Bilby Bites - the food blog from Bilby Marketing

Devon Delights meet French Fancies

Situated on the edge of Kilmington, Millers Farm Shop has been operating since 1985 and is just off the A35 about 8 miles from Honiton. Combining a broad range of West Country gastronomic delights with an extensive selection of French goodies, the Millers have created a treasure trove of edible bounty. A good friend of mine told me about it a few months back and I couldn’t quite believe I hadn’t heard of it before. Locals will obviously be well aware of it’s existence, but living in Exeter and having no regular contact with the Honiton area I have managed to stay oblivious for the last 15 years of living in Devon.

Walking into the farm shop is a treat. It has all the rural charm of a barn that could still have pigs & cows living in it – concrete flooring, little heating and fairly basic fittings. However, from your first step inside, you feel as if you have entered a secret world of food delights. The first area you encounter is the fruit and veg section which is filled with produce from the farm itself, including a selection of potato varieties, namely Wilja, Maris Piper, Desiree and Marfona, as well as a host of seasonal veg such as cauliflower, leeks, sprouts, beans, calabrese and much more.

The Millers source as much of their fruit and veg from their own farm as they can, and you can’t get more local than that. Food miles are kept to a minimum wherever possible. The continental produce which is brought in personally by the family every week, offers a further dimension to their offering, but there are no air miles involved here. Locally produced bread, fruit pies, deli products, cakes and biscuits add to the splendid mix and offer customers the chance to do a complete weekly shop if they wish. Local farmers provide bacon, sausages, chicken, duck, lamb and beef and fishmonger Simon Bennett runs a stall at the entrance to the farm shop offering fresh fish from Lyme Bay, Brixham and Newlyn.

As you enter the farm shop, walking past Simon’s fish stall on your way in, the fruit and veg area captures your attention and draws you in with it’s hanging baskets and colourful displays of carrots, tomatoes and calabrese. Here the bread, meat and deli section are also located with a substantial offering of French and local cheeses. Moving through this area, where you will have already oohed and aahed copiously, you then come across the next little haven filled with refrigerated sweet treats and beverages of all sorts. Local ciders, beers and wines sit alongside continental counterparts and confuse you so that you stand there much longer than you would if you were dashing into your local supermarket chain. This could be the only drawback of shopping at Millers thinking about it – one not worth worrying about I might add. I found myself gazing longingly at a tarte au citron just that little bit too long and I have a feeling some fellow shoppers thought I may have lost the plot. French yoghurts are a favourite of mine and you can find all your favourite flavours here including pommes, vanille et citron – paradis! Moving just a little further around the corner from the desserts you discover a huge range of local & continental non-alcoholic beverages including French cordials by Monin. So far I have tried the passionfruit and strawberry versions, both of which are wonderful.

If you can tear yourself away from that section you find yourself at the back of the store with 3 aisles of further temptation including the chocolate and biscuit section which is very difficult to move quickly through. Again the mix of local and continental produce captures your attention and you might find yourself (well, I find myself) muttering out loud with delight. As well as a lot of produce that you may not need to buy on a regular basis, such as dark chocolate with sesame seeds, you can find an assortment of mustards, relishes, chutneys, marmalades, jams, peppercorns, flours, sugar, tea, coffee & pasta. I really haven’t even scratched the surface here. It’s difficult to over-egg the pudding to use a culinary reference, when trying to describe just how broad the range of products that Millers have available. When you think you’ve seen it all or thought of something that they could not possibly have in stock, you will find it on the next shelf. I found my cornmeal/maize flour, green peppercorns and coconut milk without trouble. Quite the bizarre shopping list, but not an issue for Millers.

I will make sure I try to get out to Millers at least 3 or 4 times a year without fail, now that I have had my eyes opened. If you are exhausted after your exciting shopping experience you can always venture into Axminster for a cream tea at the River Cottage Canteen. Sounds like a great way to spend a few hours to me.