Mexican Monday at JD Wetherspoons (1/5)

I like Wetherspoon Pubs generally.  They have an amazing range of real ales and often the place is clean and normally quite comfy.  Yes they might be a homogenized brand, but they do it well.

Unfortunately the food can be a little hit and miss.  Frequently I go and have the burger n beer offer which is normally a delightful alternative from McDeath but tonight I was feeling adventerous and as it was their Mexican Monday I felt a little deviation from the norm was needed.

Mexican isn’t a hard type of dish to serve up, its not hard to get it wrong either but it seems that this is just what Spoons managed to do.  Well with the Nachos (my able assistant’s Burrito didn’t look half bad…)

I present to you, a pile of Nachos with a spoonful of BBQ Pulled Pork, a spoonful of Guacamole and some tinned salsa.  Thanks Wetherspoons…

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Its not that I get some silent kick about critcising a chain, but I just had hopes and dreams.  Hopes of cheese that had been melted, hopes of lashings of salsa and guacamole.  Expectations that the whole thing wouldn’t be so, well, dry…

I managed to work out that only a third of the Nachos had melted cheese attached to it but most of it managed to have a horrid bitter tinned salsa sticking to the whole thing.

I’m sticking to the burgers in future…

Live Love Eat Awards 2015

Thursday 26th February was a bit of a special day for me, as it was the inaugural 2014 Live Love Eat awards and I had been invited along to take part in a grand celebration of locally produced food and drink, in an awards ceremony organised by Vicki Sargent and the Live Love Eat team.  It took place in the Deer Park Hotel (set in 80 acres of parkland) near Honiton.

Some of the best local food producers and foodies came together to celebrate those lucky enough to have gathered enough votes to earn themselves a place in one of the twelves categories.

So here I am writing about an event that happened nearly three weeks ago! Unfortunately life has a strange habit of getting in the way and I’ve only been able to sit down and write it up now. Despite the fact it was nearly three weeks ago, it was one of those experiences I am unlikely to forget.

The awards was kicked off with a really nice breakfast for delegates, an amazing plethora of local produce and items fresh from Deer Parks own kitchens.  We got a chance to network and have a chat but unfortunately the weather was against us so we were unable to tour the house.

I had the honour of sitting with Maurice from Hogs Bottom Delights who was providing the Marmalade and Jams as part of the breakfast, and who also won the Platinum Award for Devon in the Condiments & Jams section.

Head over to the Live Love Eat website for a full list of winners and take some time to go and see what Live Love Eat is all about.

Started 18 months ago by Vicki, a farmer’s daughter and 32 year-old mother-of-two, who has a distinct passion about the food and drink industry.  This comes from her parents who bought a farm in Hatherleigh when Vicki was 17.  They converted in into an award winning organic farm and butchery.

The organisation and love that went in to the organisation of the day really shone through.  It was a brief morning but it left me feeling humbled and lucky that we have such amazing food producers in the South West and certainly here in Devon.

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René Redzepi – Chef and Owner and his staff at Noma in Copenhagen shot for Edible Selby book « the selby

Ever wondered what it would be like to eat at one of the world’s best restaurants? Have a look at Scott Selby’s visit…

New Exhibitors queuing to be part of the Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink!

Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink is celebrating an exciting increase in the number of new exhibitors it will be welcoming to its 12th festival. Taking place this April from its city centre location at Exeter Castle and Northernhay Gardens, the Exeter Food Festival is a multi-award winning annual event that celebrates the very best of south west produce and producers as a not-for-profit initiative.

As Michael Caines MBE, festival co-founder who champions the event voluntarily explains: ‘As ever, competition for pitches was stiff for our 2015 festival and we are delighted to see new producers coming through. The Exeter Food Festival is all about highlighting the fantastic hospitality and delicious food and drink that we are producing here in the south west and I am delighted that new and growing companies      as well as much loved brands are coming to be part of if.’

As Michael continues: ‘The number of applications received from new exhibitors grew by 40% this year. It’s really exciting and demonstrates the growth in food and drink companies in this region and their interest in coming to the Exeter Food Festival.”

Visitors to the festival can expect to find a wide array of items to purchase, to eat and to drink including another collection of Fresh at the Festival exhibitors – championing those who’ve been in business fewer than 3 years. Fresh at the Festival exhibitors are offered discounted participation, training and free promotion; one of the initiatives of Exeter Food Festival to lend a hand to local start-ups.

One such company is Boom Kitchen who won last year’s most innovative product award from Taste of the West. The newcomers from Braunton, North Devon have reinvented the classic British Indian curry with their gluten free curry kits. Each kit contains freshly ground spice mix, their secret Boom Base™ and other chuck in the pan components that let you cook from scratch restaurant beating curries in less time than it takes to order a take away.

James Doel, co-founder of Boom Kitchen says: ‘We’re over the moon to have been selected for Exeter Food Festival for the first time this year. The South West has an incredible number of artisan producers and gastronomes so we’re really excited to be alongside some of the region’s finest names in food and drink. Most of all we’re looking forward to meeting like-minded foodies who share our passion for quality ingredients and a decent curry.’

Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink 2015 runs from Friday 24th to Sunday 26th April in Exeter Castle and Northernhay Gardens, with Festival After Dark parties from Thursday 23rd running until late. The three-day festival celebrates the outstanding food and drink of the South West, featuring more than one hundred regional producers, top chefs, workshops, live music and food-themed activities for all the family.

Now in its twelfth year, the Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink is supported by Exeter City Council. The festival is a not for profit event.

Tickets can be booked in advance and are available will be available online. For more information or to buy tickets visit:

Rob Dawe’s Pop-Up Restaurant at The Heart of Oak, Pinhoe

In writing this blog, I have met some people and eaten some food that I might not have been able to even consider.  I’ve been given some ‘awesome food moments’ for me to write about and remember for years to come, and certainly the Pop-up restaurants that I have reviewed have given me plenty of material to digest and photograph.  They are special, one-time menus that you might never experience again cooked by chefs with vision and experience.

On Tuesday night we were invited to Rob Dawe’s Pop-up Restaurant which was taking place at The Heart of Oak in Pinhoe; I can happily add this evening to my list of ‘awesome food moments’ and it makes me reaffirm why I write this blog with my spare time.

Rob Dawe (formerly senior sous chef at the RAC Club Pall Mall and Head Chef at The Puffing Billy) is a chef tutor at the prestigous Ashburton Cookery School and now he is adding to his many strung bow, by putting on pop-up restaurants in select restaurant locations in and around the Exeter area.  Each evening of his Pop-up restaurants have been a sell-out so far, and Rob is now looking at adding members to his exclusive mailing list which you can do by reading to the bottom of this review.

The Pop-up Restaurant scene has really taken off in Exeter and Devon over the last two years with Chefs such as Josh McDonald-Johnson (Pickle Shack) and Jonny Jefferies (Jonny Does Dinner) doing regular events throughout the county. Tim Maddams, of River Cottage Fame started a Pop-up event using Village Halls as the main locations for his pop-ups, through his Hall and Hearty evenings and I expect there are others too.  But Rob’s Pop-up Restaurants stand out for me as they are mostly in Exeter, and so far they are all in established restaurants.

The recently refurbished Heart Of Oak in Pinhoe was a fantastic setting for the evening, which saw diners treated to a 6 course tasting menu.  The Heart of Oak itself is a pub which has undergone quite a transformation recently.  The clean, modern interior was comfortable, and I hope I’ll be able to do a review of the food here at some point soon.  The menu was a well balanced exploration of tastes, ingredients and presentations which was accessible yet perfectly executed.  As we sat at our table, we were presented with Spicy Duck Canapes to mull over as we inspected the menu.

Rob kicked off the evening with a Sweet Potato, Ginger and Coconut Veloute (generally a soup thickened with either butter, egg yolks and cream).  This was accompanied by artisan garlic bread which warmed up the taste buds.  I loved the coconut and sweet potato combination.

Our next course was a first for both myself and my able assistant, as we are not overly fond of seafood.  Black Bream with a Mussel, Butternut Squash and Fennel Fricasse.  Yes, here is someone who writes about food who doesn’t like seafood and has no desire to eat things with shells.  But that feeling of accomplishment and discovery that we both really quite enjoyed the Mussels both shelled and in the beautiful Fennel Fricasse was overriding. Unfortunately my benchmark of Mussels are now set pretty high, whether I will ever have mussels that good again is unlikely.  But thank you Rob, for introducing me to Mussels.

After the fishy feast, what better way to clear the palette than a Gin & Tonic Sorbet presented in frosted glasses.  This refreshed the palette and got it ready for what I personally saw as the highlight of the evening.

Sous Vide Rump of Beef with a Horseradish Mash, Honey Glazed Carrots and a Port and Thyme Jus was a massive highlight for me and my love of meat.  Sous-vide is a method of cooking using airtight bags with increased cooking times, which results in a beautiful tender texture.

Next out was a Lemon Posset and vanilla shortbread which was beautifully presented.  The ‘topping’ was a layer of raspberry which worked with the tangy zestyness of the lemon.  Add in the shortbread, and it presented the palette with a crumbly, buttery, lemony spectrum of flavours that had me scraping the last few bits out with my spoon.

And then from tangy and creamy, was the glorious taste of salted caramel in the shape of Chocolate and Salted Caramel Tart with Honeycomb Ice Cream.  The consistency and texture of the chocolate was literally like slicing through velvet.  Up to this point we had been having a quiet conversation about this and that, narrating the food, talking about what we were eating but at this point our table fell silent and we were quite overcome with the amazing taste.

The menu was rounded off with Coffee and Homemade Pistachio Macarons.

The evening was, for us, a resounding delight.  The service (hand picked by Rob) was excellent and really attentive, food came out quickly and drinks (although not BYOB) were served speedily and elegantly.
The combination of location and the quality of the food would be for any foody, a memorable food moment. For the prices that Rob charges, for instance our night was £35 per head, you are unlikely to get such good value for a tasting menu as well put together. Had we paid £70 per head, then it would have been a true reflection on our evening.

If I could make this the next culinary sensation that everyone talks about in Exeter, I would.  But that is up to whether you put your name on the mailing list for the latest news and dates.
At the moment Rob’s mailing list and word-of-mouth is the only advert for dates of future Pop-ups.

There are two more coming up at The Salty Pigeon on Sunday 1st March and Monday 2nd March. If you would like to book a place, please text Rob on 07745438481.  Drinks are BYO.

There are plans for a website and a greater social media presence.  You can follow Rob on Twitter as well @RobertdaweRob

To join the mailing list, email Rob at

Restaurants line up for Exeter’s £12m Guildhall development (via Express and Echo)

Quite a large article on the new Dining Quarter in The Express and Echo.  So far all that has beenartigiano revealed is that Artigiano is in talks to create a flagship venue (sounds expensive) and the developers are trying to get a balance between National and Regional chains.  But alas no mention of independent establishments…


Michael Caines with Silver South West Tourism Award_February 2015Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink is celebrating another win after the South West Tourism Awards on Thursday 12th February 2015. Exeter’s only city centre festival scooped Silver in the Tourism Event of the Year category sponsored by Bristol Airport for its 11thannual event which took place in April 2014.

Michael Caines MBE, Festival champion and co-founder said of the win: ‘I am absolutely delighted with our Silver at the South West Tourism Awards 2015! The Exeter Food Festival is a celebration of all the fantastic food and drink producers in the South West as well as our region’s rich agricultural and coastal heritage. To be shortlisted with other wonderful events in the South West is an honour and we look forward to bringing our festival to Exeter again this April.’

Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink 2015 runs from Friday 24th to Sunday 26th April in Exeter Castle and Northernhay Gardens, with Festival After Dark parties from Thursday 23rd running until late. The three-day festival celebrates the outstanding food and drink of the South West, featuring more than one hundred regional producers, top chefs, workshops, live music and food-themed activities for all the family.

This year’s festival has received a significant increase in applications from new food and drink producers and those who are applying to take a stand for the first time. Of this rise in interest, Michael Caines added: ‘we have been very pleased to not only welcome back valued stall holders but also companies new to the festival. It’s testament to the thriving foodie culture and the quality of produce and hospitality we have here in the South West.’

Now in its twelfth year, the Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink is supported by Exeter City Council. The festival is a not for profit event.

Tickets can be booked in advance and are available online. For more information or to buy tickets visit:

Trill Spring Seasons Box


A special seasonal treat for nature & earth lovers is the Trill Spring Seasons Box, the latest of the quarterly lifestyle subscription boxes offered from Trill organic farm in Devon, the brain child of Dr Romy Fraser OBE, founder of Neal’s Yard Remedies.

The exact contents of the Spring box is a surprise, but each seasonal box of delights includes a selection of high quality, organically grown and responsibly-made products carefully curated based on what’s in season and abundant from all parts of Trill Farm: food and drink, natural health and beauty, homewares and garden.

Each item is skilfully made on the farm, using minimal packaging and resources, by the the community of small businesses that are supported by Trill and share the collective ethos; healthy and responsible living and education to teach the skills required to live lightly on the land.

Previous box contents have included herbal teas, sea salt body conditioner, woodland soap, self heal salve, honey, chutney, rose & elderflower cordial, egg cups & cosies, a selection of seeds, and much more.

The Trill Spring Seasons Box costs £75 or just £68.75 when purchased as part of a annual subscription (four seasonal boxes). The combined value of the products far exceeds the cost of the box. Purchase of an annual subscription includes exclusive invitations to seasonal events and 20% off all the Trill Trust healthy living courses throughout 2015.

Due to the availability of produce on the farm, a limited number of boxes are produced each season. Orders are being taken now for the Spring Seasons Box, which will be sent overnight for delivery on 16th April. Gift vouchers are available for those wishing to purchase the Spring Seasons box as a Valentine’s Gift or a Mothers’ Day Present.

Trill Farm,
Pudleylake Road,
EX13 8TU

Tel: 01297 631 113
twitter @trill_farm

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Jamie’s Italian, Bedford Street, Princesshay, Exeter, EX1 1GJ

It doesn’t seem that long ago that Strada closed its doors and soon after Jamie’s Italian announced that it was going to open in its place.  In those five months, the Jamie’s Italian fans I know and love, whipped themselves up in to a frenzy at the fact that Mr Oliver had said he was opening another shining beacon of Italian-ness in Exeter.  And given the opportunity to sample this new establishment, I couldn’t resist see what all the fuss was about.

Started in Oxford in 2008 (click the link to read Matthew Norman’s review) it has grown from the one restaurant to incorporate restaurants all over Great Britain and also internationally.  There is Jamie’s Italians in Sydney, Dublin, Hong Kong and even Portsmouth.  Most of them seem to be in London and the middle bit of the map, but now they can add Exeter on to the rostrum of locations of this expanding enterprise.

You might remember a while back I rather sceptically wrote the following post when I found out that Jamie Oliver was destined to open in Princesshay.   I asked him to impress me. Whether or not he ever reads every single piece of Internet that mentions his name is unknown and unlikely. But I had this phrase in my head as we sat down at our table on a busy Friday evening, ready to be impressed.

Scanning across the menu it was clearly obvious that compared to ASK, Zizzi and Bella Italia…well lets say there is no comparison.  The menu has been developed to represent authentic, rustic Italian cuisine with a Jamie Oliver twist.  The ‘Bread and Nibbles’ has, for instance, Crispy Music Bread (with slices of pecorino Sardo & little dots of chilli jam mostarda) and Pork Scratchings (with spiced fennel salt & orchard dipping sauce)  which could be classed as Jamie Oliver with an Italian twist.  The ‘Bruschetta and Antipasta’ returns to its Italian side with such things as Tuscan Style Chicken Liver Bruschetta (smooth Italian paté with pancetta, vin santo & Parmesan) and Sicilian Caponata Bruschetta (spiced aubergine, hard ricotta & pine nuts).

This variation between ‘proper Italian’ and ‘Jamie Oliver Italian’ continues throughout the menu. Take ‘The Mains’ section which has The Jamie’s Italian Burger (Juicy prime British beef with mortadella, balsamic onions, tomato, melted smoked mozzarella, pickles & chillies) which is accompanied throughout with such Italian dishes as Osso Buco (free-range pork, slow-cooked with saffron, onion, tomatoes & Trebbiano white wine, served with Sicilian-style orange gremolata) and Lobster Al Forno (Half a marinated & roasted lobster with silky Parmesan sauce & spaghetti pomodoro).  There is clearly a great deal of originality in the way the menu has been created.

Flip over the double sided A3 and you have the reams of Cocktails, Wines and…well…everything else.  The prices as you might expect from a restaurant in the location that it is, doing the thing that it is doing, are levelled at ‘Special Night Out’ or ‘I have money and can’t be bothered to cook’ level.  Take your wife out here if you wish to apologise for something, take a first date if you want a memory to remember.  It is not cheap, but not any more expensive in comparison to its neighbours (Cafe Rouge, Coal etc.).

The kitchen is open enough for diners to see what’s happening.  I loved this touch in the restaurant design which gave a certain element of theatre to the dinner.  A corner of the restaurant is taken up by the pasta machine which makes fresh pasta daily and a small selection of Jamie Oliver merch.  There is a deli during the day as well for JO fans who might want the real thing.

We decided to share a starter of Pork Scratchings, given this was the first time I had ever seen this as an option on a menu, I couldn’t deny myself some fatty protein.  Being a complete Burger-head I had to go for The Jamie’s Italian Burger (10.95 or bundled with chips for for an extra £3) with Polenta Chips, and my able assistant chose the special of the day which was a pasta dish with lamb and tomato in a red wine sauce.

The starter came reasonably quickly given the fact it was so busy.  The delicate flavours really came out, and it was seasoned perfectly.  The Roasted Pear and Tomato dip had a gentle kick to it but subtle enough for it to work with the seasoning of the scratchings and not cause any mouth related spice-burn.
The scratchings were cooked evenly and presented in a bronze goblet which, to me, was the perfect method of delivery.  Starter finished, we languished ourselves in conversation.  We waited about 20 minutes for our main course (pretty good for a busy Friday night!) through which the drama of a busy kitchen played out in front of us.

To say that the burger heaved in to view was an understatement.  The table next to us had ordered a burger as well and got it slightly before us, I think I stared a little too long for comfort.

A stacked skyscraper of meat, pickles, chilli and cheese made this one of my all-time burgers.  Add in the Polenta Chips which were beautifully cooked and topped with lashings of parmasan and rosemary, you had a most amazing meal; one that I will come back again for when I feel I need it in my life.
Although it required disassembling, it was a burger to be attacked.  As Jamie Oliver said himself to Ellie Goulding in the second episode of his latest series the best burgers are ones that you just need to attack.  This I did.  It was an enjoyable combination of a burger that was at least 9oz, pickles and chilli’s with Mortadella and mozzarella which I devoured far too quickly.  The result was burger impatience disorder that I could only fill with more burgers, but tonight was not the night that I was going to do this.

My able assistant found her Lamb and Tomato thing quite spicy, this being a special it wasn’t something that was mentioned when the waitress told us what the specials were at the beginning of the meal.  There was no pretext saying that this was going to be ‘spicy’.  Luckily we are both spice fans but I know many people who would have been calling the manager over asking for a replacement or a refund.  Was it meant to be spicy? Was there meant to be a warning? Who knows.

With the meal finished, we were too full for dessert.  I had been tempted with such delights as Amalfi Lemon Meringue Cheesecake (velvety mascarpone & lemon cheesecake topped with Italian meringue, served with lemon curd & blackcurrants) and the Epic Brownie (warm fudgy brownie with vanilla ice cream & caramelised popcorn).  But there really was no room at the inn.

Jamie’s Italian is a new and original take on something Britain does quite poorly sometimes.  Italian restaurants are pretty much everywhere in various disguises, the ‘pseudo-Italian’ label is one that we can stick on many restaurants on our high street.  For once, there is now a place that I can say “fancy Italian tonight? Go to Jamie’s Italian…”.  It celebrates the fact it is what it is, and gives the diner a menu that is…

“…rooted in authenticity. We’re all about fantastic, rustic dishes created using tried and tested recipes. Jamie’s friend and mentor, Gennaro Contaldo, has added substance to what is now the essence of Jamie’s Italian – tradition combined with current, innovative ideas and a Jamie twist.”

Its not pretentious, its not snobby.  Like many establishments you make it as expensive as you make it.  And was I impressed? Yes I was.

Jamie’s Italian, Exeter
20 Bedford Street

01392 348 448

Opening Times
12 noon-10pm

12 noon-11pm

What’s Your Beef? Urban Burger’s burger competition winner announced. (via Beer, Burger and Beyond)

I was a little busy on Thursday night.  Not only was I working late, but I just had to go and judge a design-a-burger competition too.

Read all about it on Beer, Burger and Beyond


Darts Farm crowned Best Farm Shop in the South West (via Express and Echo)

After a nail-biting few weeks of public voting, Darts Farm was awarded Best Farm Shop in the South West on Monday night as foodies from across the region joined forces to celebrate the fifth annual Food Magazine Reader Awards.

Food Magazine readers voted in their thousands to secure Darts Farm the top spot in a hotly contested category with other finalists including Padstow Farm Shop and Bartlett’s Farm Shop in Honiton.

On winning the award, James Dart, owner of Darts Farm, expressed his delight saying “It’s always fantastic to be recognised with an award that is voted for by the public and it’s a great reward to our team who work so very hard”. He added “A big thank you must also go to our world-class local producers who keep this region at the forefront of the food industry with their expertise and passion”.

Read more:
Follow us: @expressandecho on Twitter | expressecho on Facebook

Using a bottle to separate egg yolk

This is an inspired idea. Especially for compulsive meringue makers…

Using a bottle to separate egg yolk

This is an inspired idea. Especially for compulsive meringue makers…

Trill Farm opens its doors for 2015 with an inspiring programme of courses and talks to get you thinking, learning and eating!

Do you want to get your mind and body kick started this New Year? Trill Farm opens its doors for 2015 with an inspiring programme of courses and talks to get you thinking, learning and eating!

Trill Farm, near Axminster, is the brain child of Dr Romy Fraser OBE, the founder of Neal’s Yard Remedies. Set up in 2008, the 300 acre organic farm has become an exercise in creative thinking and living. Cattle and sheep farmers, market gardeners, carpenters, chefs and natural skin-product makers all share the farm and a common ethos; using the land and all it affords in a way that provides a living for its workers, a resource for the local community to use and benefit from and, most importantly, causes minimum impact to the natural resources that sustain the whole enterprise.

The farm also hosts the Trill Trust, an education charity that uses the beautiful habitats and wildlife on the farm, and takes advantage of the expertise and knowledge of those working on it, to inspire and engage others to think and learn about their own relationship with the natural environment and what it means to the them. The Trust organises a series of talks, events and family camps throughout the year and has just employed a new Director of Education, Jolyon Chesworth, who says “Trill farm is such an inspiring place, the rivers, ponds, woods and meadows are teeming with wildlife and I’m really looking forward to exploring it all, showing people around and helping to put on a diverse programme of activities with something for everyone; from those who want their first experience sleeping under the stars and watching badgers; to people who want to understand what grows around them and how it can be used to make delicious foods and herbal remedies.”

The Trill Trust has just released the first of its planned activities, with courses on everything from carpentry, where you can build your own table, to willow weaving and basket making, herbal remedies and homeopathy, bee keeping, foraging and cooking, including our upcoming course on marmalade making, led by the renowned ‘Pam the Jam’.

Jolyon continues:

“One of the things I’m most looking forward to are our monthly Supper and Conversations, these evening events include thought provoking talks from national experts on a whole variety of subjects. On January 30th we have Pat Thomas, an author, journalist and campaigner, giving her views on GM foods and how they may be creeping on to your supermarket shelves, and what it means for our environment and our health. These talks provide food for thought whilst our resident chef provides delicious organic food for us to eat, as we cogitate and discuss the important issues facing ourselves and our countryside.”

“All of our walks, talks and events are listed on our website at and more will be added as the year progresses. We are particularly keen to continue to develop our links with our neighbours, including local schools and colleges. Im really looking forward to helping develop Trill as a community asset, where people can come and experience the best our countryside has to offer through sharing, learning, eating and simply taking pleasure in being outside in the fields and woods, what better way to start 2015.”

Ancient Greeks invented the Mediterranean Diet, University of Exeter reveals…


Ancient Greek doctors were the ones who invented the infamous Mediterranean diet, as hippocratic physicians used rich flavors in food in order to treat their patients, a new study from the British University of Exeter revealed, according to the Daily Mail.

The experts at the University of Exeter studied texts of ancient Greek doctors and found that they believed rich flavors could improve the food’s nutritional potency, while one of them, Galen of Pergamon, prescribed food recipes containing garlic and onions to patients. According to the same study, their work laid the principals of modern Mediterranean cooking, considered among the world’s healthiest. At the same time, ancient Greek philosopher Plato wrote about the importance of food in health, while Hippocrates said: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

– See more at:

OPINION: Vote for the restaurants you want to see in The Guildhall Dining Quarter

Just had to stick my oar in with this one.  The Express and Echo have put this up on their website and I can’t resist having my two cents about some of the options.  You don’t have to agree with me, please comment in the comments box, it’d be nice to have a bit of debate going.

(image mercilessly stolen from The Express and Echo)

“Guildhall Shopping Centre is remaining tight lipped about which eateries will open in its new restaurant quarter – but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a guess.

As part of the £7m plans the existing Higher Market Ambulatory arcade and the former Poundland store will be converted into 13 restaurants of varying sizes, including a rooftop bar.

Those behind the scheme hope to attract a mix of national restaurateurs and “local food heroes” serving everything from breakfast to fine dining.”

But if there is any truth in this list, then here are the definitive reasons why you should, or should not, vote for the following restaurants.

TGI Fridays – Started in 1965 to help Alan Stillman meet women, it has a long history mostly made up of franchises and the usual things that chain restaurants get up to. Plymouth has one. Says it all really.  Focuses on an American themed casual dining menu with an emphasis on alcohol.  Was the first to have ladies nights.  Menu contains gluten free options though…

Frankie and Benny’s - No one truly knows who Franky is.  Some believe him to be a mystical figure from Sicily who appeared to travellers on stormy nights, others believe that it is the name of the dog of the CEO who feeds him on Lasagne’s and Pastrami.  One thing we know is that this chain of restaurants is as generic as you can get; we’re already getting one in Marsh Barton. Deep joy…

Pieminister – The grapevine has brought good words about Pieminister to my ears.  Read their story here  which in itself is quite entertaining.  They have won so many awards their shelves have buckled and they are currently stacked on a coffee table.  With a Bristol heritage, they are a success story the South West can be proud of.  Plus they sell pies out of a van too.. that is so cool!  They have strong ethics and support charities with their sales.  Would be very happy to have a Pieminister opening in Exeter.

Pret A Manger – I’ve always managed to avoid them if I’m in London after a few disappointing experiences.  One of my favourite blogs The London Review of Sandwiches has this entertaining post about an experience in a Pret. It doesn’t make me want one, its a faceless chain that started with good intentions but just seems like another sandwich shop.  Unfortunately Pret just doesn’t do it for me.

Chipotle – Gourmet Burrito anyone? With 6 branches in the UK already, could Exeter be the first place in the UK outside of London to have a Chipotle restaurant?  Personally I am a fan of Mexican food, so I would be quite happy welcoming one of these in to our fair city.  We need more Mexican/Latin food choice.

LEON - “We opened Leon because we wanted to prove that it was possible to serve food that both tastes good and does you good. We want to make it easy for people to eat well on the high street. We want to do this in every major city in the world” – Need I say more?

Aberdeen Angus Steak House – Forgive me for being a little scathing here, but my one time in an Aberdeen Angus Steak House involved a protracted argument with the manager who tried to convince me that tough steak was good steak.  I liked this quote from Wikipedia “In 2011, actor and comedian David Mitchell championed the cause of Aberdeen Angus Steak Houses in his Guardian opinion column, proposing that they be a nominee for a British World Heritage bid, citing them as being “unique to British culture” because of their “proud heritage of serving shoe leather with Béarnaise sauce to neon-addled out-of-towners.”

Spud-U-Like – Some of you might remember that Exeter used to have a Spud-U-Like in South Street years ago.  Spuds with stuff on, basic and cheap food which filled you.  Haven’t been to one in years, so can’t say if its cheap anymore.  Fun fact: Spud-U-Like was taken over by the British School of Motoring who expanded its franchise business.  Spud-U-Like is still going because people are driven mad for baked potatoes…haha.  I would quite like to see one open in Exeter, again, Like LEON, it provides a healthy alternative to High Street food.

Krispy Kreme – Specializing in early death and morbid obesity, Krispy Kreme donuts are expensive and over priced glazed donuts with interesting fillings and stupid price tags.  They are addictive and delicious and it is only after you’ve eaten them all you realise you spent £5 on clogging your arteries with a few bits of dough.

Gourmet Burger Kitchen – Go away… we have four burger restaurants already.

Wimpy – I remember Burger King before it was Burger King on our High St.  It was a Wimpy as far as I can remember and I can still remember the Beefeater cartoon mascot that would often come over and terrorize small children.  Great fun.
There is a great degree of nostalgia for this brand.  Now owned by a South African company, they have gone back to using the logo and colour scheme that was used in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. The menu is basic, the decor is unoffensive and its quite cheap.  It is a British classic, like the Mini Cooper and drinking tea.

Strada – Pseudo Italian average corporate committee created menus. No thanks. It closed for a reason.

So there you have it, I’ve had my two cents worth.

I still hope that we will have a balanced range of eateries in the new Dining Quarter.  It would be unrealistic to expect the whole quarter to be taken up with purely independent establishments all using organic locally produced food.  But if we are faced with the prospect of 13 more chain eateries without giving the little guy a chance, it will be a disappointing result for what I believe is one of the most exciting developments on the Exeter food scene in years.

TWO people from Bude are set to become “pie-oneers”


TWO people from Bude are set to become “pie-oneers” after scooping a place on a national panel to take part in a pie taste challenge.

Paul Langford and Sarah Clarke-Feltham have become two of just 100 proud “Pukka Supper Pie-oneers” from across the UK to be selected for the exclusive taste test hosted by the UK brand.

The challenge follows a survey commissioned by Pukka Pies that revealed that Brits are 60% of us are not eating a traditional meat and two veg evening meal anymore, and instead are swapping proper dinners for quick-fix snacks such as crisps, sandwiches, cereals and instant soup

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Twitter reacts to Juice guru’s rather sparse ‘My day on a plate’


She sounds fun…

Originally posted on Metro:

My day on a plate

Juicing may be one of the hottest diet trends around, but when Kara Rosen, founder of juice company Plenish, revealed what she eats on an average day, twitter had something to say about it.

Giving a breakdown of rather sparse diet in the Telegraph’s My Day On a Plate feature, Kara revealed that she makes it through the day on little more than a handful of nuts, some herbal tea, a couple of juices and a bit of salad.

Kara’s ultra-clean diet inspired some people to share their own day on a plate. Here are some of the best…

The bachelor diet

The eat, sleep, pizza repeat diet

The rat race diet

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Urban Burger | What’s Your Beef?

Just a quick reminder about Urban Burger’s competition to create a custom burger. Closing date is on 21st January.