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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Ingredient Showcase: Garlic

We don’t know about you but it certainly feels as though Spring has sprung today, the sun is shining (mostly!), it’s getting warmer and pretty daffodils and bluebells are in abundance everywhere. One foodie staple of spring is wild garlic which at this time of year can be found throughout the country along riversides and woodland. We thought we’d celebrate this humble bulb with a focus on some of the bestselling products containing it starting with cheese.

Lynher Dairies Cornish Yarg is undoubtedly one of our bestselling cheeses but did you know that they also produce a wild garlic variety? The cheese itself is made to the exact same recipe with the only difference being that rather than wrapped in nettles, the Garlic Yarg is wrapped in wild garlic leaves but the difference in flavour is simply staggering. The leaves impart a lovely gentle garlic flavour as well as slightly altering the texture of the cheese, making it firmer and less crumbly than the original. The team at Lynher pick their wild garlic from surrounding Cornish woodland each spring in an extremely limited time frame – normally only from mid-March to the end of April – the leaves are then wrapped around the cheeses and left to mature for up to six months. The Garlic Yarg is available in both whole 1.6kg rounds as well as half moons and retail pre-packs.

West Country Olives are a new addition to our product list with a variety of different flavours available. The garlic olives have already become one of the most popular flavours and with good reason for garlic lovers! These mammoth Halkidiki olives are hand stuffed with whole garlic cloves before being finished with minced garlic and rapeseed oil. These are available in individual 200g resealable pouches as well as 1kg catering packs.

Waterhouse Fayre are producers of a range of bestselling jams and chutneys including a slow roasted garlic chutney. The whole garlic is roasted for a total of four hours before red onion, spices and red wine vinegar is added and these are then cooked together for a further four hours. Anyone who has eaten roasted garlic on its own can atone for the delightful sweetness of flavour that it takes on and this chutney is no exception as it develops a lovely, sweet mellowness. The Waterhouse Fayre chutneys are available in trays of 6x325g jars.

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British Pie Week Staff Favourites Day 2

Tracey is the second staff member to feature in our staff favourite pie series. Tracey has worked here for six years as a picker and packer in our warehouse as well as a delivery driver. She is also proficient in cutting our block cheeses down to size although this skill has been somewhat neglected over the past few months as we have kept her too busy in the packing room!

Chips are Tracey’s preferred accompaniment to pie and we have to agree that perfectly cooked chips – deliciously fluffy on the inside and golden and crispy on the outside – are hard to beat. The pie that Tracey has chosen as her favourite is the Homity, this is a slightly old fashioned Irish recipe given a Devon twist by Chunk of Devon. A vegetarian classic made with potato, mature Cheddar cheese, onion and garlic and topped with more cheese this is the ultimate cheese lovers delight. The topping is wonderfully oozy and the garlic and cream in this recipe make it rich and hearty – perfect for cold winter days.

Q&A with Tracey

Q: Favourite Pie and why?
A: Homity Pie, different to having gravy in your pie and the flavour is lovely.

Q: Chips or Mash?
A: Chips

Q: If you had to eat only one meal for the rest of your lift that would it be?
A: Roast Dinner

Q: How long have you worked at Isca Foods?
A: Coming up to 6 years in August

Q: What is your role at Isca?
A: Picker

Q: Have you always wanted to work in the Food Industry?
A: Yes from when I did a day at college when I was at school, then when I finished school and went onto college I studied Catering and Hospitality for 2 years.

Q: What do you look forward to doing most when lockdown restrictions have eased completely?
A: Meeting up with family

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Cheese Showcase: Danish Blue

Castello have been producing their signature cheeses since 1893 with varieties including traditional, regional recipes as well as their own unique crafted cheeses.

Danish Blue is a sharp and salty cheese with a soft and creamy texture. Originally the cheese was made using goat’s milk to traditional French recipes resulting in a similar profile to Roquefort however the Danish cheesemakers wanted a more mild and balanced flavour better suited to sensitive palates and so the switch to cow’s milk was made. In appearance the Danish Blue is pale, creamy off-white with distinctive blue veins throughout.

This cheese is available in 130g retail packs as well as whole wheels and other catering sizes. Click here for more info.Facebooktwitterinstagram

Cheese & Chutney Pairings

Cheeseboards are often seen as a festive treat however they can be enjoyed throughout the year especially on these long summer evenings. We’ve written previous blogs on what cheeses to put on a cheeseboard but for this one we are focusing on the best chutneys to pair with which cheeses to really bring out the best flavours in both products. The chutneys we recommend are from Waterhouse Fayre, a jam and chutney producer based on the outskirts of Tiverton.

Haystack Tasty Cheddar with Devon Ale Chutney
This cheddar from Barber’s Farmhouse Cheesemakers is deliciously strong with a sharp depth of flavour and delightfully crumbly texture. For such a strong cheese we recommend the Devon Ale chutney, this bestselling chutney is packed full of flavour and really holds up to the robustness of the cheddar. Made using local devon aleapples and onions together with ale from the Red Rock Brewery near Teignmouth, this is a truly Devonian product and makes a fantastic pairing to cheddar.

Tuxford & Tebbutt Stilton with Whortleberry Chutney
The classic Tuxford & Tebbutt Stilton is rich and creamy with a deliciously tangy finish combined with a soft, melt-in-the-mouth texture. This is one of our favourite cheeses and we struggled to match a chutney that didn’t detract from the wonderful flavour. Eventually we decided on this one with whortleberries. Whortleberry is the Devonian name for wild blueberries and this chutney really is a celebration of the fruit and the lovely, not overly sweet flavour perfectly compliments the tangy-ness of the Stilton.

Cornish Brie with Mango Chutney
This Brie from Trevarrian Creamery is mild and creamy with a smooth, buttery texture. We know that cranberries are the traditional accompaniment to Brie but we thought we would mix things up a bit and instead recommend this fruity Mango chutney. Made using chunks of ripe mango with fresh garlic and ginger mango briethis chutney certainly packs a punch and is a refreshing match for the creamy Brie.

Ticklemore Goat with Red Onion Marmalade
The Ticklemore Goat from Sharpham Cheese is smooth and light with a subtle lemony flavour and soft, crumbly texture. Goats cheese is another of our favourites so we didn’t want to overwhelm the delicate flavour and sometimes the classic pairings simply cannot be bettered. This Red Onion Marmalade is delightfully sweet which contrasts with the tangy flavour from the goats cheese – truly a match made in heaven.

Click here to view the full range of Waterhouse Fayre chutneys as well as their delicious jams.

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Cheese Showcase: Smoked Cheese

It’s blue skies and sunshine out there today and BBQ season is well underway. We’re getting into the spirit with our cheese showcase this week – smoked cheese.

The precise origins of smoked cheese are unknown however as with some of the best things it is thought to have been discovered by accident. Most food historians agree that an ancient cheesemonger kept their product close to a wood burning fire and noticed that it gave the cheese a distinct smoky flavour and the much loved smoked cheese was born.
Today there are many ways of smoking cheese from traditional wood fires to modern smokers and the futuristic method of ‘liquid smoke’ being incorporated in the cheese-making process. The intensity of the heat and the variety of wooden chips used both have an impact on the overall smokiness imparted into the cheese. Below we’ve listed some of our favourite smoked cheeses from local favourites to much loved classics.

Quicke’s Smoked
This smoked mature cheddar originates as Quicke’s well flavoured mature Cheddar. Matured for 12-15 months it is then naturally cold smoked over oak chips from trees grown on the Quicke’s estate for up to four hours, during which time the cheese develops a subtle, smoky flavour. This cheese is available in both catering 1.2kg blocks and 150g retail packs.

Dorset Red
The Dorset Red from Ford Farm Cheesemakers is a smooth cheese enriched with natural annatto for a distinct deep amber colour. Made to their traditional Cheddar recipe the cheese is then cold smoked over oak chips overnight leaving a mellow, smoky flavour and soft texture. This cheese is available in 1.2kg blocks and 150g retail packs.

Oak Smoked
This traditional smoked Cheddar from Carron Lodge is cold smoked for up to 24 hours over oak chippings resulting in a delicate smoked flavour and rich golden colour. It is available in 1.kg blocks and 150g retail packs.Facebooktwitterinstagram

The ‘New Normal’

vanThe last few months have been, to use the word of the moment, unprecedented. We are proud to have been able to continue to supply our customers throughout the pandemic and our staff have been working incredibly hard to make this possible. Below we look at the ‘new normal’ for Isca Foods.

Back in March we began seeing the effects of panic buying as customers who wouldn’t normally use their local community or farm shop began relying heavily on them when supermarkets had low stock levels. Shopping locally and supporting local businesses and producers is our central ethos and, while we regret that the support needed came in this way, we are glad that more people than ever are discovering their own local shop. We hope that once this is over, these new found customers will continue to support their local businesses rather than reverting back to the supermarket.cheriton fitz

With many people self isolating and unable to visit supermarkets we began home deliveries. This started with our MD Liam and his wife Hannah leafleting in their local area after discovering the demand their neighbours were experiencing and spring-boarded from there. We added this to the routes our vans would be doing day to day and developed a separate price list for private deliveries. Our team boxed up these orders as normal and our drivers delivered them to the doorstep of customers. This demand has eased somewhat in recent weeks as supermarkets have put in safety measures and orchardlea (2)social distancing rules however at a time when local people were struggling we like to think that we helped to make a difference.

Our sister company Orchardlea Occasion Foods (run by the aforementioned Hannah) recently launched their range of delicious hampers. Prior to the outbreak the business focused on providing food for all occasions and events from weddings and christenings to birthday parties and business lunches. However from mid March many of these events were cancelled or postponed and as a result Hannah decided to diversify the business and added bespoke hampers to their portfolio. These can be pub lunch hamperdelivered to yourself as a well deserved treat or as a gift for a much missed loved one during lock down. The new ‘Pub Lunch’ hamper has just been added to the range which can include: Bays Brewery beer, Sandford Orchard cider or Sandford Orchard fresh pressed apple juice, a selection of West Country cheeses, Cradoc’s savoury biscuits, Waterhouse Fayre chutney, Chunk of Devon pasty, Burts crisps, Cornish Olive Stall olives, pork scratchings, pork pie and a selection of sliced meats as well as anything else that takes your fancy from pub lunch hamper 2our own range of products. Hampers are bespoke and put together to order so can be truly personalised to yours or the intended recipients favourites. Visit their Facebook page or website for more info.

This is a strange time for all of us and like many businesses we are adapting to ever changing customer needs and requirements. There is always more that can be done to make things easier for everyone, but we like to think that we have made a good start.Facebooktwitterinstagram

Store Cupboard Ingredients

We have been thinking about how to maximise simple store cupboard ingredients to create nutritious, tasty food during this strange period of self isolation. Our staples include natural yogurt, chorizo and of course cheese! Read on to discover more.

sutton lucy cream (2)Natural yogurt
Natural yogurt is an extremely versatile ingredient and can be used in anything from breakfast oats to a marinade for chicken to spicy sriracha dressings and creamy potato salads. We stock the deliciously thick and creamy Sutton Lucy natural yogurt in both 500g and 140g pots depending on your needs as well as the low fat Langage Farm natural and Greek-style yogurts both available in 450g pots. Why not try this delicious Indian-style spiced chicken recipe or these quick and easy overnight oats for a tasty and nutritious breakfast alternative?

Chorizo
Chorizo is one of our favourite ingredients to cook with for it’s wonderful smoky chorizoflavour and the delicious richness it adds to any dish from stews to burgers and baked eggs to tacos. We stock both authentic Hot Chorizo rings finished with smoked paprika available in 200g rings and sliced retail packed chorizo available in 110g packs with an average of eight slices per pack. This recipe for Prawn and Chorizo Jambalaya is quick and easy to prepare and bursts with Cajun inspired flavours while this Butter Bean & Chorizo stew is warm and hearty and with only four ingredients it can be on the table in only 20 minutes!

Cheese
It will come as no surprise to learn that we absolutely love cheese, from creamy cricket-st-thomas-camembert-220gBrie to tangy Stilton, lemony goats cheese and local gems like the Garlic Yarg from Lynher Dairies and of course traditional farmhouse Cheddar. From classic ham and cheese toasties to luxurious baked Camembert and summery Greek salad with feta or grilled haloumi cheese is the ultimate ingredient to enrich and enliven multiple dishes. Why not try this 70’s take on a classic toastie with rich mature Cheddar, pickled pineapple and fiery sriracha or this baked Camembert with rosemary and garlic is a deliciously comforting treat.

Tried any of these recipes? Tag us in your creations using via our social media pages below!Facebooktwitterinstagram