This may be being a little premature, but I will admit to being surprised that my leisurely amble around the alphabet of Devon food and drink has been as successful as it has been so far. Not only am I managing to find food and drink producers for nearly every letter of the alphabet, I am also being regularly and pleasantly surprised at the quality of the products that I am trying. From beautiful burgers to sumptuous ciders, from fantastic fudge to cracking cakes, there have been few occasions where I have been disappointed with what I have found.
Today, though, it is only right that I should correct that balance slightly. Not that I want to complain unnecessarily, however I think it is important to recognise that not everything I have tried has been brilliant.
Joshua’s shop and cafe can be found on the edge of Ottery St Mary, selling food and drink and a variety of gifts. It’s the sort of place that sells all those things that you don’t really need but probably end up buying anyway: distressed-look picture frames, scented candles, vintage-looking clocks and mirrors. You get the idea. And there’s nothing wrong with that; there is a place for all of those things. That place is not my house, however.
With my particular interest in food and drink, I skipped past the interiors section and concentrated on the things you can eat. Which is where I ended up being a little disappointed with what I found. They stock a lot of their own wholefood products and it feels as though it is probably a great place to go to scratch that wholefood itch. However, in terms of the other items they stock, there were lots to choose from but not many featured their “produce of the South West” labels.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that it seems like a good shop, with lots of things to choose from. But, having been spoiled by a number of great shops around the area, full to the brim with exciting local produce, my trip to Joshua’s left me feeling a little flat. That’s the trouble with having too much of a good thing; you can end up with unrealistic expectations.
Joshua’s did give me my first entry under the letter “J”, however. Having not been blown away by my experience there I wanted to see if there was another Devon-based “J” that I could add to the list, to restore a little bit of balance. And guess what? I found one.
The Jollyboat brewery is based in Bideford and I got my hands on their premium ale, Plunder, at the Tuckers Maltings beer festival back in April. It was described as dark red in colour with dark fruits and this definitely comes through in the taste. That dark berry flavour is added to a big bitter finish in this very smooth-drinking beer. That’s a bit more like it.
So my journey through the food and drink of Devon continues and I have another letter to cross off of the list. With only a few months left to go, I am still searching for U, X, Y and Z. Will I finish the list? We’ll find out…