It’s 20 years since de la Torre’s founders Luis and Penny de la Torre started selling olives from a table stall in the Pannier Market. They graduated to one of the lock ups and then set up in the current premises in the Pannier Market courtyard, affectionately known locally as ‘The Olive Shop’. When they retired in autumn 2019, Martin Swarbrick took over with his wife Mary. Here he shares what they love about Tavistock and the nearby Bere Peninsula.
Q. Tell us a little about yourself and de la Torre’s
A. I’m a classically trained chef and worked in country house hotels for a decade before moving into all sorts of other roles in the food sector – from food safety to marketing to business development. My longest ‘non-cheffing’ employment was at Riverford Organics, where I grew and franchised the home delivery box scheme.
When we moved to West Devon, we always thought ‘If ever de la Torre’s came up for sale…’ and when it did, we jumped at the chance to run the shop. Committed to ‘honour and add’ to what Luis and Penny established, we now have ‘Made by Us’ fresh pasta, pestos, sauces, salads, speciality houmous and desserts as well as ‘finish at home’ Friday Saturday Nights meals featuring dishes inspired by countries all around the Mediterranean. While the town is renowned for its Mining World Heritage Status, the area has been trading with the Mediterranean for over 2,000 years and we feel we’ve created Tavistock’s very own Mediterranean Delicatessen.
Q. How would you spend a perfect day in Tavistock?
A. First of all, we’d start with our immediate neighbours in Tavistock’s Food Quarter! It’s fantastic being situated in the busiest corner of the Pannier Market courtyard along with Tavistock Market Wholefoods, Country Cheeses and Howells the butchers. It’s often a ‘revolving doors’ scenario with shared customers and we’re just delighted to be able to ‘keep local money local’ by buying from them for what we make for the shop and for ourselves – as well as escape for a quick sit down and coffee with friends at Poppy’s café.
After that, we’d just enjoy a wander through town as it’s such a relaxed and pleasant place to be – and so interesting if you look up to see the architecture above the shops and the names of stores that used to be there.
Then for a proper country walk, the Bere Peninsula is packed with a network of public footpaths and quiet roads with high, bio-diverse hedgerows. With views of the Tamar as you follow up and down the headlands, you know you’re somewhere very special. And if it’s a Bere Brewery Tap Evening, what better way to end your day than having a pint (or two), sitting alongside the hops and enjoying being part of a great community (whether you’re a local or a visitor) in the most pleasant Covid-safe environment you can think of.