When one is invited to dine with Michael Caines MBE, Michelin starred chef and national treasure, it is impossible to say no. So, when the call came in from Salcombe Gin, inviting me for a very special lunch by the seaside with the aforementioned culinary genius, I would never have dreamt of saying no. The combination of food, booze and English countryside was too much to resist. But, when you make it the finest food in the country, a gin that’s winning awards left, right and centre, and a location that has “pinterest p*rn” written all over it, I’d have to admit there wasn’t a moment’s pause. I was off to Exeter on an early morning train.
The reason behind the excursion? Salcombe Gin had launched a limited edition collection of gins, entitled the Voyager series, which are the product of a collaboration with a talented chef or winemaker. The first pairing was with world renowned chef Michael Caines MBE and, in honour of the collaboration, we were all invited to Michael’s hotel and restaurant, Lympstone Manor, to sample his menu and hear more about the motivations behind the collaboration. The food, as you would expect, was sensational. There was very little talking at this lunch, around every table, and a full focus on the flavours being presented, alongside the various cocktail concoctions made with the specialist gin.
There will only be 1,200 bottles of the Michael Caines MBE x Salcombe gin, so get involved now if you’re a collector. The ‘Arabella’ gin is presented in a white ceramic bottle, comes in a presentation box and is individually numbered. It is a taste that will most certainly take you by surprise with strong citrus aromas and a floral note or two. Surprisingly, it is best served as a gin and tonic, garnished with green apple and a sprig of lemon thyme. Just try passing that by your local bartender.
After our rather indulgent lunch, we had a chance to explore Lympstone Manor and I absolutely fell in love with the property, from the outstanding sea views to the interior design that left me rethinking the entire plan for my house. This is definitely an adventure I wished had spread into an entire weekend!
Here’s a look at our day away, with unforgettable cocktails, endless courses of food and beautiful surroundings. Thank you, Salcombe Gin, for a lovely day out. And at this point I have to admit that Salcombe Gin is now my go-to for a nightly G&T from my bar cart. Once you’ve had one of the best, it’s tough to go back to anything else. Consider that a word of warning!
The Michelin Star Cuisine: