Category Archives: Food & Drink

The Best of the South West Named at Taste of the West Awards Ceremony

The passion and success of the South West food and drink industry was clear for all to see at the Taste of the West Awards’ Ceremony on Tuesday 15 October.  The ceremony took place at The Bristol Pavilion, the home of Gloucestershire County Cricket Club, and saw the 166 Gold award-winning products competing for the 22 ‘Best Of’ category awards and prestigious ‘Champion Product’.  Six of these highly sought after ‘Best Of’ category awards were won by producers from Devon.

These seven delighted Devon producers include; Highfield Preserves Ltd winner of the ‘Savoury Preserves’ category; Hillside Speciality Foods who won the ‘Best Of Packaging’ category; Four Elms Fruit Farm winner of the ‘Non-Alcoholic Drinks’ category; Mike’s Smokehouse winner of the ‘Fish Product’ category; Pork Heaven from Devon winner of the ‘Sausages’ category; Sharpham Partnership Ltd winner of the ‘Cheese’ category and The Wonky Kitchen winner of the ‘Confectionery’ category.  This is the second year in a row that both Pork Heaven from Devon and Sharpham Partnership Ltd have won ‘Best Of’ for their sausages and cheese, respectively.

The ‘Best South West Restaurant’ was awarded to Devon’s Moorland Garden Hotel in the Hospitality & Retail Awards.  During the last few months a panel of anonymous, independent expert judges visited all the registered establishments. Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards were awarded on merit, based on a scoring system.  The judges’ criteria included looking at the extent of local sourcing, communication of local sourcing in the establishment, quality and speed of service, quality of meal, atmosphere and ambience of the place and value for money.

Somerset’s Bridgwater College received the ‘Local Food in Schools and Colleges’ award for their high level of commitment to sourcing and educating pupils about healthy, locally-sourced food.  ‘The Carol Trewin South West Producer of the Year’ awarded to The Watercress Company Ltd, recognises an entrepreneurial, successful producer of food and drink. Capreolus Fine Foods were given the coveted ‘Champion Product’ title for their outstanding Guanciale, winner of the ‘Cured Meat’ category.

Commenting on behalf of Taste of the West, chief executive John Sheaves says: “Devon produces food and drink of an exceptionally high quality and continues to thrive in the Taste of the West Awards.”  John continues: “For a county to win six ‘Best Of’ category awards, a ‘Best Of Packaging’ award and a Hospitality and Retail Award is a remarkable achievement, our congratulations go to all the award winners from Devon on their outstanding success at this year’s awards.”

The ceremony lunch was enjoyed by 300 movers and shakers in the food and drink industry, which included producers, top retailers, hospitality establishments, food writers, buyers and leading chefs. Those attending enjoyed a drinks reception, sponsored by Smith & Williamson, followed by an outstanding three course lunch which showcased a fantastic selection of winning products.  The awards were presented by owner of Rockfish and Dartmouth’s The Seahorse, fish chef extraordinaire, Mitch Tonks, who had sampled these top 22 products to find this year’s ‘Champion Product’.

These results follow the earlier announcement of all the Taste of the West Product Award winners.  Out of a hugely impressive 1040 products entered into the awards, 166 won a Gold Award, 216 were awarded a Silver Award and 213 were given a Bronze Award.  A highly impressive fifty-nine of these Gold Award winning products were from Devon.

The ‘Product Awards’ were made up of 25 classes.  Judges evaluated each product individually, assessing its appearance, aroma, texture, packaging and, most significantly, its taste.  Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards were awarded entirely on merit and judges were not limited on the number of awards that could be given.

Products which won Gold Awards were judged a second time by a further panel of judges to identify the winners of 22 ‘Best Of’ category awards with the esteemed ‘Champion Product’ chosen from these winners.

For further information on all the awards visit Taste of the West’s website: ; follow @Tasteofthewest on Twitter or ‘like’ Taste of the West on Facebook.

New walking guides endorsed by TV chef Rick Stein

The heart of the South West Coast Path is revealed in a series of four walking guides that take in short circular routes between Plymouth and Padstow.  From the secret coves and tiny fishing villages of the gentle South Coast, to the powerful Atlantic coast’s spectacular stacks and arches, islands, caves and chasms wrought from the landscape, each guide reveals the best short walks in the area to explore the beauty, history, wildlife and nature of this impressive and much-loved coastline.

TV chef Rick Stein says of the walks in these new books: “How lucky we are in these crowded islands to have such an unspoilt coastline.  In Cornwall it’s our glory.  I’ve so many favourite walks but, of course, I love leaving the quay in Padstow and walking the high cliffs to Treyarnon Bay, with maybe a stop off at my pub, The Cornish Arms in St Merryn on the way back.  Zennor to St Ives by the Tinners Way past all those tiny, thought provoking prehistoric fields hedged with granite is completely memorable.  Lastly it makes me proud to take friends who love Daphne du Maurier for a walk from The Rashleigh Arms at Polkerris across lovely rolling dairy country past Manderlay (actually Menabilly) to Fowey and then Readymoney Cove and the coastal path back to the steep valleyed fishing village where you started.”

The four books uncover the rich stories and legends handed down from generation to generation. Mermaid curses, mythical drowned worlds and piracy abound along a coastline which offers so much to the walking explorer.  People of all ages and abilities can walk in the footsteps of the coastguards, who once used these footpaths to keep watch against smugglers, with Walks Along the South West Coast Path written by Ruth Luckhurst.

Each walk includes simple step-by-step instructions accompanied by unique aerial routes to help guide the way. To help the reader get the most from their walks each book highlights historical information, areas of interest to explore further and local myths and legends.Walks Along the South West Coast Path, written by Ruth Luckhurst and published by Coastal Publishing Ltd, include Plymouth to Falmouth, Falmouth to Penzance, Penzance to St Ives and St Ives to Padstow, and are available in paperback priced £4.95 at bookshops, Tourist Information Centres, gift shops, online retailers and through the South West Coast Path Association’s online shop.

The money raised helps to support improvements to the Coast Path.

For more information on the South West Coast Path visit

Something’s brewing in Porlock

Royston Connor, potential owner of the prospective Porlock Micro Brewery, outside the premises he hopes to use for the brewery.
Royston Connor, potential owner of the prospective Porlock Micro Brewery, outside the premises he hopes to use for the brewery.

A New West Somerset micro brewery has recently (August, 2013) been successful in the first round of applications for a Coastal Communities Fund (CCF) grant thanks to the Collaborative Business Enterprise project.

Porlock Micro Brewery received support from the business mentoring project, funded by West Somerset Council, the Fredericks Foundation and the European Agricultural Fund, which helped it with its CCF application.

Royston Connor, potential Owner of the prospective micro brewery in Porlock Weir, explained: “I joined the mentoring scheme around three months ago to get guidance on applying for a CCF grant to set up the micro brewery.

“We have recently heard that our initial application was successful, which is really positive news and we are now in the process of making the full application.

“We couldn’t have done it without the guidance and support of our mentor, Roger Hall.  He has experience of applying for grants and will be valuable in helping us with the next stage of the process.  We will find out if our application has been successful in January next year (2014).

“The funding would help us to set up the micro brewery, which will be run as a Community Interest Company.  We will employ local people and the business will be a subsidiary of the Porlock Futures Group, which aims to improve the local economy, employment and amenities, so any money we make will be invested back into the community.”

The CCF aims to encourage the economic development of UK coastal communities by giving them funding to create sustainable economic growth and jobs.

The Collaborative Business Enterprise project is a free business mentoring service provided by experienced business owners and professionals volunteering their time to support businesses in Western Somerset, whether a recent start-up or established employer.

Councillor Karen Mills, who is the Lead for Economic Regeneration and Tourism at West Somerset Council, said: “This initiative aims to fill a gap in national business support services by providing an opportunity for business owners to have a face-to-face conversation about their business with an experienced professional.

“The service aims to give the business owner an independent view of their business, helping them to identify and address key issues and supporting them to exploit opportunities for growth.

“The initiative is aimed at entrepreneurs thinking of starting a business or those which are already established and looking to grow.”

The project is open to all businesses employing less than ten full-time staff located in the Western Somerset area.

Roger Hall, who is the mentor for Porlock Micro Brewery and recently retired as an IT Project Delivery Manager for a telecommunications company, said: “My main role as a mentor has been to use my experience to assist the company with its funding applications.

“I think Porlock Micro Brewery will be more than just a business, it will also help to revive the tourism, retail and hospitality sectors within the town, which all play an important role in the economy of the area.”

To find out more about Porlock Micro Brewey, please call 01643 862 507.

For more information about the Collaborative Business Enterprise project, please visit

Pips Fish serves over 600 bags of fish & chips during opening weekend

Brand-new Minehead restaurant and takeaway Pips Fish served over 600 bags of fish and chips to hot and hungry visitors to the town during their opening weekend – one of the hottest in the UK so far this year.  Fresh cod and haddock cooked in Exmoor Ale batter and straight from the sustainable fishing grounds of Norway proved the most popular choice and the homemade fishcakes were an unexpected favourite.  The outside shaded seating area was very popular with families heading home from a glorious day on the beach.

“We must have served over 120 evening meals inside the Fish Restaurant too,” said General Manager Mark Sanders. “Line caught Lynmouth Sea bass was the most requested dish and over 70 portions of Styles local ice-cream were served to keep things cool. We were surprised and delighted with the number of customers that we had, in fact we started to run out of potatoes towards the end of the evening we were so busy. ”

Pips Fish licensed restaurant and takeaway in Minehead has been completely refurbished and has a light and airy atmosphere. There are 36 seats inside and 32 outside which those ordering from the takeaway service are welcome to use. A new team of talented young people from Minehead and Watchet have been trained up by the team that run the award-winning The Culbone on Exmoor and own both restaurants.  From September the restaurant will be available for children’s parties during the early evening and can also be booked for private family celebrations.

Pips Fish supports the RNLI service and the essential work they do by donating 10p from every purchase of local fish to the Minehead station. They will also be supporting Minehead Cricket Club and Bowling Club with annual sponsorship.


Could Your School Win The ‘South West Local Food in Schools’ Award?

Taste of the West is delighted to announce that the much anticipated ‘South West Local Food in Schools’ award is now open for entries.  This innovative award, dedicated solely to schools and colleges, recognises commitment to serving locally sourced produce and the education of food provenance, nutrition and health to pupils, staff and parents.  Schools and colleges who enter have the chance to win a prestigious Taste of the West gold, silver or bronze award and the  coveted title of the ‘Local Food in Schools’ award winner.

This year the deadline for entries has been extended to September, allowing time to enter when schools go back at the start of the autumn term.  Entry forms can now be downloaded from the Taste of the West website (  Completed entry forms should be sent to Taste of the West, Country House Estate, London Road, Whimple, Devon EX5 2NL by Sunday 22 September 2013.  Entry costs £24.

Commenting on the ‘Local Food in Schools’ award, John Sheaves, chief executive of Taste of the West, says: “Last year’s winner, Cape Cornwall School, really demonstrated how, with a little thought, they managed to integrate successfully the core principles of using quality locally sourced food and drink into their school curriculum. The bar has been set; let’s see how this year’s entrants do!”

A panel of distinguished judges has been selected to evaluate this year’s entrants based on the following: evidence of the school/college’s commitment to serving healthy, local produce; education of local sourcing and food production; and the school/college’s communication to pupils and parents regarding the source of produce served.  Top entries will be shortlisted, with the possibility of visits to the shortlisted educational facilities.  Gold, silver and bronze awards will be awarded on merit, based on a scoring system.

For full details about entering the ‘South West Local Food in Schools’ award visit and go to the ‘Awards 2013’ page to download an entry form.


Taste of the West

Heatwave boost to South West vineyards

This week’s heatwave has come as a huge boost to the growing numbers of South West vineyards.

“We couldn’t have arranged it better ourselves,” says Yearlstone Vineyard’s Roger White. “This is perhaps the most crucial fortnight for local vineyards, with flowering just beginning.  It looks like perfect weather for setting the fruit. In hot weather like this we can expect to see a near 100% fruit set in a week or two….”

The relief is all the more welcome for local vineyards as they experienced a dreadful vintage in 2012, “ the worst in our 17 years here.”

Stocks of local wines are running very low – especially as recent strong TV coverage of English wines has pushed demand up significantly.

“The latest official figures show over 6 million bottles of English wine sold last year, a more than 50% increase on 2011. I think that was pushed by the Olympics, a great coverage of English sparkling wine on the Apprentice, and success in more international competitions.”

“We usually sell our our entire production in around 12-14 months, so we are looking at shortages from around Xmas. But with perfect flowering weather here at least we have a chance of building up stocks from the autumn!”

CONTACT: Roger White, Yearlstone Vineyard 01884 855700 for more info.

New Minehead restaurant and takeaway promotes fresh and sustainable seafood menu

Pips Fish, a brand-new fish & chip restaurant from the team behind award-winning The Culbone , opens its doors just in time for the summer season in Minehead on Tuesday 9 July. This exciting new 36 seat licensed restaurant and takeaway at 35, The Avenue fulfils a long-held dream of Executive Head Chef Jack Scarterfield who is determined to share his passion for fresh and sustainable sea food.

“The seafood available in the South West is excellent,” says Scarterfield, a Somerset lad whose experience in London and Thailand and famous restaurant group Fishworks has already stood him in good stead during themed Seafood Nights and Cookery master- classes at The Culbone.  “We have done our research and will be able to offer a great choice of top quality fresh fish all from sustainable and responsible sources. Our bass and bream are farmed locally from the sea to the plate in hours, succulent scallops come from Lyme Bay, and fresh squid, sole, pollack, whiting, mullet and John Dory (to name but a few) come from the Brixham day boats. Cod and haddock will arrive from Norway – the only MSC approved sustainable fishing grounds at the moment. And our smoked fish (salmon, haddock, sprats and eel) is to be cured and smoked by Jacqui of local company El Pescadero.”

All the battered takeaway fish will be coated in Jack’s Exmoor Ale batter and fried in flavoursome oil which can be enjoyed by all. The team carried out an extensive local survey to ask whether Pips Fish should use oil or beef dripping and the response was overwhelmingly in favour of the oil.

Listening to their customers is something that The Culbone team do very well and has already contributed to the success of Exmoor’s highest restaurant with rooms. “Very early on we created Pips Club at The Culbone to encourage local people to get involved with the business,” says General Manager Mark Sanders. “We now have over 1,200 members and their suggestions have been invaluable to us. In return we make sure that they get to hear first about our very best special offers and new ventures.”

Mark is committed to keeping it local and Pips Fish will be supporting the RNLI service and the essential work they do by donating 10p from every purchase of local fish to the Minehead station. They will also be supporting Minehead Cricket Club and Bowling Club with annual sponsorship. A new team of talented young people from Minehead and Watchet are being trained up to staff the premises.

The restaurant site has been completely refurbished and a new skylight added which will provide a light and airy interior. The décor has been influenced by the clean blue and white designs of the Brixham Fish market which sells some of the finest fish in the UK. There are 36 seats inside and 32 outside where those ordering from the takeaway service are welcome to use. The restaurant and takeaway will be open from 9 July onwards Tuesdays to Saturdays 12 noon – 10pm and on Sundays 12 noon to 5pm.

Pips Fish, 35 The Avenue, Minehead, TA24 5AY 01643 708353 (Taking bookings from 24 June)

Book your place at Food Fest!

Foodfest, North Devon’s premier food and drink festival, is back and exhibitors are being urged to book their place now for the event showcasing the finest regional food in the area.

Bookings are now being accepted for the annual celebration of North Devon’s finest food, which will take place on Sunday 20 October at Barnstaple’s Historic Pannier Market.

Foodfest features over 75 local food and drink exhibitors, chef demonstrations, tastings and live music.

Top chef Michael Caines MBE of Gidleigh Park will be making a guest appearance for the third year running, providing cooking demonstrations and talking to visitors about how local food influences his cooking.

Now in its sixth year, event organisers North Devon+ have seen it increase in popularity since it began in 2008: last year there were over 13,500 visitors and 75 exhibitors, and five top chefs from some of the best local restaurants.

Kristy Webbe, from North Devon+, said: “This event is not only about showcasing and celebrating our unbeatable local food and drink – it’s also about promoting our area and supporting our suppliers, growers and traders.

“Last year the event generated £297,000 – a huge boost for the area and the town’s retailers, providing a much needed boost to the local economy.

“It’s the biggest food event in North Devon – stalls and stands get snapped up very quickly so we are telling our exhibitors, old and new  to apply now, to ensure they get their space to promote their products.”

Foodfest is just one part of a programme of activities that ND+ are involved with to support the local economy – working with partners in the food and drink sector is one element, but they also bring together key partners across the county and beyond with other elements of their work.

Devon based handmade quality pie producer Wessex Pantry, which has exhibited at the event since it began, has seen their production and distribution increase as a direct result of taking part.

Mervyn Watling, Director at Wessex Pantry said: “We’ve been exhibiting at Foodfest for six years and we’ve seen real results – online sales and awareness of our products has increased dramatically.  The event puts local food producers, restaurants and North Devon on the map and we are looking forward to attending in 2013.”

Foodfest will take place on Sunday 20 October 2013 time at Barnstaple’s Historic Pannier Market.

The event would not be possible without the support of BID Barnstaple, North Devon Council, The North Devon Fisheries Local Action Group and Johns of Instow and Appledore.

The exhibitor booking line opens on the 1st of July. For more information, or to request an exhibitor form please email Kristy Webbe at or call North Devon+ on 01237 426426.

Exmoor restaurant honoured as ‘Top Performing’ by travellers on Trip Advisor

The Culbone, Exmoor’s highest restaurant with rooms, announced this week that it has received a TripAdvisor  Certificate of Excellence award. The accolade, which honours hospitality excellence, is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveller reviews on TripAdvisor.  Only the top-performing 10 per cent of businesses listed on TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, receive this prestigious award.

Mark Sanders, General Manager, is delighted with the award. “It’s great that The Culbone has been recognised by its customers in this way.  It’s a real team effort here.  We source our produce locally and partner with nearby suppliers to offer guests the most authentic experience possible.  Head Chef Jack Scarterfield and his team are masterful in the kitchen and our warm and knowledgeable service helps to create a welcoming atmosphere which customers seem to love.”

All of the dishes on The Culbone Menu feature the very best local produce which can be traced back to their source to ensure that diners know exactly what they will be eating. The award-winning beef and pork come from neighbouring Somerset farm the Big Red Cow based on the National Trust Holnicote Estate in Exmoor National Park where Simon and Tracy David continue the faming tradition of their family. “The quality of the meat here is outstanding,” says Executive Head Chef Jack Scarterfield.  “I really believe the cattle at Big Red Cow are among the best in the country.”

Interested foodies can share Jack’s tips and secrets as The Culbone run their own Cookery School, where small classes mix demonstrations and practical experience to create a fun and interesting day using the very best South West produce.  The new ‘Exmoor Food Safari’ which features two days exploring the scenic rivers, farms and wild spaces where the produce comes from, as well as two cookery master-classes, is proving very popular.

The Culbone provides a contemporary eating and drinking experience, along with fantastic views over the Lorna Doone Valley in the middle of Exmoor National Park in West Somerset. The restaurant also has five comfortable en-suite guest rooms which are ideal for those who want to linger longer over the fabulous meals and explore the stunning local area.

Alison Copus, Vice President of Marketing for TripAdvisor for Business says, “The Certificate of Excellence award provides top performing establishments around the world the recognition they deserve, based on feedback from those who matter most – their customers.”

The Culbone: 01643 862259

Blooming Bogtastic!

More than 250 people enjoyed a ‘Blooming Bogtastic Day’ at the Heart of Exmoor’s and Exmoor Mires Project’s Bogtastic event recently.

Activities included exploring Exmoor’s bogs and wetlands, stream dipping, fun and games wet and dry, wildlife activities and guided walks.

Commenting on the fun day out, Jude Atkins from the Dulverton and District Young People’s Project, said: ‘Thank you for providing a fab day out at Bogtastic!  Our group really enjoyed themselves and want to come along to another event soon. Well done to all those who organised everything and those who helped on the day.  It was fantastic.

David Rolls, Education and Outreach Officer for the Heart of Exmoor scheme, said: “What an amazing day.   An enormous thank you to all the volunteers and organisations that helped make it happen.  From bog wading to birds of pre and stream dipping this event seemed to have it all.  If any business, groups, schools or new volunteers would like to be involved in the 2014 event please do let us know.  Just ring the Heart of Exmoor Scheme on 01398 322164.

David Smith, Exmoor Mires Project Manager, said: “Bogtastic Day has now grown into our projects event of the year, the stunning backdrop of the moors, the fantastic weather and all the help from the volunteers meant that everyone left with a smile on their faces.”

Denise Sage, ‘Grandmother and Manager of Porlock Visitor Centre’ writes: “Our grandchildren and my husband and I have really enjoyed all the Exmoor National Park outdoor activities, but we all thought that Bogtastic was one of the best.  The organisation was amazing and the amount we all learned was phenomenal for all of us.  You really succeeded in arousing our interest in so many aspects of Exmoor.”

Bogtastic is part of the Simonsbath Festival ( and is a joint initiative between the Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership, Exmoor Mires Project, Exmoor National Park Authority, and Simonsbath House, and is financially supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Environment Agency.

There are loads more events taking place on Exmoor, visit or for details.

Exmoor Mires Project is a partnership lead project led by South West Water under its Upstream Thinking Programme.