It’s Afternoon Tea Week!

Is there anything more quintessentially British than Afternoon Tea Week?

Afternoon tea was introduced to England in 1840 by the seventh Duchess of Bedford who felt that the period of time between lunch and dinner was too long. She began to ask for a tray of tea, bread and butter and cake to be served at 4 o’clock in the afternoon and soon began inviting friends to join her – the fashionable social event of afternoon tea was born.

Traditional afternoon tea consists of dainty finger sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream, miniature cakes and sweet pastries with loose leaf tea. However modern afternoon teas can include more exotic flavours like samosas and filo pastry parcels and are also often served with fizz to mark a celebratory occasion.

smoked_salmonWe stock a range of items suitable for producing your own afternoon tea at home including sandwich fillings such as smoked salmon and cream cheese – a personal favourite and sliced ham and Cheddar cheese with a Devon chutney from Waterhouse Fayre (we like the simple Devon Apple chutney). We also stock the accompaniments to a classic Devon cream tea including fresh clotted cream from Langage Farm and delicious strawberry jam from Waterhouse Fayre.

afternoon tea hamperEarlier this year our sister company Orchardlea Occasion Foods launched their range of hampers including a Sweet & Savoury Afternoon Tea Hamper. All hampers can be bespoke but in general this one contains a Chunk of Devon sausage roll and traditional pasty, Burts hand cooked crisps, 2 homemade plain scones, 2 homemade chocolate brownies, a jar of Waterhouse Fayre jam, a pot of Langage Farm clotted cream and a box of Devonshire Tea teabags.
For more info on this and their other hampers visit: http://www.orchardleaoccasionfoods.co.uk/gift-hampers/

Let us know how you’re celebrating Afternoon Tea Week via our social media pages below!

Feature image by Tea & Tittle Tattle via https://www.teaandtittletattle.co.uk/vintage-high-teas.html

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We’re Celebrating National Vegetarian Week!

This National Vegetarian Week we are celebrating the humble vegetable: from the new vegetarian and vegan biscuits from Cradoc’s Savoury Biscuits to Olive’s Kitchen’s frozen ready meals to our selection of vegetarian friendly cheeses and Delphi dips and salads, we’ve got everything you’ll need to enjoy National Vegetarian Week!

beetrootCradoc’s Savoury Biscuits
These new savoury biscuits are already proving a hit with our customers. A small, family business based in the Brecon Beacons, Cradoc’s have been baking their crisp biscuits for the last 10 years using only natural ingredients. The majority are suitable for vegans while some contain cheese and are vegetarian friendly. Flavours include Beetroot & Garlic: an attractive dusky pink cracker chilli, ginger and garlicflavoured with fragrant garlic and savoury beetroot with a delightful peppery finish (if you hadn’t guessed this is one of our favourites!), Chilli & Ginger: turmeric crackers with cumin, black pepper and nigella seeds combined with subtle red chillies and bold ginger flavours and Cheddar & Onion Chutney: golden baked crackers with pickled onions and sweet chutney mixed with traditional Cheddar. These are all available in 80g packs with a minimum order of three boxes. Click here to view the whole range.

Olive’s Kitchen Frozen Meals
We love the ease and convenience of a frozen meal and the vegetarian varieties available are both satisfying and tasty whilst being packed full of healthy goodness. Olive’s Kitchen is made up of husband and wife team Charlie and Nikki Allhusen butternut_squash lasagnewho swapped running a successful deli for cooking homemade gourmet meals from their purpose built kitchen in Sherbourne, Dorset. The Butternut Squash lasagne is a classic favourite among both our customers and staff and it’s easy to see why. The roasted butternut squash is sweet and buttery with a creamy ricotta and spinach filling layered with fresh pasta and a tomato and basil sauce and finally topped with mozzarella and parmesan. The Aubergine Parmigiana is full of deliciously rich and more-ish flavours and combines grilled aubergines with a hearty tomato and basil sauce topped with a crisp mozzarella and parmesan crust. These are both available in single 300-320g portions and the whole Olive’s Kitchen range is available to view here.

Cous cousDelphi Dips and Salads
Delphi dips are the perfect accompaniment to a vegetarian feast, we love their Lemon & Coriander houmous with lightly spiced falafel or the red kidney bean salad mixed with peppers and sun-ripened tomatoes with olive oil, mint and mixed herbs for lunch, the crunchy coleslaw as part of a cheese ploughmans and the char-grilled vegetable cous cous as part of a Middle Eastern inspired dinner. Delphi Foods are a family business based in London who began selling specialised foods from Greece and Cyprus in 1960 and evolved into the award-winning brand we know today. Available in individual pots ranging from 160g-200g click here to view the whole Delphi range.

Happy National Vegetarian Week!

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British Pie Week: Fish Pie

It’s British Pie Week! To celebrate we are posting recipes for our five favourite pie fillings all this week from Steak & Stilton to Goats Cheese & Butternut Squash. Today’s pie is an old fashioned Fish Pie.

This creamy, cheesy mash topped pie is a bit different from our other recipes. We’ve used smoked haddock, smoked salmon and cod but really this can be made with any fish you like. The mash is enhanced with butter and mature Cheddar as well as breadcrumbs and parmesan for a deliciously crunchy topping.

Ingredients (serves 4):haddock (2)
400g potatoes (preferably Maris Piper), peeled and cut into chunks
400ml milk
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp Dijon mustard
200g mature Cheddar, grated
150g cod, cut into chunks
150g smoked haddock, cut into chunksbarbers vintage
100g smoked salmon, sliced
1 tbsp breadcrumbs
1 tbsp parmesan, grated

Method:
1: Put the potatoes in a saucepan, add freshly boiled water and salt and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until tender, drain and leave to cool.
2: Heat the butter in a saucepan over a low heat, add the flour and stir to a paste. Gradually whisk in the milk and simmer for 3-4 minutes stirring regularly. Then add the mustard and half of the grated Cheddar.
3: Add the fish and stir to combine with the sauce. Cook for 8-10 minutes.
4: Heat the grill and mash the potatoes to your liking with the rest of the grated Cheddar.
5: Transfer the fish mix to a heatproof dish and top with the mashed potatoes. Add the breadcrumbs and parmesan and grill for 10-15 minutes or until the top has turned golden brown. Serve immediately.

Tried this recipe? Tag us in your creations via our social media pages below :)

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Vegan Cheddar Style Cheese Now in Stock!

vegan certifiedThis time last year the first vegan cheese shop in the UK opened its doors. La Fauxmagerie was immediately hit with a media storm when Dairy UK, the dairy industry trade association, sent a letter requesting that owners Charlotte and Rachel Stevens stop describing their products as cheese because it was potentially misleading to customers.

A year on and the number of people turning to vegan and plant based diets is continually rising with many abstaining from meat and dairy in a bid to halt the inevitable environmental impact of farming and agriculture.
This year Veganuary – a nonprofit organisation that encourages people to go vegan for the month of January – reported that over 400,000 people registered to take part compared to 250,000 in 2019. This success is due in part to the rise in availability of vegan products in supermarkets, restaurants and take-away outlets. KFC in particular posted that one million of their new vegan burgers were sold in the first month of sale, the equivalent of one every three seconds. But while plant based burgers have now hit the mainstream vegan cheese seems to have been left behind

vegan cheese (2)This could be because unlike their ‘meat’ counterparts many vegan cheeses have failed to emulate the taste, texture and appearance of traditional cheeses with many described as being bland, and ‘plasticky’. However some brands are beginning to experiment with new ingredients and ‘ageing’ methods as well as developing bacterial cultures similar to those used in the dairy industry.

We have just begun to stock a Cheddar style vegan cheese from Nature & Moi, a French company specialising in dairy free, plant based food. This cheese arrived early last week and was duly cut and tasted by everyone. The verdict?
vegan cheese (2)To preface we are all very much not vegan; we love cheese and our Cheddar range, being mostly from Devon and the West Country, is of excellent quality (if we do say so ourselves!). So this cheese had a lot to live up to.
The texture of the Nature & Moi Cheddar is smooth and supple and while not completely replicating the dense, richness of traditional Cheddar, this one did a fairly good job. The flavours are mild and slightly nutty with a mellow creaminess reminiscent of a very mild cheddar. Overall we thought that this cheese was “not at all bad” which, coming from a group of hardcore cheese lovers, was high praise indeed.

Click here to view the Nature & Moi cheese on our website for more info.

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The Great West Country Dairy

Cheese has been made in Britain for thousands of years; our moderate climate, year round rain and lush rolling landscape make the country – and more importantly for us the West Country – ideal for dairy farming. As wine is renowned for its ‘terroir’ so cheese develops flavours unique to the grass, soil and climate in/on which the animals graze. In small scale dairies this results in cheeses with different depths of flavour dependent upon these factors which sets them apart from manufactured cheese and production line dairies. In the following blog we explore three West Country dairies and the delicious cheeses that they produce.

The Barber family have been producing their traditional farmhouse cheddar since 1833, making them the world’s oldest surviving cheddar-makers. Daniel Barber began making cheese on Maryland Farm in rural Somerset mainly for his family and farm workers using milk from his own herd of cows. However as demand for the cheese grew more milk was needed and by the 1950’s the family were working with surrounding farms to barbers maturekeep up production.
Today the farm is still very much a family business who have not lost their passion for cheese-making. Time honoured techniques and recipes passed down through the generations combined with modern technology have ensured the longevity of this traditional cheddar. We stock a wide range of Barber’s cheeses including the Vintage Reserve 1833, the Mellow cheddar and the Haystack Tasty as well as their Red Leicester and Double Gloucester cheeses. Click here to view the whole Barber’s lynher dairiesrange.

Lynher Dairies are producers of the award-winning Cornish Yarg cheese. First made in the 1980s on Bodmin Moor by Alan Grey, who found the 17th century recipe for nettle-wrapped cheese in his attic, Yarg is now made by Catherine Mead at their custom built dairy near Truro. Other cheeses include a Garlic Yarg, Stithians cheese and the Cornish Kern which won Supreme Champion at the World Cheese Awards in 2017. The yargrich Cornish milk used in the cheese-making process comes from their own herd of Aryshire cows and is also sourced from nearby farms. This coupled with the cheese-makers’ experience and expertise results in some truly delicious cheeses. We currently stock the classic Yarg and the Garlic version.

Robin Congdon was the original pioneer behind ticklemore cheeseTicklemore Cheese Dairy. In the 1970’s he began reviving the tradition of sheep milking in the UK and, with thirty sheep on a smallholding near Exeter, began producing yogurt and soft cheeses. Soon he and his partner Maurice Ash expanded the business to a larger farm on the banks of the River Dart where the Beenleigh Blue and later Harbourne Blue and Devon Beenleigh3Blue cheeses were developed. The 1980’s were an exciting time for producing speciality cheeses and a larger dairy was built to accommodate new varieties including Ticklemore Goat and Devon Rustic – both of which were given to Sharpham Creamery once production needed to be simplified. We stock their Devon Blue and Beenleigh Blue cheeses.

There are many more dairies and cheeses that we could have mentioned here which proves just how lucky we are to live and work in this beautiful county. The hard work of dairy owners and the expertise of its cheese-makers ensures that the West Country cheese remains a renowned speciality.

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Valentines Cheeses

It will soon be Valentines Day, the most commercialised saints day in modern culture. A day when couples exchange throwaway gifts of teddies, petrol station flowers and cheap chocolates to show their love for one another.

godminsterThis year we too have succumbed to stocking some Valentines gift ideas but in the form of some delicious cheeses – so it’s alright. The Godminster Organic Heart is most often used to top wedding cheese cakes. Made in Somerset using organic milk from the farms own dairy herd, this cheese is matured for up to 12 months during which time it develops a rich and creamy flavour and smooth texture. It is then covered in an attractive burgundy wax and cut into the distinctive heart shape.

The Sharpham Hart is a heart shaped version of their award-winning brie-stylesharpham hart (2) soft cheese. Made on the Sharpham Estate using unpasteurised milk from their own Jersey herd the cheese has a distinct buttery flavour and soft, creamy texture. The unusual spelling of ‘Hart’ comes from the emblem of Dartington Hall – a white hart with which the Sharpham Estate is connected.

Both of these cheeses are available in individual 200g hearts for a limited time, call us now to order yours!

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Local Producers – Taw Valley Creamery

Here in Devon we are extremely lucky to have so many fantastic local producers on our doorstep – from artisan cheeses and bespoke blended teas to quality sausages and handmade puddings. In a time when consumers are increasingly concerned with low food miles and the provenance of their food, locality and the ‘shop local’ campaign have never been more apt. With this in mind we are producing a blog series on our local producers and their delicious products, this week focusing on Taw Valley Creamery.taw valley creamery (2)Taw Valley Creamery have been producing their award-winning cheeses since 1974. Situated in the beautiful countryside around the town of North Tawton, the creamery produce Cheddar, Red Leicester and Double Gloucester cheeses using traditional cheese-making techniques and fresh, high quality milk sourced from surrounding farms. Part of the Arla Foods group, Taw Valley are passionate about producing the highest quality cheeses for their customers.

We stock a range of Taw Valley products including the delicious Taw Valley Tickler. To reach the Tickler range the cheese is graded throughout its maturation process to ensure it meets the right criteria. This extra mature cheese tawvalleyrange_ck6q-r8is strong and robust in flavour with distinctive salt crystals, giving it a wonderful crunchy texture. We also stock the delightfully creamy Taw Valley Mature which is strong and full-bodied with a slight sweetness and the mellow and smooth Taw Valley Mild with a firm, texture. All of the Taw Valley cheeses are available in 5kg and 2.5kg blocks as well as 200g and 400g retail packs. View the whole Taw Valley range here.

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Local Producers – Barbers Farmhouse Cheesemakers

Here in Devon we are extremely lucky to have so many fantastic local producers on our doorstep – from artisan cheeses and bespoke blended teas to quality sausages and handmade puddings. In a time when consumers are increasingly concerned with low food miles and the provenance of their food, locality and the ‘shop local’ campaign have never been more apt. With this in mind we are producing a blog series on our local producers and their delicious products, this week focusing on Barbers Farmhouse Cheesemakers.barbers

The Barber family began making their cheeses on Maryland Farm in Somerset in 1833 and today produce their award-winning Cheddar on a much bigger scale whilst retaining their original values and techniques. The Barber’s cheeses are madebarbers mature using milk from their own herd of cows as well as extra milk sourced from surrounding farms. Their expert cheesemakers combine traditional techniques with modern innovations to produce their excellent cheeses from the ‘cheddaring’ process (the curds form slabs which are then stacked by hand) to the use of technology to increase production and maintain consistent quality.
Barber’s cheese is also one of only a handful in the South West to have Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status, awarded to selected foods which are made in a certain way or in a particular area. In this instance for Cheddar to be called Westcountry Farmhouse it must be made using milk from Somerset, Devon or Dorset, using traditional techniques such as ‘cheddaring’ and matured for at least nine months. The achievement of PDO status marks a high quality product.

We currently stock a number of Barber’s cheeses including the Farmhouse Mature Cheddar, typically matured for up to 12 months it is full of flavour with a mellow richness, and the Farmhouse Red Leicester which is made with barbers (2)traditional starter cultures, West Country milk and a small amount of annatto plant dye which results in its distinctive red/orange colouring. This is a smooth, buttery cheese with a firm texture and subtle, mellow sweetness. We also stock the flagship 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar which is matured for at least 24 months during which time the cheese develops an unrivaled complexity and depth of flavour with a creamy texture and naturally occurring salt crystals to give it a distinctive crunch.

All of the Barber’s cheeses are available in both retail packs of 200-320g and catering sizes from 1kg-5kg and the full range is available to view here.

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Cheese Showcase: Quicke’s Devonshire Red

The Quicke’s have been farming their land on Home Farm in Newton St Cyres for the last 500 years and producing their award-winning cheeses for the last 45. Using recipes passed down through generations, their nine expert cheese makers individually craft each cheese by hand using milk from the Quicke’s own herd of hybrid cows.

All of the cheeses are slowly matured in their ‘cathedral of cheese’; cool and dark this hall allows the cheeses to develop their characteristic rind displaying a range of colours and textures from green and grey to blue and orange. Turned every 10 days to maintain an even texture, some cheeses remain here for up to two years during which time their unique flavours begin to emerge.

Devonshire Red is the Quicke’s take on a classic Red Leicester. Matured for around six months it is a vibrant, full bodied cheese infused with natural annatto for a rich, orange hue and delightfully nutty flavour. It is fresher than other Quicke’s Cheddars yet retains a lovely creaminess and crumbly texture.

The Devonshire Red is available in individual 150g retail packs and the full range of Quicke’s cheeses are available to view here.

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History of Cheddar

Next to Stilton, Cheddar is one of the UK’s favourite cheeses with a history dating back 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’.

tawvalleyrange_hra7-n2Originating 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,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 wasquickes_extra_mature 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 up 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.

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