Winter Party Food Ideas

This festive season we’ve got everything you need to ensure your dinner party, work buffet or simply an evening with friends goes off without a hitch, well the food at least! This time of year is the perfect excuse to show off your culinary skills and create mouth-wateringly good food using the finest ingredients.

5b057383-dbb8-4659-8b30-a73800a70a0f_800x800A simple classic some smoked salmon and cream cheese canapés will go a long way to pleasing your guests. Try them on some bought in crispbreads with some chive if you’re short on time or try making your own potato cakes with some dill and lemon for extra flourish. Our John Ross smoked salmon is cold smoked over oak chips using the same techniques passed down since the 19th century and is deliciously light and delicate with subtle smoky flavours and goes beautifully with cream cheese.

Another crowd-pleaser and Christmas staple is some baked camembert. This can1h4a9552_28727765675_o-1 be made really easy by simply baking the camembert as is and adding some garlic bread or crackers and a nice chutney – we recommend the Pear & Walnut chutney from Waterhouse Fayre as the flavours really compliment the cheese. However if you fancy making more of a centrepiece try baking a tear and share dough ball platter with some rosemary, thyme and cranberries. The dough helps the camembert to keep its shape as well as taking on some of the oozey cheese as it bakes – delicious!

BasilA classic meat and cheese platter is the perfect prepare ahead party option. Mix and match with the meat: some prosciutto, salamis, chorizo, pastrami – anything you and your guests will like. For the cheese we advise to pick a variety of different textures and varieties, a soft creamy brie, firm vintage, tangy blue and a sheeps, cow and goats cheese for a range of different flavours. Add some  sunripened tomatoes, salty olives – try some from the Cornish Olive Stall range – grapes and of course some warm crusty bread and you’re good to go.

For a buffet style dinner party the opportunities are endless, hot, cold, meat andChunk-Pork-Apple-Scrumpy-Sausage-Roll-600x630 vegetarian there are so many options. For the meat eaters try some festive pork and cranberry chipolatas from W F Chinn’s or their pigs in blankets are equally delicious. Chunk of Devon sausage rolls and pork pies in buttery pastry are a must as well as traditional honey-roasted gammon hot or cold from Kittos of Plymouth. For the vegetarians how about an Indian treat with some crispy vegetable samosas or deliciously creamy blue stilton and broccoli quiche.

We hope this has given you some ideas for the festive season, for more info on any of the products we’ve mentioned head over to our website.

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Shop Local this Christmas

Related imageThe Shop Local campaign was launched in 2013 encouraging consumers to support their local, independent traders on the high street. There are many advantages to shopping locally including low food miles, finding something quirky and unique, building communities and getting better service to name just a few. Here at Isca Foods we are passionate about supporting local businesses. Many of our products are sourced from within the South West and collected from the producers themselves from jams and chutneys from Waterhouse Fayre, cheeses from Devon based Quicke’s and Sharpham and pies and pasties from Chunk of Devon in Ottery St Mary.

Christmas is an important time for many small businesses and this year why not support local and buy your gifts closer to home? We are lucky here in the South West that there are so many great community shops, deli’s and farm shops selling excellent local produce. We’ve listed a few of them below, so why not take a chance and make someone’s Christmas local this year?

Greendale Farm ShopImage result for greendale farm shop
Located just outside of Exeter this is so much more than a farm shop. With a butchers, deli and cheese counter, cafe and a host of farm animals roaming the grounds, a trip to Greendale is a real family day out. The farm shop itself sells a wide range of locally sourced products from fresh fruit and veg, local cheese, handmade pies, sliced cooked meats and charcuterie and specialist meat cuts by their award-winning butchers; you need look no further for your foodie treats this Christmas!

download (1)Fine Foods of Braunton
A family run delicatessen based on the gorgeous North Devon coast, this unassuming shop also boasts a cafe serving delicious freshly ground coffee and a selection of cakes and savouries. The deli prides itself on sourcing the best of local produce from cheeses, wines and spirits, olives, local creams and yogurts and sliced meats as well as handmade gifts. It’s ethos of good old fashioned service from knowledgeable staff makes it not just another shopping trip but a great experience.

Otterton-Logo.-Colour_crop-e1536159423675Otterton Mill
Set beside the River Otter in East Devon this historic mill draws visitors for its beautiful setting, reputation for fantastic food in the award-winning restaurant and their range of tasty treats in the food shop. A huge range of fantastic cheeses, delicious freshly baked bread and cakes, local sausages, handmade pies, sliced meats, olives and more as well as handmade unique ceramics, glassware and jewellery  in the gallery are on offer here. Pop along for lunch or afternoon tea and we bet you won’t leave empty handed!

Image result for stokeley farm shopStokeley Farm Shop
This thriving country farm shop based near Kingsbridge in South Devon is proud to support local producers and the local community, regularly holding live music events, crafting evenings and this years widely anticipated Christmas Market. It has everything you would expect from a farm shop: butchery, bakery and deli as well as fresh, homegrown fruit and veg. Their deli is bursting with local delights including olives, charcuterie and award-winning artisan cheeses as well as local chutneys, jams and pickles.

45541231_1986106681479573_4920883604579418112_nThere are of course many more fantastic deli’s, farm shops and community shops throughout the South West that we haven’t listed here, this time of year is the perfect opportunity to explore, find your new favourite and treat your loved ones to unique gifts. With fantastic local produce, low food miles, individual and often homemade items and bespoke service from someone who really knows their business and products, why not support your local deli, farm shop or community enterprise this Christmas?

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World Cheese Awards 2018

Last week saw the return of the prestigious World Cheese Awards in Bergen, Norway. Thousands of cheeses from all corners of the world assembled to be judged by an expert panel of more than 230 judges. A number of our very own West Country cheese producers made the top half of the list; we’ve listed some of them below and congratulate all the winners on their tremendous success.

QuickesGroupQuicke’s Goat Milk
The Quicke’s are no strangers to awards and have been producing their traditional cloth-bound cheeses for the last 500 years. This Goat Milk cheese is matured for six months, during which time it develops a clean, buttery and slightly nutty flavour. It was judged worthy of a Gold award at this years awards.

Dorset Blue Vinny
Dorset Blue Vinny also scooped a Gold at the World Cheese Awards while alsoDorset_Blue_Vinny02 winning Best Blue Cheese at the Great British Cheese Awards. Made on Woodbridge Farm in Dorset, traditionally the ‘blueing process’ was encouraged by dragging mouldy horse harnesses through the milk however nowadays this practice has fallen out of fashion and instead long narrow pins spike the cheese, allowing air into it which helps the mould to grow and the flavour to develop.

Cornish Blue
This cheese previously won World Champion at the World Cheese Awards in 2010 and this year won Super Gold, an accomplishment awarded to the top 78 cheeses who then compete for the title of World Champion. Made by the Cornish Cheese Company on Bodmin Moor, the rich Cornish milk gives this cheese a creamy, buttery flavour and slight sweetness not commonly found in English blues.

Check out our website http://www.iscafoods.co.uk/cheese/ for our full list of award winning cheeses.

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Should we be eating less meat?

A report published by Waitrose this week has found that a third of Britons have stopped or reduced their meat intake following growing concerns of the impact on our carbon footprint as well as animal welfare standards. One in eight are vegetarian or vegan and a further 21% are ‘flexitarian’, eating a diet mostly consisting of vegetables with occasional meat products. While we love steaks, burgers and bacon butties there is no denying the environmental impact such huge quantities of meat eating has on our planet and simply reducing our intake rather than cutting it out altogether could make a massive difference. We’ve listed a few alternative meat free products below, give them a try and you never know you might be converted!

Chunk-of-Devon-Chunki-Roast-Veg-Pasty.s-450x443Chunk of Devon Roasted Veg Pasty
Based in Ottery St Mary, Chunk of Devon are multi award-winning producers of pies, pasties and savoury snacks made using locally sourced ingredients. Earlier this year they changed their roasted vegetable pasty recipe to make it suitable for vegans. Roasted sweet potato, butternut squash, potato, red onion and herbs combine to make a delicious snack or lunchtime treat. Wrapped in a wholemeal flour pastry and covered in a pea glaze this has real depth of flavour and is suitable for everyone! In March this year they also launched their new goats cheese and butternut squash pie with red onion wrapped in buttery shortcrust pastry which is one of our favourites vegetarian or not.

Squash and Coconut CurrySquash_Curry_3_(1_of_1) 
Lodge Farm Kitchen are producers of gourmet, handmade frozen ready meals based in Ross-on-Wye. Using locally sourced ingredients and prepared by expert chefs their meals are firm favourites with our customers and a wholesome, nutrient rich meal can be ready in minutes. This squash curry is delightfully fragrant with organic butternut squash, coconut, cumin and fresh coriander; just add rice! Lodge Farm’s roasted vegetable lasagne has also become one of our bestsellers, made with courgettes, aubergines, peppers and mushrooms and topped with a bechamel sauce we promise you won’t miss the meat!

115631011_0_640x640Alpro Desserts
A renowned vegan friendly brand, Alpro have been making their soya milk desserts, yogurts and drinks since 1973. Both delicious and naturally lower in fat than their dairy alternatives they offer a variety of flavoured desserts including rich and silky dark chocolate, velvety vanilla, sweet and creamy caramel and smooth milk chocolate. Their milkshake drinks are also available in sweet and refreshing strawberry and luxurious chocolate flavours.

Cheese
The majority of our cheeses are now suitable for vegetarians with only a few exceptions. Traditional cheese making techniques include the use of rennet totawvalleyrange_hra7-n2 separate the curds and whey in a process called coagulation, rennet was traditionally sourced from the stomach of newborn calves. However now it often comes from either fungal/bacterial sources or genetically modified micro-organisms making the cheese suitable for vegetarians. All of our traditional farmhouse cheeses, stilton and most flavoured cheeses are suitable for vegetarians but if in doubt all the information is available on the cheese pages on our website.
http://www.iscafoods.co.uk/cheese/

Small differences in our eating habits can make a huge difference both to our planet and our own individual health. Initiatives such as #MeatFreeMonday are raising awareness and encouraging people to give up meat for just one day a week to help contribute to reducing our carbon footprint. With so many delicious alternatives available why not give it a go?

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