Trill Farm, the 300 acre organic farm and education centre in Axminster, is now hosting delicious weekly organic lunches for local residents and visiting guests, prepared in the Old Dairy Kitchen by Chef-in-residence, Chris Onions and his team.

Since the beginning of May these informal lunches take place every Wednesday at 1pm. Each meal is a seasonal celebration of the freshest produce from Trill’s wild larder and organic gardens.


Lunches are communal affairs, eaten at large tables so guests have a chance to talk to the staff and volunteers and find out what life is like on this working farm.

After lunch optional informal tours are offered to discover a little more about the farm, the workshops and courses that are run by the Trill Trust, the education charity based on the farm. And of course there is the chance to see where the lunches come from by visiting the Trill vegetable and herb gardens.

Farm lunches are priced at £8 for adults, £4 for under 12s and free for under 4s. To book contact Chris Onions on 07478 733677 or email

Product Review: Shaldon Bakery Artisan Bread

Shaldon Bakery (The Surfing Bakers) lies at the heart of the sleepy village/town of Shaldon. Shaldon is like the poor relative of Teignmouth, which it overlooks from across the Teign estuary.  But despite being much smaller than its big brother, it has a charm and quaint-ness all to itself that lends it a ‘St Ives’ like atmosphere.  Come summer, its tiny little streets are chocked full of tourists and day-trippers, all part of the rather unique bubble that lends itself to a sleepy part of Devon I thoroughly recommend visiting for any foody. The Guardian reported that Shaldon is ‘the place to go’ for those who loved food a few years ago.  Read the article here.

It so happens that some of the best bread in Devon is baked here (yes I did just declare that!) by Shaldon Bakery.  And it is here at the heart of Shaldon that the bakery is open six days a week selling bread and sandwiches made fresh on the premises.  But you can find them plying their trade at the various Devon farmer’s markets too, and it was last Saturday I bumped in to Ally at The Exmouth Spring Fun Day who stocked me up with a number of bits and pieces.

Opened in 2009 by Simon Hacking and Steve Morgan after a year of travelling around Australia, the bakery specialises in artisan bread using traditional methods and slate bed peel ovens, crafted with over 60 years of industry experience.  The success of the business has risen (pun intended) over recent years, supplying local businesses with sandwiches and bread.

Their recent creation, the Uglibun, has been quite a hit, even boasting its own Twitter account, they are normally the first things to sell out!  They also produce morning goods, tray goods and a range of ambient deli items are available from their shop as well, including ice cream during summer.

Bread is often something I have trouble with.  I am quite fussy about these sorts of things, and the sad fact of the matter is that there is a glut of cheap mass produced bread that is produced in miserable stainless steel factory cathedrals, shipped out en-masse, baked without passion or soul. So it is evident and obvious to get your teeth in to a loaf that tastes completely different from the Warburton’s and Hovis of this world.

Their Honey Granary loaf is a delightfully salty-sweet bread, soft as a pillow and went very nicely with peanut butter.  The texture was soft and went brilliantly with fresh butter.  It toasted evenly and did not instantly turn to charcoal which to me was an indicator of its moistness.  I have three other loaves in the freezer now and enough bread to keep me going for a while.  All of which won’t last long as it is consistently lovely bread.

The Shaldon Bakery,
16 Fore St

Tel: 01626 872401
Visit Website

Spring Launch Party: The Gatehouse Bar and Restaurant at The Southgate Hotel

The part of the invitation that led me to believe that I should have dressed in something other than a shirt and my combat trousers was ‘Drinks Reception’ and ‘Southgate Hotel’.  The part of my brain that led me to think that this would be appropriate should really be scooped out, as this was definitely an event for a suit & tie. Thankfully I wasn’t refused entry, and asked to leave quietly.

The organisers also managed to get the name of the blog wrong on our name tags, I only realised halfway through the evening.  So, for the duration of this post Eating Exeter is now ‘Exeter Eating’.

So what are they launching?

I had the honour of being invited to the Launch Party for The Gatehouse Bar and Restaurant on Thursday evening.

Mercure Hotels who own The Southgate Hotel have just refurbished the hotel, and most importantly they’ve refurbished the restaurant and bar.  Serving contemporary British cuisine including seafood, they are catering for a wide range of tastes.

The decor is inspired by Exeter’s history with The Exeter Book playing a key part in the inspiration of the design of the glass panelling and the carpet.  The comedy moment of the evening was learning that the carpet was ‘multi-lingual’ (spot the plebs in the corner chuckling to themselves at this fact).  But no less respect for the design and thought that went in to the interior.

Otter Brewery, Luscombe Drinks and Pebblebed Wines were represented, giving out free samples to party guests (Otter Bright is still my tipple of choice at the moment).

Was there food?

Absolutely; and if the samples were anything to go by, then we are going to be spoilt with having an amazing restaurant on our doorstep.

Personal favourites were the Creedy Carver Chicken Skewers with a BBQ sauce and the Jack’s Burgers sliders.  Also Saffron seasoned Chilli Shrimp was to die for and they even had oysters, but alas I am not the world’s biggest seafood fan so I veered away from them and the sushi.

And the macarons….oh those macarons…

The Gatehouse Bar & Restaurant is open for business now, its a definite opening highlight of the year for this blog and deserves a good go.

Product Review: Morrison’s ‘Signature’ Pork and Chorizo Burgers 4/5

From one end of the meat spectrum (Piper’s Farm Unsmoked Back Bacon) to the supermarket end. Like most foodies I don’t have the luxury of a food budget that stretches to being able to shop at Deli’s and Organic food shops constantly, and for the basic average ‘day-to-day’ stuff myself and my able assistant, who I am luckily enough to be married to, swap between Tesco’s and Morrisson’s for our weekly shop.

So whilst gliding around the aisles, not thinking for a minute I would find anything worth reviewing on ‘The Blog’ as it is lovingly known, I found these in the meat aisle and thought it would provide an excellent contrast to Piper’s Farm’s lovely bacon. For £2.00 we were able to pick up four large burgers.

This offer might not be forever, but the lure of cheap meat is enough for me to hang up my morals and indulge a little bit. No idea where the meat comes from, it says a British Farm so I am assuming that this might meant that its good quality but given the recent scandal over the tractor symbol and Tesco’s, I am not really convinced. I will hang up my Food-Snob hat and say for once I really really liked these despite the fact the meat isn’t overly ethical.

Given they were Pork, there was going to be less fat spillage, but they tasted nice.  The wonderful thing about chorizo is that it can be used to hide a multitude of taste sins, but it wasn’t bad at all. The value makes them a good option for budget meals, the meat itself doesn’t seem massively ethical given they don’t even list where it was reared, just ‘UK Pork’ is as much description as we’re given. Excellent burgers overall, hang up your ethics at the door though especially if you’re farm-to-plate sort of person as yes, its cheap meat.  But tasty.

We’re looking at 80% Pork, 5% Chorizo and a whole bunch of wheat based additives to stick the whole lot together, not great if you’re gluten intolerant or just anti-wheat.

Whistle Wines in Queen St. to become Fat Pig Tabac Bar

Its always a nice suprise when you get wind of change.  It appears that Whistle Wines is going to become the Tabac Bar, run by The Rusty Bike/Fat Pig/Pig & Pickle owner Hamish Lothian.

None of this is confirmed so I might be completely wrong but take a look for yourself and see the Facebook page.

There will be craft beers, they might be cheaper than the wines in there currently? But one thing is for sure, the beer with be crafted and locally brewed.


Waffles at The Glorious Art House Cafe

You might remember a few months ago, I reviewed a new cafe that had opened in Fore Street. That cafe was called The Glorious Art House Cafe, a bohemian paradise that brought together fantastic coffee and art via their 2nd floor gallery which has regular exhibitions of local artist’s work.

They’ve had a tweak and a shuffle of their menu.  Printed on recycled material, I love their new menu which includes more substantial food (Thai Green Curry anyone?).  Recommended to me by a good friend of mine was a new addition as they’ve started doing WAFFLES. I LOVE WAFFLES…

We were impressed at the fact that, despite the menu, they are easily accommodating with their toppings.  I went for the Maple and Honeycombe Waffle, my able assistant who was allergic to bananas was able to have a Fruit Salad and Dark Chocolate sauce waffle which wasn’t on the menu.

For £5.75 you get a freshly cooked Belgian waffle with a choice of toppings and a free hot drink.  All served on their Anthropologie crockery, which is always adds a touch of colour to any cuppa.

The Glorious Art House Cafe continues it’s journey as a bohemian coffee sanctuary in a city full of clones and wannabes (with notable exclusions, you know who you are…).  If I gave awards for cafes, this colourful establishment would have won an award or two by now.

120 Fore Street,

01392 490060

Upcoming dates for Rob Dawe’s Pop-up Restaurants

IMG_7543Just to let you know there are still tickets available for Rob’s next Pop-up on Tues 12th May starting at 7.15pm at the newly refurbished Heart of Oak pub in Pinhoe.

It’s £35 a ticket for a six course tasting menu, plus canapés on arrival and coffee with Petit Fours to finish. Please buy your drinks from the bar at this venue. If you would like to book a table please let Rob know soon.

He also has two new dates. Rob will be back at The Salty Pigeon on Magdalen Road in Exeter on Sunday 17th May and Monday 18th May. Starting at 7.15pm with canapés, followed by a summer six course tasting menu, using seasonal and local produce.

You can also bring your own drinks with you to this venue. It’s £35 a head, if you would like to book a table please text Rob on  07745438481

Ruby Modern Diner: The new menu

Ruby Modern Diner has been open for nearly as long as Eating Exeter has been running.  We hadn’t been writing the blog long (our 2nd attempt…) when we were invited to the press night, our first ever.  The great and the good of Exeter gathered to drink the nice beer & wine and eat samples of sliders that were coming from the kitchen.

The consensus back then was that Ruby Burger would surely do well given its position and its niche in providing Exeter foodies with an American diner experience.

So catapult to 2015 and Ruby Burgers is going from strength to strength.  They’ve won a Taste Of The West Award Gold for 2014, which is no mean feat (being a judge myself…might not have meant to have said that…never mind) and a Love The Flavour Award Winner in 2013. Oh..did I mention they also won both Taste of The West Gold and FDD Best takeaway in 2013 and 2014.

They’ve recently had a shakedown of the menu.  Some items have gone (bye bye The Reuben; hello Salt Beef Stack) and some items have changed their name (The One Burger is now called The Bad Man for instance).  But the thing that got me most excited are some of the new items added to an already awesome menu, which we were invited down to have a peek at.

So lets start with the most important thing.  The very essence of any good burger joint is the burgers themselves and they’ve really improved their game.  All burgers have been upped to 7oz patties, and are definitely denser in texture with an improved taste (more juices!) The Ruby Beef is still reered and supplied from the same farm in Mid-Devon as before, with the burgers being made fresh in-house each morning.

The egg glazed brioche buns are still made by Emma Parkin from The Real Food Store in Paris St. and is delivered by Emma each morning on her electric bike.  If you chomp down on the brioche buns you might notice that the buns are slightly different as they’ve changed some of the weights of ingredients (more butter possibly?) to give the bread a slightly tastier bite to it.

Being a spice-head the first thing I noticed was a new burger called The Scorchio.  A well rounded burger consisting of Lettuce, Tomato, 7oz Patty, Spicy Chorizo, Chipotle Mayonnaise, Mexicana cheese piled with Jalapeños.  Tori-wife-unit went for the Mutha Ducker from the House Specials menu which included Smoked Creedy Carver Duck Leg, Spring Onion, Cucumber and Hoi Sin sauce.

We chose some new sides too.  New to the menu is Corn On The Cob served with either normal or chilli melted butter and Spicy Slaw which, for me, had a nice balance of taste and gentle kick.
All of this was washed down with a can of Crafty Dan’s 13 Guns which is new to the list of beers available and Tori-wife-unit went for a can of San Pellegrino Orange & Pomegranate.

The Scorchio is a tower of spicy meaty majesty.  The spicy chorizo pieces work really well with the chipotle mayo and the mexicana cheese. This combination turns the whole burger in to a heavenly stack of umami awesomeness that I enjoyed with every single bit.  The Jalapeños give it a fiery hit and mixed with the seasoning of the burger it creates a really top combination, and certainly one of my favourite burgers so far.  The spice level has to be noted too; it is not challenge just to eat the burger and non of the taste is lost in the burn, as it would be very sad to lose any of the chorus of lovely tastes. With the glazed brioche bun, it works really well as a burger and really hope it stays on the menu for a long time to come.

One of my burger heroes is Burger Lad who has eaten and travelled the length & breadth of the UK reviewing burgers and writing about them.  He recently stopped by Ruby Burgers and wrote about The Scorchio Burger saying about the Spicy Chorizo…

“The Spicy Chorizo was beautiful. Bordering on outstanding… very rich with its signature smoked paprika flavour, thickly cut and a very generous amount on-board. In my notes I described it as highly decadent, oozing with quality bringing another dimension to the arsenal of tastes in my mouth.”
Burger Lad (2015)

Burger Lad also had The Ruby Burger which he rated really highly as one of his favourite burgers that he’s sampled on his travels, Beer Burger and Beyond (our sister blog which I also write) sampled The Ruby Burger as well and I can say that it an impressive burger.  But The Scorchio might just be nipping at its heels for my affections.

The Mutha Ducker burger is an interesting and successful concept.  Duck meat, in a burger? You have to be quackers!? Excuse the pun.  I have to say though, this burger works really well with the lashings of Hoi Sin sauce, smoked pulled duck and the freshness of the spring onion and cucumber, it is an interesting alternative for those who want something a little different.

The smoked duck and hoi sin sauce reminds me of duck and hoi sin wraps that you sometimes get in Chinese Restaurants. The spring onion adds that extra dimension to the flavour and the whole thing is topped off with some fresh Cucumber.  The duck, like nearly all of the ingredients that go in to the food at Ruby Modern Diner is locally sourced, coming from Creedy Carver based a few miles away in Crediton.

The Corn On The Cob is, for me, a welcome addition to the menu. Its griddled and served with either melted chilli butter or normal butter.  We also tried the Spicy Slaw which was more of a delicate heat rather than a ‘blow-your-mouth-off’ number.  Despite not really being ‘new’ we still got in a portion of the Sweet Potato Fries that Ruby does so well.  Seasoned with sea salt and cracked black pepper, these are hard to cook well and guaranteed each time we come, its gotta be a portion of these as well.

Any good menu needs to evolve and change, and the best restaurants know that a stagnating menu can be boring for the diners and boring for the chefs who have to make it.

Fresh, exciting and interesting menus are the ones that change and adjust according to customer feedback, season and taste.  Ruby Modern Diner continue their award winning journey with a new blue menu with some new and wholesome additions, which I would recommend sampling for yourself.

74 Queen Street, Exeter, Devon EX4 3RX
01392 436168


Burger Lad. (2015). Ruby Modern Diner Exeter. Available: Last accessed 27th August 2015.

Product Review: Piper’s Farm Unsmoked Back Bacon 5/5

Bacon. Breaker of vegetarians, maker of Full English Breakfasts and very hard to cover the smell of. Supermarkets sell it, normally injected with water or treated with chemicals which help it stay preserved for longer so its refreshing to be able to tuck in to what I consider ‘proper bacon’.  And who better to have bought these from.pipers-farm-awardsPiper’s Farm are award winning. Just look at them all!  And there is good reason.  The farm, located in Mid-Devon is entirely grass fed.  The rich nutritious red soil means that the animals need no additional supplements. The taste of the meat has been commended over and over again; in 2011 Pipers Farm was listed as one of The Times’s top 10 butchers and was awarded Best Food Producer in 2007 by the BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming Awards. Not to mention the countless Taste awards and regional awards that they have earned.

Pipers Farm also do meat boxes.  The range is extensive and you can start with one-off boxes or order them regularly.  They start at £30 or you can do a ‘Meat for the week’ for £15.

How much? 
I bought 10 rashers for £4 at the Exeter Food Festival yesterday.

Where to can you buy it from?
Piper’s Farm have a butchers located at 57 Magdalen Road in Exeter, or you can buy them online

The Verdict:
The taste is immediately evident.  From first bite there is a stronger taste which resounds through the whole mouthful.  Piper’s Farm use Saddleback pigs for their bacon, they live in an old cider orchard and feast on grass, acorns and windfalls.  The meat is hung for three weeks and then cured traditional brine cure and smoked over oak chips.

The texture was nowhere near as tough as supermarket bacon, it became flakey and for lack of a better expression ‘melt in the mouth’.

We crisp our bacon and found that there was a bit of shrinkage but nothing that detracts from the taste.  Crispy bacon shrinks, its the nature of the beast and these beasts were absolutely delicious.

Bacon is an easy recipe ingredient.  What sort of things can you do with bacon? Have a look at this suggestion from Pikalily for a Chorizo and Bacon Rosti 

Exeter Food Festival 2015: An epic write-up

Its the time of year that the whole of Exeter descends on Northernhay Gardens to experience a celebration of South West food and drink, and Eating Exeter (i.e me) was there to experience it in its spectacular tasty glory.  This is a long post so scroll down for photos, more writing and an Eating Exeter first…a photo slideshow.

There were producers showing off their amazing food, chefs demonstrating their highly tuned culinary skills and musicians playing to crowds of people swilling local ales & ciders until late into the night. This is not really a festival, more of a party and this year I was lucky enough to get a press pass for the Friday, so with my new-found VIP status I headed to Northernhay Gardens after work to see what was happening.

Ask any Exeter Food Festival veteran and they will tell you that there are good and bad times to go. Friday is a good day as its quiet and relatively fresh.  Sunday is also a good time to go as its..well…Sunday.  Should you go on Saturday? Hell yes…naturally it is the day people tend to drift in to Exeter so its going to be a bit busy. But don’t let that put you off.  There are performance stages in the Castle and in the Gardens, two demonstration areas and a plethora of stands to get food.  You could easily spend the entire day here.

As I was destined to go on the Friday, I wasn’t too fussed about crowds. But by the time I got to the festival many of the producers were packing up or had packed up (there was only half an hour to go) so I decided a Saturday revisit was needed.

If you do go on a Saturday, here is a handy tip. Get there early. I was half an hour early as I had convinced myself that the gates opened at 9:30am. They didn’t (so I consoled myself with a Bacon Bap and Tea from Oggy Oggy for £1.25 which was amazing value and kept me company).  I had a couple of hours where the crowds were at a nice level and it was enjoyable to be able to just amble around and take in the gardens too.  I left just as the crowds started to pick up, but also as the rain started to look more threatening. Unfortunately the festival organisers don’t have control over the weather!

As this is the Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink, there were producers that were local and not so local.  I couldn’t possibly cover every single producer that I met or took leaflets from, but I will mention a few that stuck with me.  There were some new names and some classic favorites too.

Eat The Smoke –Eat The Smoke and their products (Twitter

I am quite biased with these guys because I love BBQs, red meat and beer. To taste a BBQ sauce that had a smokyness made from genuine American liquid smoke and really good local ingredients was refreshing and exciting.  It had a deep rich colour and a scent that reminded me of Deep South cook-outs and red-necks.  Not that I have ever been to the Deep South or met a genuine red-neck, but I imagine they’d be eating this stuff if they could get their hands on it.

They are based in Exmouth and occasionally run Pop-up restaurants so its worth hooking up with them on social media for more goings on. They have a nice little blog too which I hope they’ll add to.

This brings me handily on to the subject of BBQ’s and meat. I can safely say that this year’s Festival was definitely meat friendly.  The highlight of the Saturday was watching the Piper’s Farm team take it in turn to man their open air mega-BBQ.

Pipers Farm –

Pipers Farm is a success story for Devon produce.  Have a look at the raft of awards that they have managed to pick up and you’ll see why they are one of my favourite meat producers/retailers. Pipers Farm itself is based near Cullompton, and they have shop in Exeter at 57 Magdalen Road .

As I’ve always been a bit of a Piper’s Farm fanboy at heart, I just had to pick up some Unsmoked Back Bacon for breakfast.  I am endeavoring to start doing product reviews on Eating Exeter, so prepare for a product review of Piper’s Farm Bacon in the immediate future!

Pipers Farm are also very aware of the importance of social media, they use it actively and effectively across many different platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a few others. Follow them and see what they’re doing as its really quite impressive.

Cherry Tree Preserves –

When we were last at the Exeter Food Festival we picked up a jar of Spiced Red Onion Marmalade, but unfortunately we just hadn’t been anywhere that had sold it.  This meant Tori-wife-unit had gone without it for nearly a year and could we remember the name? Nope. Not a chance. I was under orders to track down and purchase a jar of this stuff, so imagine my happiness when I Spicey Onion Marmaladefound that they were at the festival this year as well.  Some delicious Marmalade and extra browny points!

Cherry Tree have won themselves a Taste Of The West Silver award which is well deserved.  I loved the sheer range of products that they are able to come up with and the fact that they have a Cherry Tree Club that lets you register to get a whole heap of benefits such as a Free Jar with your first order, newsletters and discount on new products.

They are not local-local, the website gives you information about becoming a Franchisee but I like the stuff and it appears that Michael Caines and the Festival Committee like them too, so thats good enough for me.

Well Hung Meat Company –

I had a lot of conversations with various producers this morning, and I really felt the chap I spoke to on the Well Hung Meat company had a passion for what he was doing.

From their own herd, their animals are butchered by Artisan Butchers (…they’re better than non-Artisan butchers because they have videos made about them) and delivered to your door via their online meat box service.

Had I the resources and the patience I would be signing up right away as their meat is completely traceable and guaranteed to have had a good life in nice big fields next to the sea.  Completely guilt-free meat eating.

Stapleton Yogurts –

Produced in North Devon, Stapleton makes yogurt from the milk of a herd of Jersey cows.

There is nothing artificial in their products and they are the perfect remedy for having too much Bhut Sauce…lucky for me they were right next to the Dartmoor Chilli Farm stand.

There are lots of flavours and they are available from Tescos and a few other large supermarkets too.

Dartmoor Chilli Farm –

Each time we come to the Exeter Food Festival it is now a tradition that I go up to the stall and decide that the Bhut Jolokia sauce is perfect to try with a large dollop on their tasting crackers. Each year the heat takes me by surprise and each year I think about the fact that I did it last year…

Dartmoor Chilli Farm is a low-carbon footprint business, producing organic and natural products with no use of pesticides.  They produce chocolates, sauces, relishes and sell chilli seeds and even plants themselves.  I bought a plant at the last EFF that I attended and it managed to struggle on for a year until I killed it accidentally (was more manslaughter than murder).  They have won various awards and their products are available online.

Hunter’s Brewery –

“Hunter’s Brewery is a family-run microbrewery crafting top quality, uniquely tasty cask and bottled ales in Devon using only the finest ingredients” and yes I might have pulled that from their website.

I have liked Hunter’s Brewery for a while and been a massive fan of Crispy Pig, a session ale that was sold by Wetherspoons (which is how I discovered it).  It has been a bit of a hit, and with Hunter’s Brewery appearing on The Fixer (some sort of televised program-mabob?) which I haven’t seen, they appear to be going from strength to strength.

Unfortunately my interaction with the chap on the stall today was rather awkward as I think I must have interrupted him as he was talking to someone else; so I had a sample of Crispy Pig and ran off.  But that won’t stop me from buying some next time I see it for sale.

Kenniford Farm Hog Roast –

On the Friday night we needed food and the After Dark party was lucky enough to have a fantastic selection of street food stalls.  One of them was Kenniford Farm’s Hog Roast company who provided us with some tasty pork and even tastier crackling.

Whilst sipping on Otter Brewery’s finest ale (which is imho Otter Bright) we were treated to a demonstration by Tom Cull of Tom’s Pies.  It put me in the mood for pork belly and that need hasn’t quite shifted.

“Tom Cull is creator and director of Dartmoor Kitchen; a bespoke outside catering company recently awarded the impressive title of National Caterer of the Year following 4 years running of being the ‘West Country Wedding Caterer of the year’, and Tom’s Pies; producers of a range of delicious multi award-winning artisan pies made using only the best free range and farm assured ingredients, locally sourced where possible”

I can’t quite remember what Tom was making but it seemed something like this, which is described by A Fanatical Foodie which Tom demonstrated a few years ago. I might be wrong? It was an interesting demonstration and despite wearing my VIP badge I was quite happy sitting somewhere in the middle.

The South West food scene is vibrant, well promoted and exceptional in quality and the passion that goes along with it.  I’m proud to be able to write about it and was even more proud to talk to some of the most enthusiastic and passionate food people that you are likely to find.

There were quite a few producers who didn’t make it in to the post: this blog post is already over 1600 words!

Portlebay Popcorn –

Fussels Fine Foods –

Chunk Pies –

Mr Filbert’s Inventive Snack Company –

Topsham Chorizo –

Big Pot Kitchen –

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Vegan issues have been catapulted into the political spotlight by The Vegan Society, whose supporters have been using its General Election Tip Sheet to challenge prospective MPs on vegan-related topics ahead of UK polling day on 7 May.

“Thousands have already accessed our Tip Sheet, many of whom are now calling potential MPs to task. The level of response from the politicians has been remarkable, too” said Amanda Baker, Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer of The Vegan Society.

“The leading parties are being pushed harder than ever to be clear on these issues. The office of the Conservative Party Chairman (on behalf of Grant Shapps), for example, responded to us re-stating their intention to ban wild animals in circuses, and a wish to encourage other countries to follow the EU’s lead in banning animal testing for cosmetics.

“The Green Party set out their plans to end the badger cull and introduce CCTV in slaughterhouses in their Animals Manifesto, and the Labour Party have stated their intention to abolish the badger cull and defend the ban against hunting with hounds. The Animal Welfare Party (fielding four candidates in London) seeks a world in which animals are not exploited, and plan to end the badger cull, phase out animal testing and move farming subsidies from animal to plant-based methods. The Lib Dems have signalled their intent to also end the badger cull, and set a new legally binding target for a zero-carbon Britain by 2050 – which would have to address the huge greenhouse gas emissions from human farming of non-humans – while UKIP say they will abolish the live export of animals for slaughter.

“Vegan issues are climbing up the political agenda faster than ever before, in line with the increasing prominence of veganism as a mainstream belief in society,” added Baker.

The Tip Sheet probes ten policy areas around animal use, plant-based nutrition and equalities, as well as plant-based solutions to global climate change and food security, with specific questions to put to Parliamentary Candidates. It is a platform to inspire debate, and encourage discussion of vegan issues which have, in the past, been so frequently missed off political programmes.


The Nutwell Lodge Hotel, Lympstone (4/5 – Off Season)

I don’t normally do ‘lucky dip dining’ as I call it.  Find a place, look at the menu and go in. Don’t research, don’t investigate or go online and have a look at reviews or anything.  Just have a go.  It can sometimes be fun to see what happens but sometimes it can lead to trouble.

But on the knowledge that I had been here back in 1999 for a friend’s 18th party and couldn’t remember anything negative about the experience, I thought ‘well heck it can’t be that bad…’

The Nutwell Lodge sits on the A376 on the way to Exmouth. We’d just been down to our nearest weird little coastal town on the spur of the moment and faced with a sunny day to ourselves, why the hell not… Generally we go to Exmouth and have a walk followed by some inexpensive grub at The Bath House but given the last time the service was so horrific, I didn’t feel like running the gauntlet again.  Initially we’d decided to have a go at The Saddlers Arms over in Lympstone but we were faced with a sign that said ‘Cash Only’.

Quickly moving on I decided to try The Nutwell Lodge; but knowing it was a bit grim and given the last time it’d been looking quite dated even back in 1999 (that I can remember), I was interested to see what it was looking like in the heady days of the 21st century.

The Nutwell Lodge is a family trough-feed-your-face-let-your-kids-scream kind of place.  Its cheap, there are kids everywhere and to those sorts of people that moan about kids screaming here is a piece of advice. DON’T GO TO THE SORTS OF PLACES THAT MARKET THEMSELVES AT FAMILIES. Sorry I know that was in capital letters, but come on.  I don’t have kids, but I know if I go to a place that has a playground at the back, you’re coming in to the child friendly zone.
A quick scoot through Trip Advisor gives The Nutwell Lodge a very mixed set of reviews, but thankfully not clustering towards the very bad side of things. There are a lot of Excellents as well as a lot of Terribles, and from what we saw today I would be happy to say that it was Very Good.
But be warned if you go here during season/peak times, it might be a different experience.

There are two entrances, the Pub Entrance and the Restaurant Entrance.  This is bad if, like me you are easily confused.  If you go in the Pub Entrance you can get to the Restaurant but you need to go to the Restaurant Entrance so that you can be seated.  Once you are seated you are asked if you want drinks, you say “no can we have a look at the menu first” and they say that they’ll be back in two minutes.  Our waiter did come back in two minutes, which was a positive start given in some restaurants they have a strange tendency of forgetting you until 10 minutes later when you’ve decided what you’re going to drink and order.

I had originally opted for a Burger not being the world’s biggest carvery fan, but our waiter James told us that there was currently a 45 minute wait on normal food (which is odd as they really didn’t seem that busy…) but we could just go up to the carvery as there wasn’t a queue.  He popped back with our carvery tickets and boom, off we went..

I can’t even start to imagine what a Large carvery would look like, most probably with more meat? not sure. But I had some lovely beef and very nice ham and lots of veg including perfectly cooked carrots which is a rarity for a carvery.  I didn’t go for whatever local ales they might have had. In fact the overwhelming need for food overrode this and I ended up having a San Miguel (which was £3.65??) which complemented everything nicely.

The Nutwell Lodge comes under the Great British Carvery brand which is part of Orchid Pubs. Orchid pubs runs a number of sub-brands but is owned by Mitchells & Butler.  This mega-conglomerate owns such brands as Harvester (The Malt House anyone?) and Toby Carvery (Norovirus anyone?? lol), and get this…Vintage Inns too is a Mitchells and Butler owned company; they happen to run The St George and Dragon which is the next pub up the A376. All a little incestuous.

The service was without fault, friendly and attentive and the food for the most part was worth the £5.95 per head. Whole thing came to £18.80 for two adults who went away stuffed and happy.


Nutwell Lodge Hotel

Tel01392 873 279

Opening hours

Mon – Sat 8am – 11pm
Sun 8am – 10.30pm

New Features Inspire and Engage at Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink 2015

Friday 24th – Sunday 26th April
Exeter Castle and Northernhay Gardens, Exeter

The 2015 Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink, taking place at Exeter Castle and Northnernhay Gardens from 24th – 26th April is introducing brand new features for visitors in search of the ultimate foodie weekend. Each year, the Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink – Exeter’s only city based foodie festival, brings together a host of south west producers, activities for all the family to enjoy, live music and plenty of delicious food and drink to enjoy.

New for 2015 is Festival Question Time, hosted by Radio Devon taking place throughout the 3 days of the festival with 9 slots in total covering a variety of themes. Visitors can drop into the Festival Question Time marquee to join live Q&As on ‘of the moment’ topics in the world of food hosted by BBC Radio Devon presenters Michael Chequer, Fitz and Bill Buckley. Foraging, making the most of garden grown produce and sugar free recipes are just some of the areas to be aired as well as those common tricky areas such as encouraging children to eat well and dinner party solutions. A panel of experts has been carefully selected for each topic with representatives from local businesses, south west food and drink producers including exhibitors – in keeping with the regional focus of the festival.

For a moment of tranquility, Comins Tea from Dorset will be bringing their unique take on the experience of ‘taking’ tea. With a passion for a good brew and exotic travel, Rob and Michelle Comins personally source Single Estate teas from around the world, visiting plantations to ensure the quality and taste of their product before importing it into the south west where they sell it to tea lovers to enjoy at home or in their very own Tea House. Rob and Michelle will be recreating traditional tea ceremonies in their marquee using their own range of bespoke teaware. Michelle said: ‘We are looking forward to our first Exeter Food Festival. As a Fine Tea Merchant we will be selling our Single Estate and Single Origin leaf teas but also inviting visitors to sit at our unique tea tasting tables to experience traditional Gong Fu tea service.’

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, a Westcountry Bakery, workshops, live music and food-themed activities.

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 from Exeter Phoenix or Exeter Tourist Information Centre. For more information or to buy tickets visit:

Dartmoor’s Blueberry Brothers Chutney Handpicked By Marks & Spencer

The imaginative Blueberry Brothers have launched a new spicy, handmade Blueberry Chutney, one of only 25 products selected by Marks & Spencer for their unique range of branded artisan products. These are now available to purchase in 350 stores, foodies nationwide will be able to savour the subtle blueberry flavour of this luxurious, rich purple chutney.

Guaranteed to pack a punch on any cheeseboard, and the perfect accompaniment with charcuterie, this novel chutney certainly has the wow factor. Bursting with flavours, this spiced condiment incorporates a delightful range of traditional ingredients enthused with an expertly developed blend of cardamon, mustard and fennel. This original product joins The Blueberry Brothers’ fruity Blueberry and Chilli Jam and zesty Blueberry and Lime Jam, both of which have recently been awarded accolades. The Blueberry Brothers’ Blueberry Chutney can be purchased from chosen Marks & Spencer stores nationwide (rrp £3.99).

Founded ten years ago as Yonder Berries Ltd, Nick and Toby Hewison are continuing their mother, Jenny’s love of growing blueberries on the edge of Dartmoor, Devon. As their passion for developing exceptional premium blueberry products flourished they quickly became nicknamed ‘The Blueberry Brothers’. Since their humble beginnings, Nick and Toby have developed an unrivaled knowledge of these popular little berries, using their expertise to develop an award-winning portfolio of innovative products including delicious jams, tasty beers, delectable muffins and baked products and exquisite chocolates and marzipan blueberries.

For further information on The Blueberry Brothers’ Blueberry Chutney and their other mouth-watering products go to, or visit their stand at the Devon County Show in the food marquee on 21st – 23rd May. Follow The Blueberry Brothers on twitter@Blueberrybros, or ‘like’ on Facebook at


Dartmouth Food Festival 2015

Friday 23 – Sunday 25 October 2015

The Dartmouth Food Festival is back for 2015 with a tempting blend of West Country produce, top chefs and engaging foodie talks and events.

The free festival, launched in 2003, takes place on October 23-25 2015. The festival sees around 20,000 people flock to the town each year and is paradise for food fans with more than 100 South West producers showcasing their delicious produce, a packed programme of events and a line up of celebrated chefs demonstrating their skills and inspiring festival goers.

Over the festival weekend, Dartmouth will play host to some of the UK’s top food writers and personalities in the ‘Eat Your Words’ talks and tastings. Events will take place in the Flavel Church, in the centre of Dartmouth.

Visitors can get hands on and stock up on skills in cookery workshops – from filleting a fish to baking the perfect scone, there’s something to suit all home cooks. It’s not just about the food either, the festival will offer a programme of drinks tastings and events for those who want to brush up on their knowledge.

Richard Hunt, chef and proprietor of the Devon Scone Company comments, “The Dartmouth Food Festival showcases all the best produce from the West Country. It is always a must for my calendar, as the whole atmosphere and welcome from the residents and visitors to the festival creates a buzz and passion that is nothing short of inspiring.”

As well as fabulous food in the exhibitor marquees, Royal Avenue Gardens and across the festival, many of Dartmouth’s renowned restaurants will be running special menus and other events.

A programme of children’s activities will be running in the Royal Avenue Gardens. Activities take place all day and are free.

Entry to the festival is free with a charge for some events.  Dartmouth Food Festival relies on the generous support of festival sponsors.

Full details at

Twitter: @DartFoodFest


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.

Follow on Twitter @liveloveeat
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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: