Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Time to visit Devon’s heartland

If you’re looking for a new location to try some country pursuits while also indulging in some foodie ones too, then come to us!

We’re offering autumn and winter breaks to appeal to hunting, shooting and fly fishing devotees.

There are lots of outdoor pursuits to enjoy here. Our visitors participate in clay pigeon shooting, red deer safaris and deer stalking trips, as well as a whole host of other activities, even badger watching.

We’re a wonderful base for those looking for a weekend away exploring the Devon side of Exmoor. It’s an area rich with rivers, lakes and a glorious coastline. In the autumn and winter months, there’s the opportunity at the weekends to follow the local staghounds too.

But it’s not just about the great outdoors, we also provide quality accommodation and award-winning, seasonal dishes.

Our pub is set in the idyllic, historic, market town of Bampton, which still boasts a vibrant high street with a traditional butcher, baker and greengrocers.

The area is hugely popular with ramblers and cyclists alike too.

The stunning Exmoor National Park is just six miles from the pub and the beautiful beaches of North and South Devon are only a 40-minute drive away. There’s really no excuse not to book in soon!

Monday, 24 October 2016

The traditional butcher is making a comeback

We feel it’s really important to ‘back your local butcher’ in a bid to promote all that is best about produce from the area and we are supporting our town’s butcher shop.

The Butcher Shop in Bampton, which is owned by nearby farmer John Wescott, represents all that is great about locally reared and sourced meat.

There are hundreds of other butchers doing well all over the country like this one as they take seasonality and animal welfare seriously, and we’re supporting this vital resource in our home town.

Our ethos has always been to provide good food, sourced locally wherever possible, while backing other businesses in the community too.

The Butcher Shop in Bampton provides the joints for our popular Sunday roasts and a whole host of other products. You can’t get any fresher or tastier produce than stuff reared nearby.

What’s really important about local butchers is they can provide provenance for all the items they stock and they really are experts. The selection changes each week as they react to supplies that come in.

The beef, lamb and pork comes from selected local farms, including the Wescott’s own farm, and travels less than 30 miles to the local abattoir near Taunton ensuring the smallest possible carbon footprint.

Bampton Butchers has been in Brook Street for several decades and the Wescott family took over the existing business in 2010.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Don’t bypass Bampton…it’s wild and tasty

This part of Devon, which is known as Mid-Devon, is vastly overlooked as a foodie destination with folk preferring to travel to South or North Devon or to go on to Cornwall instead, but it’s full of hidden culinary gems, and somewhere away from the hoards to explore. It’s still got some super wild, remote spots too.

We have a passion for food and embrace the use of produce from the area to create some real pub classics, such as sausages and mash, cod and chips, pies, grilled rump steak and sandwiches with a great choice of sweets to tempt.

Our menu is always created from fresh, seasonal ingredients, sourced from nearby, on a daily basis. We try to keep menus simple, yet bursting with flavours and imagination.

From the freshly baked bread at the start of the meal, to our very own sticky toffee pudding, the kitchen team produces everything at the pub.

We are dedicated to sourcing all the local or regional produce available to us, needless to say we are so lucky living here in the Westcountry, we have local farmers supplying their beef, pork and lamb and the fishing communities providing us with the freshest cod for our classic cod and chips.

Stalking award-winning pub grub in deepest darkest Devon

If you’re looking for a new spot to try some country sports while also indulging in some culinary ones, then the Devon side of Exmoor is the place to go this year.

We’re ideally located to provide breaks that appeal to those who enjoy wildlife-stalking, clay pigeon shooting and fly fishing, while also experiencing some of our award-winning grub.

There are lots of outdoor pursuits to enjoy here in the heart of Devon. You can take part in clay pigeon shoots, red deer safaris and deer stalking trips, as well as a whole host of other options.

We’re a perfect base for those looking for a weekend or mid-week break exploring the Devon side of Exmoor. In the autumn and winter months at weekends there’s the opportunity to follow the local staghounds too.

But it’s not just about the great outdoors, we provide luxury accommodation and award-winning, seasonal food too.

Our AA Four Star Inn (2015), which is the oldest pub in Bampton,has recently scooped a plethora of awards for our food including being voted Best Trencherman’s Pub 2016 and a Visit Devon Tourism Award, Pub of The Year Gold Award (2015). We have two AA Rosettes for Culinary Excellence as well

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Rare Breed Pork a Interview with BBC Radio Devon

Donna Berry, who co-owns the pub with rooms, which is famous for its food, with her husband and fellow chef Paul, explained: “Buying meat from these more unusual breeds who have had happy lives living near us in the heart of Devon is not only better for the diner, as they produce much tastier meat, but it’s also good for the producer as it makes it viable for them to keep these breeds going. 

“Our ethos has always been to provide good food, sourced locally wherever possible, while supporting other businesses in the community too. We’re hoping that by giving our customers more information on the provenance of the meat they are eating it will help them understand the importance of animal husbandry a bit better and also promote our wonderful suppliers who do such a fabulous job protecting rare breeds. It’s all about awareness really.

“You can’t get any fresher or tastier produce than stuff reared nearby and also because we know our suppliers well, we know their animals are treated with respect and have happy and good lives.” 

The Oxford Sandy and Blacks breed has reached crisis point at least twice in the past when numbers dropped so low that extinction was a real possibility. 

Pig breeders Donald and Mary Shere from Oakridge Farm near Bampton specialise in Oxford Sandy and Blacks and supply us here at The Swan. 

Donald said: “In 2013, when we moved to Oakridge Farm, the first thing we wanted to do was keep some rare breed pigs. We chose Oxford Sandy and Blacks because they are amongst the oldest British Surviving Rare Breeds and produce superb pork with an amazing flavour of its very own.

“Initially, we sold to family and friends but once they’d tasted it, they wanted more. The word soon got out about this superb pork with an amazing flavour and so we started selling from the farm gate, then supplying pubs, restaurants, local butchers and just recently, ‘The Butchery’ in London. 

“We’ve developed a breeding programme to meet an ever increasing demand and our Pedigree Breeding Herd, registered with the British Pig Association, continues to expand.  

“It’s wonderful to think that our little farm is making a big difference in the conservation of this beautiful pig. Thanks to customers, who, like Paul and Donna and the team at The Swan, appreciate quality, we are able to continue in confidence and keep producing ‘proper tasty pork’ for all to enjoy."

Saturday, 6 February 2016

The Chimes of new year Gone ....

With the chimes of New Years Eve and congo-ing in the street a seemingly long distant memory, I cast my mind back to what has happened this month, at first I thought we had just been amazingly busy and not a lot had happened. But once I started writing some notes down I realise it has been a quite an incredible month, with a lot of firsts thrown in.

Just after the New Year we did a “never before” and closed for food for 5 days, everyone needed a well earned break, recharge the batteries and enjoy a bit of well deserved family or own time.

Paul and I took the opportunity to return to Barcelona for a few days break and further investigate some of the sights we saw back in the summer with the boys, there is so much more to see, we have only tipped the top of the iceberg, so with sight seeing, eating and drinking on our to do list, I think we did very well, with a café, restaurant or bar every few steps and amazing architecture all over, we were in heaven, we tried some of the most stunning food and well to put it politely the most strange! Some of the ideas have now been adapted to suit our menu.

The return to work was a little bit strange for us all, we were all a little lost, but soon got back into the swing of things as the stream of customers gave us no chance to think about it, but just get on, always best to be chucked in at the deep end. So a lazy January we have not had, relentless is a better word.

Whilst we still had a moment of reprieve, as we thought, we did another first, although we had always talked about it… THE STAFF NIGHT OUT with a journey out of the county, but not to far, we spent an evening at Woods in Dulverton, well the food and service was second to none, we were well and truly looked after, not so sure about the impromptu speeches, secret Santa’s and charades though? Family Swan had a great night, with a few sore heads the next day and whole repertoire to talk about for the coming weeks.

Last week we had an inspection from one of the Visit England Awards inspectors, strangely enough we had only been talking about a possible visit that lunchtime, and with a possible entry of 3 to 4 from each county I wondered how many we might possibly be up against, do you know how many counties there are in England? No neither apparently did we, but thanks to Google we find out 48!! So whilst speaking to the inspector over breakfast and assuming that he had been eating out for months, I asked how many places that he had to visit, the answer was 5, well now we feel doubly honoured, final judging takes place next week, with the awards being hosted in the north west in early March, fingers crossed XX

The 28th of this month sees us at The Castle in Taunton, for the launch of The Exmoor Food Festival, Olivier-Clavelshay Barn (former Woods) Starters.. Mark – Masons Arms – fish course… Liam Finnegan – The Castle Taunton- main course …The Swan – dessert, with the students from The Combe, West Somerset College looking after the canapés and extras. This leads on to numerous venues in and around Exmoor offering 2 courses for £10 and 3 for £15 on selected dates through out February, so I suggest you Google Exmoor Food Festival 2016 and eat and drink your way around Exmoor for a bargain.

What an amazing Bampton Fair we had, with so many faces from the past popping in to say hello and some new characters on the scene, who previously had not experienced this once yearly extravaganza, the rain clouds moving off into the distance we had a gratefully dry day, which makes all the difference, people are not rammed into the pubs and cafes, making for a much more relaxed atmosphere, no ones drinks or food getting knocked over, with lots of bargains and queasy fair rides, everyone I spoke to had a really good day, with new stories to tell for next year.

The After The Fair folk festival seemed to have attracted more followers than ever and you were hard pushed to get in the door some nights, not just here but all over the town, I hope that everyone enjoyed this musical interlude.

Talking of music I was watching an old TOTP the other night, which lead onto another music show, and wow did they have some legends on, but what struck me was what Grandmaster Flash said to Pharrell Williams  “when you love what you do, it will take care of you for the rest of your life” well maybe they are both lucky, but I recon you definitely have to love what you do in the catering trade, the long hours, the heat of the kitchen, the pressure of service and always preparing for the unexpected, why else?

With Paul’s first proper outing to Sandy Park for The Devon Life Food and Drinks awards, we were both pleased to just be there and although we didn’t win this year, to be a finalist and lose out to The Jack In The Green is nothing to feel disappointed about, to be honest we’re still reeling from wining last year. The following Monday saw us in Padstow for The Trenchermans Guide awards, with an amazing menu, created by last years wining chefs and matching wines, with a lot of friends and familiar faces (I saved my best dress for this one) we were in for a really good night, topped off by the fact that we were named best pub, we were just totally overwhelmed to be in such prestigious company, thank you to all that voted, that see us as such, hopefully we wont let you down.

With Paul still taking it easy and recovering slowly, possibly not to return until the New Year Team Swan glides gracefully along, whilst behind the scenes we are paddling furiously, with some phenomenally busy days and some exciting bookings soon, who knows what its going to be like when we get going with all the Christmas parties?? Fun fun fun