Best Experiences For Foodies
Devon is crammed with artisanal food and drink producers offering unique experiences and tours for keen foodies. Check out our selection of the best things for foodies to do in Devon - from wine tastings, to visiting local producers, farmer’s markets and street-food stalls.
If you’re a food lover, you’ll know how important it is to choose the right destination for your next break. Luckily, if you’re thinking of staying to our luxury Devon cottage you won’t have anything to worry about. It’s the perfect place to indulge your inner gourmand, and if you’re stuck on where to start your gastronomic odyssey just check out recommendations on some of the best foodie experiences Devon has to offer.
Go grazing at a food festival or farmers’ market
Time your visit to Devon with one of the county’s famous food festivals, such as English Wine Week, Nourish Festival and Salcombe Crab Fest. Check out our Events page for details.
Hire a private picnic boat
For the ultimate romantic honeymoon or mini moon idea, hire the Picnic Boat, a private boat for two, which provides a bespoke menu, champagne and will take you to little bays for swimming or crabbing, then wait for you while you take a vineyard tour at Sharpham.
Go cheese and wine-tasting in a Devon vineyard, Totnes
While rich, creamy cheeses are an English speciality, wine is less often associated with the UK, yet at Sharpham both are crafted to an exceptionally high standard. Visit the estate to see how they are made and take the guided Vine to Wine tour to learn about what makes these English wines – regarded to be among the best in Britain – different to their foreign counterparts. Tasting sessions then offer the chance for you to sample the wine and delicious, full-flavoured cheeses for yourself. Sign up for the full Sharpham Experience tour and you’ll enjoy a great insight into English winemaking, as well a picturesque river walk and a boozy lunch.
Sample street food produce at Exeter Street Food market
The street food craze has well and truly hit the UK and the university town of Exeter has embraced this trend for speedy yet wholesome food. Exeter Street Food takes over the town centre every weekend. Choose between tapas, classic American dishes and even Egyptian food among many others tasty options. You can watch it all get cooked in front of you, before eating it on the go or resting in one of the pop-up seating areas. Best of all, these modestly priced quick yet quality meals won’t put any strain on the holiday budget.
Hire a private chef
A holiday at our luxury holiday cottage in Devon comes with the luxurious option of hiring a private chef to make you a gourmet three-course meal. Our chef, Harrie, will shop, prepare and serve you gourmet cuisine in the comfort of the cottage and she’ll even wash up afterwards.
Make your own sloe gin or cider, Bovey Castle
Nestled in a sheltered corner of the beautiful gardens of Bovey Castle, lies along barn lit only by candle light. Cider and sloe gin-making lessons start with pressing the apples in the traditional way, and guests are given the opportunity to try the finished products. A unique way to spend time with new acquaintances, family and friends in the heart of Dartmoor National Park. Take home inspiration and the knowledge to bottle an essence of summertime country walks.
Take a bread-making course, Kingswear
At this well-established, family-run cookery school in Kingswear, you can learn to make all manner of things in a wood-fired oven. If you’ve managed to get hold of one of these hefty items at home the school’s owners, David and Holly Jones, will be delighted to pass on their wood-firing expertise. From pizzas and crusty breads to more surprising dishes – scallops, roast vegetables and even desserts – Manna from Devon offers a great introduction to this type of cooking. Choose from classes at the couple’s Victorian home or, for a true kitchen garden experience, join them in the beautiful setting of Deer Park Country House Hotel, near Honiton, and then stay overnight in your own private tree house.
Shops for a picnic at Dartington
On a warm and sunny day, choose one of the region’s fabulously well-stocked delis and gather a true Devonshire picnic to enjoy in the surrounding countryside. Don’t know where to start? Try the Shops at Dartington and choose from the likes of Portlebay Popcorn (the perfect balance between sweet and savoury, it’s made from butterfly corn grown in the foothills of the Pyrenees but popped locally), Salcombe Dairy’s indulgent ice cream (sophisticated stem ginger is great for grown ups, rich and velvety chocolate sorbet is a satisfying chocolate hit for dairy avoiders and honeycomb a sweet, chewy and crunchy treat for everyone) and Luscombe Drinks’ superb organic ginger beers, fruit juices and cider.
Indulge in a traditional Devonshire cream tea
No visit to Devon is complete without a traditional cream tea. Check out our favourite cream teas here.
Magdalen Road, Exeter
Magdalen Road is Exeter's foodie enclave. Along one short stretch of tarmac, you will find a fishmonger (remember them?), wine shop, the butchery outlet for award-winning Devon farm Piper's, the old school Village Bakery, as well as Bon Goût (45 Magdalen Road, 01392 435521, bongoutdeli.co.uk) and Belgreen (25 Magdalen Road, 01392 271190, belgreen.co.uk), a couple of interesting budget eating options. The former deals in sandwiches, loaded pizza slices, cakes, homemade pies, pasties and novel chorizo or Devon scrumpy scotch eggs. Meanwhile, the brand new Belgreen textile shop and cafe delivers such slick-sounding mains as Exmouth mussel and crab linguine or confit duck, Toulouse sausage and flageolet beans, at around £9 a plate.
Make your own gin, Plymouth
Take home a unique souvenir from your time in Devon in the form of your very own handcrafted bottle of gin. Tours of Plymouth’s distillery unveil the processes behind distilling and flavouring one of Britain’s favourite spirits. Book the Master Distiller’s tour to have a go at blending your own recipe, which you can then take back to enjoy later at our luxury Devon holiday home. Go for the Gin Connoisseur tour for a special tasting, during which the distillery’s resident gin experts talk you through the different styles of gin that they make.
Take a cookery class
Housed in one of Ashburton’s many grand merchant's houses, Ashburton Cookery School runs short cookery classes in fish and seafood, bread, and "gastro pub" style food. One of the founders has been promoting organic food since the 1980s.
Eat crispy squid by the sea
The Beach House is a beachfront clapboard shack sitting right on the beach and the South West Coastal path, making it a perfect pit stop for a hike. Dining is on rustic communal wooden tables, or outside on the terrace overlooking Thurlestone Sands.
Dine on a river, Exmouth
Our favourite alternative-eats venue for a sunny day is a floating shed-cum-pontoon, moored off Exmouth, and reached by water taxi. Serving seafood dropped off by passing fishing boats, the sea-to-plate interval at the River Exe Cafe can be as little as five minutes.
Have lunch on a chilli farm
On a 10-acre farm outside Totnes 10,000 chilli plants a year are grown in the South Devon sunshine. Visit and you can bask in the tropical heat of the Show Tunnel, lined with stunning bursts of colour from 200 varieties of chilli plants in every shape and size, see seedlings being propagated in the nursery or buy some plants to take home and grow on your windowsill – choose from Padron peppers, ancho poblanos, habaneros and many more. End your visit to the Chilli Farm at the on-site café with a savoury cream tea (fresh, fluffy scones, cream cheese and homemade chilli jam) or a chilli-laced drinking chocolate. The farm shop also sells chilli sauces, chilli chocolates and freshly-picked chillies.
Stock up at a zero-waste shop, Totnes
The Eckersley’s shop, Earth Food Love, which came to life in March 2017, claims to be the first zero-waste shop in the country. Inside, almost every inch of the modestly sized shop is crammed with a dispenser of some sort, for everything from pulses, grains and dried fruit to detergents and bamboo toothbrushes – all free of plastic and pesticides. You’d be forgiven for thinking they had little space left, but they’re planning more shelves and constantly bringing in new stock – as long as the supplying company is ethical, of course. They’re ahead of the game on the anti-plastic revolution, but since the government recently put the issue of plastic pollution at the heart of its 25-year plan, it’s become front-page news with an increasing amount of well-deserved attention. They've become the pin-ups for others doing the same, from the Bulk Market in east London to other people around the country wanting to follow suit. The idea is you take your own container – whether it’s a Tupperware, tin can or reusable bag (they’ve even had someone using pillowcases), fill up with food, weigh and pay. There’s not a plastic bag in sight, nor anything wrapped in the shiny stuff. For them, it’s not about making a profit; it’s about consuming food and everyday products in a way that doesn’t cost the earth. It has been an undeniable success with locals and they’ve got plenty of loyal customers, as well as tourists wanting to see what’s happening.
Have an artichoke-themed lunch
In the most unlikely of places, tucked away on an industrial estate in Kingsbridge, Jane Baxter and Samantha Miller host lunches and suppers amid the pared-back surroundings of their kitchen (the pair, who met at the nearby Riverford Kitchen, also run a catering business, supplying the food for corporate and private clients across the county). Dinner or lunch at the Wild Artichoke HQ is not to be missed, however. Taking place at large wooden tables, they’re all about sharing Jane’s hearty, Southern Italian-influenced dishes – think crisp truffle arancini, deep-fried Brussels sprouts, cured salmon with beetroot, grilled leg of lamb with salsa verde, creamed parsnip, potato and fennel gratin, and spring greens with parmesan. Make sure you try a bit of everything, especially when it comes to desserts: panettone bread and butter pudding, perhaps, alongside rhubarb and strawberry crumble and pavlova with pears and chocolate.
Make your own gin by the sea, Salcombe
Born out of a love of gin and inspired by the sea, co-founders Angus and Howard created Salcombe Distilling Co, a beautiful waterside distillery and bar overlooking the estuary in the stunning coastal town of Salcombe, South Devon. Visitors can enjoy the ultimate ‘Salcombe & Tonic’ overlooking the estuary or watch the distillers handcraft the multi-award winning gin ‘Start Point’ which is an exceptionally smooth ‘London Dry Gin’ handcrafted on ‘Provident’, their striking 450l copper pot still which stands proud behind glass doors within the distillery for all to view. There is a fabulous seasonal cocktail menu and they also serve a wonderful selection of wines, beers, soft drinks and coffee alongside their gin. The distillery and bar is open 7 days a week and visitors are welcome to sample Salcombe Gin, find out more about how it is made, watch the distillers at work or simply relax in the bar with a drink. There is also a shop giving you an opportunity to take a little bit of Salcombe home with you. Next door to the distillery is their award-winning Gin School which runs Gin School lessons on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The experience is approx. 3 hours and guests learn about distillation, develop their own gin recipe before taking charge of a mini copper pot still to create their very own 70cl bottle of gin whilst enjoying a couple of ‘Salcombe & Tonics’ along the way. Gin School lessons start from £100 and booking is essential.
Tour Brixham Fish Market
For early risers only, tours of Brixham’s fish market start at 6am start. The market sees over 40 different species of fish landed annually with a turnover of around £40million. This is a chance to see behind the scenes and the hustle and bustle of the world famous Brixham Fish Market, culminating in a delicious fish breakfast at Rockfish.
Eat in a field kitchen
Food doesn’t get fresher or more local than at Riverford Field Kitchen, the organic farm that is home to the famous veg box scheme. Enormous bowls of hearty homespun fayre is served up on long tables in a wonderfully convivial atmosphere.
Glimpse inside one of the UK’s oldest working cider presses
Ron produces up to 1500 gallons of cider using one of the UK's oldest working cider presses, in a barn that dates back to Saxon times. The barns are crammed with antique cider-making tools and equipment. Ron has even found spearheads and Stone Age scrapers in the barn’s dirt floor, and just behind where this photograph was taken are the remains of a horse-powered mill. During his tour, Ron will show you around these characterful historic buildings and explain how cider is produced using his traditional press, pictured above. There will be a chance to look around the orchards, where old and rare apple varieties still grow, including the wonderfully-titled Fair Maids of Devon, Pigs’ Snout and Slack-ma-Girdle. You'll also have a chance to taste Ron's cider. Beware, it's strong!
Take a guided foodie tour
Unique Devon Tours has put together a fabulous day out just for foodies, which includes visits to a variety of local producers and food and drink-related experiences. Bespoke options include a visit to Sharpham Vineyard, Salcombe Gin and South Devon Chilli Farm.