Last week, I had the pleasure of enjoying an ‘intimate bloggers lunch’ at Riverford Field Kitchen near Buckfastleigh in Devon.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, Riverford is a cooperative of organic farms, mostly in Devon, which delivers veg boxes to homes across the country. The place where it all started, Wash Farm, is owned by Guy Watson, and along with my fellow food bloggers I was treated to a tour of the farm before we sat down to lunch.
I won’t lie, it would have been a little more enjoyable if it had hadn’t been in the minus degrees and my hands and feet hadn’t turned into icicles, but it was very interesting to take the tour, see some of what’s being grown and find out more from Guy about the history of the farm, the problems they’ve faced with the horrific weather, and how the whole operation is managed.
We also saw where the veg is stored and packed, and had a little snoop at the boxes waiting to go out. Guy admitted that there was more important produce than he would have liked, but February is not the best time for British fruit and veg and I imagine customers still expect a bit of variety, even though the emphasis with the veg boxes is very much on locality and seasonality.
On to lunch, at the Riverford Field Kitchen – a rustic, casual dining room lined with long wooden tables serving a menu designed for sharing – using produce fresh from the fields, naturally.
The company for the lunch couldn’t have been better – along with Guy and Holly (Riverford’s digital marketing manager and organiser of the lunch) were Choclette and her CT, who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting before at a couple of Clandestine Cake Club events; the Frugal Queen and her Dearly Beloved; Grazing Kate and Marcus from Country Woodsmoke. I really enjoyed having the chance to meet more fellow South West food bloggers and very much hope it won’t be the last time we meet in person.
To start with we were served a Cropwell Bishop blue cheese, celery and apple salad with hazelnuts and radish sprouts with some fantastic homemade bread, which on any normal day would have been enough on its own to satisfy me at lunchtime but I did my best to restrain myself so I could enjoy the rest of the meal.
Quite often, I’m put off from eating out by the fact that I know the vegetarian options will be limited and I could do a better job at home, but that is definitely not the case at Riverford.
The veg is the star of the show with one meat dish and four veggie sides, but I was still given a vegetarian alternative to the duck main of griddled aubergine and ricotta on butternut squash, lentils and spinach.
Served with it were carrots and beetroot, purple sprouting broccoli and cauliflower with mustard, spring greens and kale with wild garlic and my personal favourite, a celeriac, potato and mushroom gratin – I could have eaten the whole dish, it was so good!
Luckily for my waistline I didn’t, but you’ll see from the picture at the top of this post that my normal portion control went out the window with so many delicious dishes on offer…
For dessert diners are invited to the serving pass to choose from a selection of around 6 cakes and puddings. Decision making is not my strongpoint, and I feel I may have made a mistake choosing the lemon cheesecake instead of the pear and chocolate pavlova – I do love cheesecake but it’s something I often make for myself so I am very critical, and although the texture was spot on it could have done with a little more lemony zing for my liking.
A 2-course lunch at Riverford is normally £22.50 per person, which although a bit pricey is really excellent value when you look at the amount and the quality you get, and I wouldn’t hesitate to go back again and pay that price.
Riverford has very kindly offered to send me a veg box to review as well, which will be coming later in the month when I return from a mini-holiday, so check back in a few weeks to see what I think of that!