was self service and I was pleasantly surprised by the wide range of fresh (looking) vegetables and accompanying sauces and gravy. What’s more we were provided with very large plates, meaning you didn’t have to pile up your food to enjoy everything you fancied.

Arriving back at out table we were glad we didn’t wait for our drinks as 10 minutes on they still had not arrived, so we tucked into our rather large plates of food. In all the roast dinner was nice, and I use this painfully bland adjective as a metaphor. The turkey was extremely dry and was quite hard to chew without swamping it with gravy, luckily the cranberry sauce was really good, so smothering a bit of this on the meat was a solution. The cauliflower cheese was also very disappointing, with not even a hint of cheesey-ness, the bland white slop on my plate tasted as if the cauliflower had simply been boiled in milk. However the roast potatoes were really crisp and tasty, and the gravy was rich and meaty, which really saved the meal.

You can’t argue with the excellent value of Toby Carvery with a huge roast dinner costing only £5.99, although expect the basics, there are no thrills or luxuries here. If you want a simple roast dinner with all the trimmings this is a good pit stop for a quick meal, however if you’ve been dreaming of your perfect roast for a few weeks, Toby’s will leave you feeling disappointed.

Read more from Kathryn at adayinmyshoeskathryn.blogspot.comand follow her on Twitter @kathrynlewis92

The Weekend Breakfast @ Ruby Modern Diner, Queen St, Exeter

74 Queen St, Exeter, EX4 3RX
01392 436168

The award winning team at Ruby Modern Diner at 74 Queen Street have been very busy bees. Not only do they sell some of the best burgers in Exeter (see a recent review in Beer, Burger and Beyond and some recently awarded accolades) but they have also launched a Weekend Breakfast menu, serving breakfast from 9:00am – 12 noon on, strangely enough, weekends. The new breakfast menu is a modern take on the classic American breakfast, with a non-exhaustive selection ranging from a Breakfast Burger to a classic fried breakfast. Waffles, baps and a vegetarian option are also available in this nicely engineered menu with brioche buns baked locally by Emma’s Bread and locally reared meats.

The menu is concise yet inclusive. Want a meat free breakfast? They have a vegetarian version. Want waffles? The Canadian Breakfast strikes a balance between the need for fried stuff, the sweetness of maple syrup and fresh waffles, you can also find the classic Eggs Benedict: roast ham, poached eggs on toasted English muffin slathered in hollandaise. Ruby have also created the Semi, which is perfect for kids or smaller appetites, and the classic Sausage and Bacon Baps are available for eating in or taking away. And, if you happen to find yourself in Ruby after a particularly heavy night, try The Hair Of The Dog for £4.50 which for the uninitiated is a Bloody Mary.

The guys at Ruby Modern Diner really care about ingredients. Take a look at their Suppliers page on the website and you’ll see the role call of local producers that supply different elements of their menu. The one thing that I come back to when I have written about Ruby in the past is the care they take over the sourcing of their ingredients, and this is evident in the taste of their beef compared to other similar places in Exeter. As well as the excellent service which makes the Ruby experience very different from the other independent restaurants in Exeter, it is the visual style of interior and the combination of modernism and Americana that makes this restaurant a really special place to eat.

We both ordered the Morning Glory breakfast which includes refillable filter coffee (roasted by Clifton Coffees, originally sourced from El Majahaul in El Salvador which is part of the Rainforest Alliance) and a Pago Juice in the price (£8.50) which was, from the other side of the table, a perfect combination. With many breakfast menus, you are offered coffee or juice but rarely do you get both included, so this in itself is a big fat bonus. Pago Juices are thick fruit juices that come in a squat green glass bottle. It looked small but it was very deceptive, filling a large glass exactly.
The Morning Glory comes with three rashers of bacon, sausage, two eggs, hash browns, mushrooms and funky baked beans with an in-house BBQ twist. These BBQ beans are totally special to Ruby as they add their own sauce to the beans to give them a slightly smokey edge. The bacon was crisped really nicely and the hash browns were perfectly cooked.

As you might expect, the portion sizes in Ruby Modern Diner are as American as the surroundings, big burgers and lots of fries are the name of the game for their standard menu, and I was glad to see that the breakfast portions were following the same ethos on size as we were both suitably stuffed afterwards… and did I say that the Morning Glory includes toast too?

The breakfast scene around Queen St. is definitely one that will stir up with Ruby’s entry in to the party. It feels like I’m sitting in a diner (maybe Odessa Diner?) in New York City, I’m just waiting for a NYC cop to come in and order a bagel and ‘carfee’ and then the mental fantasy will be complete.

But for now I can live the dream by refilling my filter coffee and scoffing down one of Ruby Modern Diner’s perfectly crafted Weekend Breakfasts.

Eating Exeter were guests of Ruby Burger.  If you want more information about Ruby, visit their website www.rubyburgers.com or say hello at info@rubyburgers.com

The Malt House (Harvester), St Thomas, Exeter (3/5)

Exeter isn’t a large city, and eventually things get back to me about restaurants in Exeter that are either truly amazing places to eat or should be just avoided.  And one thing that comes back to me quite often is the varying experiences of friends of ours who have visited The Malt House. Take a trip to Trip Advisor and you see a worrying consensus.  Out of 404 restaurants in Exeter, The Malt House slinks in at 325.  The vast majority of the reviews are in the Poor and Terrible categories, a lot of diners complaining about service strangely enough with many enjoying the food but finding the execution somewhat unpalatable.

So in need of a quick fix after a Saturday of moving around boxes and rearranging furniture, we headed to The Malt House to see what would happen…

The Malt House sits on the St Thomas side of the river, just down from the Quay.  Originally built in 1791 and extended through the years, Brewers Fayre took it over in 1995 to turn it in to a Family Pub.  Its a family pub, it has plenty of accommodation for kiddlywinkles and in fact, if I ever end up with varying amounts of small children I wouldn’t hesitate to take them to The Malt House given the outdoor playground and the family orientation of the place.

The Malt House has its own car park which is free and within easy reach of the pub.  Upon entering the staff seemed to have an expression of sheer panic which is normally the first sign that they are very busy and not really coping.  The chap we spoke to said that he didn’t have any tables for two cleared (despite a few obvious empty tables?), so we could either do something something in the bar, or be in the bar area, but he would much rather have us in the restaurant area.  It was up to us.
As we stood in the middle of a blisteringly loud restaurant about to ask the waiter to repeat what he just said because we couldn’t hear him, a manager (must have been as he was wearing a buttoned shirt) spied a table that was ready.  So we sat down and ordered our drinks.

We waited for our drinks whilst looking through the menu (which isn’t that bad as menus go).  Lots of chicken stuff, half chickens, racks of ribs, gourmet burgers, hell they even do breakfasts when they manage to open on time (have a look at Trip Advisor).  There was a 15 to 20 minute wait on food, which wasn’t horrendous so not really wanting to go tramping down to McDonalds out of desparation we decided to wait it out.

One of the ‘perks’ of The Malt House is the refillable never ending free salad bar which is, oddly enough, refillable.  If you ignore the fact the salad has been sitting around, just waiting to be man handled by flies and fingers then this is great, especially if you’re very hungry and like me have an appetite like a walrus.  The range of condiments and bread rolls in addition to all the salad is a nice touch, but the inclusion of some tongs for the warm bread rolls would be nice.  Small things, you know.
You can also get a free refillable soft drink for £2.45, but at this point we were still missing our drinks.  So whilst watching the chap who was meant to be getting our drinks wipe some tables, we got ready to wait.

We were spotted by another server who came over and took our food order and tracked down our drinks.  Given we only wanted a quick bite to eat, we ordered from their ‘main meals from £4.99′ section which was pretty good.  It contained the classic sorts of meals including Fish & Chips which is what I went for.  Tori went for a Chargrilled Chicken Fahita Wrap with chips and we both had a bottomless Pepsis.  Whole thing came to £14.88 for both of us, which we thought was reasonable for what we got.

As we ate our salad bar salad,  we concluded that it had a strange taste to it which made us wonder what it had been washed in? Water would be a good guess? Possibly? The food appeared within 10 minutes and was surprisingly nice (given reviews and experience up to this point).

The fish tasted like a quality piece of cod, the batter was well cooked and it had a nice taste to it and the chips, what chips there were, were fresh and crunchy.  Tori had no complaints about her Wrap and by the end of the meal we were left pleasantly surprised by the food.

The Malt House has no qualms about being a family pub and we found that the low ceilings of the restaurant meant the sound resonated at just the right frequency that our ear drums were useless. By the end of the meal, we had come up with our own sign language which we intend to publicise and use as an alternative to BSL.  It featured such gestures as ‘those people have been waiting ages’ and ‘do you want more Pepsi?’, including my favourite ‘This place has free WiFi, I am so happy’.  OK, humorous exaggeration aside, it was noisy and the environment wasn’t overly relaxing but it was very busy.  However by the time we left, the majority of diners had left and we ended up leaving a quieter and much more pleasant atmosphere.

The food was good, the service was flaky at first but seemed to sort itself out after we got someone who stopped obsessing over tables.  Would we recommend it to others? Well, yes but with a health warning (noise and children) and don’t expect too much given the reviews.  Would I go again? Yes, so long as it wasn’t busy.  It is good value, and you can’t get past the excellent prices no matter how bad the Trip Advisor reviews are.

 

Watch “Toast: Inside San Francisco’s Controversial Bread…” on YouTube

Toast: Inside San Francisco’s Controversial Bread…: http://youtu.be/DhPrWm-vKSY

This is a strange one…such an innocuous food stuff is now fashionable in San Francisco, might possibly end up in Exeter like this one day?

Iberico Ham & Chorizo from Jamonprive – Product Review

Eating Exeter doesn’t often review products, but we were given the opportunity to taste some fantastic meats sent all the way from Barcelona.  I know this as it had Barcelona on the stamp.

Iberian Ham is something of a delicacy in Spain, using Iberian Pigs fed primarily on acorns, this gives the meat a distinct taste and coupled with the traditional processes of curing and preparing the meat, you are unlikely to ever taste cured meat like this from anywhere else.

To be precise the meats came from a fantastic online company called Jamonprive who work closely with the meat producers to deliver Iberian Ham and Cured Meats across the EU.  In our case, our Iberian Ham and Chorizo came from Ibericos Dehesa Casablanca based in the Extremadura region, so a massive thank you to them and Jamonprive for allowing us to sample this Spanish delicacy.

In Paolo Singer’s travel article in the New York Times, he visits the Extremadura region and says the following:

“…the Extremadura region, is in the heart of Spain’s pig country. I had traveled there in search of the world’s best ham, a recent food obsession instigated by Spanish friends. Along the way, I discovered a variety of mouthwatering specialties, learned about unique traditions and met locals with a contagious passion for their culinary heritage.

This article only goes to reinforce the heritage of the meats that Jamonprive and their producers sell.  It’s a fantastic journey around the Spanish countryside, and definitely worth a read.

Iberian Ham (Jamon Bellota Loncheado) – Opening the packet was like opening the door of a curing barn, or at least how I imagine it to be.  A strong lingering smell of the meat coupled with a nuttiness to the aroma from the diet of acorns these pigs are fed makes you realise this isn’t just supermarket deli pancetta.

The meat had the same hue and depth in colour as a good red wine, very little fat and a helpful strip of plastic in between each slice meant that the usual picking and peeling that you can sometimes endure with cheaper cured meats was not the case.

The meat quite literally melted as soon as it entered my mouth, it wasn’t overly oily.  It had a taste that lingered with a pleasant aftertaste, the pork seemed to be seasoned with balance and consideration.  It wasn’t overly salty as cured meats can be and this in itself would make for a good accompaniment with chicken or other delicate meats.  Take for example this tapas recipe from the BBC Good Food website.  Blisteringly simple but perfect for putting the meat first with little interference from the tomato and the bread.

Fancy trying some Iberian Ham? Purchase from Jamonprive.co.uk here.

Chorizo (Loncheado Iberco Bellota) – It is only until you have tried ‘proper’ Chorizo that you can truly say that you are a fan of Chorizo.  Don’t give me that supermarket stuff that is made out of calf anuses and lamb ligaments, this is made of Iberian Ham and a few things along the way such as paprika and seasoning.

This is what Jamonprive have to say about this Chorizo (couldn’t have said it better myself!)

“This acorn-fed iberian chorizo ​​is made from selected lean iberian pork, from pigs feeding on the acorns that grow in our pastures in Rodrigo city. It is seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic and made ​​in the traditional way, resulting in an exquisite handmade product that will not not disappoint the most discerning palates.” (Jamonprive http://www.jamonprive.co.uk/iberico/sliced-acorn-fed-iberian-chorizo-ibericos-dehesa-casablanca-221)

Again like the ham, upon opening the packet I imagine opening a barn door in a Spanish farm, with meat hanging somewhere curing.  A delicious smell that lingered in the nose.

The taste was a well balanced mix of seasoning and garlic and it had a slight oily texture too which helps with the preserving of the meat, but the oil was just enough to give it that tapas touch.  I felt however that the meat had to shine so we had a look for a few recipes and came across a really nice Gluten Free Pizza recipe from Gluten Free Girl that I have had my eye on.  Replace Ham for Chorizo and you’re on to a non-glutinous winner!

Fancy trying some Chorizo? Purchase from Jamonprive.co.uk

So what makes Jamonprive different? Jamonprive uses a sytem called drop-shipping and it is this drop-shipping system and integration with TNT’s API that allows Jamonprive to offer the best products at the best possible price and fast/secure delivery.

For more information head to www.jamonprive.com and have a look for yourself.

Tyepyedong, 175 Sidwell Street, Exeter

If I had to choose one cuisine, Asian would always come top of my favourite foods.  I’ve always had a passion for spicy foods and have been lucky enough to visit Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore where my love for South Eastern cuisine flourished. Tasting some amazing authentic Asian dishes on my travels has encouraged me to cook and experiment with Chinese and Thai food myself and I’ll always have a sneaky supply of chilli, garlic and ginger in the kitchen. Therefore I’m always up for going out for a curry with my Dad or ordering a Chinese takeaway with my friends, however I’m often left feeling a little disappointed when I try Asian food in the UK. This week I visited Tyepyedong in Sidwell Street, now I wouldn’t of thought to visit this little noodle bar as from the outside I always presumed it would be another disappointing Chinese restaurant which would leave me wondering why I wasted my time and money, but my friend Lauren had such high reviews of the place that I thought I’d give it a try.

As I said, this Oriental fusion restaurant doesn’t look much from the outside, in a street littered with bookies and bathroom warehouses you wouldn’t expect a lot, but once inside you’re transported into a sleek and stylish eatery. The décor is simple, with an open kitchen where you can watch your food being freshly prepared and long Asian style wooden benches stretching across the restaurant floor. The lay out reminds me of Wagamama’s, however this place has a much more personal touch, with no corporate menu’s and over trained waiting staff.  What’s more when the restaurant is quiet you have your own personal space on the table to enjoy your meal and company, unlike other chain Asian restaurants (*cough* Wagamama’s *cough*) where you sit shoulder to should with strangers which just screams school lunch halls to me.

Entering the restaurant on a Wednesday evening, there was a welcoming atmosphere and a relaxing buzz from the fellow diners. We were shown to our table by a lovely waiter, who was attentive and friendly throughout our evening. Browsing through the extensive menu there was a wide range of Chinese and Japanese dishes to choose from. At first I was drawn to the Japanese Java curries which looked really tempting with fresh vegetables and lots of meat options, however after much deliberation I chose the Malay stir fry served with Mei Fun noodles (£9).

The service was extremely quick and my meal was in front of me within ten minutes of ordering. I was glad to see a hearty portion of thin Chinese noodles scattered with big, juicy king prawns, accompanied by large shreds of chicken and beef and plenty of vegetables. The prawns and chicken were particularly tasty, perfectly cooked and not too chewy as you often find in takeaways, and the Kamaboko-aka (Asian fishcakes) were a delicious and unique compliment to the stir fry. Although I really enjoyed the meal, the dish as a whole was slightly lacking in flavour as I couldn’t really taste the satay sauce it came in, however there was plenty of soy sauce on the table and with a couple of splashes added in, it was delicious!

I would recommend Tyepyedong as a great place for a quick lunch or evening noodle stop, I’ll definitely be ordering my next takeaway from here!  Although, I wouldn’t recommend this restaurant for a special evening out, and the only reason being that the service was so quick, we were in and out within 40 minutes, and it just seemed a little rushed. However the food is still authentically tasty and isn’t too badly priced either, so it’s certainly worth a try!

Visit Kathryn’s blog at  for more awesome reviews and recipes!

Naked Wines Tasting Event – Exeter University Great Hall 2014

I wanted to start off this post with ‘the thing I love about wine tastings….’ but realised that I have only ever been to one and this one was it.  For the uninitiated, it’s a little like an ale/beer/cider festival except there is a lot less liquid and a lot more talking about the thing being consumed.

Some people come and work around methodically, opting for all of the reds or a certain grape they like, others come and find ones they like and drink many samples to just be certain that they like it.  Others are more about chatting to the winemakers and some are happy talking quietly to themselves.

Naked Wines have not only democratised wines and wine making, but also wine tasting events.  A casual and informal atmosphere accompanied by lots of friendly winemakers and fellow wine enthusiasts made the whole experience one that I would quite happily rinse and repeat.

The ethos of Naked Wines is a little bit different from many other online wine retailers, and this is a lot to do with how they are funded.  Naked Wine’s customers are called Angels, who pay £20 a month into their account towards future orders.  This money then goes in to investment in to grapes, winery space, barrels, bottles and other costs.  They help winemakers start-up and set the ball rolling for their own businesses, letting Naked Wine do the selling whilst they concentrate on making excellent wines for good prices. And what do the Angels get in return? Exclusive wines that you won’t be able to buy in the shops and the chance to meet the winemakers at tasting events like this one.

The tables were organised by country and each winemaker was willing to chat and talk about the wines, grapes and the processes behind the production.  I learnt about white wine and red wine, grapes, soil, vineyards and the fact that you can’t actually drink all of the wines on offer or else you will disgrace yourself.  I found that a lot of the wine was chucked in to the traps next to the tables, which I found near impossible to do so I left Tori to feed me sips of wine whilst she was able to tip the undrunk bits away (I know this is what happens at wine tastings but it was SO HARD!)

My highlight of the tasting was meeting Patricio Gouguenheim who was on hand with some of his stunning wines.  He recommended we have a dry white before we taste his red wine, and was willing to chat and take the time to share his passion.  The fact that he was happy to travel all the way from his vineyard in Argentina to talk his wine fans made me realise that the whole process that Naked Wines starts and finishes is just as much about the relationship between winemaker and winedrinker, than just the relationship between Naked Wines.  There is a strong sense of community about the whole tasting, and you could see this in the way that winemakers interacted with the tasters which was nothing but friendly.

We tasted many many wines, but there were a few that stood out.  A few that I would buy entire cases of had I the cash, the time to drink it and the space are the following:

1. Joost & Miguela de Villebois – Lestonnat Bordeaux Superieur 2012 – Loire Valley
This was a beautifully smokey red with liquorice and fruity notes.  It reminded me of drinking a bonfire, kind of.

2. Patricio Gouguenheim – Melisa Malbec 2013 – Mendoza, Argentina
Naked Wines Angels offered £10,000 to Patricio to create a scholarship for his employees’ children, and Patricio made this wine to commemorate the first student to benefit from their generosity.  A dry red that is a fantastic accompaniment to many meals.

3. Peter Klein – Klein Muskateller 2012 – Rhineland-Pfalz, German
The closest you could come to having an elderflower bush explode in your mouth.  Beautifully sweet and drinkable.  This was a definite favourite of the event for us.  Peter has been nominated for Young German Winemaker of the Year, and its clear to see why!

The experience left a lasting memory, and to help here are some photos from the day.