Friday, 30 March 2012

Foodie Penpals - The UK Version - My Scrummy Parcel

I heard through the blogging grapevine that Rock Salt was arranging a Foodie Penpals scheme, based on the idea of the US blogger The Lean Green Bean .

Each person is allocated a penpal and sends them a parcel of food based items to the value of about £10 and you get sent one from someone else.

My parcel randomly and bizarrely came from Chilli and Chai.  Now I have to declare an interest....Chilli and Chai is a Devon mate of mine anyway so I felt secretly pleased that she would know the kind of stuff I liked and my hopes were certainly fulfilled.

 What a whole heap of wickedly interesting, quirky and cool food from Devon and beyond she had amassed:

A pat of smoked goats milk butter, goats milk from Pitmans Farm, smoked by Country Wood Smoke

Homemade oatcakes (using the goats butter) - these were fantastic and I was really touched that she had made me something - and a combination of three different Devon foodies' creative endeavours.

Montezuma's chocolate - two bars!

A carton of totally weird soya milk stuff that looks like Ribena but obviously isn't,

Thai soup paste - that'll definitely come in handy

and probably my joint favourite (with the oatcakes) a jar of Bacon Jam - after reading Eat Like a Girl's recipe, I have been very keen to try some of this.

Plus a heap of wild garlic

and to fulfil her 'chilli and chai' legacy:

Some sachets of Pukka Chai tea (ones I hadn't tried before - hoorah)
Some mega scary 1 million scoville chillis - bit worried about them - will I just need one square millimetre for an entire curry?

What an amazing parcel of very thoughtful produce.  Thanks, to my lovely foodie penpal!

I sent this parcel of stuff to Cider with Sophie - I hope she liked it.  I enjoyed putting it together with some of my homemade chutney, lemon curd, muffins, my own blend of Ras-al-hanout spice blend, Lahloo tea, Devon fruit leather, a vinegar 'starter' and other random stuff.

This scheme is becoming a regular event, so go here if you fancy taking part, (whether you have a blog or not) and please leave a comment if you also received a parcel so I can visit and take a look.

Monday, 19 March 2012

A Dartmouth Circular Walk + Lunch at Alf Resco

On a recent crisply freezing but bright blue day, we avoided the difficulties in finding parking spaces in Dartmouth by heading to the National Trust owned car park at Little Dartmouth.  You don't really need to consult a map as it's pretty straightforward, but if you did, this is quite useful.

Head straight down to the coastal path and meet that glorious blue sea edged with cliffs and lush pasture.  It's a great walk to do as a family.  There is coastal path, a wooden bridge, a steep hill to run helter-skelter down, optional beaches, a castle and then just as your legs are getting weary and your mouth in need of refreshment, you hit Dartmouth.

 Dartmouth is an upmarket harbour town with lots of shops selling 'gorgeous things, dahling', but it is undeniably picturesque and has some good eateries.We were muddy and in walking boots so not feeling in the mood for anything too snazzy, so we popped into Cafe Alf Resco which fitted the bill nicely.  Inside is very dark and very busy, full of families having late breakfasts / brunches, plenty of sauce bottles on tables and most people indulging in bacon of some variety.  My son and I opted for bacon sarnies which were excellent, large, good fresh bread and plenty of filling.

My daughter had the smoked salmon scrambled eggs which she  thought were fine, but not amazing.

A good re-fuelling stop, but they had committed the cardinal oar facing me with the immortal words 'Live Laugh Love'.  This cliched phrase is like a fingernail going down a blackboard.  It makes me squirm with embarrassment.  If you are also someone who finds this phrase intensely irritating, read this McSweeney's open letter that will make you  'Live, Laugh, Love'  giggle.

We had a quick mooch around the shops (Damn, I could only find about 129 items that had the 'L, L, L' phrase printed on them, but not the perfect one for my bedroom mantelpiece) and then headed back towards the car.

The route is shorter on the way back, but has a bit of an epic hill to climb: be warned if you have whingey kids, you might need a pocket full of sweets for that bit.  The entire circular walk is about 5.5 miles but the half way stop off in Dartmouth makes it seem far shorter.  You could spend a whole day doing this and incorporate a visit to the historic Dartmouth Castle, or pause for a river boat trip.  We managed the whole thing with lunch and shopping in about 4.5 hours.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

The New Forge, Chagford: Cafe Review

Chagford, a lovely village on the edge of Dartmoor and home not only to the very upmarket Gidleigh Park Hotel and Restaurant, but to the best hardware shop most people have ever visited, Webber & Sons.  I have previously reviewed Gidleigh Park here, but one day I shall devote a whole month of blog posts to Webber & Sons - there is SO MUCH STUFF in that shop.  Ask the owners for just about anything.  They've got it.  Last time we were there we needed:

1. A new oven lightbulb
2. A cheese board
3. A copy of the Guardian
4. Some socks
5. Some indoor fireworks

Yep.  They had the lot. No problemo.

Once you've spent an hour and a half in Webber & Sons, I can wholeheartedly recommend this Devon cafe, just across The Square is The New Forge.  I love places that serve the kind of food I like to eat, but slightly better than I can (be bothered to) cook it at home.  

Bright, pink walls, huge windows, relaxed atmosphere, friendly service.   

 There are changing daily specials on a blackboard, excellent cappuccinos, a most enormous and lardy and delicious Welsh Rarebit.  On this day, I had the delicious monkfish fishcakes that were enormous and served with South Devon Chilli Farm jam and a good salad.  My folks in the background had a rather rustic chicken and bacon stew that was really tasty and peasanty (in a good way) - and such a generous portion, I don't think they could finish it.
 Another time I have had their Roast Beetroot and Butternut Squash Lasagne which was delicious, fresh and again, very filling.  This is somewhere I'd gladly re-visit as they have some great regular dishes e.g. the lasagne and rarebit, plus interesting Specials, great coffee and cakes that I have never had room for!  Booking advisable - sometimes they are very busy and we have been turned away.  Closed Mon and Tues. Open for breakfasts and lunches.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Pictures of a Devon Garden by a 10 Year Old

I was just meandering through my photos when I found these photos that my son was busy snapping in our garden last weekend.  For a change, I fancy including something non-foodie this week, so here are some of them.  Perhaps not what we might expect a 10 year old boy to take photos of?

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