I hopped on the number 5 bus out of Exeter on a little outing to Quickes Farm in Newton St Cyres. As a massive cheese lover it seemed like a natural place to visit on my day off. I had planned to meet my chum Amber there for lunch but was lucky enough to have been offered a tour of the farm also.
The Quickes family have been nurturing the farm land just outside the village of Newton St Cyres for almost five centuries. They have 500 cows bred especially to create wonderful milk from the lush green grass that in turn gets made into award winning cheeses. The artisanal cheese makers use all their senses to mark out a good cheese from the great and create flavourful cheeses that only clothbound cheddar can deliver. Not only do they create wonderful cheeses but they create award winning butters too.
The bus pulled up right outside the entrance and I hopped off just as Amber pulled into the car park. Absolutely perfect timing! She parked up and we walked down to the farm kitchen. We were greeted by a lovely lady who showed us to our table by the window. Such wonderful views out over the devon countryside. We are so lucky to live where we do. The menu is full of superb locally sourced produce. Most of it from the Quickes Estate with many cheesey delights. Wild garlic has been foraged from the hedgerows and the venison is from their woodlands.
After perusing the menu I decided on the mezze platter. To accompany it I chose a nettle fizz from Heron Valley Drinks. Amber went for a still lemonade and the cheese platter. Both choices were good. The cheese platter was ginormous with enough cheeses to feed a family for a week! A selection of Quickes goats milk clothbound cheese, vintage and elderflower clothbound cheddars served with Fred’s chutney (I need to know who this Fred is – the chutney was yum!), a selection of pickles, salad and chunky bread. My mezze platter was full of yummy dishes. A beetroot, dill and soured cream dip, moutabel (a slightly spicy aubergine dip with garlic, chilli peppers and basil popular in the Middle East), hummus, tzatziki and places gigantes (giant butter beans cooked with tomatoes, garlic, paprika and herbs and originates from northern Greece). It was served with lots of toasted rosemary foccacia to mop up all the goodness. Amber wanted dessert so went for the apple and bramble crumble with ice cream. I was too full I’m afraid. Way too much foccacia was consumed! I did manage to have a little taste of the crumble and it was very good. We finished our meal with teas and coffees. My tea was served in the most beautiful teacup and saucer. So pretty! Little touches like that make all the difference to me.
After our lunch it was time to meet up with Tom Chatfield. His official title at Quickes is Sales and Marketing Manager but today he was our tour guide. Such a nice guy and full to the brim with information on the history of the farm and the ins and outs of the day to day running.
We started our tour at the milking shed where all the cows were waiting very patiently. Either being milked or waiting in line for their turn. I think they were a little put off by us watching them at the beginning but soon got into the flow. Excuse the unintentional pun!
From there we walked over to the “cheese cathedral” where the cheeses are matured. The smell in there was amazing. All of the cheeses were in lines from floor to ceiling. I have never before witnessed anything quite like it.
From there we made our way up to the farm shop where of course the cheeses had to be purchased. I chose two. The Elderflower Clothbound cheddar. Rich and creamy with real elderflower running through. The vintage clothbound cheddar. The oldest cheddar of its kind in the UK. A rich and mellow cheese which has been matured to perfection for two years. The only clothbound cheddar of such age. Amber chose the mature clothbound cheddar which is matured for 12 – 15 months. A truckle is wrapped in muslin and hand numbered. Each truckle of cheese is turned everyday as they mature to ensure consistency.
The farm shop at Quickes is worth a visit in itself. Lots of local artisan producers that I’ve worked with on events or have tried before. My friends at Louise’s Larder and The blueberry Brothers had lots of yummy treats available to buy. To go alongside my cheese I purchased some Yearlstone wine which is made locally just outside of Tiverton in Bickleigh. The vineyard was started in 1976 by pioneering English viticulturist Gillian Peakes. The vineyard has an international reputation thanks to Gillian’s pioneering efforts. Yearlstone had been on my list of wines to try for a while now so I was excited to see them for sale in the shop at Quickes. Both Amber and myself opted for Yearlstone Number 2. A soft and fruity dry white. Hopefully it will live up to its reputation!
I can’t tell you enough how much I enjoyed my afternoon at Quickes. The lunch was yummy, the farm tour was a highlight and I got to leave with my body weight in cheese plus a new local wine to try! I would like to thank the team at Quickes for having us and to Tom for taking the time out of his day to give us a guided tour. Both Amber and I agreed that it had been a mighty fine afternoon and we want to bring other people along to experience it. Hands up who wants to come next time?
Quickes Farm Shop opening times
Monday – Saturday 9am – 5pm
Sunday 10am – 4pm
Bank holidays 10am – 4pm
Quickes kitchen opening times
Wednesday to Saturday 10am – 5pm
Sunday 10am – 4pm
Bank holidays 10am – 4pm