Category Archives: Food & Drink

SWAN GLIDES OFF WITH MORE AWARDS AND OPENS SISTER RESTAURANT

The multi-award-winning Swan in Devon has recently secured yet more awards for 2019 and its owners have also officially unveiled plans for a new restaurant they are set to open next month.

The gastropub with rooms in Bampton has retained its four AA Gold Stars and two AA Rosettes for Culinary Excellence for the fifth year running following a recent visit by the organisation’s inspector.

Chef-patron Paul Berry, who co-owns The Swan with his wife and fellow award-winning chef Donna, said: “This couldn’t have come at a better time for us and we’re delighted. At the start of next month, we’re opening our new restaurant called Spelt.

“We’ve taken on the old bakery shop in Bampton and created a new concept style restaurant and we’re taking bookings now for tables from 12 September, so there’s lots going on! Anyone who would like to book in should get in touch soon, as we expect to be run off our feet once we open, as interest has been so high in the run up to this!

“It’s going to be very different from The Swan in style, but we’ll still be very much focused on the wonderful local produce we use and serving up the tastiest dishes going. We’ll offer a selection of dishes that have been developed for sharing, so no starters as such and no mains either, so if two people are going to eat, possibly they’d have four or five plates of food.

“We’ll be offering visitors from further afield, or those who live nearby but fancy a night over, special packages so they can dine at Spelt and stay with us at The Swan too.

“Spelt represents a wonderful adventure for us and it’s great having something new in the pipeline. Whatever happens though, rest assured, we will not be taking our eyes off the ball at The Swan. We have a deep-rooted passion for the pub, and it is just as important to us today as it was eight years ago when we took it on.”

The Swan is no stranger to celebrations and has had quite a haul of awards already in the past year. A few months ago, the AA named it as the nation’s ‘Inn of the Year’ at a star-studded awards event in London.

In the spring, it was declared for the third year running as one of the best gastropubs in the country too.

It polled in at number 20 in the ‘Estrella Damm’ Top 50 Gastropub Awards, which are voted for by food writers, executive chefs, celebrity and top hospitality industry chefs, pub guide editors, industry chiefs and food operators.

It also received a special award as the highest climber in the list in 2018, when it was rated 28th.

To add to this last year, The Swan was named Gold Tourism Pub of the Year 2018 at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards and being voted Best Dining Pub for 2018 in the Trencherman Awards.

And at the end of the year, chef-patron Donna Berry was also one of three finalists in both the Devon Life and Trencherman Awards too.

Paul added: “Donna is a wonderful chef and Spelt is her vision. Myself, and the our whole team, are very much with her in this new venture. It’s exciting times for us all!”

The team at Spelt is taking bookings officially for 12 September onwards.

To find out more about The Swan and Spelt, please call The Swan on 01398 332248 or visit www.theswan.co or Spelt on 01398 331044.

SWAN IN GASTROPUB TOP 20!

The Swan at Bampton is celebrating after being named for the third year running as one of the top 50 gastropubs in the country at an industry-wide awards ceremony in Maidenhead recently (January 28 2019).

The multi-award-winning pub has polled in at number 20 this year. It received a special award as the highest climber in the list in 2018 when it was rated 28th and in 2017 it was positioned just inside the chart at 50.

Chef-patron Paul Berry, who co-owns The Swan with his wife and fellow award-winning chef Donna, said: “We’re absolutely delighted! It’s a testament to our team, our customers and our suppliers. They are wonderful people and each one of them has a share in this.

“Last year we were ranked as number 28 and the year before we just made it into this elite group of pubs with chefs and teams who are at the very top of their game, so we couldn’t have been happier. But now to be into the top 20, it’s just amazing. We’re in such great company, with the likes of Tom Kerridge’s pub the Hand and Flowers in the top 20 too, it’s just a wonderful feeling and we’re speechless!

“The ‘Estrella Damm’ Top 50 Gastropub Awards are voted for by food writers, executive chefs, celebrity and top hospitality industry chefs, pub guide editors, industry chiefs and food operators. We’re the industry’s choice and are delighted to be part of these awards again this year.”

The ceremony is organised by the publican’s publication, The Morning Advertiser, which says the top 50 is the definitive list of the best gastropubs in Britain.

Editor of the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs, Nicholas Robinson, said in The Morning Advertiser: “Gastropubs are an example of everything that is great about the UK food and drink scene.

“There’s something phenomenal happening in gastropubs up and down the country, they are growing and maintaining that growth where chains and other restaurants are failing.”

No stranger to accolades, The Swan scooped a plethora of other awards last year, including being named Gold Tourism Pub of the Year 2018 at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards and being voted Best Dining Pub for 2018 in the Trencherman Awards.

The Swan also retained its four AA Gold Stars and two AA Rosettes for Culinary Excellence in 2018, for the fourth-year-running, and chef-patron Donna Berry was a finalist in both the Devon Life and Trencherman Awards.

To find out more about The Swan, please call 01398 332248 or visit www.theswan.co/.

GOLDEN TIMES FOR THE SWAN IN BAMPTON AS IT RECEIVES MORE ACCOLADES

The team at an award-winning Devon pub are celebrating this week (December 10, 2018) after receiving more prestigious plaudits and acknowledgements for their food and hospitality.

The Swan, Bampton, retained its four AA Gold Stars and two AA Rosettes for Culinary Excellence for the fourth-year-running and chef-patron Donna Berry was a finalist in both the Devon Life and Trencherman Awards.

Donna’s husband and co-owner of the gastropub with rooms, Paul Berry, said: “We’re absolutely delighted. November was a very special month for us and these awards and accolades are a marvellous celebration of what we do and what our team delivers.

“We’re super proud of Donna, who was a finalist in not one, but two, major industry awards this autumn. She was up against some of the South West’s best chefs in the Best Chef category in the Trencherman Awards 2019 and it was amazing she was in the top three.

“The other three contenders for the title were Bruce Rennie from The Shore Restaurant, Penzance, Jude Kereama from Kota, Porthleven, and Matthew Beardshall from Wilder in Nailsworth. Jude was crowned the overall winner, but Donna did incredibly well to be listed with these three heavyweights of the culinary world. They are no strangers to the spotlight and you may have seen Jude recently on TV when he just lost out to Tom Brown from Cornerstone in Hackney Wick in London during the Great British Menu.

“Donna was also a finalist in Devon Life’s Best Chef of the Year and narrowly missed out on the top spot to another worthy, local contender: Nicholas Hack from the Cadeleigh Arms in Tiverton. So, it’s been a fabulous November for us and we couldn’t be more delighted with being finalists in these two awards.

“We’re also celebrating another major accolade, as we’ve been awarded two AA Rosettes for Culinary Excellence for the fourth-year-running and have also retained our AA Four Star Gold Inn status, so we couldn’t be more delighted.”

Two Rosettes are awarded to restaurants that display a consistency in their approach, precision in their cooking and obvious attention to the selection of quality ingredients.

AA Hotel Services’ Hotel & Restaurant Inspector, James Hartley, said: “Congratulations to Paul, Donna and all the team. This is deserved success based upon commitment, consistency and quality. The Swan continues to offer an engaging combination of impressive cuisine, genuine hospitality and cosseting bedrooms, all contributing to a rewarding guest experience.”

The Swan has also received some more good news recently relating to the ‘Estrella Damm’ Top 50 Gastropub Awards.

Paul added: “We’ve found out that we’re in the ‘Estrella Damm’ Top 50 Gastropub listing for 2019 for the third year running but will not find out our actual placing until January at the official awards event. The top 50 is a big thing for us as it’s recognition on a national level from colleagues within the industry.”

The ‘Estrella Damm’ Top 50 Gastropub Awards are voted for by food writers, celebrity and top hospitality industry chefs, pub guide editors, industry chiefs and food operators.

“Once again it’s been a wonderful year for us. We’d like to thank our customers, suppliers and the whole team at the pub, everyone is part of this.”

To find out more about The Swan, please call 01398 332248 or visit www.theswan.co.
 

GIN MEETS BEER AND THE RESULT IS THE GROUND-BREAKING EXMOOR GOLD GIN

Exmoor Ales was the first brewery to produce a golden ale with Exmoor Gold back in the 1980s, while Wicked Wolf was the first gin-maker on Exmoor. So it seems only right that the two of them have got together to produce the limited-edition Exmoor Gold Gin, the first gin to incorporate in its ingredients a distillation of beer.

The two drinks’ producers are no strangers to one another, having worked together to produce Wicked Wolf, a 4.2% juniper-infused golden ale, released under the brewery’s ‘Exile’ range of beers. This time, though, it is the gin-maker’s chance to take the spotlight with a limited-edition 42% gin.

Pat Patel is the co-founder of Wicked Wolf, which is based in the lush and breathtakingly beautiful Lorna Doone countryside around the village of Brendon. “The idea for both the juniper-infused ale and the gin came from a meeting, which was originally about Exmoor Ales distributing our gin,” he says. “I just thought that as we both wanted to promote Exmoor it made sense working together to produce an ale and a gin.

“For the gin, we take Exmoor Gold and double distil this to create a distillate which is basically a smooth beer schnapps; we then use this as a botanical distillate when blending the gin. Our process for making our gins remains the same, in that we distil each botanical individually, to capture the total range of flavour, then blend to our recipe, giving us a smooth, fuller-flavoured gin.”

According to Exmoor Ales Managing Director, Jonathan Price, “With Wicked Wolf on Exmoor already supplying most of our regular pubs on Exmoor with their gin, it made sense to collaborate. Our head brewer made a joke about an Exmoor beer-influenced gin, which then inspired Pat to experiment with both Exmoor Gold and Exmoor Beast, producing astounding results. Exmoor Gold Gin is the first and borrows the brewery branding…perhaps Exmoor Beast might follow.

“As for the flavour of the gin, it is subtle and beguiling and clearly a gin out of the Wicked Wolf den. There is not the slightest taste of beer, but instead a rich creaminess to the spirit as is the hallmark of the beer. Both distillery and brewery are very pleased with the result and also excited that we can collaborate to produce this taste of Exmoor. Dare I also say, it will make a wonderful Christmas present for the beer and gin connoisseur.”

Wicked Wolf was set up by Pat and wife Julie Heap in 2015. They had met in college in Falmouth and then moved to London and worked in graphic design. During this time they discovered Brendon, fell in love with the village and bought the old chapel, from where they run their design business, also called Wicked Wolf. As for the name, it comes from a pub in London where the couple used to meet.

“When we moved to Exmoor we looked to do something that was about our interests,” says Patel. “I have always had an interest in food and flavours and smoke food as a hobby; cheese and sausages for instance. We also love gin — we have between 30 and 40 bottles of different gins in our collection. So going on to making it was a natural progression.

“We wanted to make a good standard gin where there would be an exemplary balance of 11 botanicals in our unique blend. With this in mind we used dried Seville orange and lemon peel and also added lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, which give a more complex citrusy note. However, the flavours produced by grains of paradise, juniper and coriander, which are traditional gin flavours, remain the backbone of the gin. Business is going well; we have expanded and added an extension for the distillery to increase production. We sell nationally and into Europe and are in talks to export to Asia.”

The company currently produces four gins:
Exmoor Gin, 42%, RRP £35
Full Moon limited edition, 42%, RRP £38
Exmoor Gold limited edition, 42%, RRP £38 (only 1000 have been made)
Silver Bullet limited edition, 57%, RRP £57 (only 300 have been made)

For more details contact pat.patel@wickedwolfgin.com (www.wickedwolfgin.com) or jonathan.price@exmoorales.co.uk (www.exmoorales.co.uk)

BARNSTAPLE’S FOODFEST IS BACK!

There’s just over a fortnight to go before FOODfest returns to Barnstaple Pannier Market. Organised by Barnstaple Town Centre Management, with support from North Devon Council, this annual event this year takes place on Sunday 21 October. Now in its 11th year, FOODfest is a gastronomic treat showcasing the very best local artisan food businesses from across North Devon.

Hosts Seth Conway and Dez Turland from Brend Hotels will be joined by four of the best chefs who work in the region:

• Mark Dodson, chef patron of the Michelin-starred Masons Arms, Knowstone
• James Mason from the Coach House by Michael Caines at Kentisbury Grange
• Thomas Carr from the Michelin starred Olive Room & Seafood Grill
• Jamie Coleman Head Chef at The Notley Arms and South West Chef of the Year 2016

The chefs will be live on stage in the market during the course of the day to demonstrate their talents, provide cooking tips and answer questions from the audience.

If your tastebuds are already tingling and you can’t wait for FOODfest, you can book a table at the launch event taking place on Tuesday 16 October at 6.30pm in The Taw Restaurant, Petroc. Enjoy a sumptuous four-course tasting dinner menu prepared by the four top South West chefs appearing at FOODfest and the hospitality and catering students from the college. The chefs will be sharing their skills and culinary knowledge with the students by each designing and cooking a course for the FOODFest launch meal. The evening is £35 per head and tables can be booked by calling 01271 852483 or emailing thetaw@petroc.ac.uk.

Executive Member for Economic Regeneration, Councillor Pat Barker, said: “FOODfest is back and it looks better than ever! With more than 70 exhibitors showcasing some of North Devon’s finest food and drink, what’s not to like? The launch event sounds amazing and what a fantastic experience for the catering students at Petroc to be inspired and encouraged by some of the South West’s best chefs. Book early to avoid disappointment!”

Barnstaple Town Centre Manager, Hannah Harrington, said: “FOODfest is one of the highlights of our calendar and we can’t wait to welcome everyone back to the market for the eleventh time. We’ll also have seating and street food on Butchers Row again, and this year we’ll be spilling out onto Market Street too with an outdoor living and entertainment space – we just keep getting bigger and better.”

FOODfest runs from 10am to 3.30pm, with free entry to the Pannier Market. Thanks to sponsors Rangemoors, Ashgrove, John’s of Instow and Appledore, Brend Hotels and Barnstaple Town Centre Management.

LYN FOOD FEST COMING UP

Follow your nose to discover the finest food Exmoor has to offer at the Lyn Food Fest, taking place this year on Sunday 30 September at Lynton Town Hall. There will be a host of stalls selling an impressive display of tempting delights from all around the area.

Make room in the freezer to stock up on free-range chicken, sausages, ruby red beef, pork and Exmoor lamb. Look out for organic veg, locally grown herbs and spices, chilli plants and home-made preserves. It might be as well to organise a lift home; there’ll be Devon sparkling wine, Exmoor Gin distilled in the Brendon Valley, Porlock Cider and even Thunder Toffee Vodka. For teetotallers there’s delicious Somerset apple drinks and fine pressed 100% natural fruit juices.

Adding an international flavour to the event there will be Spanish and Basque specialists Goierri Foods, The Anglo-Indian Chef and German gourmets Marion’s Deli all based in Devon. Loosen your belt for brownies and baklava, chocolate, churros and cheese.

The Festival runs from 10.30am-4pm in the forecourt, foyer and main hall. There is a café and festival bar.

Organiser Christine Bowden and her volunteer team have many years’ experience in both the food trade and exhibiting at local, national and international events. All profits from the food festival go to local charities in the Lynton and Lynmouth area. “We made a healthy profit last year,” says Christine. “Money raised goes to support small local projects that make a difference to our area. It’s great fun too.”

“This is a great opportunity to celebrate the delicious local produce we have here. The varied greater Exmoor landscape is a veritable store cupboard of delights, “ said Visit Exmoor Marketing Manager Jennette Baxter. “It is always, deservedly, a very popular event, so get there in good time!”

For more information see www.LynFoodFest.co.uk

For more information on Visit Exmoor see www.Visit-Exmoor.co.uk  

HUNT ON FOR TRADITIONAL DEVON RECIPES

Two top Devon chefs are on the hunt this autumn and winter (2018) for unusual traditional Exmoor recipes they can incorporate within their menus.

Donna Berry (pictured), who runs The Swan in Bampton with her husband and fellow chef, Paul, is hoping to hear from people who have recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation.

She explained: “We’ve heard of Devon splits, which are a type of scone, apple dappy dessert, tansy pudding – originally made with the tansy herb, Devonshire pork pie and potato cakes, but it’d be great to see if we can unearth some other unusual seasonal dishes from way-back-when, which use produce from Devon and our side of Exmoor.

“People have told us about blackbird pie, which dates back more than 100 years and hails from Exmoor. However, we’re not keen to include that on the menu, but we’d love to hear about other old recipes that originate from the area that we could try out. It’d be great to be able see if we can include or adapt a seasonal local recipe or two on the menu with all the local produce we use, too.”

The Swan, which is an AA Four Star Gold Inn and the oldest pub in Bampton, was named as one of the top 50 gastropubs in the country for the second year running this year.

In 2017, the pub was polled at 50 and this year it’s 28th in the rankings and received a highest climber award. The ‘Estrella Damm’ Top 50 Gastropub Awards are voted for by food writers, executive chefs, celebrity and top hospitality industry chefs, pub guide editors, industry chiefs and food operators.

It has scooped a plethora of awards for its food in the past few months and years including being named Gold Tourism Pub of the Year 2018 at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards, voted Best Dining Pub for 2018 in the Trencherman Awards and receiving a Gold Tourism Pub award in the 2017 Devon Tourism Awards. It has two AA Rosettes for Culinary Excellence as well.

The Swan’s team has a passion for food and embraces the use of produce from the area to create some real pub classics, such as sausages and mash, cod and chips, pies, grilled rump steak and sweets.

Donna said: “We try to keep our dishes simple yet bursting with flavours and imagination. From the freshly baked bread at the start of the meal, to tempting puddings, our kitchen produces everything we serve here at the pub.”

The Swan’s menu is created from fresh, seasonal ingredients, sourced from nearby, on a daily basis by Paul and Donna and their team.

“We are dedicated to using all the local or regional produce available to us, needless to say we are so lucky living here in the West Country, we have local farmers supplying us with their beef, pork and lamb and the fishing communities providing us with the freshest cod for our classic cod and chips,” said Donna.

To find out more about The Swan and to book a table, please call 01398 332248 or visit www.theswan.co

SOUTH WEST CHEF OF THE YEAR OPEN FOR ENTRIES FOR 15TH YEAR

The 2018 prestigious South West Chef of the Year competition is open for applications to showcase the excellence in the South West’s hospitality industry. Now in its 15th year, the highly anticipated culinary contest aims to find the very best regional talent for five different categories.

Lead judge and co-founder Michael Caines MBE of Lympstone Manor champions the cooking competition which offers aspiring chefs, those already working in the industry and home cooks the opportunity to gain recognition for their culinary skill and creativity. Past competitors have used the experience gained during the competition to further develop their skills or launch their careers.

The five categories for the competition are: Professional, Young Professional, Student/Apprentice Chef, Junior (under 16) and Home Cook. From these, one winner will also be selected to receive the overall award of South West Chef of the Year 2018. Competitors are invited to submit their application online via the website www.southwestchef.co.uk/how-to-enter/ by the closing date, Tuesday 31st July. Entries for the Junior Chef competition have now closed.

Michael Caines MBE says, “Marking its 15th anniversary this year, South West Chef of the Year provides a platform for the region’s emerging chefs and aspiring home cooks of all ages. We invite anyone with a passion for cooking and creating wonderful dishes using quality produce from the region, to enter this competition offering an amazing opportunity to learn from highly acclaimed chefs, improve on culinary skills and be challenged at cooking to a high level.”

Michael is joined by an impressive panel of the South West’s finest chefs to judge the competition at its various stages including Mark Dodson (Mason Arms), Emily Scott (St Trudy Inn), Liam Finnegan (Castle at Taunton) and Michael Wignall. South West Chef of the Year provides entrants with an excellent opportunity to demonstrate skills and creativity in cooking and knowledge of produce from the South West of England.

The Professional class is aimed at those working within the industry at the level of pastry chef, junior sous or above. Last year’s South West Professional Chef of the Year, best menu and overall winner was awarded to Robert Cox, Head Chef at Tudor Farmhouse Hotel and Restaurant in Gloucestershire. Robert was also awarded Best Dish for his starter of Cured Brill, scallop tartare, smoked bacon hollandaise, pickled shallots and puffed spelt.

The Young Professional class gives chefs aged 19 to 25 years the chance to compete against their peers of a similar ability. Last year’s winner in this category was Joshua Murphy, Demi Chef de Partie at Lucknam Park in Bath.

The rise and success of Home Cooks will be recognised within the class to highlight the growing skills and passion of those who have learned their craft at home. Entrants to the Home Cooks category must be aged 16 or above are asked to create a main course and dessert for two people. Successful entrants will go through to the finals Saturday 6th October at Ashburton Cookery School, sponsor of the class, where they will be asked to cook their menu for the judges. Sue Stoneman from Exmouth successfully retained the Home Cook title for the second consecutive year in 2017.

With its commitment to the next generation, the Student/Apprentice Chef class is open to those aged 16 to 19 who are studying at college or in an apprenticeship. Last year’s winner Eleanor Thuell works at Rodean Restaurant in Kenton near Exeter whilst studying at Exeter College. Entrants of the professional and student categories are asked to create and submit a two-course menu for three people comprising a starter and main course with an emphasis on seasonal produce from the South West and incorporating a few ingredients selected by the judges.

The South West Junior Chef of the Year class is now closed for entries, and will see finalists compete on Saturday 6th October with semi-finals for this category held in each county of the South West during June and July. The 2017 competition was jointly won by Amber Clay from Alderman Knight School in Gloucestershire and Anna West from Penair School in Cornwall.

An awards presentation dinner will be held after the final of the Professional, Young Professional and Student Chef classes on Wednesday 24th October, at Exeter Golf and Country Club.

MILES LAUNCHES A NEW TEA RANGE

A brand-new range of 10 ‘Tea Kites’ has been launched by Miles Tea & Coffee.

These new flavours will focus on green, herbal and fruit teas. Each product will provide a ‘Miles Moment’ in the day, from sleepy moments to wake-up moments! The tea and fruit segments in each teabag will be larger than usual; this will improve the taste and quality of the customer. The new pack design and new machinery will allow Miles to adapt the range with different blends including limited-edition products and seasonal blends. The range currently includes the following flavours:

    • Super Green, Matcha & Turmeric
    • Fennel, Orange & Hibiscus
    • Green Tea & Chamomile
    • Berry Berry
    • Rooibos, Boabab & Chai
    • Lavender, Limeflower & Rose
    • Ginger & Lemongrass
    • Liquorice, Peppermint & Spearmint
    • English Breakfast

John Halls, Operations Director, said: “This is an exciting new market for Miles, being a family business for generations it’s important as we adapt to current trends. This new premium range will provide us with a relevant offering for the ever-growing green tea, herbal and fruit tea market.”

PHOTO: A selection of the new range.

BOOKINGS NOW OPEN FOR 2018 NORTH DEVON FOODFEST

North Devon’s biggest celebration of local food and drink is back and exhibitors are being urged to get in quick to secure their place at the event.

Online bookings are now being accepted for FOODfest 2018, which takes place on Sunday 21 October at Barnstaple Pannier Market and will feature many local food and drink exhibitors.

Now in its eleventh year, event organisers Barnstaple Town Centre Management and North Devon Council have seen the event increase in popularity and success since it first launched in 2008. With over 10,000 visitors, 100 exhibitors and top chefs from some of North Devon’s best local restaurants at FOODfest last year, the annual event is now a firm favourite in the foodie calendar.

Hannah Harrington, from Barnstaple Town Centre Management, says: “FOODfest 2018 will be as busy and popular as ever, showcasing and celebrating the best of our local food and drink. We are also delighted to be working with The Taw restaurant at Petroc this year for an exciting launch event.  As always, FOODfest will help to promote our area and support our suppliers, growers and traders.”

Executive Member for Economic Development, Councillor Pat Barker, says: “FOODfest is always hugely successful and is a unique opportunity for local food and drink businesses to showcase what they have to offer to the thousands of visitors who flock to the Pannier Market each year. The booking lines are already open so get in quick if you want to be part of the hottest food event of 2018.”

The closing date for applications is Tuesday 1 August. Apply online at www.barnstaple.co.uk/north-devon-foodfest, email foodfest@barnstaple.co.uk or call 01271 321049 for more information.