January is something of a fallow month for the senses, a time for them to settle down again after the overload of the festive period. Nevertheless after a chaste month, they are fit and ready for February, which is rather convenient because it’s the month the ever popular Exmoor Food Fest launches. Prompted by extenuating circumstances perhaps, it returns for not one, but two months of North Devon culinary delights and discounts.
The Brasserie @ The Carlton in Ilfracombe reprises its role as a partner restaurant in this Taste of Exmoor experience and brings its own sumptuous offering to the table in the form of an exclusive menu which celebrates the best of North Devon local produce. The added ingredient of a great deal, in the form of an ExFF201 discount in February and March, will be extra palatable to diners.
Fans of the Brasserie will be aware of the pride that is taken in the provenance of the food prepared in the kitchen by patron, Eliot Seabourn-Wren. He specialises in simple dishes which accentuate the ingredients without overwhelming them. “This is our second showing at the Exmoor Food Fest,” says Eliot. “We came in last year for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed the experience so had to return! What we loved about the event is the way it acts as a focus point for all the great things happening with food in the Exmoor region.
Naturally, great food brings out people who love great food and last year was such an interactive and rewarding experience for The Brasserie, with lots of ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ as plates arrived and many wonderful conversations around the appreciation of food.”
While last year was a case of not really knowing what to expect, this year The Brasserie returns with a menu offering that has a clear vision for what it wants to offer diners. The past few months have seen Eliot and his kitchen team planning a menu that offers depth, flavour and truly represents the diversity of ingredients the region brings to the winter pantry.
“For this year’s Food Fest we really are drawing on the rich resources available to us as a North Devon based kitchen,” says Eliot. “We are genuinely excited about this menu, which combines the best that land and sea has to offer. Our selection of meat comes from local North Devon farms – including Exmoor raised beef – which have been handpicked for quality and high animal welfare standards. The menu also features items which make the most of game, with dishes bringing out the richness of venison and fowl. As for the fish, it doesn’t come much fresher than a catch caught by boats which set off from the town’s harbour!”
Vegetables come with local provenance too, many of them supplied from the Great Field in the village of Braunton, whose fertile ground has been worked since medieval times. The Carlton Food Fest deals also include superb vegetarian options. Furthermore, explains Eliot, “Aside from vegetarian and gluten free dishes, The Brasserie kitchen has a ‘no fuss’ reputation for adapting its dishes to accommodate diners with allergies.”
A combination of two courses – chosen from starter, mains and dessert menu options – can be enjoyed for a special Exmoor Food Fest rate of £17.50 per person, a dinner deal that is available on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings throughout February and March (and as a lunchtime option by appointment).
To make the most of this North Devon foodie event, serious diners will be seeking a place to rest those optimised senses (in addition to well filled stomachs!), and The Carlton provides accommodation in the form of first class en suite rooms that emanate style, convenience and relaxing comfort. Contact The Carlton by phone or email to find out about great off-season room rates, and make the most of the 2021 Exmoor Food Fest experience.
Well 2020 has been quite a year… just for all the wrong reasons! Nevertheless, it looks like there is a slither of blue sky on the horizon with recent announcements and so how about planning a post-Christmas break in order to reset, recharge and reboot!
Traditionally there are many reasons to visit North Devon in the summer, but actually a winter break can also be thoroughly enjoyable. A big part of this is the sense of having the place to yourself, with the pace of life a gentle stroll compared to the hustle and bustle of the tourist season. The Carlton in Ilfracombe is offering some fantastic North Devon winter break options to tempt you down to the Westcountry this January, February and March.
From the cosy snugness of The Carlton (which naturally will be continuing to implement its covid plan to ensure safety of staff and guests alike), 5 reasons to head west to North Devon this January and February include:
The Carlton – The Perfect Winter Base!
Excuses to visit the area in January and February are plentiful, and that’s even without leaving the hotel! The Carlton provides a great base to launch your exploration of the area, from its highest spec ensuite rooms to the fine food menus which source the best local produce, served in The Brasserie (located in the hotel). Having made it through the front door – if you can avoid the allure of the superb Carlton afternoon tea! – here are some more reasons to enjoy a winter break in North Devon in 2021.
The Charms of Ilfracombe
The Carlton’s home is a delightful harbour town on the North Devon coast which went from sleepy village to desirable seaside resort with the coming of the Victorian railways. The result is a town whose character reflects this era, seen in the buildings and architecture of the place. A stroll around the town will reveal some of its historical treasures, such as the famous Tunnel Beaches, Victorian bandstand and the sheltered harbour which has made Ilfracombe a historical haven for small fishing boats, which continue to land their fresh catches today.
Scratch deeper and you can discover much more fascinating history in the area, with remains of Norman settlements and Iron Age fortifications. On the flipside, Ilfracombe is also home to the sea facing Verity statue created by some time North Devon resident Damien Hirst, an arty side to the town reflected in its healthy array of arts, crafts and galleries.
North Devon’s Great Walking Country
For many visitors on a North Devon winter break, ‘blowing away the cobwebs’ with a few days filled with fresh air and exercise holds great allure. The locals have very much adopted the Scandinavian maxim of there being no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing, and if you are prepared for the very worst the elements can throw your way then you are probably going to be pleasantly surprised! Walking a section of the South West coast path (which passes through Ilfracombe) on a bright winter’s morning, with just the sun and the lapping of the waves for company is true bliss. On the flipside, a roaring wind and a turbulent sky brings its own magic too, but if that’s not your thing, then it’s easy to find a sheltered valley/river walk nearby in Exmoor National Park.
Dog Friendly North Devon
Nearby Woolacombe and Saunton Sands beaches roll on for miles and as a dog friendly hotel, The Carlton can recommend these beaches which never fail to disappoint dogs and owners alike. Closer to home, there are great short walks around Ilfracombe, which offer dog friendly exercise and spectacular views. North Devon as whole enjoys a reputation as being a great dog friendly holiday destination and most pubs, cafes and restaurants go out of their way to accommodate canine visitors.
Action Winter Break in North Devon
While some visitors’ idea of the perfect wither break in Ilfracombe is to sit, enjoy great food and drink and just ‘be’, others itch to get active. Despite the winter season, there are still plenty of activity options available. Exmoor National Park is as popular with cyclists as it is with walkers, while the Tarka Trail cycle track begins in Ilfracombe, accessing two more of the region’s bigger towns – Bideford and Barnstaple – along its route. Other activity options include fishing, golfing and clay pigeon shooting.
While the idea of a winter break in the UK may not have been top of a visitor’s list at the start of 2020, the events of the past few months have shown that staying close to home does have advantages. There are plenty of winter break charms to be found in North Devon and discovering them is part of the charm itself! To book your winter break stay, contact The Carlton and start 2021 with a reboot back to normal!