Wednesday, 14 March 2012

A food & drink lovers’ paradise...

What nicer way to relax than in a sunny, time-forgotten cottage garden with a good book and a glass of something chilled and sparkling produced nearby in a West Country vineyard?

Devon and Cornwall have long been known as the home of pasties and cream teas and, whilst these icons of traditional culture are still cherished by visitors and those who live here, the food and drink industry of the West Country has exploded recently, with imaginative and award-winning producers springing up all over.

Our fresh seafood, fine meat, early soft fruits and vegetables, eclectic dairy produce and artisan baking have been discovered by the best chefs, taking centre stage in the finest restaurants and earning the South West a well-deserved reputation as a food lovers’ paradise. Real ale, award-winning wines and traditional cider and juice from local orchards are served justly with great pride in most local pubs. 

Come and discover the innovative bakeries, vineyards, creameries, breweries, orchards, farm shops, farmers’ markets and foodie attractions of the South West, where you can meet producers, taste their fare, then select your favourites (or even harvest your own). Then take time to conjure those fresh ingredients into your own culinary masterpiece in the comfort of your well equipped holiday cottage. Or perhaps indulge in some professional tuition at one of the highly regarded cookery schools to hone your skills? And for a night off, book a chef to come to you whilst you relax with family and friends in one of our bigger holiday homes.

Jamie Oliver
Or, if you prefer to eat out, from restaurants with Michelin stars and those made famous by Rick Stein (Padstow), Jamie Oliver (Fifteen, Watergate Bay), Michael Caines (Gidleigh Park, Chagford) and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (River Cottage Canteens in Plymouth and Axminster) in which to celebrate special occasions, to places for everyday treats, such as the beachside Venus Cafés, there’s something for all budgets.

For foodie inspiration, there are plenty of festivals and events to schedule into your West Country holiday. Hot on the heels of the Moretonhampstead Festival of Food, Drink and the Arts, the Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink will make your mouth water from 13th to 15th April, St Ives Food and Drink Festival will be cooking up a storm from 21st to 28th May, and English Wine Week coincides with the Diamond Jubilee and May half-term this year, so you’ll find unmissable tours and tasting events at many vineyards between 28th May and 5th June, to name but a few.

When you book with Helpful Holidays, we send you our ‘What shall we do today?’ guide which is full of valuable savings vouchers and advice on the best places to eat, farmers’ markets, walks, beaches and events to help you plan and enjoy your holidays. 

Lots of information can also be found on our ‘Explore the Area’ website map. We do recommend you confirm directions and opening dates and times with restaurants, food producers and attractions when planning your trip.

Whether it’s a special meal in one of the renowned restaurants on a short break or a week-long food, wine and real ale trail, you’ll be made very welcome in the West Country. And, at the end of your break, don’t forget to pack a tasty hamper and a few bottles to share back home with family and friends!