Holm is where the heart isDecember 10, 2021


Home, said Elvis, is where the heart is. I agree, I love my home – even if over the past 20 months, I’ve been getting to know the inside of my home a little too well.

Today I visited a different sort of home, but one just as heart-warming as my own. This one nestles in the elegant honey-stoned Somerset market town of South Petherton – and it also happens to be a restaurant. 

This home, though, is spelled Holm, rather than Home. A holm, I learn, means an islet of a river – an appropriate name for a spot that’s in the heart of the Somerset Levels. Holm the restaurant is the fourth opening from the talented team behind London’s Salon, Levan and Larry’s restaurants, all sharing an emphasis on seasonal and creative food in a casual setting.

As I’m a food writer, you might not be too astonished to hear that I’ve just eaten in a restaurant. But hang on a mo. You might also know that for this past year I’ve set myself the challenge of eating only British food. So eating out is now something I don’t do lightly, or without careful research beforehand. But having met co-owner Mark Gurney while volunteering at Melilot Farm in Cornwall this summer, I felt confident there’d be enough for me to eat.

I am not mistaken. Appetiser is a Westcombe Cheddar fry, a spin on the Comte fry that’s become a signature at Salon. An assembly of confit leek, Westcombe cheddar and flour, it’s topped with pickled walnut ketchup and finely grated Cheddar.  Of course it leaves me wanting more, and luckily more is there in the form of a plate of vegetable pickles and a chunk of homemade sourdough as big as my fist. I slather its pillowy dough with lashings of Longman’s butter, sprinkled with properly British sea salt. 

Ingredients are ridiculously local too – so much so that on a fine day you could probably see the fields where your veg is grown. I kick off my three-course lunchtime menu (£25) with a roasted beetroot risotto that happily shuns white rice in favour of Sharpham Park spelt grains which are beautifully nutty without being virtuous. A nice kick of acidicity is provided by the pickled fried onions on the top, that are crowned by that winter herbal beauty, chervil.  

The decor is equally honest and unpretentious – walls stripped down to bare plaster, custom-crafted round oak tables, and simple black and white prints. The grandiose building used to be a bank and its vaults have cunningly been transformed into storage for Mark’s selection of low-intervention wines, divided into Classics and Outliers. Any alarm I might feel at discovering that none are British is soon dispelled by the discovery that Holm stocks no fewer than five British ciders, including a single-variety Dabinett from the tiny Honey Pot Farm just down the road.

But it’s the main course that really hits the jackpot and has me planning my return visit after the first mouthful. It’s a ragu of local venison married with pappardelle that’s handmade from local Shipton Mill flour. Henry Osmond, the head chef, tells me it’s from a wild Sika deer that’s been shot locally, then butchered and cooked on site. The offal is nabbed to fill the Devils on Horseback on the evening tasting menu, but my ragu is a wonderous blend of confit shoulder, smoked ham hock, tomatoes and spices. What. A. Dish.  

Dessert is a choice between Chocolate mousse, spelt crumb, and miso ice cream. Or Blackcurrant sorbet with honeycomb. Chocolate and miso being out of bounds for another three weeks (on account of being dastardly foreign) I plump for the sorbet and am not disappointed. I hear squeals of delight from my neighbours as I watch Mark gently work the room to ensure we’re all happy. Such service is an unusual delight, but makes all the difference. 

I certainly haven’t gone hungry. I depart deeply grateful to have been able to eat not only British but almost exclusively Somerset. I feel gently thrilled by Holm’s honest, inventive food; and calmed by its friendly service and surroundings. You could say it’s Holm from Holm. But that’d be too much of a cliche.

Corona survival: how to buy dry goods, bread and veg without going to a supermarketApril 19, 2020


Hi all, I hope you’re keeping well and maybe making the most of being at home to do a bit more cooking than usual. As you’ll have heard in the media, supermarkets are doing fantastically well out of corona. But sadly what the media don’t talk about are the small, independent food businesses who are having a very hard time indeed, and badly need our support. Luckily for us,  these businesses can deliver, so it’s easy to buy their goods – a lot easier, in fact, than queueing for hours outside the supermarkets. So it’s a win-win. Over the last few weeks, I covered cheese and meat producers, this week I’m connecting you to companies who produce everything from lentils to fudge, coffee, bread, veg or spuds. There’s even a tiny one-woman-band producing saffron in Norfolk. So please use the power of your pocket to support these guys and get ordering, and pass this on to any of your friends who might find it useful. Thank you.

Hodmedod’s are often nicknamed the Bean Boys as their thing is beans – from lentils to split peas, chickpeas and fava beans (two pictures above). They’re all grown in the UK. The Suffolk-based company also produces a wide and interesting range of flours, which has made it very popular in recent weeks (and are mostly sold out). Pulses like lentils and chickpeas can be a godsend if you’ve run out of veg, so are worth keeping in your storecupboard just in case. Order online, delivery £3.95 for orders under £40, FREE for orders £40 or more.

Origin Coffee Roasters, based in Cornwall, depend on restaurants, bars and delis for much of their trade, so need our business just now. As they supply the coffee at our Bristol feasts, I can vouch for their excellence, and given that you’re probably spending more time at home, you might as well be drinking something decent – such as their San Fermin, sourced direct from farmers in Colombia. They offer subscriptions too, and will deliver to your door. If  you order before the end of April, you can get a 20% discount.

Why not use your extra time at home to learn how to use British saffron? You can buy it from Norfolk Saffron , one of Britain’s main producers of saffron. Use it in risottos or paellas. Sally Francis, who grows the saffron crocuses herself, now also produces saffron flour – perfect for breads, cakes and biscuits.

Veronica Farm, on Bryher, one of the Isles of Scilly, is an essential stop on any tour of the island on account of its delicious fudge. It’s made with milk, cream and butter from Troytown Farm on neighbouring St Agnes, as well as salt from St Martin’s, and honey from Bryher when available. Kris Taylor, who makes the fudge, sells it from an honesty stall in front of the farm, but with lockdown there are obviously no visitors so online orders are crucial. Happily it’s very postable! Why not sweeten a friend’s quarantine with a packet of Kris’ fudge? The Scillonian Sea Salt gets my top vote, although it’s a close run thing with the Whisky and Stem Ginger.

Normally it’s only restaurants who can get hold of Natoora‘s top-class veg, but with eating places closed, now you too can get your hands on this veg and have it delivered to your door – provided you live in London (zones 1-4), Oxford or Cambridge. Natoora has also partnered with independent food and drink suppliers to provide things like beer, milk, bread, meat and spirits, which you can order in addition to your veg. Delivery is just £6 and to register, just press here.

It’s well worth a pilgrimage to Orford on the Suffolk coast to try the breads and cakes at Pump Street Bakery. Lockdown may make this impossible, but the good news is that you can make a virtual pilgrimage by ordering their bakery goods and chocolate online. Just visit their website and check out their Doorstep Friendly Packages – including, if you wish, their famous Eccles cakes.

Lucy and Anthony Carroll (Lucy pictured above) grow 13 amazing varieties of heritage potatoes on their Northumberland farm, and before corona you’d have spotted them on the plates of celebrity chefs such as Simon Rogan and Tom Kerridge. Happily they deliver to British homes too, so why not use lockdown as a fantastic opportunity to try some potato varieties you’ve never tasted before? Like the knobbly, waxy textured and delicately flavoured Pink Fir Apple 1850; the gloriously floury Mayan Gold with golden coloured flesh; or purple-skinned Shetland Black (pictured below) believed to have been salvaged from the Spanish Armada. Prices range from £3.99 for 1.5 kg and £24- £28 for 12.5 kg. Discount of 15% on orders over £47, next day delivery.

Corona survival: how to buy great meat without going to a supermarketApril 4, 2020


Hi all, I hope you’re surviving corona lockdown as best you can. Last week I listed a few of my favourite cheese producers who can deliver, and this week I’m looking at meat producers who will also deliver to your doorstep so that you don’t have to go into a supermarket. So if you’re self-isolating or sensibly just being cautious, get ordering!

If you have a local butcher who can deliver, please support them. If not, here are a few of my favourite farms and butchers who do national deliveries. Many of these normally supply restaurants, so by buying from them you are helping them survive some extremely difficult times. So it’s a win-win. We’re not talking ordinary or average meat here – this is the best. Pretty much all of it is pasture-fed, rather than grain-fed, which is better for both wildlife and your health.

Next week I’ll be listing bread, chocolate, pulses and any other dried goods – feel free to let me know your favourite online suppliers. Stay safe.

Online butchers Farmison & Co will deliver their top-class meats (two pics above) for FREE if you spend over £40. Order online or phone 01765 824050.

As the name suggests, Cabrito, set up by former River Cottage chef James Whetlor, specialises in goat. Normally James supplies restaurants, so now needs people like you and me to buy his gorgeous British kid goat meat (above). Free delivery on orders over £70, so why not club together with neighbours (at a safe distance of course) to buy a job lot?                                                         Pic: @her_dark_materials

The Pure Meat Company , based in Kent, is a first generation farm producing sustainable, slow-grown meat, from free-range Tamworth pork to Romney grass-fed lamb (pictured), hogget and mutton. Order meat boxes via  Delivery only to Kent and E Sussex – but it’s FREE, so if you live there, get ordering!

Huntsham Farm, in Herefordshire, produces rare breed meats, from Longhorn beef to Middle White pork and Ryeland lamb (above). It normally supplies Britain’s top chefs (such as Michel Roux, and James Martin whom you may have been cooking Huntsham meat on Saturday Kitchen) but with corona it’s having to rely on us. Delivery is free on orders over £53.75; this is the cost of 5kg of sausages or mince, so why not order these and freeze them, to keep you and your family going over the coming weeks?  You’ve never tasted meat like this before!

Eversfield Organic sells organic meat from its own Devon farm, including beef from its Aberdeen Angus herd that’s fed on a 100 percent pasture diet. For a simple lockdown supper, when you’ve run out of ideas of what to cook, the beef steak and ale pies (above) are a godsend. Eversfield also sells organic dairy, fish, fruit and veg, so you can pretty much do your weekly shop through them. Mainland delivery is £3.95 on a minimum order of £40, free if over £80.

Coombe Farm, in Somerset, produces outstanding organic meat and if you’re not sure what to buy, I recommend an Organic Meat Box (above) which offers a bit of everything. Alternatively, just order your favourite cut, like the organic lamb neck fillet below. Minimum spend is £40, and delivery just £5. Pics: Neil White

Also try: Todenham Manor Farm in the Cotswolds, Walter Rose & Son traditional butchers based in Wiltshire, and Gloucester-based Native Breeds

Corona survival: how to stock up on good cheese without going to a shopMarch 28, 2020


These are difficult times, to say the least. I hope you’re keeping well. I know many of you are, like me, self-isolating so cannot get to shops. Even if you’re not self-isolating, shopping is still a risk. So I’m collecting details of small food independent companies that will deliver to your door, so you don’t have to go out. I’ll be listing them sector by sector, starting with cheese and butter, moving to meat, then bread and dried goods, and so on.

The good news is that this will help independent food companies, which are extremely vulnerable at a time like this. Farms with cattle producing milk need to continue selling it or they won’t survive. Many family butchers and businesses making high-quality artisan bread, cheese or charcuterie won’t get through this crisis unless we support them. So shopping from them is a win-win. As we’ve seen, the big supermarkets cannot cope, so being small and flexible is actually proving an advantage. Get ordering – and please pass on this info to anyone you know!

The places listed below deliver nationally. But if you live in Bristol, you can order fabulous (mostly British) cheeses from Two Belly, who will deliver cheese (and butter, bread, eggs, and booze) to your door FOR FREE if you live in central Bristol. The Bristol Cheesemonger  will deliver for a charge of £3 to postcodes BS1 to BS8, or for free anywhere in the UK if your order is over £50.

If you’re a small food company who is delivering and should be included here, please get in touch.

Keep safe.

Devon-based Clothbound Cheddar producer, Quicke’s, can deliver its fabulous artisan cheeses (two pics above) nationwide, tel 01392 851000. It’s offering free delivery to NHS staff and all vulnerable groups (including those in self-isolation) affected by COVID-19. These people can use code ‘CHEESE25’ to get free delivery on orders above £25. Pics: Matt Austin

The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company  is the only business still making cheddar (above) in the village of Cheddar, Somerset. Place your order before 9am Monday – Thursday for next day delivery. £4.95 delivery for up to 20kg.

Fen Farm Dairy, in Suffolk, makes Baron Bigod cheese (above) from the raw milk of its own Monbeliarde cows. If you’re not already acquainted with the baron, it’s the only traditional raw milk Brie-de-Meaux-style cheese made in the UK, and so gorgeous that even the French are envious! As they rely on the restaurant trade for much of their business, they have a lot of cheese to shift, so are offering their Baron Bigod at HALF PRICE, with FREE delivery nationwide. Round cheeses cost £20 a kilo, or can you buy wedges, which freeze well, for £45 for eight wedges. Order their raw-milk butter too.

Cheesemakers of Canterbury have become famous in the cheese world for their cheddar-style Ashmore (above) which comes in various stage of maturity. I love their Ancient Ashmore, aged for at least 12 months. They also make other cheeses, such as a Canterbury Cobble and Kelly’s Goats (see their range pictured below). The cheesmaker normally sells much of its cheese at The Goods Shed, a magnificent farmer’s market/foodhall/restaurant inside an old station goods shed in central Canterbury, Kent. The Goods Shed is now offering to deliver any goods from the market (including Cheesemakers of Canterbury cheeses) for £10 if you live outside Canterbury, or £5 if you live in Canterbury. Visit the website to see what’s available, then email your shopping list to   Independent businesses like The Goods Shed urgently need our support at this difficult time, so please get ordering.

Another Kent business that needs supporting, and that is offering FREE delivery, is Kingcott Dairy  , a small family dairy farm that makes blue cheeses from the milk of their own dairy cows.  They’re also offering their Blues Boxes at discount prices.

Finally, Somerset’s Westcombe Dairy will deliver their hand-crafted traditional cheddar anywhere in England and Wales for just a tenner. Order by noon Mon-Thurs and you’ll get it next day.

Cheesemakers of Canterbury cheeseboard

Plot to plate eating on the Isles of ScillyJanuary 7, 2019

One of the many lovely things about eating out in the Isles of Scilly is that while you do so you can usually see the place where your meal was born. Food generally travels yards not miles. So bag a seat at Juliet’s on St Mary’s (pictured above) and you gaze over the bay in which the crustaceans for  its crab sandwiches were caught, and below, the century-old greenhouses where Juliet’s family cultivates tomatoes that taste like your grandad’s used to taste (and if you’re lucky, you’ll grab a stonking sunset too).  Boat it to Tresco to eat in its New Inn or Flying Boat, and you’ll be offered a Beef and Stilton pie or sirloin steak using beef from the island’s herds of Devon Red and Limousine cows which you’ll have passed. On Scilly you won’t find Michelin stars (although there are plenty of the other kind in its pristine skies) or celebrity chefs. But you will find food that’s as fresh and local as anywhere in the British Isles. Time your visit to coincide with Scilly’s annual Taste of Scilly Festival throughout September.

I recently ate my way round the Isles while researching a food feature for their annual guide (read the 2019 one here). Here are ten of the many places I can recommend (with pictures taken by me):

Juliet’s Garden Restaurant, St Mary’s

This old-time favourite, owned and run by Juliet May, may have been going for nearly 40 years but hasn’t lost its touch. One of the best things about it (apart from the crab sandwiches and tomatoes) is that it’s a fifteen minute walk from Hugh Town, so you’re suitably hungry when you get there. The views are as delicious as the food, and almost as good inside the glass-fronted restaurant as outside on the terrace.

John Dory on a pea risotto at Juliet’s, St Mary’s


On the Quay, St Mary’s

As its name suggests, this industrial-chic hangout is right on the quay where Scilly’s inter-island launches depart from, and its balcony is a prime spot from which to view its famous May bank holiday gig races. We loved its contemporary vibe, original pine floors and art-daubed timber walls. Much of the spacious interior is created from reclaimed materials, including scrubbed wooden tables made from scaffolding planks and poles and a well-stocked bar formed from the steps to Porthcressa beach! Sensibly-priced food hovers between casual and fine dining, so there’s something to please everyone. We loved the grilled mackerel fillets with salsify, baby fennel, parmentier potatoes and celeriac puree.


Strudel in Town, St Mary’s

This tiny cafe (attached to a hairdressers) on the main drag of Hugh Town is the second of two strudel cafes owned and run by German-born Sabine Schauldolph. Grab the table in the window to see the goings-on on Town Beach, and choose from a range of Bavarian goodies; the must-eat, of course, is Sabine’s apfelstrudel, made daily from locally grown apples and served with generous lashings of clotted cream.

Apple strudel at Strudel in Town


The Spirit Restaurant, St Mary’s Hall Hotel, St Mary’s

Sustainability and provenance are the catchwords at this gastronomic boutique hotel, in the centre of Hugh Town. So the hotel will even be able to tell you the name of the Scillonian boat that caught the crab accompanying your linguine for starter! Meat all comes from the owner’s Gloucestershire farm which slow-rears rare-breed cows, pigs and sheep.


The Beach, Hugh Town, St Mary’s

Feel the sand between your toes as you eat that this joint, housed in a converted boat shed on  Porthmellon Beach. In summer you can sit out on the balcony and watch the sunsetting over Samson and Tresco. But, with its scrubbed wood tables and reclaimed wood walls and blackboard menu, it’s equally atmospheric inside. The restaurant is owned by St Mary’s Hall hotel, so you can expect the same scrupulous sourcing of both (rare-breed) meat and seafood – but here it’s barbecued. Lobsters come half or whole, with a choice of flavoured butters, and burgers (in a sourdough roll) are from 28-day-dry-aged Gloucester beef. If you want the real deal, plump for the Beach Surf and Turf Burger which combines the two.

Lunch at The Beach, St Mary’s


Dibble & Grub, Porthcressa Beach, St Mary’s

The building housing this friendly, Moorish-feel restaurant used to be a fire station – hence the name borrowed from two of the firemen in the Trumpton children’s TV series. The style is Spanish tapas but the ingredients are very much Scillonian. If you want to eat truly local, opt for the Taste of Scilly menu which, on the night I visited, included butternut squash, courgettes with tomatoes, and edible flowers and leaves (pictured below). The service, convivial atmosphere and coffee are as wonderful as the food.

Taste of Scilly tapas at Dibble & Grub, St Mary’s


Hell Bay Hotel, Bryher

Made it to the tiny island of Bryher? Sit by the fire in the bar along with contented dogs and anoraked walkers, or settle into one of the hotel’s restaurants; either way the food is firmly rooted in Bryher’s earth and sea. Vegetables and strawberries come from Hillside Farm, down the road,  while fish is from Island Fish, near the landing stage. In summer, get your fingers sticky in its Crab Shack, in the hotel grounds, where you feast on locally caught crab and mussels, followed by Eton mess from Hillside strawberries. Heaven.


Hillside Farm, Bryher

If you’re self-catering you might not want to eat out every evening, so the roadside honesty stall at Hillside Farm is a godsend. Stacked with everything from asparagus to eggs, courgettes, tomatoes and strawberries, it has everything you could need for a gourmet supper. There’s meat too – beef from their North Devon cows and pork from their Saddleback pigs.

Hillside Farm, Bryher


Island Fish

Doubling up as a fish shop and cafe, Island Fish – by the landing stage on Bryher – is the place to get ready-to-eat crab. It’s run by brother and sister Amanda and Mark Pender whose family who have been fishing for three generations, and their operation now includes a boat run by Amanda’s teenage son. On Thursday evenings, Amanda and Mark’s mum makes seafood paella which you eat on the verandah, and on Sundays Mark grills lobster which he serves with potato wedges and coleslaw for a tenner. “People are often scared of shellfish,” says Amanda. “We try to make it accessible.”

Crabs ready for picking at Island Fish, Bryher


Westward Farm Gin, St Agnes

Offbeat, quiet and stunningly beautiful, St Agnes has attractions enough. But add ice-cream and gin to the mix, you have something that in my book is something approaching heaven. The ice-cream and clotted cream produced at Troytown Farm at the end of the island’s single road has been amply covered but the gins at Westward Farm are new. Westward Farm has long been producing essential oils (some of which are used in Troytown’s ice creams) and now they’re using them in their gins, along with foraged botanicals such as gorse flowers and kelp which are  the key ingredients of their Wingletang gin, named after their local downs.

A house on St Agnes

Truth, Love & Clean CutleryNovember 26, 2018

Times restaurant critic Giles Coren describes his recently-published Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery, as “a guide to the truly good restaurants and food experiences of the UK.”  But what – apart from stonking food and wine – constitutes a “good” restaurant? Is it Michelin stars? A chef with celebrity status? Designer decor on both walls and plates? Or what?

The answer, according to Giles, is a restaurant whose food does good as well as tastes good. In recent years a growing number of chefs and restaurants have been emphasising local and seasonal produce, reducing carbon emissions, minimising waste, supporting sustainable practice by farmers, producers and wine-makers, and being an active part of their communities. Helpfully, Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery tells you which they are.

“This is a new kind of restaurant guide for a new kind of restaurant world,” says Giles. “In the year that Blue Planet II brought home the oceanic catastrophe wrought by single-use plastic and all but killed off the disposable drinking straw in a single evening, it is just not tenable to buy food and drink anywhere now without an assurance that every possible effort has been made to – in the words of the Hippocratic Oath – “do no harm.””

Giles’ first principle of selection for the guide was, naturally, divine food. “No one crosses town for dinner because the restaurant recycles its grey water to feed the tomatoes on its roof, or makes its furniture from old plastic bottles,” says Giles. “We go for the crispy, gooey pizza, slightly charred at the edges and blobbed with nduja and sage… But with that assured, don’t we want to know that what they are doing in this place is good?”

By Giles’ own admission, the selection is far from exhaustive and definitive, just a first attempt. We will all know places that deserve to be in the guide, but are not (yet), and I know Giles and his associate editor Jules Mercer would be delighted to hear from you with any suggestions for the next edition.

Buy this guide as a Christmas present for every foodie you know, and you’ll be helping both the restaurants who care about the world they live in – and the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), which helped Giles compite his list and to whom ten percent of the book’s revenues will go.

“With this guide people can vote with their forks and use the power of their appetites wisely,” says Andrew Stephen, the Chief Executive of the SRA which helps food-service businesses work towards sustainability.

Well done Giles, Thames&Hudson, and all the restaurants in this brilliant book. No longer do you need to leave your conscience at home when you eat out. I’m afraid it’s no secret what my friends and family are getting for Christmas!

Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery, A Guide to the Truly Good Restaurants and Food Experiences of the UK, Edited by Giles Coren, is published by Thames & Hudson, RRP £19.99

Here are a few of the restaurants which Giles has selected for inclusion in his book:


Sorella, 148 Clapham Manor Street, London SW4

“Dishes of an incredible quality, so focused, so well balanced, so adventurous and hearty. One of the most promising openings of 2018.”


Cafe Murano

Cafe Murano, 33 St James’s Street, London SW1

“Angela Hartnett calls this a cafe, but the level of attention to detail, the skill in the cooking, the beauty of the presentation, and the professionalism of the staff bespeak far higher things – but without all the tosspottery of fine dining. Cafe Murano is Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery to the max!”


The Bookshop

The Bookshop, 33 Aubrey Street, Hereford

“Thursday to Friday it’s cuts of dry-aged Herefordshire beef and other seasonal, local specialities. On Sundays it’s a roast they say is “better than your mum’s”, which we will gladly believe. Our mum mostly opens tins.”


The Whitehouse Restaurant                                           Image by Clare Hargreaves

The Whitehouse Restaurant, Lochaline, Morvern, Scotland

“For delicious, fresh and exciting fare that aids the community and does its bit to help the environment, a visit to The Whitehouse hits the spot.”


Petersham Nurseries

Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Richmond, London

“We particularly admire their attention to waste management and recycling, which are by no means the most glamorous or visible aspects of the business… They are also committed to reducing food waste from their kitchens, prep from entire carcasses, and are committed to composting. They use imitation greaseproof paper made from sustainable forest paper and havde swapped from clingfilm to compostable bio-film.”

Dude food in North Cornwall’s BudeAugust 28, 2018

Mention North Cornwall to a foodie and most will picture Port Isaac (featured in my previous blog post), or Padstow, once nicknamed Padstein for its abundance of Rick Stein eateries but now perhaps more famous for Paul Ainsworth’s sublime No6. Towns further north, such as Bude, rarely get a mention.

But ignore Bude and you’ll deprive your tastebuds. It might lack the celebrity chefs and the picturesque cobbled streets of the Two P’s, but over the past few years workaday Bude has been quietly upping its game to become a mini foodie hub.

Leading the revolution is Temple at Bude, a relaxed bar-cafe-restaurant-shop that’s been open for under a year but is already drawing a youthful and eco-savvy clientele with its arty vibe, international food and hip cocktails. With its glass front, contemporary furniture and bright cushions, it’s a beautifully designed space in which to linger. If the Middle Eastern flavours remind you of Ottolenghi, it’s no coincidence as chef Craig Tregonning used to head up Ottolenghi Islington (and was one of the team Scully brought with him to cook a Feast with a Chef in Bristol a couple of years ago). It’s a far cry from the mediocre seaside fish and chips sourced from nowhere particular that you so often find in Britain’s coastal towns. Temple breaks the mould in other ways too; a boutique at the back it sells sustainable, quality clothing (hence the ‘Edibles and Threadables’ slogan daubed on its exterior walls), a spin-off of the fact that one of the two couples running Temple used to work for big fashion houses.

The all-day foodie fun starts at breakfast when you can try Craig’s zesty mushrooms with dukkah (pictured), or his signature toastie made from sourdough made at nearby Coombeshead Farm, home-fermented kimchi and mature Cheddar (pictured) – sounds strange but it works, the acidic kimchi the perfect partner to the rich fatty cheese. Breakfast, by the way, lasts pretty much all day, so stoke up your appetite with a spot of surfing first if you want. For elevenses and tea there are home-made cakes, which you can wash down with a beetroot or turmeric latte, or a proper cup of tea that’s brewed in a teapot and served with organic milk from nearby Roadford Valley farm. For lunch there are small dishes, all as good on the eye as on the stomach, and all using proper locally produced ingredients, most of them organic. On the day I visited they included hot-smoked Chalk Stream trout with organic leaves, horseradish and buckwheat; and Hake with roasted garlic aioli, chard and brassica flowers (both pictured).

In the evening, Temple morphs into a laid-back restaurant, which gives you a good excuse to try the cocktails (many using home-grown herbs, like coriander, and sweetened with stuff like dates instead of sugar which is a lovely touch). I kicked off with Lavosh (thin, Middle Eastern cracker bread) with a cucumber, basil and avocado dip (again, an unusual but spot-on combo), then for starter tried the Braised cuttlefish stew (£9), before tucking into a Roast organic pork belly main (£15) which was meltingly tender with crackling just the right side of denture-breaking. Producing food of this quality at these prices is no mean feat so Temple’s owners and chefs deserve high praise. Go! Now!

Happily, Bude’s foodie offering does not end at Temple. A few hundred yards on, overlooking the town’s spectacular Summerleaze beach, The Beach at Bude is a boutique hotel that provides creative cooking of a more classic kind. The chap behind it all is Joe Simmonds, who trained under Sam Moody at the Michelin-starred Bath Priory. Also not to be missed is the North Coast Wine Company, a wine bar-cum-winestore in the heart of town, run by the dynamic Oliver Tullett. Not only does it stock over 600 different wines and spirits, and loads of ales and ciders from Cornish producers (including Haywood Farm Cider from nearby St Maybn), but Oliver can offer you a choice of 13 different gins (including The Wrecking Coast from nearby Tintagel), cocktails (try the Breaking Bad), or a freshly ground coffee from Sabins Artisan Roasters based less than four miles away. I told you the town was cool. If you’re a foodie dude, head to Bude!

I visited Bude while researching a feature about the food of the North Cornwall coast for the August issue of Olive. You can it on the home page.

Toasted Coombeshead sourdough filled with mature cheddar and home-fermented kimchi, at Temple at Bude. Images copyright Clare Hargreaves

Lavosh, cucumber, basil and avocado dip, and one of Temple’s herb cocktails

Zesty mushrooms with dukkah

Hot-smoked Chalk Stream trout, organic leaves, horseradish and buckwheat; Hake with roasted garlic aioli, chard and brassica flowers, at Temple at Bude

The bar at Temple at Bude


Granite cliffs, north of Bude

Sea to plate eating at Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen, Port IsaacAugust 16, 2018

Many chefs boast about serving fresh, local produce, but eat at Nathan Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen, in Port Isaac, and you can spy the day boat, the Mary D, that caught your lunch bobbing on the sea just a few yards from your table. Few restaurants in the UK can be as close to the action as this wonky little slate-clad gem, once two fisherman’s cottages, bang on the harbour front.

Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen is the little sister to Nathan Outlaw’s posher eponymous restaurant at the top of the village, and I visited while researching a feature on the food of the North Cornwall coast for Olive magazine. Its slimline card menu sets the scene for what to expect: “You shall have a fishy on a little dishy… ” and goes on to describe the offering as “small, original and delicious seafood plates, cooked to order and served when ready.”

It works. Like the building they’re served in the plates are indeed small (forget any hope of sharing, you won’t want to share even the tiniest morsel, believe me) and they are indeed original and delicious. Equally laudable is the fact that the fish is bought from local fishermen who use low impact fishing methods from boats at are certified by the responsible fishing scheme. I kicked off with Cured brill, that was paired with aromatic basil and pistachio and accompanied by an anchovy mayonnaise (£11). Sounds odd, but was a marriage made in fishy heaven – all thanks to the skills of Huddersfield-born chef Tim Barnes, who started as a pot-wash at Restaurant Nathan Outlaw then worked his way up.

But while the food, like that at the restaurant up top, is Michelin-starred, it’s also simple, letting the ingredients sing for themselves. (My third fish dish, for instance, was simply a grilled mackerel.)  And the intimacy of the place means that formality goes out of the window and you’re chatting with the neighbours you’re rubbing elbows with before you’ve even started nibbling. Service likewise is slick and professional yet genuinely friendly and relaxed at the same time.

I finished with the Chocolate, Espresso & Lime Baked Alaska (£7.50), scoffed too fast to photograph and the end to a perfect lunch. Thumbs up Nathan – this is just how a restaurant should be!

You can read my feature about the food of the North Cornwall coast in the August issue of Olive .

Cured brill with pistachio, basil and anchovy mayonnaise, at Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen, Port Isaac. Copyright Clare Hargreaves

Grey mullet with saffron cream and Cornish mussels at Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen, Port Isaac

Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen, Port Isaac

Mackerel at Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen, Port Isaac

Port Isaac, Cornwall

Cornwall meets Italy on the North Cornwall coastAugust 8, 2018

It’s not often a pre-prandial nibble that sticks in your mind after eating in a top-notch restaurant. Forget salty peanuts, olives or fiddly canapés which tantalise more than they satisfy. The anchovies wrapped with deep-fried sage that Andy Appleton feeds you as you arrive at his Appleton’s restaurant, are in another league; moreishly salty, crunchy, and deeply satisfying, I could happily dine just on these.

I visited while researching a feature on the food of the North Cornwall coast for Olive magazine, published in its August issue this week. Andy, as any foodie knows, used to head the kitchen at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall and before that worked at Fifteen London. In March 2016 he and his partner Lyndsey bravely decided to launch their own venture.

The setting is idyllic – a light, contemporary building bang in the middle of a working vineyard and winery, Trevibban Mill, with views across a wooded valley. Touristy Padstow might be just a few miles away, but this place is so tucked away you’d never guess it. The narrow lanes leading there have grass growing in the middle – in my book, always a good sign of getting away from it all.

Andy’s cooking is uncluttered, and ingredient-led, and his creative ideas are guided by   years of training and travelling, mainly in Italy. It’s simple yet intriguing at the same time. The main ingredients are Cornish and they naturally change with the seasons, so when I visited there was Padstow crab with confit tomatoes and bee pollen granola (wow!) for starter, and for main, Wild garlic agnolotti filled with fermented leek. Herbs, vegetables, honey and lamb are sourced from the vineyard, so we’re talking not just food miles but food yards. Andy also draws on the region’s fantastic seafood, so not surprisingly the Rose harissa fish stew and the Squid ink linguine (home-made of course) with Cornish scallops have both become menu staples.

To this glorious Cornish produce Andy adds a few carefully chosen specialist Italian ingredients, such as fregola, which bulks out the fish stew; ricotta, used to fill hand-made pasta; and ‘Nduja which is used in a pangrattato to sprinkle over the squid ink linguine. As at Fifteen, Cornwall and Italy meet on the plate – and it works. This is Italian-style rustic cooking that’s modern, utterly delicious and exactly the kind of food I want to eat.

The Italian-Cornish fusion continues when it comes to the drinks. As with the food, Andy sources the “best of the west”, while also listing some of his and Lyndsey’s personal Italian favourites. For Cornish beverages, they’ve not had to venture further than the vineyard outside; they stock all of Trevibban Mill’s excellent ciders (still and sparkling) and wines (including its very drinkable sparkling rose brut which makes a superb aperitif).

For relaxed breakfast-to-dinner eating at digestible prices, this is one of North Cornwall’s top addresses. Even if you visit just for those anchovy and sage crispy bits, go. Make sure you leave room in your boot to stock up on Trevibban Mill wines and ciders, and if you’re there on a Wednesday or Sunday in high season you can join a tour of the vineyard too.

Anchovy and sage crispy bits at Appleton’s. Copyright Clare Hargreaves

Wild garlic agnolotti filled with fermented leek & ricotta. Copyright Clare Hargreaves

Squid ink linguine with Cornish scallops & Nduja pangrattato. Copyright Clare Hargreaves

Appleton’s Bar & Restaurant

Rose harissa fish stew with fregola. Copyright Clare Hargreaves

Cooking on the edgeJuly 17, 2018

All too often Palestine is in the news for its troubles, so it’s refreshing to see a cookbook celebrating its wonderful food. Zaitoun, written by award-winning food and travel writer Yasmin Khan, published this week, is a welcome celebration of the punchy flavours of Palestinian home cooking. (Zaitoun means ‘olive’, one of the key ingredients in the Palestinian kitchen).

Yasmin is not Palestinian herself; she was born in London to a Pakistani father and an Iranian mother, and spent her childhood between the UK and Iran. But Yasmin, who is not only a cook and writer but also a human rights activist, has spent plenty of time in Palestine finding out for herself about its cooking, and through it, the lives of its people. She learns how to hand-roll maftool, the plump Palestinian giant couscous; harvests black olives from the groves of Burquin in the West Bank; and hangs out with the guys at the Taybeh brewery who are producing the first Palestinian craft beer.

I love the simplicity of the 80 recipes in this book, many of them vegetarian versions of Palestinian classics, of which the roasted carrots (below) is a great example. Eminently doable, it’s the perfect dish to include at dinners outside on hot summer evenings. I also love her fragrant Roast cauliflower soup, and unusual desserts which include a Spiced pumpkin, olive oil and orange cake. A vibrant and touching book about a part of the world that rarely gets a look-in.

Roast rainbow carrots with herbed yogurt

“This recipe is inspired by a meal I enjoyed at Tawla, a Palestinian-owned restaurant in San Francisco that serves up innovative and tasty adaptations of Eastern Mediterranean cuisine. Rainbow carrots are a particular addiction of mine and I adore how they brighten up my table with their purple and golden hues. If you can’t find any, fear not, regular carrots will do, just try and buy organic if you can as the taste is so much better. This salad is best made an hour or so in advance, then left to rest so the carrots soak up all the herby flavours from the dressing.”

Serves 4 as part of a spread

1kg mixed rainbow carrots (ideally purple, white and orange)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons natural yogurt

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh dill, or ½ teaspoon dried dill

1 teaspoon dried mint

½ teaspoon nigella seeds

¾ teaspoon sesame seeds


Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/Gas 6.

Peel the carrots and slice them diagonally into thick wedges. Toss them with 2 tablespoons of the extra virgin olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt and roast for 30–35 minutes, until they are tender, but still have some bite.

Meanwhile, whisk together all the remaining ingredients, except the seeds, (and not forgetting the final 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil) with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. 

When the carrots are ready, transfer them to a serving dish and leave them to cool to room temperature. Pour over the yogurt dressing, mix well, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Scatter with the nigella and sesame seeds.

You can tuck in immediately or, for best results, cover and leave to rest for about 1 hour before serving.

From Zaitoun: Recipes and Stories from the Palestinian Kitchen by Yasmin Khan (Bloomsbury £26). Photography © Matt Russell

Mezze spread. Photography © Matt Russell

Yasmin Khan. Photography © Matt Russell