South Hams is the area on the south coast of Devon, with its headquarters in Totnes and containing the towns of Dartmouth, Kingsbridge, Ivybridge and Salcombe. To the north it includes part of Dartmoor National Park and it contains some of the most unspoilt coastline on the south coast. To add to its stunning geography, The South Hams has a fantastic food and drink pedigree, so we at flavour took a trip down to the seaside to investigate. What a find! We’ll be back on a regular basis to add to this already bountiful portfolio…
Owned and run by the Grose family since 1896, the Thurlestone is more than a family concern, it’s a family passion, with every generation adding to the special identity and amenities that keep the hotel in a class of its own. Traditional values combine seamlessly with the latest facilities to create a luxurious classic country hotel in a delightful coastal setting.
The spa facilities include a new indoor pool, a jet spa hydrotherapy pool, a state- of-the-art fitness studio, and a thermal suite comprising a gentle dry heat laconium, a speciality shower, a fabulous new steam room and a sauna suite.
Thurlestone Hotel welcomes non-residents to its AA-rosetted restaurant, with picture windows and stunning views, offering a contemporary slant using fresh local produce.
The Maltsters Arms
An 18th-century inn overlooking Bow Creek, The Maltsters Arms is in an idyllic spot. Enjoy a beer in the cosy yet lively bar, dine in the restaurant with stunning river views or relax on the quayside and soak up the atmosphere.
There’s a great choice of real ales, fine wine, local cider and a superb menu of fresh, seasonal and locally sourced ingredients on offer. Or how about staying a little longer in one of the six, newly decorated, en suite riverside rooms? Moorings are also available.
The Picnic Boat
Operating seven days a week from March until the end of December, The Picnic Boat is chartered exclusively to your party, is licensed to take a maximum of 12 passengers and can arrange to pick you up at a number of locations along the River Dart including Dartmouth, Kingswear or (subject to tides) at Totnes.
It is the perfect way to pass an hour or longer with friends and family, (suitable for all ages), and a great way to celebrate that special occasion or get a special weekend or night out off to a great start. All the picnic fare is homemade and wherever possible ingredients are locally sourced, with fantastic menus created by owner and skipper Kevin.
Manna From Devon Cooking School
The country’s most passionate wood-fired oven cooking experts, Holly and David Jones at Manna from Devon Cooking School, have recently compiled a new Wood-Fired Oven Cookbook that is now available on Amazon and in independent bookstores. Packed full of helpful tips, beautiful photography and easy to follow recipes, which can be cooked either in a wood-fired oven or in a conventional oven, this cookbook is a must for any cooking enthusiast.
Manna from Devon Cooking School has been quietly establishing a great reputation since it was established in 2006. Run by Holly and David Jones the school is based in their home in Kingswear, overlooking the river Dart.
They specialise in bread making, fish cooking and Mediterranean food as well as wood-fired oven cooking, a subject they recently published The Wood-Fired Oven Cookbook on.
Classes at the school are small, intimate, relaxed and very much hands-on and students can stay in one of their bed and breakfast rooms, ideal if they are extending their visit to spend a few days in South Devon.
Lamb And Prune Tagine With Moroccan Spices – Serves 4
This is a great slow-cooked, one-pot dish that you can put in the falling wood- fired oven and come back to hours later. The slowly cooked lamb is delicious but the prunes are meltingly tender and create luscious, dark, sweet gravy that you then mop up with flatbreads or couscous. The recipe is also delicious made with beef, mutton or even goat. You can get pomegranate molasses from good delis or food shops. Tagines are traditionally cooked in the conical dishes of the same name that allow the moisture to stay in the dish while it is cooking but if you don’t have one a heavy duty casserole dish works just fine.
- 1kg/2.25lb shoulder of lamb, skinned, boned and cut into 2.5cm/1in cubes
- 2 red onions, peeled and sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
- 1tbsp ground coriander
- 1tsp ground cumin
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 200g/7oz pitted prunes, roughly chopped
- 2tbsp pomegranate molasses
- Chicken stock – about 600ml/1pint – 900ml/11⁄2 pints, depending on the size and shape of your casserole dish
- Salt and pepper
- 3tbsp chopped fresh mint
- We like to cook this dish in our wood- fired oven at around 150°C with enough stored heat to last for at least 3 hours. If you have already cooked something at a high temperature – maybe some flat bread – then this is the ideal dish to put in the oven to utilise the falling temperatures. In a conventional oven set the temperature to 150°C.
- In a large bowl, mix the cubes of lamb with the onions, garlic, spices, prunes and pomegranate molasses and season well with salt and pepper. Put the mixture into a large ovenproof casserole dish and stir in the chicken stock until it just about covers the lamb. Seal the dish with a tight-fitting lid.
- Open the door of the oven and place the casserole dish on the oven floor. Shut the oven door and bake the tagine for 2-3 hours until the meat is tender and the stock and prunes have made a rich dark sauce.
- The temperature will be quite low now so if you want to keep the tagine in there to keep warm that’s fine. If you feel the meat is drying out a little, just stir in a bit more stock.
- When you are ready take out the casserole dish. Sprinkle the fresh mint over the meat and serve the tagine with couscous and a tomato and onion salad.
The popularity of the Millbrook Inn just keeps on growing. An infectious enthusiasm for good food, led by compelling French chef Jean-Philippe Bidart, ensures a culinary journey that rarely strays very far from his Gallic roots. This is no ordinary pub.
Nestled between a couple of old thatched cottages in the pretty creekside village of South Pool at the end of Salcombe Estuary, the pub has deservedly won plaudits for its traditional fireside feel that just happens to also turn out some rather good food.
Prior to JP’s arrival some three years ago the pub followed a traditional and predictable food offering, its reputation built upon locally sourced crab sandwiches. Sales surged during the summer months but ground to a halt over the winter and without some radical thinking the pub could simply not survive.
JP came with an impressive CV; classically trained, he had cooked in restaurants and hotels to Michelin standard and was interested in ‘trying something different’.
Over more than a few glasses of French plonk a strategy was concocted that would follow cooking that you would typically find in both English pubs and French auberge. A tinker around the edges set the Millbrook Inn apart from others and allowed JP to indulge in his passion for marrying the best of English and French cuisine. It has worked spectacularly. From that moment in December 2008, JP has delivered at every level and more.
He has exposed his young kitchen team to national cooking competitions, winning the Morning Advertiser’s National Kitchen Team Competition. He himself is the current National Pub Chef of The Year.
He has transformed the fortunes of The Millbrook Inn, building a reputation for now being one of the very best pubs to eat food in the West Country – an entry in The Good Food Guide for the past three years is testament to that.
AND THEN THERE IS WHEREVERNEXT, THE ‘INSIDE/OUT’ CATERING ARM OF THE MILLBROOK INN.
The idea is simple but the results are extraordinary. The award-winning kitchen team like nothing more than escaping the confines of the tiny kitchen, hitting the road and cooking in some unusual places. Having cooked on rocky headlands, private beaches, working agricultural barns and boatsheds, the team hit on the name ‘wherevernext’ when a friend exclaimed exactly that.
Whether you own or know of a fabulous location, or prefer the Millbrook team to come up with a location, do get in touch. They are just as interested in a dining event for two on the end of a jetty as they are in a grand get-together.
Most people’s summer favourite? It would have to be a leisurely boat ride up to the nearby pontoon followed by a bowl of bouillabaisse washed down with a glass or two of Sancerre.
- 20ml olive oil
- 1kg fish bones with head (gurnard, red mullet, rascasse or dorade)
- 60ml Pernod
- 200ml white wine
- 1 fennel bulb
- 2 carrots
- 1 small leek
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 1 bayleaf
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 2 celery sticks
- A pinch of saffron
- 200gm tomato purée
- Salt and black pepper
- Roughly cut all the vegetables to about 1 inch cubes. Sear the vegetables with oil to a nice golden colour, then add the fish bones. Sweat for 3 to 4 minutes. Flambé with Pernod and add the white wine.
- Pour the saffron, tomato purée, salt, pepper and cover with water, about 3 to 4 inches above the fish. Boil the bouillabaisse for 2 to 3 minutes then lower the heat for 2 hours. Mix with a hand blender and pass through a sieve. Season to taste.
- You have now made the classic Marseillaise fish stew (bouillabaisse) to which any mannner of fish can then be added.
- Traditionally scorpion fish, congar eel and gilt head bream were added. At the Millbrook they tend to add fillets of locally caught fish such as bass, red mullet, gurnard and John Dory together with some steamed mussels and scored squid. Simply fry the fillets in a separate frying pan with a little olive oil.
- Serve with a rouille, toasted bread croutons and a little grated Gruyère cheese.
The Shops At Dartington
The Shops at Dartington are delighted to announce that they will be holding a new food producers’/ farmers’ market called ‘Love Food Sunday’.
A taste of Devon at Dartington – which will be held on the last Sunday of every month, starting on Sunday, September 30.
This is in response to customers’ requests following on from their very successful annual Food Fairs, held at the end of May each year. Initially, they will be working with Food and Drink Devon who, as a champion of promoting food businesses in Devon, have an extensive network of members, some of whom are keen to get their produce out to a new audience.
Anyone interested in exhibiting at this exciting new venue should contact Lucy at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01803 847515
Tel: 01803 722398
Where else to escape the pressures of life…
An unusual country house hotel, Fingals is tucked away in its own little valley deep in the South Hams near the River Dart.
Now in our thirty first year we have 11 luxury individually styled bedrooms and two self-catering apartments. This 300- year old Manor Farm is surrounded by exquisite gardens.
With a stream-side hot tub, a swimming-pool and sauna you cannot fail to unwind, but for the more energetic we have a beautiful grass tennis court, a gym and are close to endless off-road tracks and green lanes for walking and biking.
Make Fingals your destination for a romantic quiet holiday, an enjoyable house party or a sumptuous wedding.
South Sands Hotel
This stylish new hotel sits on the beach at South Sands, a bay just outside the vibrant sailing town of Salcombe.
It has a laid-back New England aesthetic and the stunning Beachside Restaurant, set on the water’s edge with panoramic views of the sea, combines a relaxed atmosphere with some of the best local seafood to create a truly memorable dining experience.
All of the 22 bedrooms are furnished to the same high standard but, as you might expect with a boutique hotel, they do vary a little in size and aspect. Given the New England style and the proximity to the sea, it will be of no surprise that they chose to name the room categories after sailing boats.
The restaurant is open seven days a week and welcomes young and old, families and couples, locals and visitors alike. Enjoy some of the South West’s fabulous fresh produce with menus designed by Mitch Tonks.
The bar makes a great place to meet for a pint, a cocktail or just a cup of coffee. Relax on the banquette, soak up the view on the terrace or get cosy in front of the fire. You can enjoy a South Sands cooler wherever you choose to sit.
The Sea Trout Inn
The Sea Trout Inn is a traditional South Devon Inn dating back to the 15th century, situated in the picturesque village of Staverton, near Totnes.
There are 10 well-appointed en suite rooms available for bed and breakfast, while the restaurant serves a mixture of à la carte and pub classics all sourced locally and as seasonal as nature intended. Choose to dine al fresco on warm, summer days or snuggle up beside the log fires in the winter months – perfect for a restful weekend break, pub lunch or a romantic dinner – a welcoming and friendly place for all.
Royal Castle Hotel
The Royal Castle Hotel is an award-winning, 17th- century hotel situated in the heart of Dartmouth, perfectly located overlooking the inner harbour and Dart estuary. The hotel has 25 en suite rooms, individually decorated and offering modern facilities with a boutique feel.
The hotel offers fine dining and a fantastic cellar in the Grill Room restaurant, as well as having two individual, atmospheric bars downstairs. There are special events to enjoy throughout the year. This historical hotel offers something for everyone, all under one roof.
Dart Marina Hotel & Spa
Kelli Jenkins finds solace with her family at one of Dartmouth’s favourite retreats…
We’ve been to Dartmouth many times before, but never experienced the Dart Marina Hotel and Spa, perhaps wrongly perceiving it as somewhere we wouldn’t feel comfortable taking our five-year- old daughter… How wrong we were.
With images of children and families on the website we were still a little dubious; you never really know how ‘child friendly’ hotels are until you’re there. So many claim to be, but as parents we’ve all experienced that slightly uncomfortable ‘should we really be here’ feeling. But our concerns vanished the minute we arrived, when we were met by John the concierge (who was stopped a couple of times en-route for his local insights) and swiftly checked in. The décor in the hotel is beautifully stylish yet unstuffy, all working to emphasise the stunning and uninterrupted views across the river.
We were lucky enough to be staying in one of the hotel’s five, two-bedroom luxury apartments. Set out over two levels with a fabulous open-plan kitchen, dining and living space, our daughter quickly made herself at home – making rapid claim to the slightly larger of the bedrooms!
The spa and pool area is directly beneath the apartments, so we had a quick swim (children are allowed to use the pool between 3-5pm), back to the apartment to change and then headed to dinner.
As we sat in the bar, enjoying pre-dinner drinks and nibbles it was clear to see the wonderful mix of guests this hotel attracts; the older couples who seem very familiar with the staff and the hotel, families, parents escaping the kids for a few nights and young couples looking for a few romantic days away.
We made our dinner choices and after a little more people-watching we finished our glasses of bubbly (and apple juice) and made our way to the dining room, being seated at a table in the window – perfect for our daughter to enjoy watching the Higher Ferry take cars and passengers across the river. We ate homemade tortellini with squash; chicken terrine, monkfish, pollock, Bakewell pudding and local cheeses, served with quince, all accompanied by a bottle of Dart Valley reserve from the Sharpham Estate, just a few miles from Dartmouth.
The children’s menu was equally as good, our daughter opting for fish and chips (and we didn’t even have to ask for ketchup truly child friendly!). Dinner was followed by coffee and delicate petit fours in the lounge, then an evening stroll along the riverside before heading back to the apartment.
After a great night’s sleep and an equally satisfying breakfast, we checked out and enjoyed another day in Dartmouth, taking a river cruise, lunch and even crabbing (it’s almost obligatory here) before reluctantly heading home, spending most of the journey placating our daughter who didn’t understand why we couldn’t just live at the Dart Marina Hotel… what better mark of approval.
An ancient stone mill with lovely guest accommodation, Keynedon Mill is a boutique retreat and tranquil place to unwind amid extensive grounds bordered by a stream.
Beautiful bedrooms with French furniture and antique linen curtains await, while delicious breakfasts using local produce make your stay an absolute treat. Here you can enjoy all the comforts of a hotel without the disadvantages. Voted one of the Top 10 B&Bs in South Devon by The Guardian – a very special place to stay!
If you are a foodie and also love lifestyle shopping, Avon Mill satisfies both passions with its boutique collection of garden plants and shop, deli, café and art gallery.
Set in the grounds of a former mill, on the banks of the River Avon near Kingsbridge, it makes for a perfect day out. The bustling licensed café is popular for brunch, lunch and traditional Devon cream teas, while the gorgeous decked terraces are perfect for al fresco dining.
Food is freshly cooked in the kitchens, which also supply the Deli with cakes, meringues, pâtés, houmous, quiches and tarts.
Open seven days a week 9am–5.30pm.
Laughing Monk Restaurant
The Laughing Monk Restaurant is set in the beautiful village of Strete on the main costal road between Dartmouth and Kingsbridge. The food here is all about the wonderful local produce, blessed as this region
If Start Bay lobsters, scallops or crab, line-caught sea bass and mackerel, or chargrilled rib- eye steaks, eight-hour braised shoulder of lamb, free-range chickens and crispy belly pork are your thing, one thing’s for sure, you can’t get any fresher!
The Laughing Monk keeps it simple and allows the produce to be the star.
The Journey’s End Inn
The Journey’s End Inn is a 13th-century destination public house set in the beautiful ‘chocolate box’ village of Ringmore.
This wonderful old pub offers a large selection of real ales alongside a vigorous and ingredients-led menu. The majority of the pub kitchen’s produce is homegrown or caught in and around the surrounding area. The pub is relaxed, informal and dog friendly.
Royal Seven Stars Hotel
The award-winning Royal Seven Stars Hotel, located in the heart of Totnes, offers a variety of quality eating and drinking options all under one roof, and is perfectly placed to enjoy everything South Devon has to offer.
The stylish TQ9 Brasserie and Champagne Bar offers a seasonal menu and extensive wine selection, while two further individual character bars offer all- day dining with seasonal daily specials featuring local ingredients prepared with flair and passion.
The Wine Shop, Kingsbridge
This fantastic small wine shop stocks the complete range of wines from South West Wine Merchant of the Year RED&WHITE, plus an extensive range of spirits and local beers.
Frequent wine tastings hosted by industry experts and wine makers and outstanding service by knowledgeable staff make this shop a real focal point of the high street. Wine is always open to taste and a delivery service is available free of charge in the local area.
Clifton Arcade, Boyces Avenue, Clifton Village
Bristol BS8 4AA
KINGSBRIDGE SHOP: RED&WHITE, 99 Fore Street, Kingsbridge Devon TQ7 1AB
Born By The Sea…
Liam Steevenson MW, owner and founder of RED&WHITE, looks at the maritime influence on food and drink in the South West…
RED&WHITE was founded in Salcombe, the stunning seaside village on the southern point of the Devon coast, and although as a company we are excited by our expansion into Bristol, I am sure our roots will forever remain at this point where the land meets the sea. Personally the sea has always had an incredible draw to me; my children were sailing before they could walk and it has been the source of a recent personal challenge when I rowed across the Atlantic earlier this year.
South Devon is rich not only in natural beauty, but also in produce; its red soils yield fantastic vegetables and nurture dairy cows while its coastline, as dramatic as any in the UK, is home to some of the finest seafood in the world. The result of course is a plethora of outstanding seafood restaurants; which for myself as a wine merchant has enabled the writing of some well-considered wine lists.
The relatively new South Sands Hotel offers perhaps the South Hams’ most breathtaking view, straight out over the mouth of the Salcombe Estuary. With a menu designed by Mitch Tonks, the wine list is expansive, yet has a focus on quality small producers, and is excitingly challenging. The list deliberately avoids wines that are extrovert, concentrating on more restrained, elegant wines that perhaps reflect more their origin than the ego of the winemaker. A particular favourite of mine is the brilliant Basa Verdejo from the Spanish region of Rueda. Crafted by one of Iberia’s most talented young winemakers, Telmo Rodriguez, its lemony fresh scent and zesty palate is so bright and refreshing it lifts shellfish dishes perfectly. Elsewhere on the wine list the Albarino from Bodegas Terras Gauda, grown in Galicia, just over the border from Portugal in north-west Spain, is also quite brilliant.
The Oyster Shack near Bigbury on Sea, another personal favourite, offers the simplest and in many ways the most enjoyable approach to seafood you will find in the South West. On long tables with plastic tablecloths and simple cutlery, perfectly cooked seafood and shellfish ensure that booking is almost always essential. Personal favourites in the current selection include a fresh, twangy and almost effervescent Vinho Verde from Qunita de Raza in Portugal, and their own label ‘Oyster Shack Sauvignon Blanc’, which is carefully selected every year, this time coming from a fantastic small winery in southern France that seems that seem to have combined touches of the ripe, tropical notes of Kiwi Sauvignon with the more elegant, mineral flavours of the Loire valley.
Wine and food matching is no exact science, but more often than not wines matches food that is made locally to it. With a maritime influence having such a positive effect on the wine growing climate, it is perhaps not surprising that many wines work wonderfully well with the produce of the sea.
BASA, TELMO RODRIGUES, RUEDA, SPAIN
£9.95 a bottle
One of the most popular wines in the RED&WHITE portfolio. Light, twangy Verdejo with greengage and gooseberry notes on the palate. Ripe and oily yet with scintillating acidity. Perfect with shellfish, or on its own on long summer evenings.
ALBARINO ‘ABADIA DE SAN CAMPIO’, BODEGAS TERRAS GAUDA, RIAS BAIXAS, SPAIN
£14.95 a bottle
Terras Gauda’s philosophy of constant care and control of the vineyards, and cool, long fermentations, produces exquisitely light, fresh and aromatic white wines. This Albarino is bursting with citrus fruit, ripe yet held together with gripping minerality.
VINHO VERDE, QUINTA DA RAZA, PORTUGAL
£8.50 a bottle
Situated in the far south of the Vinho Verde zone, almost on the border with the Douro. The vines are planted on hillside sites to accentuate the freshness in the wine, which combines with cold, stainless steel fermentation to result in fresh, zingy and very approachable wines. A perfect wine for the seafood lover.
10% DISCOUNT FOR FLAVOUR MAGAZINE READERS
The complete selection of wines from RED&WHITE is available on the website. Flavour readers should quote FL40 on the payment screen to receive a 10%. Call for the same offer!
* OFFER EXPIRES ON 1ST OCTOBER 2012
Twentysix Cafe & Bistro
The ‘twentysix’ signature style of muted New England seaside blues, chalky whites and dreamy creams is a wonderful, relaxing setting for hearty French cooking. ‘Navarin d’agneau, Daube de Boeuf, Coq au Vin,’ – reminiscent of thick copper pots filled with herbs, vegetables and wine gently simmering all day on an old stove deep in the French countryside – are just a few of the items on offer.
Drop in for a lazy weekend breakfast or brunch of buttery croissants and barista coffees. Or a convivial lunch of croques, tartines, shared platters or popular ‘twentysix’ classics – raclette, tartiflette and steak frites. Teatime is a treat with homemade cakes and tarts, gooey ‘Valrhona’ brownies, tartes aux poire et pistache with a choice of loose leaf teas. Dinner is always a casual affair with fresh seafood available daily.
It’s very easy to stay all day at twentysix, for it’s not just a cafe, it’s a way of life. Mangez bien! (Eat well!)
Afternoon tea at Bovey Castle is a speciality and undoubtedly the most civilised and underrated treat of the day.
Scones, sandwiches, homemade cakes and fine teas served in china cups – their modern interpretation of how the manor house’s first residents would have enjoyed this quintessentially English affair.
Afternoon tea retains its ceremonial glamour through its evolving choice of delicacies, best enjoyed from the panoramic window seats in the Cathedral Room and Adam Room, or in front of a roaring fire during the winter months. Afternoon tea is served daily between 3pm and 5.30pm, from £19.00 per person.
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The River Exe Cafe
The River Exe Cafe is a floating barge just off the ski lane on the River Exe, at the heart of Exmouth’s water sports fraternity.
With the potential to take up to 60 people on board, the cafe has been designed very much like the ‘ski in ski out’ wooden chalets found at many ski resorts, but with the intention that the quality of food and service exceeds all expectations of the external look and feel. The barge has a licensed bar and covered outdoor space with heaters, as well as indoor seating to relax well into the evening without suffering the cold.
The cafe prides itself on its relaxed and local feel. Catering for the individual wanting just a fresh ground coffee and a locally baked cake, to the couple wanting to experience the best West Country food, the dining experience is all about taste and freshness.
The cafe is a venue for all things local and fun, showcasing bands, hosting live music, comedy nights and themed nights, as well as art classes and cooking courses – in fact, anything that can work is welcome on board.