A much needed break to the stunning north coast of Devon didn’t yield as many food highlights as I’d hoped for, but those we stumbled upon certainly shone. What Woolacombe lacks in charming local restaurants it makes up for in beaches, sunshine and lungfuls of sweet sea air. The surrounding countryside is dotted with farm shops, but my brain was still on city time when we tried to go food shopping in a few I’d marked in my Food and Drink in North Devon booklet after 4pm. Blakewell Trout Farm was thankfully open so we stocked up on some fresh trout from their stocks, locally reared Westgate Angus rib-eye steaks, hot smoked trout, some veggies and cheese; some local brie and a simply amazing round of cheddar from Godminster. A cheddar quite unlike any I’ve ever had, it’s creamy and sharp and tangy but not cheek-suckingly so. The last little bit is in the fridge and I keep going in and cutting wedges off to munch in passing.
That little haul kept us going most of the week. An invigorating stomp up the seriously steep hill to the tiny village of Mortehoe yielded better results than Woolacombe for dinner destinations, and we had some perfectly adequate pub food one night, but we definitely struck gold when we spotted the sign we noticed to Mortehoe Shellfish on the Day Of The Epic Bike Ride (26 miles, but about 35% uphill!).
|Mortehoe from Woolcombe. Showcasing the Big Steep Hill.|
That day also took us through the even tinier village of Georgeham, home to The Rock Inn and an exceptionally greedy lunch which I regretted as I struggled to climb the last hills fo the day. But oh, the fish platter! And this was only our shared starter….
|“No! Don’t eat any until I take a photo!”|
A perfect ham and mustard sandwich, and some beer battered scampi were jointed scarfed afterwards. *burp*
|“Okay, I took a photo, now eat!”|
But the prize for most amazing dinner of the week has to go to Mortehoe Shellfish, a quirky family-run restaurant with a bittersweet back-story, run from their house on a normal little side street in Morthoe village. And what shellfish. We went for the 50/50 platter, and the picture says it all.
|Yes, Matt’s gripping the table to stop himself diving straight in….|
But if you can’t spot the many, many varieties of fish in this enormous platter, there’s a whole lobster, a dressed crab, hot sardines, langoustine, octopus, tuna, bass and scallops, cold mussels, clams, cockles, prawns, king prawns, anchovies, smoked mackerel, trout and salmon, plus some homemade coleslaw and pasta salad, plus a basket of bread in case you need some carbs with your fishy protein, and all for £48. Fish-tastic!
And a cream tea had to be done. In the front garden of a picture-perfect cottage, after a frankly knackering trek round the coastal path (what fools we were to believe the National Trust’s signs telling us the lighthouse was half a mile away… maybe as the crow flies!) we munched on Devon’s finest tea, scones, clotted cream and jam.
To round off the holiday we nipped off the M-whatever to meet our surfing buddy Fraser for lunch at The Weighbridge Inn in Minchinhampton, lured by the dreamy expression that drifted over his and Rachel’s faces when they described these fabulous 2-in-1 pies. And it was worth the slight detour. Just look at this baby. What a pie.
The 2-in-1 is so named for the fact that it’s half cauliflower cheese, half your filling which in this case pork, bacon, celery and stilton pie. Mmmmmm…….PIE!
Fantastically fresh fish, scones drowning in clotted cream, sharp scrumpy, local ales, pasties and fudge plus plenty surfing, hiking and biking to balance the massive eating and drinking: Doesn’t Do Dishes will do Devon again, for sure.