Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Pipers Farm - Ethical, Tasty Mail Order Meat from Devon

I have been hearing a lot about Pipers Farm.  They've been recommended by Rick Stein and won countless awards.  These Devon farmers certainly seem to know what they're talking about.    Everything is slowly matured and hung for a good long time in order to maximise the flavour of the meat, the animal breeds are traditional and the feed, maintenance and slaughtering seem to be above 'Organic' standards.

Their website has an awful lot of stuff on it.  I was a bit confused when I tried to add the 'Easy Selection' Family Survival Pack into my basket and yet when I clicked on the items e.g Streaky bacon or Chicken Korma to select them it returned the message that the item wasn't available.  I'm sure this is just a glitch.  They offer a great service, a money-back guarantee on all their products and next day delivery when ordered before 4pm.  Free delivery once a fortnight to Bristol and free delivery to most of Devon.

I received a package of mixed meat and ready meals to sample and overall I was very impressed.  The packaging took a bit of getting used to.  For instance, the chicken breasts stuffed with pesto had all been 'blast-frozen' (ie frozen immediately) in separate plastic bags and then all placed within one large plastic bag.  My initial reaction that this was a surplus of packaging, but when my son decided he didn't want one, I was able to just take three out of the four out and leave one for another day.  The instructions say that if you don't have time to let the meat defrost naturally, each pack can be placed in a bowl of cool water for half hour and can then be cooked immediately.  I didn't mind trying this for the lamb steaks and beef steaks, but for the chicken I chose to let them defrost completely - I'm too risk-averse!

To cook this tenderloin I used Fay Ripley's Recipe, served alongside chilli spinach - the family loved it

The steak, pork and lamb were excellent: extremely tasty, tender and succulent - certainly no harm done during the freezing process.  I did give them a very thorough dry off with kitchen roll before grilling them as they were a little damp when they came straight from the bag - there's nothing worse than getting your pan sizzling and ending up with a semi-boiled piece of steak that doesn't go properly brown and crusty on the outside.

The pesto chicken was good - not as oily as supermarket pesto - I think it was made with cashews rather than pine nuts which was a nice change.  My daughter preferred it cold in a sandwich. The chicken breasts looked attractive tied up with string with a single herb stem.

It's tricky to make sausages photogenic?!

The pies were pretty good - it may have been my oven setting but when I followed the cooking instructions, the pastry lids were all lifted off a bit and lots of the filling overflowed, but they were tasty and I loathe making pastry so this was a welcome short cut.

My least favourite item was the venison sausages -  but my husband loved them.  There were large pieces of fat speckled throughout the sausage and that's fine in chorizo or salami, but I prefer cooked hot sausages to not have visible lumps of fat.  Luckily my other half is less fussy and was happy to have all the leftovers.

Overall it was interesting to try out some ready meals from a quality producer.  I have always preferred fresh meat from the butcher's rather than the frozen variety but Pipers Farm have won me over

Friday, 4 May 2012

Devon Cafe Review: The Clipper, Shaldon

Several years ago the Clipper Cafe at Shaldon used to be a little bit, shall we say, the wrong side of grotty.  Not shabby or full of character, just a bit past its sell by date.  It closed down a couple of years ago and has just opened after a serious revamp.  Wow.  They have really gone to town.  It is now enormous with outdoor seating on two levels and two really spacious eating areas inside.  So far I've only sampled a cup of tea and delicious home made heart-shaped shortbread, but it's definitely going to become a regular haunt.  I'm dreaming of eating crab sandwiches with a chilled glass of white (yep, they're licensed) in the summer on the patio overlooking the Teign estuary.

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