Monday, April 12, 2010

The Exeter Food and Drink Festival

The Exeter Food and Drink Festival took place from the 9th until the 11th of April and featured food producers from all over SouthWest England ( Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire) 

For three hours, I took every sample that was offered and ate and drank happily under the shade of big tents. There was cheese, beef, pork sausages, jams, chutneys, chillies, elderflower infused everything, and lots of cider. Below is a list of the most delicious things I tried:

Best Drinks:

The Orchard Pig -  cider
In their apple orchard,  rare breed pigs roam and try to eat up all the apples that have fallen from the tree. There are enough apples to satisfy the pigs, make cider and their award-winning apple juice. No pesticides or sprays are used on the apple trees. The cider is dry, golden and slightly oaked -- very much like Normandy cider. Their sparkling cider, Oak Matured Fine is aged in rum barrels, which gives it a nutty, oaked taste.

Field Bar - elderflower wine
All ingredients sourced locally, Field Bar's elderflower wine was floral and dry. One representative claimed it was because they use dried elderflower that they are able to accomplish such a flowery burst, and another chimed in that there was a secret ingredient - but she was shushed before she had a chance to tell us what it was.

Best Food:

Cranfields - lime pickle 
Cranfields is a member of Slow Food Devon. The tart lime pickle is made with locally sourced ingredients, that have been grown without pesticides or herbicides. All of Cranfields' preserves and chutneys are cooked in small batches and without additives. They recommend pairing the lime pickle with a strong blue cheese.

Complete Meats - traditional pork sausage
The pork used for the sausages comes from Wellington, Somerset. The pigs are fed a diet that does not contain antibiotic growth promoters or meat and bone meal. The juicy sausage was all pork and succulent seasonings. There were two other sausage producers that I tried, but their sausages tasted pasty, which is usually due to fillers like breadcrumbs.

Cornish Sea Salt - salt
  I didn't have any idea that there was sea salt being harvested in Cornwall, but it was really tasty! I dipped a little matchstick of celery into the dish of salt. The taste was mild and like the ocean, and the texture was coarse but crumbled easily ( perfect for chefs, who grab salt in big pinches). 

Stapleton - gooseberry yoghurt 
Since 1975, Stapleton has been making yogurt in Devon using local milk from Jersey cows. All of the fruit compotes used are made on site, and are stirred in by hand. This means less waste and more love going into the product. No additives, preservatives or flavourings are used in any of the Stapleton products. Other amazing flavours include: blackberry, rhubarb, strawberry & clotted cream, and fig & date.

Cakeadoodledo - cupcakes
Usually I wouldn't promote sugary desserts, but besides having delicious cupcakes, ( I tried samples of coffee and of vanilla - both delicious) this local company does that little bit extra: They work with the British Hen Welfare Trust to rescue unhealthy battery hens and bring them back to health, and then use their eggs in their cakes. When their Goldline hens don't lay enough, they will buy free-range eggs.


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