Thursday, 18 November 2010

New Teignmouth Cafe - twentysix

We mourned the loss of the Michaelmas Goose cafe in Teignmouth - we loved the Goose's relaxed, bustling vibe with super-cheery waitresses and a couple of sofas and magazines - you felt you could go there on your own and just chill and eat cake.  It closed down in the summer and we now have twentysix in its place.  I am a little cynical about calling a place by a word-number - it's not too snappy and people don't automatically know what you're talking about.  As this is owned and run by a really good chef, Denise Tarriela, I would have preferred it to be called something more personal and showing its high quality home-cooking credentials.  It's also hard to find on the internet - this is their website, but I had to go via Tripadvisor to find it.
That is all the negative stuff I have to say!  
What a lovely place and what attention to detail.  My tea (pear and caramel tea - sounds weird but tasted delicious) arrived with an egg timer and a request to let it brew for three minutes.  I love that kind of gimmick.  The two of us ordered 'Croques' - his was pear and blue cheese on granary bread and mine was brie, crispy bacon with fig relish on white topped with aged Gruyere.  Both were £6.95 which sounds a little high for a sandwich (especially in Teignmouth), but they were full of excellent quality ingredients and presented well with a delicious green salad dressed with lemon oil, proper crisps and aioli.  I enjoyed every mouthful and can highly recommend a visit.  

I gawped at the cakes but didn't have time for one - they are all homemade and look quite incredible - definitely posh restaurant standard and a little bit different: New York baked cheesecake, a beautiful iced blueberry cake and Valrhona chocolate brownies plus the amazing pear, pistachio and creme anglaise cake - I want one of those!

They are open 9-5:30 every day, plus they serve evening meals as special bookable events at weekends - the cafe is holding New Orleans Cuisine and Jazz evenings this weekend )19-21 Nov with delicious items such as Drunken Prawns with Cajun Butter Sauce, Blackened Fillet of Marlin and Chocolate Pecan Pie.  There is also a Thanksgiving meal on 25 Nov, a Local Game evening on 27th Nov and Christmas events too.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Scones for Crohn's - Fundraising for Crohn's and Colitis UK

I have been a supporter of the Crohn's and Colitis UK charity for many years and wanted to help in their 30 year anniversary fund raising drive.  In the advent of other such fund raising titles as 'Jeans for Genes', we decided that 'Scones for Crohn's' had a good ring about it!  I held a tea party for my friends and their kids and asked for donations in return for a feast of home made cakes and cups of tea.  It was a lovely afternoon and we raised £40.  Thank you to everyone who donated!  NB Cakes were made with goose eggs from Tibbs the grocers.

My daughter and her friends wanted to do something themselves, and after a month's planning and a busy weekend of baking, they held a fantastic cake sale at our front door on a Sunday morning (thought we would catch the people on their way to and from church and getting the Sunday papers!).  Passers-by were very generous and the girls did a great job of telling them about the charity and how they baked their wares.  They took an amazing £50 in one hour and sold nearly everything.  Nearly everything, because these girls were hungry by this stage and rewarded themselves with a bit of a cake-fest and wolfed down as many of the remainder as they could!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Chocolate, Rosemary and Olive Oil Cake - The Jury's Out

I cribbed this recipe from this lovely blog:

The full recipe is on her site, and I won't repeat it here.  It's adapted from a recipe from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce.

This cake has no butter (or marg), just olive oil and has plenty of chopped nuggets of dark chocolate and a good smattering of finely chopped rosemary.  The top is crisp, crunchy and sugared like a muffin.  I cooked it for a friend who came for lunch and we both loved it, it's unusual but good.  There is a savoury note to the cake (rather like focaccia) but in a good way.

Then I sliced some for my family.  My son refused point blank to have anything to do with a herby cake.  My daughter tried a few tastes and left the rest (it had chocolate in it, for goodness sake, she must have hated it) and my husband's comment was classic.  "It's an anti-cake.  You take a bite of it and it makes you never want to eat any more cake again.  Ever.  It puts you off cake."  Charming!

So, I saved a few slices for myself and gave the rest to my friend and her family - all three of them love it (or are being very polite!).  The jury's out 4 people love it, 3 people loathe it.  What do you think?

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Marcus Wareing Blog Controversy - it happens in Devon too!

Well, Marcus Wareing is cross with food bloggers, The Critical Couple who have mildly criticised his talents and establishment as was reported in The Guardian yesterday:

I'm interested to know who reported it to the Guardian - MW or the food bloggers themselves?  Their review was fair, balanced and only a tiny bit negative.  They are entitled to their point of view and have previously given his restaurant two outstanding reviews - surely constructive criticism is a good thing?  Something he can learn from?  It doesn't strike me that they were being in any way malicious.

Well, I was pondering the rights and wrongs of publicly criticising establishments rather than having a 'quiet word' and now I seem to have provoked some outrage myself by voicing my concerns about a Newton Abbot restaurant's 'local food' claims.

I think I should have got my facts straight before I made my queries.  My pondering maybe should have been kept to myself rather than making it public and online - this has antagonised the cafe owner and I shall think twice about posting anything negative or critical in the future as it makes them feel bad and it certainly makes me regret it.  So, can we look forward to lots of over-effusive / bland  advertorials and no personal comment or opinion on food blogs in the future?

I'm torn on this one.  I think my comments in the future are going to be (in the main) positive.  But I will be frank and straight (it's ingrained in my personality).  So if it's on my food blog, I LOVE it unreservedly and can wholeheartedly recommend it, and if it's not on here, it's either because I haven't been there, or I've had a bad experience with that eating establishment / food supplier.  I don't want to get into any tussles, this blog is just a bit of fun, this is a hobby, not a way of life, and not a source of income.  And I appreciate that for the food producers / establishments it is far more than that.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Dartmouth Food Festival - Foodie Heaven

Dartmouth Food Festival was held over the 20th - 24th October. I helped out for a couple of hours, manning an information stall with the lovely Susie Bennett,

Susie runs an amazing B and B overlooking Dartmouth in Kingswear:
She's a charming, funny person and, by the sound of it, her organic breakfasts are out of the world and her house has views 'to die for'.  This is a smart (and really good value) place to stay when visiting Dartmouth.  I look forward to staying there some time.
Our information stand was cunningly placed next to Devonshire Teas who obligingly provided a sample of their wares.  They've been operating since last June and have a huge Twitter presence so it was good to meet them in person.  The tea was refreshing, well-balanced with a good flavour and perked me up on a cold October morning on Dartmouth Embankment.  The tea isn't grown locally, but they've created a 'Devonshire' blend that is perfect to drink whilst in Devon with scones.
I pottered around tasting some fantastically fresh crab and then ended up tasting salt at one my favourite food producers, Cornish Sea Salt.  They've branched out into flavoured salts (Smoked, Chilli, Onion, Garlic and Pepper) - my favourite being the smoked one.  He's a jolly nice chap!
The Luscombe girls were having a good time and I enjoyed their Lime Crush - it had a good kick and not too sweet (as I think some of their drinks like their raspberry lemonade are).
There were loads of top notch food demos going on. 
I watched Miranda Gardiner, author of Teaching Dad to Cook Flapjack, making crabcakes and I tasted them at the end.  She seemed a bit nervous, but she needn't have been as her style and cooking are inspiring and natural and the finished product was yummy.  I picked up her book, it looked wonderful (she takes her own photos too), but I'm trying really hard to buy no more cookery books as I have enough to last me a lifetime.  
 Mitch Tonks, now a prominent Dartmouth restauranteur  (I remember him refusing to open some oysters for me in his Bath fish shop, this has coloured my opinion of him!) was promoting his book, the sound quality was pretty bad on the PA system, so I didn't linger but hurried over the road, round the corner, behind the church, to the unpreposessing Flavel Centre.  My one (major) criticism of the Dartmouth Food Festival was that if you're going to spread out over several venues, please advertise the fact and provide plenty of signage.  For me, all the best local food producers were in  here and there were barely any punters to be seen!
One of my highlights in The Flavel Centre was Lahloo Tea:
Kate is passionate about working with small tea producers and creating the perfect blend.  She's based in Bristol and her products are classy and tasty too.  She mentioned that they're gracing the shelves of some high end upmarket retailers and restaurants - I can see why.  Enjoyed chatting to Kate and bought a set of heart shaped tins containing tea, a Tea Tasting Kit for £7,  all for me me me.  Treat.  The two teas I've tried so far have been great.
These were the divine homemade custard creams she was selling:
Next door to Kate was the Totnes-based Bean and Pod - what an awesome display of handmade goodies.  These are chocolates with a difference (Choclette, take note!).  Raw cocoa used (I think I have this right) from a small cocoa farm, sweetened with dates (no refined sugar) and studded with beautiful flowers.  Loved chatting to Lu and think she's doing something really different.
A close-up of one of the beauts:
And from Red Earth Kitchen (based in Kingsbridge) I bought a thick slice of delectable quiche chocka with butternut squash, gorgonzola and sage.  Delicious flavour combination and a very satisfying, good value lunch
Dartmouth Food Festival was a free event and had a lovely atmosphere.  The Exeter one is bigger, better and you have to pay to get in.  This one suited Dartmouth and it was great to meet some new local food producers.

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