A Food Lover's Guide to Devon
Devon’s food and drink shops have an independent streak. Here are the best places shop for artisanal Devon produce.
Dart’s Farm, Topsham
Described as ‘Selfridges’ food hall in the middle of a farm’, Darts Farm has done so much to promote regional produce it's something of a legend in the South-West. Our favourite shop is the Fish Shed - a restaurant, fishmonger and take-out place rolled into one: the fish are caught that day.
Cox and Laflin, Bovey Tracey
Cox and Laflin are a specialist butchers who only use local farmers from Dartmoor, which gives full traceability and gorgeous meat.
Eversfield Organic, Tavistock
Organic Aberdeen Angus and Kent half-breeds reared naturally on the estate and matured for up to three weeks. As well as organic beef and organic pork, Eversfield produces an award-winning streaky bacon which it claims makes the best breakfast butty in the south-west. Now selling at Tavistock and Holesworthy farmers' markets, and at their farm shop in Tavistock (see ‘Farm Shops’, below)
Michael Howard’s, Moretonhampstead
This family-run butchers sells lamb from Sanduct in nearby Lustleigh, beef from Dexter or Belted Galaways, speciality sausages, fish landed in Brixham and meat cuts that you will not be able to find in supermarkets. The delicatessen selection includes Otter Vale chutneys, Midfields Granola, Underdown butter, Sharpham cheeses, Salcombe Dairy ice-cream and Creedy Carver chicken.
Gibson’s Fish Van, Moretonhampstead and Chagford
A traditional high-quality fishmonger that buys in fresh fish caught by in-shore day boats at the Brixham auction every morning. The beauty of this system is you never know what you're going to get - it's a kind of diverse fish lottery that might feature anything from red mullet, turbot, brill and red gurnard to scallops, lemon sole and seabass. The Exeter shop also supplies locally oak-smoked and dye-free salmon, mackerel and haddock and runs free weekly deliveries to Moretonhampstead (outside the chemist) from 9.30-11.30am, Chagford from 12.00-1.30pm then Drewsteignton 2pm-3pm. On Fridays, it is in Chagford 9.30am-12.30pm then Lustleigh between 12.45-1.30pm. Ask nicely and you might get 10% off.
Fish Deli, Ashburton
The Fish Deli on the right sells River Teign mussels, diver-caught scallops and haddock which is "not like the rubbish up north", according to the sign. There are other fruit and veg stores, a sandwich shop and upmarket takeaways, while the most recent arrival is Moor Chocolat! selling coconut ice and Venezuelan and Ghanaian cacao.
DEVON FRUIT, VEGETABLE & FARM SHOPS
Riverford Farm’s organic fruit and veg boxes have become ubiquitous but here you can buy produce direct from the Riverford Farm Shop.
Ullacombe Farm Shop, Haytor
Ullacombe Farm Shop, on the way to Haytor, sells plenty of locally made produce, from chilli chocolate to cheeses. There’s also a teashop selling superb farmhouse cakes.
Eversfield Organic, Tavistock
Devon giants of the online organic food box trade Eversfield Organic, have opened their first bricks and mortar business in Tavistock. Inside the new store, customers can stock up on all things organic, including meat from the butchers' country, Baker Tom's breads, including sourdough and spelt loaves; Owen's coffee from Ivybridge plus fresh fish, fruit, veg and more.
Riverford Farm Shop, Totnes
Riverford Farm’s organic fruit and veg boxes have become ubiquitous but here you can buy produce direct from the Riverford Farm Shop on Totnes’ high street. Award-winning organic pies make great takeaway dinners to heat up at home – try a traditional beef pasty, homity pie or ham and leek tarts, all handmade in the farm shop kitchen. Add butternut squash hummus with harissa, mixed olives and cured meats to the spread. Or, in season, pick up bergamot lemons, blood oranges and Seville oranges along with jam jars to make your own marmalade.
Forest Fungi, Dawlish
The canteen at Forest Fungi is a contemporary affair and also pumps out the freshest of ingredients from just outside the door. The ingredients are seasonal, and meals are often filled with mushrooms which have been grown on the farm. The breakfast menu has everything you can ever expect, but be sure to order a coffee too – it is exceptional.
Blacks wood-panelled shelves and walls are piled high with Devon produce, including Sharpham cheese and wines, Roly’s fudge, Teonies Cookies, Midfields granola, Dartmouth smoked salmon, Luscombe fruit juices and Dartmoor ales.
The Real Food Store, Totnes
A novel community project, Real Food is owned by 300 local shareholders. Collectively, they wanted to create a showcase for Devonian produce in Exeter city centre. The shop fulfils that brief, and how. Its shelves are stacked with everything from clotted cream fudge and Ashridge organic cider to handmade pork pies by Chunk of Devon and locally smoked duck. Upstairs, a colourful, airy utilitarian cafe continues the theme across simple breakfast dishes, gourmet sandwiches and specials, such as smoked trout and salmon fishcakes with salad and sweet chilli dipping sauce (£6.45). The star of the Real Food show is on-site artisan bakery Emma's Bread, whose creations are available to eat in or take away. Its lightly cheesy spelt scones are nice, but Emma Parkin's savoury flapjacks are unmissable. A moreish mix of mushrooms, for umami depth, carrots, onions, cheese, oats and sesame seeds, they are grand and, for £1.95 (takeaway), you get a substantial slice.
DEVON WINE MERCHANTS AND CRAFT ALE HOUSES
Jaded Palates, Chagford
Jaded Palates is contemporary wine merchants stocking local wines, spirits and ales, with a strong leaning towards Devon-made drinks.
The Totnes Brewing Co, Totnes
The Totnes Brewing Co is situated at the bottom of Totnes Castle. As well as brewing their own craft beers right in the bar on a weekly basis they also stock a huge range of guest craft ales & ciders - local and international. If you love craft beer this is a must with "probably" the largest selection of beers and ciders in the area (usually over 100). The beer garden is a perfect spot from which to admire the Castle and the bar is warm and cosy at night - with an open fire on cold days. Food platters to go with beer are served during the holiday season and people are welcome to bring their own food when the kitchen is closed - they are dog friendly and have free wifi. Children welcome during the day and early evening.
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.
STORE CUPBOARD BASICS
Earth Food Love, 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.
SWEETS & DESSERTS
Roly’s Fudge, Totnes
Roly’s Fudge has been making crumbly artisan fudge for nearly three decades so they know what they’re doing when it comes to the sweet stuff. Huge copper pans are used to make Roly’s favourite flavours – lashings of Devon butter goes in to traditional vanilla clotted cream, rum ‘n’ raisin is spiked with rich, dark rum for a luxurious treat, and lemon meringue makes a tangy surprise. Buy a slab to snack on, or pretty bags of fudge cubes as presents. They also have stores in Exeter, Torquay and Dartmouth.
The Cheese Shed, Bovey Tracey
Cheeses from the West Country - including Menallack and Devon Oke plus well-loved cheddars by Keen's, Montgomery's and Westcombe. There's Harbourne Blue, an unusual and delicious 'blue goat', Vulscombe and White Nancy - both goats' cheeses. Elmhirst and Nanterrow make up the soft, fresher cheeses.
Country Cheeses, Tavistock
Just outside the market is Country Cheeses, a Devon shop that sells hundreds of British cheeses, mostly sourced from the West Country. Try crumbly Totnes special Ticklemore Goat, the shop’s own Little Stinky, or Devon sage.