Most of us are romantic at heart, and with Valentine’s Day approaching, it’s a great chance to make someone feel really special. There are different ways to play it - you may want to cook an amazing meal from scratch, or if you’re not a particularly confident cook, keep it simple. At Darts Farm we cover the whole spectrum, from wonderful ingredients to luxurious shortcuts. Whatever you’re looking for, we have the solutions.
Start the day as you mean to go on with a special breakfast - smoked salmon (you can’t beat H Forman & Son) and scrambled egg, plus a glass of fresh orange juice. Don’t forget the card and a lovely bunch of flowers. Darts Farm florist Anna Slade won Florist of the Year at last year’s Chelsea Flower Show - she’ll fix you up with something unforgettable.
When it comes to the meal, it’s a bit of fun to base your menu on foods believed to have aphrodisiac qualities (don’t worry too much about the science). With this in mind, sharpen your appetite with oysters from David Kerley’s Fish Shed.
If you want to continue with the fishy theme, a dish that ticks all the aphrodisiac boxes is honey-glazed salmon (using our very own raw honey made on the farm) with a pine nut and pomegranate salad.
Steak is an obvious choice for main course, and our properly aged Ruby Red Devon beef is the best. For those with an appetite, a massive tomahawk or big piece of rump steak, alternatively you can’t beat a nice delicate fillet. If you’re not Michael Caines, fillet is easiest too: three minutes each side in a little butter and olive oil, with plenty of seasoning. Being traditional, I like my steak with peppercorn sauce, but we have a wide range of Bay Tree ready-made sauces to choose from. Accompany the steak with seasonal steamed veg (for instance, celeriac, another aphrodisiac) and gratin dauphinois – if you’re not a great cook we have a brilliant cheat version in our frozen vegetable section!
If you’re into making desserts, chocolate and vanilla are both reputed to be foods of love. Alternatively, keep things simple and pick up one of Pretty Little Pastries incredible handmade individual desserts from our deli – they are a real ‘wow’! The chocolate and cherry ones are my favourite.
Finally, a local cheeseboard: Cornish Blue (a nice change after the Christmas Stilton), Sharpham Brie (make sure it is ripe for eating, and not cold from the fridge) and Mary Quicke’s Extra Mature Cheddar. A couple of fresh figs and a dollop of Hillside Quince Paste – a world class cheeseboard! Finish off with a nice cup of Exe Coffee Roasters’ ‘Neighbourhood Blend’ coffee, and a couple of Willie’s Sea Salt Caramel Pearls. I wouldn’t be without them.
- With the oysters, serve a glass of Pebblebed fizz, white or rosé.
- To serve with salmon, Vincent Bouzereau’s white burgundy (made near Beaune, from the Chardonnay grape), or if you’re feeling lavish, a Meursault Premier Cru.
- If you want romance, open your red wine a good four hours ahead, and it must be at room temperature. Try Sharpham Pinot Noir, or Mario Fontana’s magnificent Barbera d’Alba, from Piedmont.
- Instead of port with the cheese, choose Sandford Orchards Ice Cider. Intense, fruity and complex, this is served in five of the ten best cocktail bars in the world - and we are proud to sell it at Darts Farm.
Of course, another option is to go out - everyone loves being taken out. Lympstone Manor if you really want to impress, or the Galley in Topsham, where Nigel looks after you so well. You want personal service on these special occasions, not to be treated like a commodity. And don’t forget the gift… For that, I’ll be heading to Mortimers in Exeter’s Queen Street.
For us, nothing says Spring like a delicious lamb roast accompanied by minted, seasonal veg and garlic butter new potatoes!
A super exciting announcement!