Three of the Best Farm Shops to Visit this Spring

The weather is improving, Covid restrictions are easing and we’re all itching to get out of the houses we’ve been stuck in for more than a year so what better first step back to normality than a farm shop? Bursting with home grown fruit and vegetables, local cheese and meat counters, home made gifts from small scale producers, onsite cafes with alfresco dining, play areas for the kids and in some cases roaming animals to chase (kidding, obviously), farm shops offer a unique day out full of opportunity. Here we highlight three great local farm shops to visit this spring.

THORNES FARM SHOP

Let’s start with Thornes Farm Shop. Located just outside Crediton Thorne Farm has been owned by Anthony Thorne since 1986 but it wasn’t until the early 90’s, when locals began asking to buy produce directly, that the idea to open a shop arose. Opened in 1992, the shop specialises in home grown fresh produce straight from the fields as well as locally baked bread and pies, meats, local cheeses and chutneys, local wines, spirits and of course cider. Thornes has also become known for its ‘Pick Your Own’ fields where, as the name suggests, customers can pick their own produce to take home – we can’t wait to pick our own strawberries there later this year. Visit https://www.thornesfarmshop.co.uk/ for opening times and more info.

EXE VALLEY FARM SHOP

Exe Valley Farm Shop in Thorverton just outside of Exeter has been owned and run by the May family since 1990. The shop underwent an extensive renovation three years ago when the shop was extended to almost three times the size and a new butchery counter installed as well as refurbishment of the Ruby Red Cafe. The dedicated butchery counter specialises in livestock bred on the farm while the farm shop itself sources a majority of local products from surrounding producers including cheeses, sliced and cured meats and locally smoked fish as well as a variety of dips and salads. All of the farm’s own Ruby Red cattle, beef, lamb, pork and potatoes are also available from the cafe menu which features a range of breakfasts, burgers and jacket potatoes as well as sandwiches and soups – something for even the pickiest eater. There is plenty of outside seating to adhere to current Covid restrictions and plenty of space for the kids to let off some steam, for more info visit https://exevalleyfarmshop.co.uk/ .

HALBERTON COURT FARM SHOP

Halberton Court Farm Shop was originally established in 2001 by the Stevens family selling home grown vegetables from an honesty box at the end of the road. By 2007 the business had expanded dramatically and the time had come to invest in a larger shop and an onsite cafe. Today the farm shop stocks a range of home grown fruit and vegetables as well as locally sourced creams, yogurts and cheeses, fresh meat and pies and pasties as well as locally sourced wines, beer, cider and spirits. Following the slight easing of Covid restrictions Halberton’s onsite cafe The Swans Neck Cafe is now open for takeaway treats to enjoy in the sunny garden (weather permitting of course!), visit http://www.halbertoncourtfarmshop.co.uk/index.htm#top for more info.

These farm shops epitomise one of our core business mantras ‘support local’. With the year we’ve all just experienced it’s more important than ever to support your local small business. Most went above and beyond for their customers both old and new during the lockdown(s) and we hope that many of these new found customers will continue to enjoy the benefits of shopping at their local farm shop.

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4 Great Gouda Recipes

This weeks ‘Orchardlea Weekly Offer’ is the Cornish Mature and Medium Gouda from the Cornish Gouda Company which is available with 10% off all this week! To celebrate we’ve found four great recipes using this deliciously versatile cheese. Whether you are a wonderful chef worthy of your own Michelin star or a kitchen novice these recipes are easy to follow and sure to deliver tasty results!

Fondue – Popularised in the 60’s this Swedish classic was originally conceived as a way of using up left over cheese and stale bread but today it has gone slightly out of fashion, presumably because of its overtly sharing nature which doesn’t bode well in these overly sanitised times. However it is so easy to make and the wonderful melted concoction is pure heaven for cheese lovers. Replace the Gruyere cheese with Cornish Gouda for a local twist and simply serve with some chopped crunchy vegetables or thickly sliced sourdough bread. https://www.nigella.com/recipes/cheese-fondue

Chicken breast stuffed with Gouda – Once upon a time this would have been an ideal dinner party recipe (remember those!) but for now this would be a great family dinner. We love this retro dish for its simplicity and the Gouda makes the chicken lovely and moist while the prosciutto adds a touch of saltiness. We like to make this extra decadent with a creamy white wine and mushroom sauce and serve with either new or sauteed potatoes. http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/8186/gouda-and-leek-stuffed-chicken-breasts.aspx

Cornish Gouda Quesadillas – This recipe featured on Rick Stein’s Cornwall on BBC Two earlier this year and is a uniquely Cornish take on this Mexican street food staple. These make a delicious lunch or light supper and the sweet freshness of the caramelised apples combines well with the creamy nuttiness of the Gouda. Delicious on its own or with the fresh tomato salsa. https://www.rickstein.com/blog/recipe-gouda-quesadillas-from-rick-steins-cornwall/

Cheddar & Gouda Macaroni Cheese – This recipe is from Jamie Oliver and typically Italian orientated, for a Cornish twist swap the traditional Parmesan for Gouda and we like to add some local English cured streaky smoked bacon for extra flavour. Just dice a couple of the bacon rashers and add them in at the same time as the garlic. Macaroni Cheese can get a bad rap due to some badly made ready meal versions but made from scratch it is a completely different story. The Cornish Gouda in this recipe adds another level of flavour and its low melting point makes it wonderfully oozy. https://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/pasta-recipes/a-killer-mac-n-cheese/

Tried any of these recipes at home? Tag us in your creations via our social media pages!

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Ingredient Showcase: Chilli

This is the second blog in our ingredient showcase series and this week we’re focusing on chillies. Love them or hate them, chillies can really enhance a product whether that’s a searing heat that makes your whole mouth tingle, a slow burner that builds into an intense heat or more of a gentle, fruity flavour that you keep coming back to again and again. We’ve collated some of our favourite products containing this versatile ingredient starting with a cheese.

Dartmoor Chilli is one of Curworthy Cheese’s newest products but has proved extremely popular with some of our customers. The cheese is made in the same way as Curworthy’s signature ‘Devon Oke’ before Ring of Fire chillies grown at the nearby Dartmoor Chilli Farm are added to the mix. These are similar to Cayenne chillies with the same level of heat – 50000-80000 on the Scoville scale – while the cheese itself is mellow and sweet with a lovely creaminess which is perfectly complimented by the heat from the chillies. Wrapped in red wax this attractive cheese is available in whole rounds as well as 150g retail wedges.

West Country Olives are available in a variety of flavours but for this showcase we are highlighting the Hot Chilli version. These Mammoth Halkidiki olives are stuffed with a whole birds eye chilli (hot!) and are described as ‘not for the faint hearted’. They are available in 200g pouches and 1kg catering packs if you think you can stand it!

Snowdonia Cheese Company are a luxury cheese producer based in Wales, they produce a variety of delicious flavoured cheeses encased in attractive coloured wax. The Red Devil cheese is a rich Red Leicester with the addition of Snowdonia’s secret blend of Habanero chillies, peppers and spices, it “delivers a magnificent depth of flavour and an irresistible heat” and provides a perfect chilli kick to burgers or cheese on toast. Encased in a bright red wax, this cheese is available in individual 200g truckles as well as whole 2kg rounds although these do require a pre-order.

Waterhouse Fayre are producers of delicious jams, marmalade and chutneys based in Tiverton; one of these delicious chutneys is the Devilishly Devon which is made to producer Ann Stallard’s own recipe. Described as “light and refreshing with a hint of chilli” this chutney is a perfect addition to a traditional ploughmans lunch or to add a light chilli kick to a good old fashioned ham or cheese sandwich. These chutneys are available in trays of 6x340g jars.

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Q&A Prentice Butchers

The Heart of our Company Blog

This month our focus is on one of our longest standing Customers – Prentice Butchers who are based in Torbay (or Torbaydos as they like to call it!).

John has been one of our very loyal customers for 25 years now, and we are extremely grateful that he has stuck with us for so long – we must be doing something right!

As always thank you to John for taking the time out to answer some questions for us as part of our Customer Blog series.

Q: Can you tell us  how long Prentice Butchers been trading?

A: Prentice Butchers has been trading for the past 25 years that I have owned the business.

Prior to this it was Terry Prentice Butchers from 1982 of which I worked at from 2000 – 2016.

Q: How has your business evolved over the last 25 years? Have your buying habits changed?

A: Over the years the shop has had a steady growth and when I took over and made it my own we have grown the retail side more.

We introduced card payments and Facebook does well with us too.

Our buying habits have changed too, stocking more groceries , produce and always looking for something new.

Q: What do you like the most and least about working in the food industry?

A: What I like most in the food industry is always giving my customers the best quality and consistency.

The least …Supermarkets selling loss leaders!

Q: Did you always want to be/run a butchers? If you weren’t a butcher what other profession could you see yourself in?

A: I left school at 15 and went straight into the meat industry to learn a trade.

Before that I wanted to join the Army.

Q: How has Covid-19 affected your business during this past year, how have you adapted the business to remain trading?

A: COVID has re-invented my business overnight into a home delivery service in the bay.

Adapting too with more internet orders.

Q: Can you tell us about any business challenges over the years (other than Covid) and how you’ve dealt with them?

A: Being in business is always a challenge , but with the good team I have and the service we provide we have done well!

Our challenge coming up is how we integrate our catering customers back into our business model.

Q: What are some of your best-selling products? Do you have the same customers coming back for particular products?

A: Just recently our best selling product from yourselves has been the Chunk pies and pasties.

Most customers like consistency and do repeat a lot of their business.

Q: Do you regularly look for new stock? Is there any products we don’t currently sell that you you’d like to see available?

A: We are always on the look out for new stock ideas and welcome any samples.

The only product you no longer sell which I am having to source direct is the Cornish olives which you replaced with your own.
(We are very close to receiving our brand new packaging for West Country Olives and we hope you may try them again with your customers, we are going to be completely re-launching the olives once the new packaging is in.)

Q: As a very valued customer is there anything we can do better to improve the service you are receiving from us?

-I would like for you to continue your retail price marked range.

-The only thing I think you could do to improve your service would be to talk to the customer when you are thinking of changing a product
R:E the olives. 
(Thank you for the feedback, we will take this on board going forward and will endeavour to make sure we keep our Customers at the forefront of our decisions, making sure we give plenty of notice and ask for feedback on product changes)

Q: What are you looking forward to doing most once the lockdown restrictions have been eased?

A: After lockdown I am looking forward to taking all my staff out one afternoon and raise a glass or two!

Lastly

Cream or jam first?
Cream then jam

Cheese or meat?
Meat 

Pasty or Pie?
Pie

Mash or Chips?
Chips

As always if you would like to take part in our Customer Blog series please just drop us a message on Facebook, email us info@iscafoods.co.uk or simply express your interest when placing your order with us.

John outside Prentice Butchers
Sausages handmade at Prentice Butchers
Selection of Orchardlea pre packed cured meats
Selection of Chunk of Devon Pies and pasty
John and staff members
Selection of meats available at Prentice Butchers
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