Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Devon Pub Review: The Fat Pig, Exeter

We went as a family (two adults, a daughter aged 14 and a son aged 12) to the Fat Pig in Exeter for Sunday lunch a few days ago.
It was great!  A relaxing hang out serving some top notch micro brewed ales.  My other half had the Steam Hammer Ale and really enjoyed that.  We were intrigued by all the hanging pictures.  They did tell a few stories as we asked the waitress (owner, I'm not sure) about one and heard a wonderful story about the man portrayed.

We shared a Smoked Garlic with toast to start with.  All four of us enjoyed that.  Like everything, it was  served on a board.  There was a whole bulb of soft and smokey garlic and plenty of toast.  We should have ordered two portions really as we were hungry and there was plenty of grabbing going on! 
For main courses, two of us had the smoked prawns and chips (the prawns were recommended to me by Countrywoodsmoke, a local foodie and BBQ/Smoker expert), my daughter had the Roast Pork and my husband had the Smoked Pheasant.  The pub has recently acquired a new 'smoker' and is making the most of it.
The prawns were smoked, but not overly so.  They were served whole - so we had to peel them but my son loved doing this.  Personally I could have done with a debris bowl or dish as I was quite messy, but this is splitting hairs.  The large quantity of serviettes and finger bowls were appreciated and used.

My daughter enjoyed the Roast Pork - there are some reviews on Tripadvisor to say the Sunday roast isn't great - it was good for her.  Plenty of meat, veg and gravy.  The only weird thing was that the roast potatoes were enormous and could have been smaller - that is a small gripe.  The meat, veg and gravy were all fine.  My husband liked the pheasant - of which there was a large quantity - and when I had a small 'taster', I managed to get the only piece of 'shot' in the whole dish.  Typical.

All four of us enjoyed our meal and we will be back to try lunch on a different day of the week.  I liked the vibe, the ethos, the decor and the food.  The place was very busy by 1pm so it's worthwhile reserving at the weekend.  They have a great system of chalking the reservations on the actual wood of the tables.  I liked that.

I was a guest, but I was free to write what I wished.  

Saturday, 14 December 2013

A Stroll Around Stover Lake, South Devon

I visited Stover Country Park today as part of my self-inflicted Future Learn course about Eco Systems.  I never particularly enjoyed Biology or Geography at school, but now I am in my 40s, it all seems a lot more interesting.
Future Learn offer online FREE OF CHARGE courses.  This is the second one I have done and I love it. The Future Learn courses are in their infancy (but fully tested) so there is the odd glitch (really nothing serious, but the forums have not yet matured, so the discussions between users could be more fruitful) but overall they are very enjoyable, good quality and easy to fit into a hectic / unpredictable life.

So here are some of the photos I chose to take.  Nothing rare - not that interesting - but relevant to the food chain stuff I have been learning about (woodlands, fungi, leaf litter, logs) and then we had to upload them to a free wildlife website called iSpot.  And also it all looked rather beautiful in a seasonal kind of way.

We also visited the bird hide (a paradise for twitchers) and walked around the lake.  The wind was seriously swirling the dead leaves.  It was a great circular (short) walk.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Wind Meal at River Cottage Canteen, Plymouth + Mount Edgecumbe, Torpoint

I was invited to hear all about Wind Energy at Mount Edgecumbe and enjoy a meal at the River Cottage Canteen last week.

We were whisked over by ferry boat from Royal William Yard to Mount Edgecumbe (only takes about ten minutes and with the sun shining, it was very pleasant).  Royal William Yard needs some signs for car users!  I love going there and know about it - but what about others who do not?!  

Mt. Edgecumbe is a very grand building and parkland with stunning views over the River Tamar.  It would be an amazing wedding venue...and there was a wedding appointment after we left.  An interesting discussion (just about the right length too!) was held about the benefits of renewable energy, Wind power, in particular.  There were five speakers and about 150 of us in the audience.

The speakers were: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall; Nicky Conway, from Forum for the Future; Maf Smith, Deputy CEO of RenewableUK plus Robin Hanbury-Tenison Bodmin farmer, explorer and author; Bill Martin chaired the discussion, Editor of Western Morning News.

We then returned by electric cars and Land Rovers to get a ferry back to Royal William Yard.  I met a really nice Cornish food blogger, Kate (yes, another one) but the weather was now windy and grey with the threat of rain so we sat inside for the journey. This is a link to her blog which has a review of the same event (her photos are brilliant, her review of the speakers' arguments is concise, plus there is lots of other really good stuff and some delicious recipes.  There is also another really good review of the day here on Robert's blog.

The food at the River Cottage Canteen was superb.  They were catering to many media and PR people, but nevertheless I would never have guessed that they were serving to so many people.  The food was from wind-powered farms (and was not necessarily local - a fact that Hugh mentioned and apologised for)  but it was wonderful.

I had the following and it was all of the highest order and absolutely delicious:

Vine House organic cauliflower soup with Lincolnshire Poacher fritter

Sheepdrove organic farm lamb, parsnip and thyme gratin, green sauce (amazing!!)

Caramelised apple tart with Mackie's traditional ice cream and yummy Yorkshire organic vanilla ice cream (also amazing - a true 'caramelised' Tarte Tatin style one, and the two types of ice cream perfectly matched it, there was also a splash of custard!)

Over lunch, I sat opposite Nicky Conway from Forum for the Future.  And yes, we talked a little about renewable energy....but mostly about Devon and food!  There was no time for tea or coffee as my lift arrived and we were a little bit later than anticipated.

Thanks to all the wind powered food suppliers, Renewable UK plus the River Cottage Canteen and Forum for the Future plus the fab PR agency, HK Strategies.

I was a guest, but I was free to write what I wished.  

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