I love going home to Devon. Forget that I come from Torquay, ‘The English Riviera’ (thank you Peter Kay) as frankly it’s not very pretty, it’s the surrounding area that is stunning, with sweeping hills and craggy coastline perfect for weekend exploring. But finding somewhere fab to eat in Torbay is still a bit of a struggle, people tend to have a few old favourites that they keep going back to, and that’s fine when they’re good, but I like to be kept on my toes by experiencing new places whenever possible.
Occombe farm in Paignton, Devon is a new and very successful venture by Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust. It’s a real-life working farm with Occombe cows that you can watch chewing the cud (or whatever cows do in their spare time) from the windows of a well stocked food shop and cafe. The eco-friendly farm is free to get in and has brilliant educational events reflecting the seasonal workings of the farm, the benefits of ‘eating local, not global’ (a phrase painted on the wall of the cafe) and a beautiful community garden.
Last Sunday morning Me and my brother ended up with hangovers (unsurprising after we decided to meet up for a whisky night cap at 1am the night before) and were in seriously need of bacon and some relaxing surroundings. So we scooted off to Occombe in search for exactly that, and we weren’t disappointed.
Freshly squeezed orange juice followed by a strong black filter coffee improved both of us enough to ‘enjoy’ a chat about an article on Anna Nicole Smith that my brother was reading from the great selection of Sunday papers… Thrilling stuff. From the comfort of the huge sofas, we ‘built our own breakfasts’, my brother choosing mainly meat based goods and mine a varied girlier but surprisingly bigger version of sausages, bacon, tomatoes, beans, huge crispy fried potatoes and a poached egg, with as much as it could coming from the farm itself, the rest from local suppliers. Whilst we waited, I read all of the locally produced leaflets that promoted eco-ways of living and appreciated the beautiful rural inspired artwork painted on the walls.
The yellowy yolk of the egg was huge and there was an intense creamy flavour to the white. The sausages were fat and full of herbs (I went and bought some in the shop afterwards to take home for tea) and the bacon was crispy, salty and meaty. The tomatoes were fine if not a little bland and the beans were, well beans. Guzzled down with some homemade bread whilst looking out onto the nature reserve and I was momentarily transported away from my headache.
There’s a lot to learn here about the social responsibility of food, and I encourage anyone who takes a trip to the South West to pop in, even if just to learn about their fantastic community led initiatives or eat one of their indulgent cakes. It’s incredible to see that places like Frizzante at Hackney City Farm in London adopt similar principles, I for one cannot wait to visit and compare my experiences.