Bilby Bites - the food blog from Bilby Marketing

Taverner’s Farm Shop

Twas a sunny afternoon one Saturday in July – yesterday actually – and I thought a little country drive would be in order. Saturdays have always been a touch bitter sweet for me. It’s the day when I like to get the majority of housework done, so cleaning the bathroom, washing, vacuuming and dusting are the norm, but it’s also cause for celebration in that it’s not a regular working day and I can relax for some of it. At the very least I like to get out of the house for a walk at some point and grab a coffee and cake in one of our favourite haunts. This Saturday I decided to do something a little different. Having wanted to check out Taverner’s Farm Shop & Ice Creamery for some time, I encouraged JC to hop in the car with me and take a little country drive out to Kennford to visit the Orange Elephants, also known as South Devon cattle.

The farm has been in the family for 4 generations, with Rob & Helen Taverner opening the farm shop 14 years ago. So whilst they are firmly established in their business, the addition of the ice creamery 4 years ago as well as a number of awards, they are now building a solid reputation for their home made ice-cream using milk from their own dairy herd of South Devon cattle or Orange Elephants as the breed are also known. It was around 3 1/2 year’s ago when I first came across the Orange Elephant Ice Creamery. I remember seeing one of their ads and being very excited about having such a treat on the doorstep. Time flies and only now have I managed to get my act together to visit them. Ice cream holds such happy memories for me. Growing up in the hot climate of Australia, ice creameries were quite common. You have to eat them quickly out there mind you. I remember one incident only about 8 years ago on a return trip to Queensland; I watched most of my ice cream fly off down Noosa beach due to a combination of extreme heat and high winds. Clearly I’d let my ice-cream eating technique slip.

The drive out to Kennford from our house is only about 15-20 minutes. A doddle. Apart from taking a wrong turn and having to pass Partridge Cycles twice (they sell bicycles just to clarify) and feeling slightly guilty that I was driving to get an ice cream, we had no real problem finding it. From Exeter you basically head towards Plymouth and Torquay, but turn off just before you hit the end of the A379. The farm is very family orientated, with several play areas for children, both indoors and out, including an indoor sandpit. Kids can get close to the chickens, lambs and calves in a special enclosure, climb on a tractor or take a walk with Mum and Dad through the Summer Meadow. Personally I was just there for the farm shop and ice cream so that’s precisely where we headed with great focus.

The farm shop itself is housed in a converted barn as you might expect, with high ceilings and a very airy feel. At one end sits the butchery manned by friendly butchers who didn’t mind me taking their photo. Meat is sourced largely from the farm or from a range of local suppliers including Creedy Carver chicken from Crediton. Choose from Taverner's organic beef & lamb, homemade sausages, burgers or locally produced pork. Fruit, vegetables, dairy produce, including some of the wonderful tubs of Orange Elephant ice cream and various West Country drinks, biscuits, cakes, jams & chutneys can be found on the shelves. I picked up some of Jill’s Mango Chutney, made right there in Kennford, which I am keen to try in a recipe from Hugh FW’s River Cottage Everyday for Lamb and squash curry as soon as the weather cools. Another impressive and unusual find was the Field Fare frozen fruit which can be bought loose in volumes to suit you. These included blackberries, gooseberries and raspberries. Apparently Field Fare supply over 400 farm shops across the country, but this is the first time I have come across it myself. An extensive range of Luscombe drinks are available including the raspberry and vanilla lemonade which I am yet to try and South Devon Chilli Farm produce is also well represented. I made a note to try The Bay Tree sauces in the future as well, made in Somerset with varieties such as Caramelised Onion Gravy and Creamy Lemon and Honey Sauce.

I was impressed to find that owner, Helen Taverner, took my money at the till and that she was happy for me to take a few more snaps of the ice creamery. It seems this family run business is, like many others across the country, a genuine hands on affair. Next stop was the highlight for me – the ice cream parlour! I had already picked out a few flavours I wanted to try from the website including Elderflower & Lime, Black Cherry and Custard Tart, so I was a woman on a mission. The Elderflower & Lime won a Devon County Show champion award in 2009, so this was a must, but my 2 other choices Black Cherry and Custard Tart weren’t available so I had to think on my feet. Through a haze of ice cream confusion, I decided to go with the Fig and the South Devon Orange. The 3 flavours all seemed to be complementary and I merrily paid my £3.50 for the sundae-sized portion. You can have cream and nuts on this too if you wish, but I decided just to go with the purity of the 3 flavours on their own. JC chose Coffee and Marmalade flavours for his double cone at £2.75. As JC is a massive coffee fan he thought the Coffee flavour could have done with more oomph, but to be honest I’m not sure that would be to everybody’s taste.

All 3 of the flavours I tasted were easily distinguishable and deliciously creamy. The milk from the Orange Elephant’s must be very good. The Elderflower & Lime was incredibly smooth with both flavours shining through clearly – no mean feat if ever you’ve tried to make ice-cream yourself. Ice cream can easily come out tasting just like frozen custard unless you get the balance of flavouring spot on. The Fig was also very good although tasted as if it might have been made from dried figs, rather than fresh, whilst the Orange was sharp and zingy. I generally have a problem with citrus peel that I can't seem to shake – I find coming across chunks of sour, chewy stuff in your cake/ice cream/jam to be incredibly off-putting, but despite there being peel in the orange ice cream I still enjoyed it immensely. Over the last few years I have come to realise that citrus fruits and cream are an amazing blend, having spent most of my younger years thinking that this was a curdling disaster waiting to happen. If you are a traditionalist, never fear, as flavours such as chocolate, strawberry and vanilla are all represented.

If you don’t particularly like ice cream (no comprende?) the café serves all sorts of alternatives including various breakfast options, sandwiches, soups & salads, cakes, scones & cream teas. The menu was fairly extensive, covering four A5 pages, so I can’t see anybody struggling to choose something. They offer a kiddies menu, for Young Farmers, although with all that ice cream around I’m not sure that beans on toast will cut it for a 5 year old. There were fresh flowers on each of the tables in the café, which I thought a lovely touch, and every member of staff that we spoke to were very friendly.

I will be heading back to Taverner’s for another trip or two this summer. I can nip into the farm shop and get a few bits before grabbing a sundae on the way out. I estimate I could try another 6 varieties before the year’s out. I’ve got Ginger, Lemon Twist and White Choc & Brownies on my radar for next time. No doubt that will all change when I peer through the glass onto a tableau of creamy colour. It’s a difficult decision.