Food cooking and eating – stories and ideas from a passionate foodie

Lustleigh Cleave

A full on holiday day – full of food.

Why is it when we are in Bed and Breakfast do men always seem to go for the ‘full English’.  The whole thing is a life threatening experience for the desk bound stress executive!  But on holiday? Well yes – if you are not on a sitting by the pool and frying hol, then a bit of the old fry up is very good fuel for your exertions.  That’s where the day began.  Bacon, scrambled eggs, fried slice. Followed by tea and toast.  One of the party came down in a mesmerised state.  The smell of bacon frying always seems to have that effect?  If you ever stay away in business hotels and are bedded anywhere near to the kitchen area – you will know how difficult it is to carry on sleeping once the whiff gets to you.  Ringo Starr (ex beatles drummer, in case you are too young) is a vegetarian – “For 360 days a year”, he says.  He always has a slice of turkey with the family on Christmas day, and falls foul of the bacon smell if doing late night concerts.  Coming back late to hotels and being assailed by the early breakfast prep.  He said he always ordered the bacon butties, but only ever managed one bite each time.  The smell was greater than the taste, for him.  A Ringo aside – John Lennon once was asked who he thought was the best drummer around. “Ringo? Don’t be daft.  He’s not even the best drummer in the Beatles!”

Of then onto a tough and hilly walk around Chagford.  When the guide-book says “This early part of the walk is unpleasantly steep”, you know it is going to be bad.  We got lost first, trying to find the way onto the ridge, and had to stop many times on the way up.  But yes, you have to say the whole point about that sort of climb is the view.  Chagford is an inspiring sort of place.  It is surrounded by 7 hills (all the best places seem to be – Rome, Cheltenham…), and whilst recovering, we had plenty of time to look back at them.  In the distance we could see (with Binoculars) Michael Caines’s double Michelin starred place, Gidleigh Park. Ja nd I went there for our 25th Anniversary lunch, and had the full on Tasting Menu.  Silver weddings don’t happen very often – so we did just go for it.  It was  fantastic experience.  Some of the dishes had 25 or more ingredients that we could spot.  I remember a poached quails egg – how do you get that right? Anyhow, that’s why they do their job, and I mine!

We knew we were out in the evening , so snacky lunch in brilliant pub after visiting the famous Hardware store in Chagford.  Webers and Sons have been there for years, just off the Market Square.  I don’t now anyone who has visited Chagford and  not visited Webers.  And not bought something.  It is an alladins cave of chandlers requisites. And you do lose people in the shop.  My  advice is to check watches and agree to meet outside in 30 minutes!

We just had sandwiches (brie and bacon, ham salad) and a shared Devon Blue ploughman’s – with a few chips, of course (holiday permission…)

Cleave – we have been here earlier in the holiday – but now for a full on evening meal.  Rabbit stew (local), Lamb Tagine, Jerk Chicken and Steak Casserole (in Otter beer).  You can see the variety on offer here – quite splendid.  The new owners have gone for a brasserie feel.  This does mean you can fill your face heartily, or be a bit more small and tasty as the mood and hunger pangs take you.  My rabbit was really deeply, strongly flavoured.  I liked the addition of shallots rather than onion – the sweetness enhances the sweetness of the rabbit, I think.  Just simple and tasty – with a bit of tarragon to help.  Jerk chicken was on skewers and grilled – which worked well, but I am used to it being more stew like.  Rice and beans – excellent with it (and traditional?)  Lamb – pleasingly fruity, and beef casserole – melt in mouth like it should be.  We didn’t need a lot of rocking to get off to sleep.

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