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!

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Devon Day!

It’s Devon Day, originally the feast day of St Petroc, to whom the Devon flag is dedicated, and more recently a chance to celebrate the best that our beautiful county has to offer including – most importantly to us – local produce and producers.

Devonshire Tea
devonshire teaBased in Axminster, East Devon and established in 2015, Devonshire Tea are a small independent company creating simple blended teas using the finest ethically sourced ingredients. All of their teabags are plastic free and hand stitched rather than heat sealed and are custom blended to their own recipes. Flavours include the bestselling Classic Breakfast, fragrant Earl Grey and delicate Delightful Afternoon varieties. All of these are available in individual cartons of 20 teabags, cases of six cartons and foodservice catering boxes of 200 individual teabags.

Taw Valley Cheese
The Taw Valley Creamery is situated in the beautiful countryside surroundingtaw valley range North Tawton in the western part of the county. Their master cheesemakers produce excellent quality cheeses using traditional methods and fresh, quality milk from local farms. Their range includes the bestselling Taw Valley Tickler cheddar with superb depth of flavour and distinctive salt crystals giving it a slightly crunchy texture and the Taw Valley Mature which is lovely and creamy with rich and complex flavours. All of the Taw Valley range is available in both retail packs and catering sizes.

Chunk of Devon
Based in Ottery St Mary in East Devon Chunk are one of our longest running lines. Using locally sourced ingredients and traditional pastry skills their ‘hunks’ produce a variety of pies, pasties and savoury snacks which have won many awards including Taste of the West Gold. Their range includes the Kickin Chicken Kickin_chicken_pieCurry Pie made with lightly spiced chicken, onions, tomatoes and peppers in a creamy curry sauce and wrapped in buttery pastry, the new veggie Spicy Jack Pasty made with delicious jackfruit, squash, peppers and sweet potato mixed with spices and wrapped in traditional shortcrust pastry and the original Chunki Sausage Roll made using pork seasoned with sage and onion and wrapped in buttery puff pastry. All are available in individual retail packs, deli-unwrapped cases and frozen un-baked cases.

We hope you enjoy celebrating Devon Day!

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Half Term Days Out

Here at Isca Foods we are proud supporters of keeping things local, after all some of the best things can be found on your own doorstep. This February half term why not take the kids to one of our many amazing local attractions where there’s plenty to keep them entertained and work off some of that boundless energy!

Pecorama
Set on the hillside above the pretty East Devon village of Beer Pecorama is home to the famous PECO Model Railway Exhibition and the Beer Heights Light Railway complete with fully operational miniature steam locomotives. The train line now runs for one mile around the park with spectacular views over Lyme imagesBay and the Jurassic Coast. When the weather turns against you the Play Station – an indoor 3-storey soft play area – will definitely be a hit with the kids, it also boasts a lovely little café serving homemade cakes, traditional Devonshire cream teas and barista-style coffee which we’re sure will be more of a hit for you! Check out their website for opening times as well as special half term activities http://www.pecorama.co.uk/.

Greendale Farm Shop
Just off of the main Sidmouth Road outside Exeter this farm shop is a great way of getting the kids out of the house and engaging with farm animals this half term. As well as a thriving shop boasting fresh, locally sourced meat, fish andoutside vegetables there are a host of pigs, sheep and chickens roaming the fields around the farm. After looking at all that local produce you may have worked up an appetite. Don’t worry there is a fantastic on-site café with an extensive menu showcasing the best the South West has to offer and catering to a range of tastes including vegetarian and gluten-free options. For more info and opening times visit their website here: https://www.greendale.com/.

Beaches
019191Don’t worry we’ve not gone mad, we know it’s only February and much too cold to fully appreciate a dip in the sea, but Devon is home to some of the best beaches in the country so grab the bucket and spades and enjoy a fun-filled day out at your local beach. Many beach side attractions and, perhaps most importantly, beachfront cafés will be open for the half term trade so let the kids run off some steam while you warm up with a coffee and cake.

Whatever you do this week we hope you have a lovely half term!

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New Year New You?

It’s that time of year again. A clean slate, fresh start, the start of 2019 brings about the chance to start again but whether it’s trying something new, cutting down after the indulgence of the festive season or vowing to quit that lifelong habit, it can be daunting to begin with many of us giving up before the end of the month.

Quality_StreetThe majority of new years resolutions probably have something to do with getting healthier, be it trying to lose weight or a resolve to get more exercise. After sometimes a week or more of over indulgence you can almost feel your body craving for something other than chocolate for breakfast. However it can be daunting cutting out absolutely everything so to minimise the shock to the system gently replacing those Christmas treats with some healthier alternatives.

Replenish some of those vitamins with one of Rod & Ben’s deliciously warming Spiced Lentilsoups. Choose from a variety of flavours including their Spiced Lentil with turmeric and cumin, Rustic Chicken Broth with potatoes, carrots and onions and classic Tomato and Basil. Made using organic, fresh and seasonal produce these soups are full of natural goodness and flavour and who doesn’t love a soup during these cold winter months?
Dorset_Blue_Vinny02Although not strictly healthy Dorset Blue Vinny is much lower in fat than its blue cheese counterparts and can still be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet. Made using the ‘leftover’ milk after the cream has been skimmed off for butter-making it retains a creamy, subtle flavour and slightly crumbly flavour. Made by the same family for the last 40 years, each cheese takes 24 hours to make and up to 20 weeks of maturation but it is definitely worth the wait. Top your crackers to your hearts content, just don’t add too much butter!

The recent rise in people participating in ‘Veganuary’ means that getting yourSquash_Curry_3_(1_of_1) five-a-day has never been easier. Whether or not you have decided to give it a try, there is no denying that some extra veg never hurt anyone. Slightly different from the traditional Boxing Day turkey curry, this butternut squash version from Lodge Farm Kitchen is packed with nutrients as well as being deliciously tasty. They are passionate about delivering great quality gourmet ready meals using the finest local produce and tried and tested home-cooking methods. This curry is made using locally sourced squash, coconut milk and fresh coriander and makes a hearty lunch sure to fill you up until dinner time.

Whatever your new years resolutions we wish you all the best, if all else fails, try again in 2020!

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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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All About Brie

somerset brie-228x228A soft cheese named after the French region from which it originated, Brie is a much loved classic, the most famous being Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun which both have protected designation of origin status however unlike its English contemporaries such as Farmhouse Cheddar and Stilton, the generic name Brie was not protected and is now used to describe any soft, bloomy rinded cheese. There are now many varieties available all over the world, a few are also made here in the South West and we’ve listed some of our favourites below.

Somerset Brie
Made by Lubborn Creamery in the lush valley of Cricket St Thomas, this brie is made to traditional methods, allowing it to soften and ripen from the outside in and develop its fresh creamy flavours and soft, edible white rind. Pasteurised and suitable for vegetarians this is one of our best selling Bries.

Sharpham2465
Hand made using unpasteurised Jersey cows milk on Sharpham Dairy in Totnes, South Devon this mould-ripened Coulommiers style cheese has unique rich, buttery flavours and a soft, creamy texture. It is matured for four weeks during which time it grows its edible bloomy rind and gradually ripens from chalky to soft and gooey.

Tim_Schofield_Photo_150520-83 (1)St Endellion
A decadent version of classic Cornish Brie the St Endellion is enriched with locally made double cream for a rich, full bodied flavour. Made by the team at Trevarrian Creamy near Newquay the texture softens as it ripens and the cheese develops its characteristic golden colour, soft pale rind and deliciously creamy interior.

Any of these Bries are a perfect addition to cheeseboards, their soft, creamy texture makes an interesting contrast to the hard cheese options. Sharpham in particular is great melted on roasted vegetables and the St Endellion makes a fantastic dessert cheese while the Somerset Brie is delicious baked in the oven with some rosemary. However you like your Brie try one of these and we promise you won’t be disappointed.

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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.

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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.

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New Products from Devonshire Tea!

cbNothing is more calming after a full, stressful week than a hot cup of tea, sitting back in your favourite armchair and feeling your troubles melt away, perhaps with a slice of cake. Devonshire Tea is a small, independent company based in Axminster producing classic teas which are custom blended to their own recipes. We will be stocking their products from September and couldn’t resist telling you about them now.

In what can often be an overcrowded, fast moving market with constant re-imagining of exotic new flavours, Devonshire Tea’s ethos is good, simple classic teas blended to exceptional standards. At the moment they have four bespoke blends of high grade tea from India which are blended and packed in Devon.

devonshire_tea_earl_grey_packClassic Breakfast is their flagship blend and brings together a bold Assam from India and a golden Ceylon from Sri Lanka for a perfectly balanced blend with superb depth of flavour.
Earl Grey is a fragrant blend of the same Assam and golden Ceylon but with the addition of delicately scented Bergamot.
Delightful Afternoon is a speciality blend of bold Assam from North East India and delicate Darjeeling from the Himalayan foothills resulting in a subtle, light and refreshing tea.
Single-origin Assam is a bold, full-bodied tea sourced from the region of North-East India from which it takes its name.

teabags

All of their teas are sourced from ethical estates monitored by the Ethical Tea Partnership which protects both workers and the environment and in order to protect the environment further their teabags are also “stitched” rather than heat sealed. The impact of single use plastics has been widely reported recently and to reduce their own footprint, Devonshire Tea took on a different approach to sealing their teabags. The glue which is used by the majority of companies to seal them is made from a thermoplastic such as PVC or polypropylene which, although safe to consume, prevents the teabag from decomposing properly. In contrast Devonshire Tea fold the teabag paper and uses string to “stitch” it closed and attach the string.

All of their teas will be available in individual cartons and cases of six cartons for the retail sector, and cases of 200 for food service and catering. Check out their products on our website for more info!

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New Flavoured Sausages!

Established more than forty years ago W.F. Chinn are producers of high quality burgers and sausages made in Crediton, Devon. Building on the legacy of founder Mr Chinn owners Tony & Rose Palmer are continually developing new and exciting flavours using 100% British meat.

Popular flavours include their honeyroast pork sausages with a deliciously sweet twist, traditional cumberland sausages, pork and red onion and chorizo sausages. This month also sees the introduction of their smoked maple and chilli sausages as their flavour of the month. Rich and smoky these are perfect char-grilled on the bbq or enjoyed oven baked with peppers, onion, garlic and spices. The slight sweetness from the maple is complimented by the smokiness and hint of chilli. Why not try some for yourself?

Chinn’s also produce their own burgers including pork & apple and succulent beef burgers made using 100% British meat and available in packs of four. In short, they have all the meat you’ll need for your next bbq!

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