With more and more independent and local businesses closing every day due to the high running costs and customers choosing chains, local food and drink outlets are becoming far and few between! As a consumer, I am also guilty of filling the extra-large pockets of the even larger companies, but I also try to do my best to support small, local businesses, as and where I can. The following shops are some of my favourites within my local area, each one offering a bespoke service, high-quality food, information about the producers and where the items have come from, and ultimately, a delicious amount of variety!
Johns is famed in North Devon for their wide selection of local and homemade produce. With two shops, both of which are in the dreamiest destinations in the area, Instow and Appledore, shoppers come from far and wide to discover the delights that are waiting in store for them. Service is always with a smile, and any questions asked or tasting that you would like to do is more than accommodated.
It won’t take you long to understand the aim of this place, as upon opening the door, you are greeted with the smell of fresh breads, baked cakes and the home cooked meals from the café.
Fourth generation owners, Anthony and Sue, are self- confessed cheese connoisseurs, and if the selection in their counter is anything to go by, their taste is more than first class! Whether you want to treat yourself to a strong and flavoursome Devon Blue, or you’d like something a little fruitier, there is something to tantalise all taste buds.
That isn’t where the magic stops either, with breads, olives, sweet treats, dried goods, drinks and many other kitchen cupboard essentials, visitors are indeed spoilt. A simple statement from the couple behind the passion sums it up perfectly: ‘it isn’t simply a matter of buying and selling, we are ambassadors who can and should shout about the incredible culinary delights which North Devon has in abundance’.
South West Cheese Shop, Butchers Row
There is much more than first meets the eye when you approach the South West Cheese Shop, as upon entry, you’ll discover that the delicatessen is filled to the brim with temptations from far and wide! Whether you’re browsing, or you’ve got a shopping list, the service and products for sale could not be further away from the supermarket giants or regular corner shops. It’s not just your cheese shelf that can be filled in here, as there is also a huge variety of jams and chutneys (obviously), crisps and chocolates, meats, pastas and olives.
One of my favourite lunchtime meals is a large slice of the vegetarian quiche. Filled to the brim with well-cooked vegetables, cheese and free-range eggs, all held together with deliciously thick yet flaky pastry; it is one of the best veggie on the go meals in town – hands down! The South West Cheese Shop is also where I head when I’m in search of a birthday or Christmas present, as their selection of all things delicious makes for a dreamy hamper for loved ones. Another of my loves from the shop (there is a long list of them) is their selection of oils and vinegars. Not just your traditional balsamic or chilli, although they do have those of course, but there are at least five shelves filled with another five different oils and vinegars on each! It is my food haven in there, and I’m proud of myself when I’ve limited myself to buying just three items!
Toucan Wholefoods Shop and Café
I don’t often visit Minehead as it is roughly a 50-minute drive from my house across the Exmoor National Park, but, when I take the coastal journey to the sleepy moorland town, Toucan Wholefoods Shop is where I head to stock up my shelves and enjoy a bite to eat in the café.
Since first opening in the 80’s, the shop, café and therapy rooms have grown from strength to strength. The enterprise is owned and run by the humble and helpful, Sally and with her dedication and hard work has gone on to win for the shop, both the Natural and Organic Awards in 2014, as well as the Winner of Best Food Shop for Vegetarians and Vegans in the South West. Health and nutrition are at the heart of the store, and it delivers it with wholesome food, most of which is organic and locally produced. It’s not just the array of fresh and nourishing foods that have made this a famed one stop-shop, but it is also the café. Strictly vegetarian, it’s a safe haven for those with a meat-free diet and provides balanced and undeniably delicious meals! With four rooms to choose from to sit down and enjoy your flavourful dish, you’ll be made to feel more than comfortable, and your bellies will be delighted after a visit. If like me, each time you leave you wished you lived closer, then the takeaway option is a must! Fill your bags with a selection of the fantastic food and enjoy it when you get home.
Do you have a favourite shop in North Devon that specialises in promoting the finest produce available to us in this stunning part of the country? If so, PLEASE tell me, I would love to go and check them out too!