‘Read Reviews’ page! Now all reviews are easy to find…

One thing I have been dying to do since Eating Exeter reached size enough to warrant it was to index the reviews in to some sort of easy glance page. It is an urge that I have now and again, being a librarian these things are inevitable.

And that has now happened, head to ‘Read Reviews’ to see all of Eating Exeter’s reviews on one page with links to the reviews themselves.  If you can’t qutie make it up to the Read Reviews link above, click here.

There are two sections: One section covering reviews about places in Exeter and the other section covering reviews of places which are…well…not!

DSC00459image courtesy of Morguefile


Powderham Food Festival 2014

What do you get when you combine a stately home, the best of local producers and a sunny October in Devon?

The Powderham Food Festival of course!  I had the privilege of being invited along to this annual event on behalf of Eating Exeter and I have to say I was not at all disappointed.

As you entered the main courtyard your sense where immediately assaulted by a plethora of sights and smells from the variety of stalls that were attending. And like Aerosmith I didn’t want to miss a thing so my glamorous assistant and I quickly came up with a plan on how to tackle the stalls.

Whilst I would like to mention all the stalls we visited I feel it would be unfair if I miss any so instead here are a few pictures:

Moving beyond the courtyard and into the main house itself you entered a calmer world than that of the courtyard where more vendors were based including the very entertaining spice mix seller from South Africa.

Into the library and an interesting conversation with a purveyor of mushrooms.

We discussed the varieties available in the UK and poisonous vs non-poisonous varieties. Finally we had a chat about correct French translations vs marketing, a strange topic I hear you say but when you look at the next photo
you may understand ……

(for those of you who do not speak French, the literal translation is Death Trumpets!)

Moving out of the library and back out into the glorious sunshine of that day, and we were on the rear lawns of the castle overlooking the main eating and demonstration area of the festival. This year’s theme was ‘No Smoke without Fire’ celebrating barbecue and outdoor cooking at its best. A variety of very entertaining demonstration were underway cooking everything from Slow-cooked pulled pork to smoked and barbecued Ruby Red beef brisket.

We sat spell bound by the demonstrations going on over the fire pit in the tepee and were very impressed by the culinary skills of the Royal Marines before moving on to observe the versatility of the Aga.

In keeping with the fire theme of the day, lunch was taken from the wood fired pizza oven and accompanied by one of the special brewed for the event by Hunter’s Brewery at Ipplepen, a chilli beer!

To round off our day, we perused our way to the upper lawn to enjoy the live music being provided and sit in the beautiful autumn sunshine for a while.

As we watched the world go by around us it was apparent that a good time was being had by all, while only in its third year at present the Powderham Food Festival already has an avid following and I for one am already looking forward to next years!


Twitter: https://twitter.com/powderhamfest

14th November 2014: Spooky Culinary Extravaganza @ The Great Fulfords at Cheriton Bishop

DSC_0016EDIT: This event has been moved to Friday 14th November

A few weeks ago, Eating Exeter had the special opportunity to sample ‘Jonny Does Dinner’ serving Dinner In A Polytunnel at Trill Farm and absolutely loved it.  It was an amazing meal served in a fantastic location, ultimately a real treat for a foody who cares about his ingredients.

Jonny Does Dinner has had a few more events since, and the next one is destined to be a corker.  Taking places at The Great Fulfords, near Cheriton Bishop, home of Francis Fulford (appeared on The F**king Fulfords back in 2004) and featuring on BBC Three in a new series called Life Is Toff, the Great Fulfords is a suitably spooky setting for a dinner happening the night before Halloween!

Diners can expect a 4 course meal cooked by Jonny (ex Mark Hix, The Groucho Club and Brindisa) as he “creates a sublime menu with his customary bonhomie and flamboyance. Simple, elegant, outstanding gastronomy, locally sourced where possible” as their website says.

Book tickets online here and read a little more about what sort of things they’ve been up to!

#UKBA15 Blog Awards 2015 – We’ve Entered!

UK blog Awards
So, we’re going to have a go at this.  It might be a really successful stunt, or it might not be, but it’d be nice to have a bit of kudos for the efforts of the last three years.

The voting will start on the 10th November, and we’ll need a lot of votes.  Lots of votes.  LOTS AND LOTS…

Green Sauce presents Funghi Night at The Rusty Pig, Ottery St Mary – 24th October

The Rusty Pig in Ottery St Mary is the venue for Tim Maddams’ Green Sauce to set up shop for a Pop-up night.  Tim previously worked as Head Chef at River Cottage, and can still be found teaching, writing for national rags and promoting ethical foods.  The Funghi Night looks like its going to be a spectacular evening, using foraged mushrooms to create a carnival of culinary creativity!

If you wish to book a place on this special evening contact info@greensauce.co.uk or contact 01404 815580


Easy Chicken and Pesto Pasta – Ideal for beginners

Our kitchen is about the size of a knat’s testicle and given the tiny amount of surface space we actually have, I am all for the student modus operandi when it comes to cooking.  There is no shame in using a jar of pesto opposed to fresh pesto that you make yourself, and I can’t start to say that it matches it in taste but for ‘everyday’ its a fine substitute.  So with this I present a budget/student version of Chicken and Pesto Pasta with my signature vague instructions.

There are a few recipes floating about for Chicken and Pesto Pasta if you don’t like the look of this one.

The wonderful thing about this recipe is that you can adjust it and suit it to your tastes as you wish.  Generally it should work with more pasta and less sauce or vice versa and that is the beauty of pasta.

I used chicken for this, but this would also work with quorn pieces should you be that way inclined.  If you have broad beans lying around then use those instead of peas.  If you have pine nuts to hand then even better, but for this I am using sunflower seeds as they are far cheaper.  They still add a satisfying crunch to the dish, and if toasted in a bit of butter, they keep the slightly buttery flavour.

You will need:

3 tbsp Sunflower seeds (more the merrier)
3/4 Jar Sacla Basil Pesto
2 large chicken breasts or 3 handfuls Quorn Chickens pieces
Frozen Peas 1 large handful, (or not. Depends if you like peas)
Half a clove Garlic

1. Start the pasta off. It’ll need cooking for about 15 minutes in a large pan.
2. Toast the sunflower seeds. Put aside.
3. Fry the chicken with some garlic until slightly brown.
4. Add peas to chicken in pan and heat till peas are cooked. Add pesto and sunflower seeds and heat through for a couple of minutes.
5. Drain pasta, combine with chicken/pesto in the large pan and stir on a low heat for a minute.
6. Grate Parmasen. Boom.

Irish Cream Tiramisu…just a little celebration!

IRISH CREAM TIRAMISU I’ve long been tinkering about with a bottle of Bailey’s, seeing how it could b… – http://pinterest.com/pin/210332245072779612/?utm_source=android_share

100,000 views – Thank you!


So today marked a little milestone in the history of Eating Exeter.  We hit 100,000 views!  Its taken 3 years or so to get here, and for a blog that started as an idea three years ago between myself and Polly over a glass of wine, I think this is quite impressive.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the blog, to the restaurants and chefs who have been willing to talk and to make us feel welcome and to those people who read the blog regularly via Twitter or over email.

Beer, Burger and Beyond – The latest!

IMG_20141004_173814Beer, Burger and Beyond has been a little quiet recently.  But recently the beer has been flowing and the burgers have been eaten (after a spell of being quite healthy and fiscally poor).

The first adventure is a quick write-up of the North Devon Ale Trail, which we have done a few times, but this time we did an ‘edited’ version which included the better pubs and missed out some of the crap ones.  It also includes our visit to The Mare and Foal in Yeoford (just outside Crediton) which is a quirky little pub with some great food offerings and a real understanding of the importance of Real Ale.

Secondly we made our bi-annual pilgrimage to Paignton yesterday and had a revisit to The Inn On The Green, which had been on my ‘don’t go to’ list of pubs.  But found it much improved, despite it still being very much a family pub.  The burger was tasty, the Ale would have been great had the Hobgoblin been available but it won’t stop me going again.  Maybe with some ear protectors too.

Beer, Burger and Beyond is a little like my ‘side-project’.  The writing style is quite different and it takes a ‘Pulls no Punches’ attitude to the language.  No swearing, but a little more raw.  In the future it would be nice to include more about my travels and adventures within it, but I am struggling somewhat with Blogger and the lack of control over basic things such as photo galleries and how the whole blog looks.

Keep posted for more updates and antics!


The Glorious Art House, Fore Street, Exeter

The Glorious Art House appeared on my social radar a few weeks ago over Facebook.  In fact a lot of new openings get to me via Facebook and often friends who recommend these things and thanks to one of my old friends, I became aware of its existence and through the few photos that I saw of it I immediately wanted to go look.  There is something special about this coffee shop, something unique.

Exeter has become a city of cafe culture.  There are so many options for coffee lovers and there are quite a  few places that serve really good coffee, award winning establishments that have received national recognition of one sort or another.

Face it Exeter, you’re spoilt for choice.

The Glorious Art House is very much a family business.  The manager/owner Derry Tydeman, runs the cafe side of the business with his mum Rose who provides much of the colour and creativity that exudes from the walls and the ceilings.  In fitting out the shop itself, Derry’s father built the surfaces of the kitchen and counter area, and with the help of close friends and family, it appeared on Fore Street about six weeks ago and has been gathering a bit of a cult following ever since.

Stepping through the glass door, the first thing that hits you is the colour of the walls.  It emanates a bohemian energy, but not in a ‘lentils, pulses and tie-dye’ way.  It is tasteful, the art on the walls is colourful and dynamic, the décor compliments the colourfulness. Even the crockery are works of art in themselves, created by Anthropologie.eu they were originally sold in the shop but they sold so well that they had to stop selling them else face having no crockery at all!

The menu has a strong focus on locally sourced and organic ingredients.  The Exploding Bakery provides much of the cakes and biscuits and the other light bites coming from the talented fingertips of the folk behind the counter.  Sandwiches, Platters and Specials (Chunk of Devon Meat Pie anyone?) and a few other items are available to eat in the cafe.

The coffee is something that I believe is unique to Exeter.  Crafted by the cafe’s baristas through a Sanremo coffee machine, they use triple certified Matthew Algie Elevator coffee which I am certain (could be wrong, please tell me if I am) is the only place in Exeter that is currently serving this.  Rich medium roast with a lovely bitterness to it which screams ‘I am good coffee drink me now’.  Yes coffee talks to me, but only after a few cups.

And to top all of this off, The Glorious Art House has a gallery on the 2nd floor that displays exhibitions in a lovely light space that overlooks Fore Street.  They are also inviting in live music and visiting performers during the daytime as well to add to the variety of reasons why this is a fantastic little cafe that needs the support of Exeter coffee/culture lovers.

Read their blog here

Find them on Facebook

Visit their website:

http://www.theglorious.co.uk -

The Pickle Shack is back! Some dates for your diary.

Josh and Jodie are certainly busy!  Eating Exeter reported on their Tapas and Cocktails evening at The Real McCoys Arcade a few weeks ago and loved it!  There more dates and oppurtunities to experience the cooking talents of Josh McDonald-Johnson in some unique and special locations.

The next Grub Clubs will be held in Chagford (4th October), Ashburton (10th October) and Gittisham (1st November). Booking is essential with these dates are there are a limited number of spaces available.

Click on the images to get to the Facebook event page.

Chagford Grub Club:

Ashburton Grub Club:

Gittisham Grub Club:

If you can’t make these evenings then fear, not.  Josh and Jodie are returning to The Real McCoy’s Arcade for a Street Food Pop-Up on Saturday 25th October.

Josh has also teamed up with Whistle Wines to bring another Pop-up Restaurant on the 30th October.

And finally, a Pop-up Restaurant at Exeter Brewery which looks set to be a stonking good evening too :)


Eating Exeter now on Pinterest. Click the icon —————————————————————->

Being ever progressive in the face of Social Media, Eating Exeter is now on Pinterest.  Read here to see what the point of Pinterest is.

It is about image sharing, exploring topics you’re interested in, and for Eating Exeter this means repinning recipes, foodporn and sharing the love of food eating which binds every human that walks around on this strange rock that we call Earth.

Go forth and share the images, love and recipes with us.  I am sure you’ll agree with me that Pinterest can get quite addictive given it has apps for iOS and Androind too.


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.


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

Truffles Cafe, Magdalen Road, Exeter

If you ever find yourself in Magdalen Road, I would highly recommend Truffles Cafe.  I popped through for a quick cup ‘o tea after a medical appointment. I found a charming cafe with a faint hint of Radio 3 and the occasional roar of an Elektra coffee machine. Its whitewashed walls display some magnificent paintings by local artist Warren Clayburn.

Light food is available, ingredients from local suppliers which are proudly displayed on the door.  They even have a Pizza evening on Friday and Saturday nights, take a look at their Facebook page for a few photos of some stunning looking Pizzas!

The hum of the traffic makes little impact on the lovely atmosphere of this cafe as it sits snuggly in this busy and bustling part of Exeter.  Magdalen Road has a fantastic little community with Bon Gout and The Salty Pigeon a few doors away which makes it a definite recommendation from Eating Exeter for a tea or coffee.

Follow them on Twitter: @trufflesexeter

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.


Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheNobodyInn

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

The Nobody Inn Bar & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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.


@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.

The BIG Food Show: Westpoint Arena, October 24th-26th

The BIG Food Show: Westpoint Arena, October 24th-26th


(Via Bloglovin’)