Friday, 20 November 2009

Red deer viewing on Exmoor

Some of our recent guests were very lucky to spend 2 hours watching a herd of red deer on the Exford side of Dunkery. 'Compulsive viewing!' they said. There were 2 stags, vying for the attention of about 20 hinds, and a 3rd stag who managed to abduct 2 of the females. As a bonus, our guests also saw Exmoor ponies.
We retraced their steps the other day, but alas the deer were nowhere to be seen. It was exceptionally windy, so they were probably sheltering in the combe. We did see ponies, though, now with their winter coats well growing in.
We walked into Stoke Pero, had a look round the tiny ancient church and got screamed at by the resident guinea-fowl at the nearby farm (better at raising the alarm than geese, I reckon!).
Sometimes people are surprised at how 'cultivated' parts of Exmoor are, as it doesn't maybe fit with their vision of a moor; but when you get up around Stoke Pero it's wilder countryside. Lovely for a bracing walk on a windy day, and all part of Exmoor's charm - we're so privileged to have such a fantastic variety of scenery on our doorstep.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Food intolerances and special diets

More and more people seem to be developing intolerances or allergies to more and more foods at the moment... with my complementary therapist hat on, I'm sure that there's a connection with the highly-processed diet, loaded with artificial additives, that has become so common.

At Exmoor House we try and cater for particular dietary requirements: vegetarian of course, and wheat-free/dairy-free diets for example (although, being out in the sticks, we do need a bit of notice to ensure we can get the right type of milk substitute, flour, etc, in). If you're coming to stay with us, please do let us know any strong dislikes in the food line too, so that we can plan accordingly - we really want the meals to be a highlight of your time here!

The other week, out of 10 guests staying with us, 5 couldn't eat wheat/gluten or dairy, and two couples had multiple allergies which meant we had to plan the menus very carefully indeed. This tested Frank's culinary ingenuity - it's good to be kept on your toes! - and we learnt some useful recipe variations (e.g. using coconut milk to make a white sauce).

Gluten-free baking involves slightly different techniques and we have had some things that didn't turn out as they should (concrete scones, anybody?) - but we've discovered some great recipes like a delicious carrot cake and a squidgy dark chocolate-almond cake... Maybe there needs to be another name for gluten-free bread, though, as it's not like 'real' bread in texture - more like crumpet, often. Not unpalatable, just different.

But as a friend of ours says: 'I think about what I can eat, rather than what I can't'.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Thinking about Christmas and New Year

Yes, it seems to be creeping up quite fast: it's November already, you know...

Have you decided what you're doing yet? How about a house party at Exmoor House? Over Christmas and New Year we're open solely for house parties.

The deal is that you get the whole place to yourselves for a stay of at least 2 nights, on a full board basis. We can take up to 12 people, in our 5 rooms (1 double, 3 double or twin, 1 family room sleeping up to 4).

It's a great opportunity to spend some quality time with family and/or friends, just eating, drinking, chatting by the fire, taking a stroll in the fabulous Exmoor countryside if you feel like it. A real escape, and totally relaxing.

We'll tailor-make a package for you - so prices will vary - depending on what you'd like in the way of food. A traditional turkey & Christmas pudding type feast with the Exmoor House touch? A sumptuous buffet? Something a bit different (a selection of delicious curries perhaps) - or all of the above?

If you're tempted, do get in touch with us to discuss. In order to plan everything, we'd need to have bookings confirmed before the end of this month.