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Food Traditions in Devon and Cornwall – A Wonderful Guest Blog by Cornish Hampers

22nd April 2016

The West Country, in particular Devon and Cornwall, is famous for its food and drink.  Along with beautiful countryside, moorland and glorious coastline, the food on offer in the region is a big part of the draw that brings millions of tourists into Devon and Cornwall every year.   New enterprise, Cornish Hampers, is an on-line hamper company that is proud to share the delicious food and drink from the West Country with the rest of the UK.  They send cream teas and other food hampers from Cornwall as gifts throughout Great Britain.  Cornish Hampers have written this guide to some of the food traditions that Devon and Cornwall are famous for.  Given Devon and Cornwall’s similar climates and ample farmland and coastlines there are plenty of specialities that both counties have in common, so it makes sense to write an article covering them both together.

The Cream Tea – A traditional cream tea, also known as a Devonshire cream tea or Cornish cream tea, is a speciality of Devon and Cornwall where a pot of tea is served with scones, jam and clotted cream.  The exact origin of the “cream tea” is disputed, but there is evidence that the tradition of eating bread with cream and jam started at Tavistock Abbey in Devon in the 11th century.  In Cornwall, the cream tea was traditionally served with a “Cornish split”, a type of slightly sweet white bread roll, rather than a scone.  Nowadays the scones and clotted cream used throughout tearooms in both counties are very similar, and therefore the main difference is how you choose to have it.  In Devon, cream teas are served with jam on top of the clotted cream, whilst in Cornwall the cream goes on top.

A Devonshire Cream Tea

A work of art – a Devonshire cream tea

Clotted Cream – Clotted cream is a smooth, thick cream traditionally made in Devon and Cornwall by heating unpasteurised cow’s milk that is left in a shallow pan for many hours causing the cream to rise to the surface and ‘clot’.  Cornish clotted cream has been awarded ‘Protected Designation of Origin’ status, along with the likes of champagne and Parma ham.  Rodda’s of Cornwall are the world’s biggest producers of clotted cream but have remained a family run business since they began producing clotted cream more than 120 years ago.  The largest manufacturer of clotted cream in Devon is Langage Farm; they’re the first UK Carbon Neutral Dairy with an Anaerobic Digester Facility generating electricity from food waste, which supplies the farm and dairy with its energy needs.

Seafood – With Cornwall being surrounded by the sea on three coasts and Devon being the only UK county to have two separate coastlines, it’s no surprise that the region produces and consumes lots of fresh fish.  Rick Stein’s seafood restaurant in Padstow and Mitch Tonks’ Rockfish restaurants (in Dartmouth, Torquay, Brixham and Plymouth) do a particularly good job at promoting the area as one of the best places for ‘straight from the sea’ fish in the UK.  Take away fish and chips are particularly popular at seaside locations throughout the West Country.  Hanburys’ Fish & Seafood Takeaway in Babbacombe, Torquay, has won a number of awards and is well regarded by locals and regular tourists as offering the best fish and chips around.

Fish and chips of the highest quality served up at Rockfish in Dartmouth

Cornish Pasty – Probably Cornwall’s most widely known food, the Cornish pasty has always been a popular meal in the county.  In years gone by the pasty was the ideal lunch for Cornish tin-miners as it was seen as a complete meal that could be easily transported and consumed without cutlery, with some miners using the side-crimps as a handle that could be discarded.  Following the spread of Cornish miners, it became and still is popular worldwide, and in 2011 the traditional Cornish pasty was given ‘Protected Geographical Indication’ status in Europe.  The pasty is also common in Devon, with Chunk of Devon producing pasties and pies using ingredients sourced from with the South West.

Fudge – Handmade fudge is abundant in shop windows throughout Devon and Cornwall’s coastal towns like Salcombe, Padstow, Totnes and St. Ives.  Local clotted cream is a key ingredient in fudge produced within the West Country.  Some tourist shops offer fudge in a mind boggling array of flavour combinations, with Christmas pudding flavour a popular one through the winter.

Roly's Fudge in Dartmouth

Fudge being prepared at Roly’s Fudge Pantry in Dartmouth

Clotted Cream Ice Cream – Local ice cream is made using clotted cream.  It’s a tradition that began in the region but has spread with many of the region’s brands available throughout UK supermarkets.  Coastal towns in the county are all brimming with ice cream parlours; one of the best is Gay’s Creamery in Dawlish who offer home-made clotted cream dolloped directly on top of the ice cream’s they sell.

Cornish Fairings – A Cornish fairing is a type of traditional ginger biscuit commonly found in Cornwall.  The term ‘fairing’ originated from treats sold at fairs in the county.  Furniss in Redruth is well-known for manufacturing the biscuit, which it has been producing since 1886.

Cider – Cider is popular throughout the UK, with the world’s highest per capita consumption of this alcoholic drink.  But it is especially popular in the West Country, where a lot of Cider companies set up their production facilities immediately alongside their orchards.  Cider produced in the West Country tends to be made using a much higher percentage of true cider apples and so is richer in tannins and sharper in flavour.  Scrumpy is a term used to distinguish locally made ciders in the West Country produced in smaller quantities and using traditional methods.  Scrumpy can be dry or sweet, and is usually still rather than carbonated, but may have some degree of carbonation.  Brands based in Devon and Cornwall include Hunt’s Cider, Cornish OrchardsHealey’s Cyder, Cornwall Cider Co, Sandford Orchards, Ashridge Cider & Winkleigh Cider to name a few.

Hunt's Cider

A broad range of varieties offered by Hunt’s Cider

Wine - English sparkling wine is now widely recognised as amongst the best in the world and the South West is home to a selection of award-winning vineyards and wineries. These include Sharpham, Old Walls, Lily Farm and Pebblebed vineyards, who offer guided tours and expert tastings all set in the beautiful Devonshire countryside.

Guests enjoying a wine tasting at Sharpham Vineyard

Guests of Unique Devon Tours enjoying some fine wine at Sharpham Vineyard

Brewing - Craft beer is on the increase in the UK with Devon and Cornwall home to a number of excellent local brewers.  Based in Princetown, Dartmoor Brewery is actually England’s highest brewery at 1,465ft above sea level.  They use authentic brewing techniques and the finest local ingredients, including Dartmoor spring water and Devon malted barley, to produce award winning real ales.  Others include Hunter’s Brewery, South Hams BrewerySt Austell Brewery and Sharp’s Brewery to name a few.

Chilli Farms - Growing chillies is one of the more recent practices found in the West Country.  One of the best chilli farms in the country, recommended by Jamie Oliver, is South Devon Chilli Farm.  Established in 2001 they now plant around 10,000 chilli crop plants each year on their 10 acre farm in sunny South Devon.  Their shop and café is open to visitors all year round, with guided tours of the farm also available.

Chilli Peppers

Chilli peppers grown at South Devon Chilli Farm

Cheesemaking - The West Country is blessed with plenty of Artisan cheese makers.  Quicke’s have been crafting magnificent flavours of award winning cheese on their family farm at Newton St Cyres for almost five centuries.  Creating handmade cheese is a very sensory, tactile process and the best way to appreciate the quality of their products is to partake in one of Quicke’s cheese tours.

Don’t forget that award winning Unique Devon Tours offers a Devon Food & Drink Tour where you can visit some of the locations mentioned above and really get to understand the stories behind each product.

A Devon Tour Guide’s Six Favourite Cream Tea Haunts

16th February 2016

One of the great pleasures of being a Devon tour guide is that I have such a wide variety of quintessentially local things to introduce my guests to, especially if they haven’t been to the county before.  We really are spoilt for choice in Devon, like no other county in England, when it comes to reasons for why the county is unique.  For instance, we have Dartmoor National Park, with its Dartmoor ponies, its granite Tors, its letterboxes and its incredible amount of Bronze Age remains, more than in any other area of the UK.  Then there are Devon’s lanes, ancient and high sided, that cause my overseas guests any amount of anxiety, especially when they realise that they are not one way!  Devon is the only county in England with two coastlines.  And then we have something that can only ever be done properly in Devon, and that is the Devonshire cream tea!  See more

Breaking News – 5 Brand New Tours Announced for 2016 by Unique Devon Tours!

2nd January 2016

After a very busy 2015, the Winter has come and given me the chance to take stock of where Unique Devon Tours has got to, and just how it can make itself even better and more appealing to a wider range of potential guests. Devon has such a broad array of different activities and places to visit that it seems only right to create some new tours, giving guests more choice of things to do in this most wonderful and unique county, with this award winning tour guiding company.

5 New Tours for 2016

I have therefore created five new tours, all of them very appealing, in my mind at least, and all of them playing on the strengths of Devon. So, it’s time to go into a bit more detail and to announce the arrival of these new tours in this blog article, explaining why I’ve created them. Please enjoy reading about them:

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Ten Reasons Why 2015 has been a Great Year for this Devon Tour Guide! (Part 1)

14th December 2015

1 Denbury - Devon

Due to an unexpectedly busy second season I haven’t written a blog post for far too long, but now seems like a good time to kick start my blog, at least for the winter months!  Since it has been such an action packed year, a good start seems to be to reminisce somewhat about the year that I’ve had. There were some early highlights in 2015, quite a few of which I covered in this blog, so it will be a recap of the year from after February. I hope you enjoy it!  See more

Cream Teas Explained – A Wonderful Guest Blog by Devon Heaven Hampers

22nd March 2015

For anyone who hasn’t visited the Westcountry or heard of a cream tea, the name might not do it justice. Taking some cream, leaving it to clot and adding it to tea – sounds disgusting! Thankfully, a cream tea is something much more delicious! Devon Heaven Hampers are cream tea experts, selling cream teas by post across the UK, so they have put together this article to explain about the Devonshire cream tea, its origin and the regional differences that spark a lot of debate!

 

Cream Tea Pic 1

A traditional Devonshire cream tea in beautiful Devon

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An Unusually Good Week in the Life of a Devon Tour Guide!

22nd February 2015

1 - Days of the Week

This is an article that I’d never thought of writing until the week in question had actually taken place.  It was a week that started with promise, with a two day tour booked and a couple of other potentially useful days in the diary.  But so much unfolded during the week that come the end I just had to write about it.  I pronounced last year as the best working year of my life – this week that I’m about to tell you about, in late January, certainly has to be one of the best working weeks of my life, if not the best!  So, on to the first day…

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Why Americans and Canadians Can Relate to the County of Devon

8th February 2015

USA Devon Canada Flags

Devon is increasingly popular as a destination for both US and Canadian travellers to visit, as word spreads about this beautiful area of the United Kingdom, far away from the crowds of Stonehenge, Bath and London.  This most varied of counties has such an array of wonderful things to see and do, with beautiful and dramatic landscapes, that it’s no surprise that visiting North Americans return home to tell their friends all about how wonderful Devon is.  However, they are saying much more than just the “what gorgeous green hills” and “Dartmoor was amazing” comments.  They are being awakened to just how many strong and intriguing links America and Canada have to Devon, going back over many centuries.  I will go into more detail:

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The Hound of the Baskervilles Photo Shoot

26th December 2014

One of my favourite tours to deliver to guests is my Hound of the Baskervilles Tour.  During the day we visit many different locations, from tranquil villages and burned down churches, to isolated Dartmoor bogs and Bronze Age settlements.  The story behind the story is absolutely intriguing, with many surprises in store for my guests, something I enjoy beholding as they become aware of just how the greatest of all Sherlock stories came about, and who was involved in its creation other than just Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

1 - First edition and Conan Doyle

Our family’s copy of the first edition, and the great man who wrote it

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Review and Highlights of Year One

07th Dec 2014

It is just over a year now since I launched my tour guiding business, so it’s about time that I launch my blog!  I’ve had such a great time getting my business off the ground and trying to reach out to the World, and although it has been challenging and all consuming, it has also been the best working year of my life, without doubt.  So, a good way to start would be to give a summary of how things have been going so far, as well as touching on some of the highlights from the past twelve months.

This was one of the many highlight views of 2014 for me
This was one of the many highlight views of 2014 for me
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