Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Exmoor Food Festival finishes another year in style - now booking for 2008

THE annual Exmoor Food Festival finished in a feast of activity at the Porlock Food Fayre when more than 750 visitors sampled the best of Exmoor food and drink from 27 local producers.
The ever-popular ‘Exmoor Breakfast’ in the Moorland Hall, Wheddon Cross, served around 230 breakfasts on both Sundays of the festival, and earned its place as a firm favourite in the festival calendar.
An open day at the sheeps milk ice cream producers, Styles, in Rodhuish, was also a hit with visitors, and a new addition to the festival, the Lyn Food Fest and Treasure Hunt proved to be a big draw for both visitors and local people.
Food festival organiser Kate Harris said: “This year has proven to be even more successful than ever. Plans are already under way for next year’s events.”
Any local producers who want to take part in next year’s festival should contact Somerset Food Links on 01458 241 401 to book their place.
The festival was sponsored by DJ Miles Tea and Coffee Merchants and featured locally-sourced sausage sizzlers, succulent roasts, medieval banquets, seafood and game dishes.
The Saffron Kitchen offered hands-on sessions for visitors to learn how to give local produce an exotic Indian twist, or there were Mediterranean-style meals available at the Royal Oak, in Porlock.
Cider making, wine tasting, and a tour of Cotleigh Brewery were also available, while DJ Miles Ltd opened the doors to its unique tea and coffee blending shop in Porlock.
A Fair Trade Supper with African dance night was held in Monksilver and an Exmoor horn lamb tasting took place in the Culbone Inn, near Porlock.

  • Customers who took part in a survey of Exmoor Horn lamb at four leading restaurants across Exmoor gave it a big thumbs up and scored it nine out of 10 for its eating quality.
    The results of the survey were announced at the lamb tasting day by the Exmoor Horn Sheep Breeders’ Society.
    Visitors to the event were treated to delicious local Exmoor Horn lamb served in a Somerset mixed herb bap, especially created for the food festival and the lamb tasting day by The Avenue Bakery, Minehead, and accompanied by roast potatoes.
    In the survey, eight lambs from Exmoor farmer JR Richards and Sons were slaughtered and butchered locally by Combe Martin Meats and supplied to four leading restaurants across Exmoor which specialise in serving local produce.
    The participating restaurants, Andrew’s on the Weir, in Porlock Weir, Exmoor Forest Hotel, in Simonsbath, Tarr Farm Inn and Restaurant, at Tarr Steps, and Woods Bar and Restaurant, Dulverton, asked diners who chose lamb off the menu to complete a brief questionnaire at the end of their meal, and more than 100 forms were completed.
    Ian Rigby, the society’s meat marketing consultant, said: “These results reinforce what many of us who eat Exmoor Horn lamb have known for years, that lamb produced from this breed that is naturally reared in its native surroundings is very special and tastes absolutely fantastic.
    “We are now working on developing an Exmoor Horn brand for both lamb and mutton so people will be able to identify and buy these meat products in the future.”
    Exmoor Horn sheep and their ancestors have roamed the hills of Exmoor for centuries and have long been prized for the eating quality and flavour of its lamb and mutton.
    At the beginning of the last century the meat was much sought after by some of the most prestigious restaurants in London.
    As farming systems changed and became more intensive, however, with the post-war quest for cheap food, traditional breeds like the Exmoor Horn became less popular and numbers declined.
    Exmoor farmers never lost faith in their native breed and through a strong breed society, formed over 100 years ago, they improved the breed and maintained commercial numbers to the current level of 19,000 registered breeding ewes.
    The society’s chairman, Pauline Lyle, said though a long standing traditional breed, the Exmoor Horn was in no way a rare breed, and when crossed with a Bluefaced Leicester ram the resultant Exmoor Mule was considered to be one of the most productive sheep around.
    Exmoor National Park Authority has also recognised the importance of the breed as an integral part of Exmoor’s heritage by awarding the society funding to maintain and increase flock numbers on the moor, through the Exmoor Sustainable Development Fund.
  • Our photographs show some of the exhibitors at the Porlock Food Fayre: From the top - Nutcombe Chocolates, Brendon Hill Crafts, Cranfields, Dunkery Vineyard. Photos submitted.

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