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What to eat in South Devon, England?

What to eat in South Devon, England?
What to eat in South Devon, England?

 


This article was produced by National Geographic Traveler (UK).

Local craft ales were once popular, but cider, especially small batches, is making a comeback, says a ruddy Rich Jones of Greendale Farm Shops, holding a jerrycan labeled Proper Job. Devon Scrumpy made from our apples by 80-year-old local farmer Keith Hosein, who still uses a hand crusher.

A Devon farm shop stocked with cider isn't surprising, but what's surprising is Greendale's wide range of local goods, from vegetables, cheeses, meats and preserves to pastries, sourdoughs, ice cream and souvenirs. All are produced on site or sourced from the West Country, filling huge barns and outbuildings that resemble rustic shopping malls. The store started 15 years ago, selling farm eggs from a roadside warehouse, Rich says. But during COVID we really became a community hub and we've grown a lot since then. Not only has the capacity of the Greendales restaurant doubled, but farmers have been queuing up for breakfast at the weekend. It is also home to chippies, which carry up to 200kg of fish from Friday to Sunday.

However, not only quantity but also quality is important. People travel from county to county to eat the butcher's homemade sausages and bone-in steaks aged for four weeks. Lobster tanks, house-smoked fish and bountiful local catches adorn the wet fish counter. The photo above shows the Greendales fishing fleet in action from their port bases at Brixham, Newlyn and Exeter.

Large farm stores such as Greendale have become the norm here in South Devon, dotting the county's rolling pastures. Greendale Darts Farm, a lifestyle shopping destination built in an actual farm cabin, is also just minutes away. And while South Devon agri-food businesses such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstalls River Cottage and Riverford Organic Farmers vegetable boxes have long attracted national attention, a number of other local agri-food powerhouses have blossomed in recent years.

The area's local farm shops are popular with regular customers from across the county who travel for guaranteed high quality products.

Photo by Rare & Pasture

South along the Exe River, something else is thriving. I followed a route full of spring vibrancy to Exmouth, where the vineyards of Lympstone Manor Estate had just produced their first classic cubes. Rows of vines add European grandeur to the hotel grounds. The hotel grounds stretch steeply from the Georgian mansion to the estuary. Premium sparkling wine was Lympstone's headline mission in 2018 when it planted Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, but the latter has been the biggest surprise so far.

After the long, hot summers of the 2020s, we are leaving our Pinot Noir grapes hanging, says Lympstones Steve Edwards, referring to the practice of harvesting red wine grapes later than usual. Frost and mold, always a risk, are feared in this country, Australian expats say. But we won a gold medal at the 2023 International Wine Challenge. Not bad for a first harvest, and the same goes for English Reds. Steve nods his head. Everyone associates British wine with sparkling wine, but there is an incredible future for high-quality still wine.

I try both. Biscuits, intense cubes from Lympstones Lounge Bar; For dinner, a bramble-fruited Triassic Pinot Noir pairs well with gamey poached eggs from South Devons Creedy Carver farm. TV chef Michael Caines, chef and owner of Lympstones, has smartly outfitted his Michelin-starred restaurant with booth seating. So diners can relax and enjoy a nine-course tasting menu featuring Lyme Bay crab, Newlyn cod and lamb free-ranged across the estuary at Powderham. Real Estate Farm.

Sharpham Wine, located near the Dart Estuary in the beautiful stone village of Stoke Gabriel, was another medal winner in the red wine category. With a history of nearly 40 years and 30 acres, the company is hard-pressed to win accolades for its growing range of focus on low-intervention varieties. Housed in a former dairy farm on the Sandridge Barton Estate, the restaurant has two tasting rooms, the newest of which is set in a boarded-up barn with sheepskins and a wood-burning stove and overlooks a new organic vineyard.

Circa offers wine pairings along with small plates showcasing house pickles and feed from the former milking shed on Sandridge Barton Estate.

Photo: Marco Kesselaer

Circa, once a darling of Exeters restaurants, has moved out of the city to a private former milking shed, serving small plates showcasing house pickles and feed. A stand-alone Pinot Gris brings a rustic flavor to a sweet dessert milk bread lunch with lion's mane mushrooms, sef and caerphilly from Somerset Westcombe Dairy.

I'm still thinking about that dish as I drive 45 minutes south to Salcombe. Where the Kingsbridge Estuary meets the Blue Flag beaches of the South Hams, it's easy to get into the holiday spirit with a long arc of sand towards the Plymouth and Cornish borders. At Devon Rum, literally, you can dock in a shop behind the estuary in the summer and sample rums and cocktails blended on site with Devon spring water, spices and draft spirits from Jamaica and Guyana. Opening in 2022, this artisan spirit producer has its standard entrance on Island Street, right next to its fisherman's shed-like headquarters, similar to Salcombe Gins. But docking for, say, the Devon Meadow, made with elderflower tonic, a sprig of rosemary, fresh lime juice and local honey-flavored rum, adds a delightful pirate edge to the proceedings.

Meanwhile, Bar Buoy in Exmouth serves small-batch cocktails tailored for beachgoers and boaters. During lockdown, we started going to the beach to surf with the kids, and Ria Ball, who founded the bar with her husband Tim, says she took out the shaker to make sunset margaritas. Friends started joining us, so we brought cocktails from home to mix in thermos, and, well, it all took off from there.

The business grew from a young couple's garage where locals sampled ready-to-serve tipples, quickly expanding into a stylish nautical-themed warehouse that now serves a dozen pre-mixed cocktails. Local ingredients are the cornerstone of the cocktails, from the bittersweet Devon Stormy made with Exeters Two Drifters rum to the Lemon Tart Bramble with Salcombe Gin and Six Liqueurs Blackberry Liqueur.

South West 660 is a road trip along the coast showcasing the best attractions of Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, with detailed route information and dining suggestions for travellers.

Photo: Manfred Gottschalk, Getty Images

I reject the Dockers Egg, a signature dish of Scotch eggs with smoked cod served at nearby Deli Fish on the Quay. Instead I settled in at Rockfish next to Exmouths slipway. This is a premium spot for plump, salty Portland pearl oysters and buttery, hand-cut scallops. I buy cans of Lime Bay mussels from Rockfish's new canned seafood line. As with everything on the menu, the sustainable catch arrives daily via Rockfish's boats in Brixham, 30 miles south. Owner Mitch Tonks, a constant champion of British seafood, will soon be adding to his ever-expanding South West portfolio with idyllic waterfront locations in his moated Salcombe, Topsham and Sidmouth.

There is no shortage of seaside dining places in South Devon, many of which are now included on South West 660. Launching in 2022, the coast-hugging road trip showcases the best of Dorset, Devon, Cornwall and Somerset across 12 sections spanning 50 miles. Detailed route notes and meal suggestions for registered travelers through the website. I'm only covering part of the Devon bridge, but wow at every turn.

Bigbury-on-Sea's isolated Burgh Island has a windswept beauty. The Oyster Shack serves oysters with toppings including Bloody Margaret, a spicy tomato sauce paired with house-made gin. the wonders of the dune-covered sandy coves of Hope Bays; And experience the elegance of Plymouth's Barbican, where Jacka Bakery's croissant wheels are as delicate as they are oversized, and where bread has been baking since 1597.

Britain's oldest bakery looks like a puppy compared to nearby Boringdon Hall. Located in a Domesday Book-listed country house, the hotel is home to the Michelin-starred restaurant claf, located on a mezzanine overlooking the 16th-century Great Hall. A halo of wildflowers and herbs make up the complex dish, depicted simply as crab or hen. The cheese course is a medieval feast that retains Boringdon's carved oak paneling, served with bread, local honey still in the rain and an outstanding brie from South Devons Sharpham Cheese.

Without even needing to reach for a mead, I happily had a glass of the multi-award-winning Ros Brut from local Lyme Bay Winerys. Taking a sip of this deep pink, strawberry-flavored Jersey Milk Brie is like sipping a deconstructed cream tea. And according to Devon custom, cream is applied first, followed by jam.

Best restaurants in South Devon

1. The waterfront Dartmouth branch of AngelA, run by former MasterChef: The Professionals finalist Elly Wentworth. She leads a young team that serves British cuisine with international flair alongside a variety of local fish, including roasted sea bass with pickled turnips, bok choy and smoked sea lettuce (pictured). 6 course tasting menu 95.

2. Cafe Ode Taste ginger cake and stay for a special events supper club at the tree-cabin-like hilltop cafe above Shaldon Bay. Trained by Michel Roux, chef and owner Tim Bouget adds finesse to café dishes such as panko-breaded Brixham boat fish and coconut-enriched curried green lentil dal mugs. do. Cooking 4-20.

3. Bull InnHippie The hilltop village of Totnes has quickly become a foodie hub. Since opening in 2019, The Bull Inn has led the way with organic, vegetarian dishes like roasted celeriac, scordalia, charred leek, goat tofu, Swiss chard, and pumpkin seed picada sauce. Two courses of about 40 people.

4. Valley View Café With views over the South Hams, Aune Valley Farm Shop is an idyll that has grown from a rustic cottage to a spacious café, deli and milkhouse for savory shakes. The Butchers Breakfast comes with farm sausages and bacon, the pork roast is made with Aunes belly pork and the cream tea includes locally made preserves and Devonshire clotted cream. Main meal around 9-11pm.

Food discoveries in South Devon

1. Thunder & Lightning Supernaturally creamy ice cream made on the UK's first carbon neutral farm. Made using the family's grandmother's old recipe, it contains honeycomb and clotted cream from the Langages Jersey flock.

2. Chilli JamThe signature fiery-sweet condiment from the long-established South Devon Chilli Farm, which has been rapidly expanding its impressive seed-growing facility since its acquisition in 2022 by Amrit and Jenny Madhoo.

3. Black Foot Charcuterie Butter, air-dried ham, capicola, salami and nduja are made from Iberian pigs raised on organic pasture on the 500-acre Fowlescombe farm.

4. Single MaltDartmoor Whiskeys' amazing English single malt is made using Dartmoor spring water in bourbon, sherry and Bordeaux casks. Savor books among copper stills in the grand Victorian building that was Bovey Tracey's former town hall.

5. Jubulani A smooth, fruity, award-winning product made from soybeans by our partners at a Rwandan women's group. Visit Ivybridge Café Roastery for barista classes and tasting sessions.

This story was created with the support of Visit South Devon.

Published in the July/August 2024 issue of National Geographic Traveler (UK).

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