Devon is a huge farming community and in recent years Farmer's Markets have sprung up all over the country selling freshly harvested produce that counts its age in hours rather than days. It's worth keeping your eyes open for a market close to your holiday cottage rental.
Those staying in a holiday cottage in Dartmouth or along the Dart Valley are within easy reach of the 550-acre Sharpham Estate which is renowned for its award-winning vineyard and classic English cheeses. Located in the tiny village of Ashprington near Totnes, the farm provides maps of suggested routes around the vineyards as part of the Trek and Taste tours which also includes tasting six quality wines and sampling three of their tasty cheeses, including a blue brie.
Bigbury-on-Sea may be an unlikely place to look for haute cuisine, but the environmentally-friendly Venus Café and Watersports Centre has a surprisingly good reputation for quality meals. The menu includes wholesome locally sourced food, much of which is organically produced, and it tastes especially good with stunning views across to Burgh Island.
If you want to do more than just taste good Devon food, why not enroll in a one-day course at Ashburton Cookery School? Before you know it you will be creating a fabulous menu of your own under the instruction of the chef tutor. It will make a great highlight of any self-catering holiday in Devon.
Those staying around Topsham should definitely make their way to the Riverford Organic Farm shop and restaurant at Buckfastleigh. Delicious chutneys make a great gift to take home while the organic vegbox is stuffed with seasonal vegetables to stock your refrigerator for the whole of your stay. Veg, fruit and salad boxes come in a variety of sizes and are appetizingly arranged with a variety of well-known and more unusual items to try. You'll be surprised at just how tasty freshly harvested produce really tastes! The farm shop also sells fresh dairy produce, eggs and meat.
Finally, if you want to put your feet up and let someone else do the cooking, Devon has four restaurants which have been awarded a Michelin star. Gidleigh Park in Newton Abbot actually holds two Michelin stars and welcomes “gastrotourists” from all over the world. Head chef Michael Caines, MBE creates innovative European cuisine at what is known as one of the finest restaurants in the UK.
Jack in the Green Inn at Rockbeare, Exeter proves that award-winning food does not have to cost a fortune. This pub restaurant has a Michelin Bib Gourmand award for providing quality food at a competitive price. Torquay visitors should definitely book a table at the second floor room above the Elephant Brasserie which offers set price two and three courses menus starting at £35. Finally, those staying in North Devon will find the Mason's Arms at South Molton has a short but impeccable menu which keeps visitors coming back for more.