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Thought I’d post the link to an article I’ve written for the Guardian about cheap eats along the north coast of Cornwall – it’s part of a bigger interactive online Guardian guide to Cornwall, with lots of top 10 lists, from family days out (written by p&c friend Hayley Spurway) to campsites and B&Bs.

List journalism has its critics but when it comes to easy reading, no one can resist a nicely focused top 10 – if only to gripe about all the better places/things YOU would have put in instead. My brief was lunch for £10, which turned out to be a tall order along the north coast of Cornwall – somewhere that relies on the tourist pound, the sea view and the cornered market.

Still, I think I found some gooduns – from the St Kew Harvest, a sourcing-savvy farmshop cafe, to Blas, everyone’s favourite gourmet burger, via Relish, probably Cornwall’s best coffee. I had to kiss a few frogs along the way – supermarket-style bread in expensive places, limp pasties, dusty falafel – but am resisting the temptation to name and shame ;)

Read my complete top 10 here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2012/mar/14/top-10-budget-restaurants-north-cornwall

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It is one of the quirks of living in these parts that the most exciting happenings in the arts seem to take place without the fanfare that they are due – never mind the fanfare, actually, with very little information at all!

And so it was that I found out about an amazing-sounding play taking place in St Ives this week thanks to a friend’s facebook status update containing a link to a truly gushing Time Out London review that had awarded it five stars.

The performance in question is Botallack O Clock, a play about the life of pioneering West Cornwall abstract artist Roger Hilton, performed by Third Man Theatre. It is described by Time Out as “the best kind of buried treasure” and describes Dan Frost’s performance as “phenomenal and uncompromising”.

There – a mini West Cornwall fanfare!

13th & 14th September at St Ives Art Club, £10. www.thirdmantheatre.com

When you review restaurants, as I have done on and off for ten years for Time Out in London and recently Cornwall, it is always slightly scary to sing high praises about a place or dish out a damning report on the basis of one trip.

So, even though a chef is only as good as his last meal and all that, I was pleased to see that Observer restaurant critic Jay Rayner had made it all the way to “a gnarly old building at the skinniest end of Cornwall” to write about Kota in Porthleven, as a year ago I stuck a red star on it in the Time Out Guide to Devon & Cornwall.

“I’d be happy to declare this the best Asian food in Cornwall but the distinct lack of competitors renders it a rather hollow statement; instead, I’ll just say that Kota is quietly superb,” is what I wrote. So what did Mr Rayner make of it?

Despite expecting “the fishing-village shtick: food that went from surf to plate with little interference” (fair), Rayner found that: “There is an awful lot happening on the plates here. Ingredients from a lot more than 810 miles away are chucked at the dishes, culinary traditions co-opted with enthusiasm. There is a kitchen here which has yet to meet an ingredient it doesn’t like, and for the most part it works.”

Now I want to go again, you know, just to double-check that review. Read Rayner’s full review of Kota here.

Kota restaurant, Harbour Head, Porthleven, Helston Cornwall TR13 9JA. 01326 562 407. www.kotarestaurant.co.uk

via wiki

Two Cornwall-related stories that caught my eye this week.

More sleepers on the sleeper

I haven’t yet banged on about the joys of the sleeper train on this blog, but rest assured it is only a matter of time *friends nod knowingly*. The discovery of the Night Riviera service to London – with its gentle rocking motion, late night bar for a nightcap, and all-round usefulness and romance – was a key moment after I moved to Cornwall. Ok, we’re 300 miles from anywhere but at least I can sleep through it!

More of that later…  Like a massive train geek, I was pretty stoked to read this week that more carriages are being added to the sleeper train from Penzance to London on account of demand. Given that local people fought hard to save this service in 2005, it’s a happy ending to know it’s being used. Now all they need to do is make a ticket cheaper than a round-the-world trip…

“Sculptor seeks tin miner to pose nude”

As headlines go, this one’s hard to make up. But ’tis true. The story goes: “Sculptor Tim Shaw is hunting for a Cornish miner with a ‘rugged experienced look’ to pose naked so that he can refine a £90,000 bronze sculpture that will eventually stand outside the Hall for Cornwall.”

The sculptor says: “I thought that if I cast my net far and wide I would find someone different and interesting. The historical images that I have seen at the museum show men with hard expressions in their eyes.”

Miners with their tackle out – could be an interesting new, cliché-free angle on Cornish mining heritage? Full story here.

Have a good weekend!

mackerel cornwall

via wiki

The fat of the land I can’t say I had really thought much before about the fuel potential of chip fat – and then in one week I hear about two Cornish businesses running on the stuff. The new Place Ferry (from St Mawes to Place) is powered by waste chip fat (provided by local businesses – nice) and this week I took one of Newquay’s biotaxis, running on an eco-friendly biofuel.

God knows there’s enough fish & chip shops in Cornwall to oblige! Does this mean that if I fuel my body regularly with fish & chips that I am technically being very green? If necessary, I can up my intake.

Mackerel crisis It really isn’t easy being green when it comes to eating fish – there is next to nothing left on the OK list. Still, I’ve always been glad that the humble but delicious mackerel is on there (along with gurnard), so that is what I buy – and occasionally attempt to catch (low success rate – the fish stocks are totally safe with me). So this Times article about the ‘mackerel war’ made rather grim reading…

Cornish wallabies Finally, everyone say ‘aaaaaah’ for these zoo escapees seen strolling about in Cornwall – a long way from the outback.

OK, actually, sorry you’re going to have say ‘aaaaaah’ again for this dancing dolphin snapped off Porthtowan. I saw some dolphins do a turn at the weekend off the coast near Zennor but this guy caught a really high jump (& he deserves it for getting up at 5am).

As I spend so much time trawling the net, often chancing upon interesting articles about Cornwall, I thought I’d attempt to justify my Mon-Fri journey into the time-management black hole that is the internet by starting a Friday digest. So for this week, we have:

The Geek Guide to Cornwall Tips from the Times for a total geek-out of a holiday in Cornwall, including Read the rest of this entry »

p&c january header: artist’s studio Newlyn

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