11 June 2013 Topsham, Devon We have now been doing our monthly ‘pop-up’ Vino Kitchen Italian Table in the Pebblebed wine cellar for some four years. Most usually we prepare regional Italian-inspired meals to accompany the range of Italian wines that we import direct and sell in the cellar. Once a year, however, we enjoy doing a ‘Topsham Table’, that is a meal that is locally inspired and sourced as close to Topsham as possible. We are so fortunate here to have such an inspiring wealth of quality food and drink producers on the doorstep and it is always a pleasure to go directly to the farms to pick up our ingredients.
This morning we drive out first to the Ashclyst Farm Dairy, located on the Killerton Estate just outside of Broadclyst. Here we meet Martyn and Lorraine Glover, tenant farmers who oversee their own dairy herd and process milk in a farmhouse micro-dairy that is one of the smallest in the country. The cattle graze on dense grass and clover and the organic and unhomogenised milk and rich cream that results is simply sensational, with a creamy depth of flavour that you simply don’t get with industrially processed milk.
Lorraine and Martyn Glover of Ashclyst Farm Dairy (note that Martyn is wearing a Force Century Cycle Challenge t-shirt, the ride that we started in memory of Nello in 2000 – it turns out that he has ridden ‘The Nello’ four times!)
Next stop is back to Clyst St George and the Kenniford Farm. Andrew Freemantle has built up a great business based around the farm’s award-winning freerange pork. The pigs live in roomy huts scattered across the farm. There is a small farm shop that stocks a great range of local produce and products and the meat is always outstanding, real pork as it used to taste.
We call in at Darts Farm on the way back to Topsham. We are incredibly fortunate to have this incredible food shopping destination here in our own town. People travel from all over the country (the world?) to visit this award-winning food hall, and for good reason. We could quite easily have sourced our entire meal here very happily (and sometimes we nearly do). Not only do the Darts support a wealth of small artisan food producers from throughout the West Country – cheesemakers, producers of jams and chutneys, bakers, vegetable and fruit growers, cider and winemakers, ice cream producers, and much much more – there is also a great butcher Gerald David on site as well as David Kerley’s amazing Fish Shed. Today we want some of farmer Chris Eaton’s wonderful asparagus, which for only a brief moment of the year is picked fresh daily and supplied direct to Darts Farm. We also pick up some cider made on the premises by Green Valley, a bottle Devon cider vinegar and some chipotle chillies from the South Devon Chilli Farm.
Back in Topsham, I stop by Matthews Hall for a word with fisherman Derek Thorman, who’s mobile fish van is parked here four times a week. Does Derek have any local Exmouth mackerel? Yes, he does and will fillet it for me and drop it around to our house. Just down the road, I visit Country Cheeses, without doubt one of the best cheese shops in the entire country, offering an incredible range of mainly West Country cheeses. We taste a selection and then purchase some Ragstone goat’s cheese, perfect for grilling.
Tomorrow morning, I’ll pop into the Real Food Store in Exeter for some of Emma’s freshly baked sourdough bread. And Richard Tucker, our local greengrocer, will deliver to us punnets of freshly picked strawberries from Balls Farm in nearby Ide, as well as lettuce, spring cabbage and potatoes grown on an allotment in Heavitree, just a few miles away.
The wines for our evening will come from Pebblebed, from the very cellar in which we will be eating, so zero wine miles there!
Time to get cooking . . .
Menu for Vino Kitchen Topsham Table
Emma’s sourdough from Emma’s Bread at the Real Food Store, Exeter (3.5 food miles)
Exmouth mackerel “in saor”
(from fisherman Derek Thorman’s mobile fish van – .5 food miles – caught at sea just off Exmouth maybe 6 sea miles) prepared Venetian-style marinaded with onions, raisins and toasted pine nuts on Heavitree allotment salad leaves
Ragstone goat’s cheese on toasted sourdough toast with Heavitree allotment salad leaves
Topsham pulled pork
freerange pork from Kenniford Farm (1.5 food miles) rubbed in South Devon Chilli Farm chipotle chillies and cooked in Green Valley cider made at Darts Farm (.5 food miles) and Devon cider vinegar served local new potatoes and spring cabbage (supplied by Richard’s Fruit and Vegetables from a Heavitree allotment 3 food miles)
Asparagus and cheddar tart
Chris Eaton’s local asparagus, local cheddar and organic free range eggs all from Darts Farm (.5 food miles)
Pannacotta with strawberry coulis
organic double cream from Ashclyst Farm Dairy near Broadclyst (about 8 food miles), strawberries from Balls Farm, Ide (about 3 miles)
Pebblebed sparkling, white, rosé and red – zero wine miles!