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All about the fish!

Today we attended the press launch of Englands seafood feast a series of event which will run in Saturday 22 September and Saturday 7 October.

During this time there will be a an opportunity to indulge yourself on all manner of Seafood related activites.

We were treated to a wonderful tour on the historical Brixham Trawler The Vigilance, we learned all about the history of fishing in the port. (did you know that ice used to be towed in massive blocks from Norway to be used in the hold of fishing trawlers to keep the fish fresh during the trip back to shore – how mad is that). Peter who showed us around was a real character and his enthusiasm for the boat was infectious.

The team at Rockfish then spoiled us with a delicious feast, we had curried sprats, cured herring, brixham squid, hake ceviche and crab croquettes it just kept on coming and really showed the natural resources we have to be proud of in Torbay. – (did you know that the fish is so juicy and delicious because the English Channel has deep cold waters).

The Seafood Feast is going to be amazing, it’ll you a chance for everyone to try a whole range of activities, here are some of the ones that we are hoping to try out

 

Fish market tours in Brixham

Penguins and Prosecco at Living Coast

Sailing on the trawler Leander

Quiz at Torre Abbey

Oyster at Simply fish

Art Exhibition at Cockington

I may need to take a week of work and I’m certainly going to need to diet afterwards.

At Cantina we are fully embracing the whole 2 weeks, we’ll be foraging, swimming, boating, prepping mussels and crab, bbqing and of course cooking tonnes of delicious local seafood.

We can’t wait for the Seafood Feast.

We had a refit hopefully you noticed.

There have been lots of changes around Cantina. The first thing you will notice is the bar has been expanded so hopefully there will be less queuing and we have given the place a fresh coat of paint. At the back the two toilets have been transformed into a massive five toilets so hopefully less queuing. alongside that we have knocked through the archway into our new are with beautiful big windows to let in the light, from here you can see into our new kitchen. This is our favourite place to sit as a family, we like to watch all the yummy food go out.

 

It was a lot of hard work and we are so happy that we are back open and getting used to the new layout. Thanks so much to all the teams that help us bring it all together, we love it and hope you do too.

We love Gin

We love Gin

On Saturday 17th July we made some gin of our own. The wonderful stuff is called Mermaids Ruin and its quite delicious.

Devon distillery bought along their beautiful mobile copper still “still on the move”, they parked it up on the grass in front of Cantina and set about making magic. In the side of the trailer is a fantastic drawer containing all the botanicals which are used to give each gin it’s distinctive flavour. Barry sniffed and nibbled and in the end decided on lemon zest, pink peppercorns and our own special addition dulse seaweed. These are all flavours which compliment our most popular dish the great seaside favourite Fish and Chips.
The flavourings along with the traditional juniper berries were added to the mystical elixir, the still was cranked up and 6 hour later out poured GIN!

The first liquid produced is called the heads, this along with the tails, can not be drunk, they are separated off and kept back to be added to the next batch. Between the heads and tails is the main distillation. It comes out of the still at a whopping 86% proof. Kate, Barry and Charlie all had a little sip and it went straight to their heads.
Cosmo from Devon Distillery then diluted our mix to a more drinker friendly 40%. This was then decanted in to our 114 bottles, labels and the duty stickers were added and we gave away our first bottle.
The proud recipient of the first bottle was the fantastic Aaron Kitts, not only did he win the competition to name our Gin he is also the designer of our beautiful labels. We loved the labels so much we turned them into t-shirt designs too.

We love our gin, we hope you’ll love it to, it’s available to buy from here or from Cantina for £30

 

Food inspired by our holidays

Kate has just returned from a well-deserved break in Ischia an island in the Bay of Naples while Queenie has been swimming in Mallorca. They both had a lovely time and have been raving about the food, lots of lovely seafood, delicious fresh fruit and veg, yummy puddings and bubbly Prosecco and cava.

We have decided to bring a bit of the Mediterranean inspiration to our next vegan night menu.

Gazpacho
Pickled Mushrooms
Artichokes
Focaccia

Fritto misto with salsa verde vinaigrette
Gnocchi with broad beans, peas, mint and watercress
Panzanella
Flower and Herb Salad
Flageolet bean salad

Tiramisu
Peach and Prosecco jelly
Red wine poached pears with biscotti

Best of all is that you don’t decide between all of these lovely dishes we’ll give you a bit of each to try. Our vegan nights are ticket only and cost £20 per head. This time we’ll be seating you on long tables so the food will be real sharing style. We hope you’ll enjoy the evening as much as we’ve enjoyed planning it.

And what’s more we’ll have musical entertainment for you too. This month it’ll be provided by the quirky and unique TVR, The Valley Road. Come along and check them out

Showing off a bit

 

We are so proud of our lovely mural which was produced by one of our very talented staff Ellie.

This gives us an opportunity to tell you of some of the other things we do which we very pleased about.

– we source lots of our products locally

  • our coffee is roasted in Torquay
  • our beer is brewed in Paignton
  • our cider is produced in Stoke Gabriel
  • our hake comes from Brixham
  • our mussels come from Elberry

–  we makes most of our food fresh and to order

  • our chips are had cut each day from real spuds

–  we have lots of entertainment (check our our whats on spot)

  • 18 June if Vegan night with entertainment from Rob Hunt
  • 19 June is Music night with both Bo James and Harbottle & Jonas playing for your entertainment
  • 21 June we have our favourites New Daze will be playing over lunch time
  • and in the past we have had burleque, poetry, cooking demos, childrens nature workshops, who knows what we’ll do next

–  we love our local area

  • we tell you what the weather forecast is
  • because we love to swim, kayak  and walk our dogs on the beachwe’ll tell you when high tide is

–  we love our customers

  • especially the four legged ones
  • and we let them share their words of wisdom with you

 

 

Locally sourced produce, I’ll drink to that!!

 

We are so lucky in Torbay, we have a wealth of wonderful local produce. We talk a lot about our locally sourced food. Elberry Mussels, Brixham Hake, Eggs from Stoke Gabriel. But we don’t often talk about our wonderful local drinks. There really is a superb range with something for all ages and tastes.

Beers & lager – we are proud to have Bays Devon Rock craft lager on draft and a range of their beers in bottles. Devon Dumpling is a strong golden beer with a fresh hop character. This ale has a smooth taste with a balanced sweetness and weighs in at 5.1%. Topsail is more of a session ale at 4%, it’s a well balanced beer, deep amber in colour with a subtle sweetness throughout.

Cider – we are delighted to be the first bar to have Hunts draft cider installed, it’s wonderful cider, really delicious with a great apple flavour. We spend a fantastic afternoon over at the Farm a couple of weeks ago where we undertook extensive testing of the products on offer, just for your benefit!!! If something a little fruitier is what you are after then give the lovely strawberry cider a try.

Wine – Sharpham winery is located on the banks of the meandering river dart, it’s excellent location and climate are paired with exceptional winemaking skills to produce some stunning wines. We stock the Sharpham Sparkling 2013 which is a blend of  Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier & Chardonnay prepared using the Champagne method, it’s a really treat if you are celebrating or just feeling a little bit decedent.

Soft drinks – Luscombes are based in Buckfastleigh their ethos is “to go to very great lengths to make drinks that will be a real pleasure to taste” and we think they have been very successful in achieving that. Their Sicilian lemonade is so bursting with lemons it’s hard to imagine anything more lemony, except perhaps a lemon. Elderflower bubbly is a delightful treat that just sings of spring, and for something a little “spicier” how about the hot ginger beer. On a warm summers days there is little better for quenching your thirst.

 

Cocktails

Orchard fizz

75ml orchard pig apple juice

75ml Sharpham Sparkling

Dash Luscombe hot ginger beer

Serve in a champagne fruit

Garnish with a very thin slice of apple and a sprig of mint

 

Devonshire Kir

150ml Hunts draft cider

25ml Lyme Bay apricot brandy liqueur (try any fruit liqueur as an alternative)

Serve in a champagne flute

Garnish with a wedge of apricot on the side of the glass

Whilst on holiday in Normandy recently I was offered kir made with cider instead of the usual sparkling wine, it’s a lighter (lower alcohol) alternative and great as an aperitif.

St Davids Day, welsh cakes and dragons

Today is St Davids Day. It’s a chance to celebrate all things welsh, daffodils, leeks, dragons and Leigh Halfpenny. Although after Wales performance against Scotland on saturday perhaps we won’t dwell on Leigh Halfpenny.

St David is the patron saint of Wales he had a penchant for miracles (These included curing blindness and raising mountains from the ground) and hard work. which led to his own monks attempting to poison him is protest.

Welsh regiments British Army traditionally eat raw leeks on St Davids Day. I think that sounds most unpleasant and will stick to sauting mine with cream and serving them with a portion of delicious Hake and hand cut chips.

The proud and ancient battle standard of the Welsh is The Red Dragon (Y Ddraig Goch) and consists of a red dragon, passant (standing with one foot raised), on a green and white background. It was used by Henry VII at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, after which it was carried in state to St Paul’s Cathedral. The red dragon was then included as a supporter of the Tudor royal arms to signify their Welsh descent. It was officially recognised as the Welsh national flag in 1959.

Charlie has been working hard in the kitchen producing a mini mountain (much like the one raised by St David) of Welsh cakes. This little mouthful of deliciousness are lovely served warm with just a sprinkle of sugar.

Ingredients

  • 225g plain flour
  • 85g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 50g butter, cut into small pieces
  • 50g lard, cut into small pieces, plus extra for frying
  • 50g currant
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • splash milk

Method

  1. Tip the flour, sugar, mixed spice, baking powder and a pinch of salt into a bowl. Then, with your fingers, rub in the butter and lard until crumbly. Mix in the currants. Work the egg into the mixture until you have soft dough, adding a splash of milk if it seems a little dry – it should be the same consistency as shortcrust pastry.
  2. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface to the thickness of your little finger. Cut out rounds using a 6cm cutter, re-rolling any trimmings. Grease a flat griddle pan or heavy frying pan with lard, and place over a medium heat. Cook the Welsh cakes in batches, for about 3 mins each side, until golden brown, crisp and cooked through. Delicious served warm with butter and jam, or simply sprinkled with caster sugar. Cakes will stay fresh in a tin for 1 week.

Adventures in making marmalade a triumph of teamwork

The season for Seville Oranges is short, it runs from the end of December to Mid February. Realising time was running out Jenny ordered a box from our green grocer Simon last week. He queried whether she really wanted a whole box “that’s a lot of oranges” but Jenny knows what she wants. Our sister Kim came down for a weekend visit. Jenny decided this would be a nice sister bonding activity for the two of them. The plan being to make the Marmalade in our kitchen the wander down to Cantina later for a spot of Sunday lunch and to enjoy the music. Things did not quite go to plan.

When I arrive home 8 hours later they had just finished juicing and zesting the oranges. It turned out that Simon was correct. A whole box is a lot of oranges. Kim was tasked with the juicing, she started out with a little wooden hand juicer (apparently it’s called a reamer, who knew!). These are fine if you are after the juice of one lime for a mojito but less effective when you have a whole box of oranges to juice. Out of the corner of her eye she spotted on top of our bookcase an old metal juice press. Kate had found it at Totnes tip years ago and picked it up for £1.

Jenn peeled and zested the oranges using nothing more than a kitchen knife. Yes that’s right, she took each orange and peeled it then sliced the pith free peel into fine shards. Each and every piece of orange zest in our marmalade was cut by hand. The oranges were then passed to Kim who juiced them one by one. And a mere 8 hours later (lunch missed, live music missed but much bonding achieved) they had a massive pan full of orange juice.

It was all boiled up in huge saucepans on the hob with water and the left over already juice orange remnants. I made the mistake of arriving home from work at this stage and offering to help. “Yes please, you can squeeze the oranges through muslin cloth to get all the juice out”. Ok I think, that sound like a nice mother earth, get your hands dirty kind of job. Not only did I get my hand dirty but by the end of the process I was covered head to foot in bits of orange. And I managed to burn myself repeatedly, it hadn’t occurred to me that recently boiled oranges would be quite so hot.

So now we have 30+ litres of orangey liquid. At this stage Jenn dug out her recipe again and started to do the maths to work out how much sugar was required. If you, like so many others have joined in the anti-sugar movements then this might be a good time to look away. She needed 25kg of sugar for her recipe, she had almost 15kg, then she emptied our cupboards and found another 5kg so when Barry got home from work she sent him out to the shops for another 5kgs. If you are wondering why so much sugar is needed I suggest you taste the juice of a Seville orange. It is tart and bitter and really not very nice.

We all made the mistake of thinking that the hard work was over at this stage. The jam jars had been sterilised, our “marmalade” was bubbling away on the hob. We sat down with a glass of wine each to wait for it to get to setting stage so that we could decant it. Little did we know that the setting stage would not be reached for some time. When I say some time I actually mean days. Yep days.

Due to a technical error – not boiling for long enough (possibly something to do with the glass of wine) and insufficient pectin (the setting agent) – the marmalade did not set.

The following day, Kate joined the marmalade team, she added extra sugar and boiled it up again. Still it didn’t set. It would not be an exaggeration to say that it took 3 more attempts before the blasted stuff, go to the right consistency and turned itself into proper marmalade.

And quite splendid marmalade it is, delicious, fragrants and a gorgeous colour. I defy anyone to show me marmalade with a more perfect orangey shred. 40ltrs of the delicious stuff is now gracing our pantry. Hopefully you’ll love it……….On your toast, coating your gammon at Sunday lunch, gracing a cake with your afternoon tea, dressing a salad and even in a gorgeous breakfast martini.

Note – if you are a shred free marmalade lover I would suggest it would be wise not to mention this to Jenny.

We used a Riverford Farm recipe https://www.riverford.co.uk/recipes/view/recipe/seville-orange-marmalade

Introducing the famous Brixham Squid

 

Our local seafood hero is the Brixham Squid. It’s actually cuttlefish which is bountiful at this time of year and landed in huge quantities in Brixham.

At present the majority is exported to Asia. It’s really delicious and we plan to include it regularly on our menu.

Credit for the amazing design goes to Flossie and Jim.

 

I found the following recipe from the BBC food website

Preparing cuttlefish can be a messy business. However, once that’s out of the way this is a very easy recipe. It makes the most of this often overlooked seafood.

Ingredients

Method

  1. Firstly clean the cuttlefish and remove the cuttle bone and tentacles. Trim the tentacles and set aside. Remove the black ink sack and the skin and reserve.

  2. Then add a little oil to a hot pan and gently fry the onions, chilli and sage. Add the reserved skin of the cuttlefish and the wine. Simmer until the volume of liquid is reduced by half. Take out the skin and set aside.

  3. Once you have done this cut the cuttlefish into very fine strips (julienne) and add to the sauce.

  4. Next add a tablespoon of ink to the sauce, stir and add a little more, if necessary, until you are happy with the colour and flavour. Cook for an hour over a low heat.

  5. In the meantime, bring 1.25 litres/2 pints water to the boil, add the olive oil and polenta and cook until soft. Take the sauce off the heat and add the chopped parsley, bergamot juice and zest.

  6. Finally to serve, spoon the polenta in the centre of serving plates and top with the cuttlefish. Dot some sauce around the plate and garnish with the chopped red chilli, lemon zest and the flesh from the bergamot.

Food Trends for 2017

Food trends for 2017

Poke – this is an Hawaiian fish salad, it’ll fit perfectly with our fishy orientated summer menu. I have offered to pop over to Hawaii to research this thoroughly.

Vegan food – we have notice vegan food growing in popularity over the past 12 months and it looks as if this is set to continue. We always have a vegan pizza on our menu, we often have a vegan pasta and salad too. If you have any specific requirements have a chat with one of our staff and we will do our absolute best to accommodate you. Oh I almost forgot pudding, we have 3 flavours of vegan ice cream and at least one of our cakes is always vegan so no need for anyone to miss out.

Cauliflower – there’s a lot more to cauliflower than cauliflower cheese, it a blank canvas and makes a great alternative to rice or mashed instead of potatos. Roasted cauliflower with indian spices is just delicious and even die hard meat eater won’t feel short changes when presented with this as an option.

Plckling, fermenting and gardening – We love pickles as an accompaniment to our salads but we’ll be experimenting with bringing them to the forefront, pickled fennel and radishes are quite mouth watering. Pickled gerkins elevate our toasted brisket sandwiches to a new level. We have some wonderful pickled cherries which’ll be making an appearance on our specials board someday soon.

Yogurts – We love yogurt and it makes frequent appearances on our breakfast menu. We have served it with pancakes, waffles and French toast and topped granola with it. But it’s not just for breakfast, it’s often a dressing on our Sunday lunch menu, dressing slow cooked lamb with pomegranate molasses and pomegranate seeds. On our middle eastern night it was both a side dish to the tagines mixed with mint and cucumber and an accompaniment to our lemon almond cake when mixed with honey.

Alternative proteins – from main course alternatives such as tofu, to snack foods like roasted chickpeas our proteins are a make over. We’ll be looking to include these options in our menu over the next 12 months. I am not sure that we’re quite ready to embrace the trend for using insects in our cooking but watch this space…….
Minimising food waste – we are actively involved with the Real Junk Food Project which is looking to set up a group in Torbay which will seek to divert food waste from supermarkets and other sources and turn it into delicious meals which will be served at pay what you like pop ups around the area.

Reducing sugar in our food – this is one we are really struggling with, we love our cakes and syrup in our coffee and giving this up is really tricky. We believe that a little bit of what you like does you good but we read about food a lot and will keep a keen eye on developments in this area.