We have waited with baited breath (pun intended) for the newest addition to our local farm shop (Miller’s – blog post here) to actually open and sell us some fish. We watched as the tradesmen measured, sawed & hammered bits and bobs together and slowly the Lyme Bay Fish Shack began to take shape.
We did an initial trial purchase of some beautiful looking pollack as a test case for a big lunch planned for the parents. The fish passed the taste & fresh test with flying colours! So we headed back the morning of the big day & were lucky enough to not only have Dan the Fishmonger in his usual spot (major design flaw has too tall Dan whacking his head on the ceiling every few minutes), but John the Fisherman who had just delivered his catch. Could not have been any fresher unless we had caught it ourselves which is the next adventure – to head out for a bass fishing trip with John on his charter boat Outcast II. Game on, John!
So if you have an itch for some fish, make a quick stop @ the Lyme Bay Fish Shack and Dan will sort you out…
Saturday the 15th of June was the main event of the week long Bridport Food Festival and despite weather that was far closer to a winter’s day, folks turned up in droves and by all measures adopted a stiff upper lip & got on with having some fun. The festival was originally conceived and launched by River Cottage’s Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall back in 2004 and now in its 10th year the festival attracts many locals as well as a decent chunk of out-of-towners (like us).
We were quite impressed with the size, scope and depth of the festival – pretty much something to interest or tempt just about everyone (we managed to open our wallets on numerous occasions). If you had a hunger pang, a smorgasbord of food options were on offer; if you needed to quench a pestering thirst, the Roundtable Beer festival was doing a roaring business and there was just about every other form of comestible delicacy for taste or sale.
Besides seeing many new producers, it was also nice to see some known and old favourites. We had previously met The Bartlett family and sampled Wootton Organic Diary’s wares at the monthly Bridport Farmers Market. Their festival stand was swarming with cheesey folks but we managed to snag a serious chunk of the Millstone, an unpasteurized sheep’s milk cheese that was bursting with flavour.
Another recognisable and nice to see face at the festival were the folks from Bothen Hill Organic Produce. They are our ‘go to’ people for our weekly seasonal asparagus fix (we find them at our farm shop local Miller’s in Kilmington) where we usually have to purchase at least 2 bunches to quell the craving. You can also visit the farm on Fridays from 10 to 12 to get your asparagus fresh as but make sure you study your map & directions closely as they be off the beaten track.
And it was no surprise to us to find Capreolus Fine Foods and Wyld Meadow Farm in the festival lineup. Capreolus’s Dave (head popping out from the sausage row below) knows his way around a cornucopia of charcuterie and he makes excellent use of Dorset & Devon’s key ingredient – meat. As we mentioned in a previous blog post, the art of charcuterie or smoking meats is not as widely practised in the UK as it is in Italy or Spain to name just two but Capreolus can fill the void just fine.
And Wyld Meadow Farm is on our weekly shopping list (again, we find them well stocked at Miller’s Farm Shop) for carefully, well raised beef and lamb. It is not only important what quality food you eat but more directly what your animals eat & how they are cared for that makes all the difference.
And to make it a fun fest for the whole crowd, dogs were most welcome. In addition to several sausage samples, Hound #1 found a new friend…he likes the fluffy ones.
In our efforts to visit as many accessible Devon farmers markets as possible, the super combo of a visit to the National Trust’s Killerton House and a farmers market was a no brainer decision. It is a small market as they are working hard to replace several producers who have left due to work & time contraints but what is there is very good.
Two great locally farmed meat folks were on hand – West Kidland Farm & Burrow Farm. We chatted with Catherine (red haired one in photo below) from West Kidland Farm about her lamb (Lincoln Longwool) which she swore was the the ‘best in Devon’, so we snatched a beautiful rolled shoulder (being weighed in the photo) which is one of our favourite cuts. It needs to be cooked slow & low to let it tenderise but we feel it is the cut that tastes the sweetest. West Kidland is a family run farm and Catherine calls herself an ‘accidental farmer’ as it was her parents that bought the farm 9 years ago to accommodate their fast growing menagerie of various animals. She moved in with husband Nils to help out and the rest is history. Besides the luscious lamb, West Kidland Farm also has rare breed Berkshire pork, Dexter cattle and a mix of chickens, ducks and geese on offer.
Burrow Farm is a fascinating tale – Neil & Sally Grigg had never farmed or raised cattle before but were keen & undaunted to take on the tenancy in 2007. Six years into the ‘experiment’ they have successfully established a pedigreed herd of Red Ruby cattle, opened their Red Devon Beef Farm Shop and a bed & breakfast. Phew! Just recently they won the National Trust Fine Farm produce award for beef – seems they took fine to farming.
Isca Ales were also on hand, unfortunately for them 10 o’clock in the AM is a wee bit too much south of noon for a bit of beer tasting. But they are local & looked damned good.
So folks, the Killerton House Farmers Market is this Saturday – JUNE 15th!!! If you don’t find something to tempt you at the market (unlikely) then you can grab a coffee & cake @ the cafe, sniff your way round the 2nd hand book store, peruse the National Trust shop or just simply enjoy a stroll around the stunning grounds and gardens – much of it dog friendly as Billie the Jack Russell will attest.