It’s Picnic Season!

This month marks National Picnic Month and with the gorgeous weather we’re having at the moment there is no better time to grab a hamper and head outside!

We love celebrating the best in local produce which is why we try to stock as many locally sourced products as possible including artisan cheeses, pies, pasties and savouries, creams and dairy, bacon, fresh fish and more – because local definitely tastes better!

picnic spotsHere in Devon we are also incredibly lucky that there are so many beauty spots to discover and marvel at as you sit down to eat your delicious, locally sourced picnic food. There are plenty of beautiful beaches, rolling hills, endless moors and meandering rivers which make ideal picnic spots.

For many of us picnic food means simple, easy to eat finger food and with this in mind try our small or medium sized hand raised pork pies made with crispy hot water pastry, delicious hard boiled scotch eggs, sausage rolls made by hand using locally sourced pork and slices of Mediterranean style quiche with mixed peppers, basil and mature cheddar cheese.

Sandwiches are always a hit with kids and so quick and easy to make; go for fillings that won’t go soggy or limp after a few hours in a hamper or rucksack. chunk pork pieYou might like to play it safe with the classic Devon cured ham with English mustard or honeyroast ham and mature cheddar cheese or mix things up with chicken breast and sliced chorizo with chipotle mayo or a falafel wrap with minty yogurt sauce.

Finger food doesn’t have to be boring and for something a little different on your next picnic why not try some marinated chicken skewers with haloumi and peppers (leave out the chicken for veggies or replace it with chunks of tofu), chopped veggies such as carrots, cucumber or courgettes with some creamy lemon houmous or plain houmous and maybe even some arancini risotto balls with mushroom, white wine and mozzerella – suprisingly easy to make but look ham and cheese sandwichlike you’ve spent hours on them – good to impress! All of these are great being transported in a picnic basket and will be as good when you arrive as when you left the house.

Wherever you decide to stage your picnic we hope you enjoy this National Picnic Month!

facebooktwitter

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?

facebooktwitter

Women & Cheesemaking

Women have traditionally always been involved in cheesemaking. Famers wives and daughters were passed down cheese recipes and would control the dairy, making the butter, milking the cows and making the cheese. These women have inspired a new generation of quality, artisan cheesemakers and in celebration of their achievements we have explored the history and lives of three of Devon’s own women cheesemakers and the excellent cheeses they produce.

Mary-Quicke-portrait-croppedv2-1024x848Mary Quicke is the 14th generation of the Quicke family working on Home Farm, Newton St Cyres. Managing the cheese business since 1987, Mary has become a leading voice on traditional cheese production and in 2017 launched the Academy of Cheese; a not for profit organisation promoting cheese knowledge for both the industry and the wider public. She has also applied her cheese expertise to judging at the World Cheese Awards, British Cheese Awards and the American Cheese Society Awards. It’s no surprise that her cheeses have been award winning themselves; Quicke’s Traditional Mature, a rich, complex cheese with flavours ranging from buttery caramel to sharp and grassy, won 2 stars at the Great Taste Awards earlier this year while Quicke’s Oak Smoked, a well balanced mature naturally smoked over oak chips for four hours, scooped Gold at this years Artisan Cheese Awards. A passion for creating beautiful cheeses and an undefinable link to the land her family have worked for generations makes Mary Quicke a woman to be reckoned with.

Curworthy Cheese was originally owned by Farmers Weekly, who were belstonepublishing a column on the everyday workings of dairy farming; on launch day Rachel Stephens was asked to help out as a ‘cheese cutter’. When it came time for the newspaper to sell the business, Rachel took a chance and moved the dairy to a purpose built creamery on her own farm a few miles away. For the first twenty years of production the milk used to make their cheeses came from their own herd, however it is now bought in ‘raw’ from local dairies and pasteurised themselves. As well as making the cheeses four days a week Rachel and the team also sell their cheese at various local markets and on a Tuesday this brings them to The Cheese Pantry, their small cheese shop in Hatherleigh market full of both their own cheeses and other locally made delights. A firm favourite of ours is their Devon Oke, made to a recipe dating back to the 17th century, it is mellow and creamy with buttery flavours and firm texture. In contrast to this classic recipe is the relatively new Dartmoor Chilli; made using Ring of Fire chillies from nearby DWKcraMW4AAeU-EDartmoor Chilli Farm and encased in distinctive red wax it has a slight mellow sweetness which is in contrast with the hot chillies. Cheesemaking can be a tough, physically demanding job, the cheeses are heavy and at Curworthy they are regularly turned to ensure even maturation, however it must be incredibly rewarding making and selling handmade cheese to the public. The cheese industry is full of interesting people and Rachel is certainly one of them.

Cornish Yarg was first made by Alan Grey in 1984, the story goes that he found the original 17th century recipe in an attic which was then sold and eventually ended up in the hands of Catherine Mead who formed Lynher Dairies, the sole producer ofcatherine-mead-in-maturing-store-1068x801 Cornish Yarg in the world. Today, Catherine leads one of the most successful artisan cheese producers in the world and not only that, she is also investing in the future of cheesemaking. She has designed an apprenticeship in cheese-making with Duchy College and is Chair of Jamie Oliver’s charity Fifteen Cornwall – a project aimed at developing understanding of raw ingredients, the science behind food and the importance of locally sourced produce. Her cheeses have been multi-award winning; the original Yarg won Gold at the 2017 World Cheese Awards while the Garlic version won Silver at this years British Cheese Awards. The fresh, creaminess of Yarg is complimented by the subtle mushroom flavours imparted 486-1from the nettle leaves wrapped around the cheese. These nettles are harvested in Cornwall by a team of gloved pickers before being rinsed and steamed ready to be used for wrapping. The Garlic Yarg is made to the same recipe as the original and it is the nettles that impact so significantly on the different flavours. The wild garlic leaves impart a gentle garlic flavour and provide a slightly firmer texture than the original. Catherine has built up a thriving business from a traditional recipe, her cheeses are now world renowned and she is involved in training the next generation of cheesemakers, ensuring that the artisan cheese industry continues to survive.

These three women have risen to the top of their field and all have had an impact on the cheese industry, from experimenting with new flavours and methods, deciding the big cheese winners and inspiring the next generation. Their own cheeses are superb and we hope they will continue to be made for years to come.

facebooktwitter

Cheese Showcase: Curworthy Cheese

belstoneCurworthy Cheese has been made by Rachel Stephens on Stockbeare Farm for the last 25 years. Originally owned by the Farmers Weekly newspaper who were reporting on what dairy farming entailed Rachel was called in on launch day as a ‘cheese cutter’. When it came time for the newspaper to sell she saw an opportunity and moved the business to a purpose built creamery a few miles away to her own farm. Using milk from their own herd of Fresian cows, the cheeses are matured on site in a temperature controlled ripening room where the cheeses develop their natural rind with a light covering of mould. This small, family run dairy farm produces a variety of cheeses including their most popular Devon Oke and their newest cheese Dartmoor Chilli – made using chillies from nearby Dartmoor Chilli Farm.

Devon Oke
The sibling of traditional Curworthy cheese this recipe dates back to the 17th century and is believed to be even older than Cheddar. Taking its name from the nearby village of Okehampton this is a full fat hard cheese, matured for six months with mature, buttery flavours and creamy texture similar to Gouda. Curworthy Belstone is the vegetarian version made with vegetarian rennet.

Curworthy Chipple
Made using the traditional Curworthy recipe with the addition of fresh spring onions, this cheese is mellow and creamy with a fresh, supple texture. It is matured for up to six months and encased in attractive green wax at the final stage of maturation.

Dartmoor ChilliDartmoor Chilli
Again made to the traditional Curworthy recipe but with the addition of fresh Serenade and Ring of Fire chillies sourced from the nearby Dartmoor Chilli Farm, this cheese definitely packs a punch! Matured for only 6-8 weeks a mellow, slightly sweet cheese is the perfect base for the addition of spice. It is encased in red wax and is also available in a red wax heart for those special occasions such as a cheese wedding cake topper.

Other Curworthy cheeses include Curworthy Black Wax, Devon Smoake, Curworthy Meldon, Curworthy Belstone and Curworthy Chipple. Visit our website to discover more of these delicious artisan cheeses.

facebooktwitter

History of Cheddar

Next to Stilton, Cheddar is one of the UK’s favourite cheeses with a history dating Cheeses_stored_at_Wookey_Hole_Cavesback to the 12th century and King Henry II and Daniel Defoe among its high profile supporters; the former claiming it to be the best in Britain and the latter dedicating a whole chapter to this famous cheese in his book ‘A Tour of the Islands of Great Britain’.

Originating in Somerset and taking its name from the village of Cheddar and Cheddar Gorge where it was once matured within the natural caves, this cheese is as popular today as ever. However today Cheddar is no longer only made in Somerset but all over the world resulting in a cheese that varies considerably in texture, flavour and appearance.

In 1996 Westcountry Farmhouse Cheddar was given Protected Designation of Origin status, meaning that it could only be made in the counties of Somerset, Queso-Cheddar-1 (2)Dorset, Devon and Cornwall. It must also be made to traditional methods such as ‘cheddaring’ where the whey is drained and the curds are stacked together, this is repeated and when matured the cheese will have a dense, crumbly texture. It must be made using locally sourced milk from the makers own farm and should be matured for at least nine months. These strict rules ensure that traditional farmhouse Cheddar remains just that.

During, and for some time after World War II the production of most cheeses was banned by the government due to shortages and rationing. One cheese, nicknamed ‘Government Cheddar’ was permitted, a standardised, bland and tasteless cheese but made in vast quantities to preserve milk. The effect of this was not realised until rationing was lifted in 1954, 3,400 cheese producers had shut down and it was thought that the art of making cheeses had been lost. Luckily for us this was not the case and artisan cheesemakers started to spring Image009up around the country, creating cheddars that reflected the land, the season and the passion of their makers.

We stock a wide range of Cheddar cheeses including Barbers Farmhouse, Taw Valley and Quicke’s Traditional. Try some today and fall in love with cheddar again.

facebooktwitter