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little wonder - 16little wonder - 14

Hurrah, the little vintage caravan on the prom lives on, this year with new owners (one of which is none other than knitted freak lady Katie Lennon of Heyday) and under a cute new name, Little Wonder.

As well as the arrival of Starry-Gazy Cupcakes on the menu, the other news is that it’s not waiting till the official ‘season’ to trundle on to the prom – it’s open weekends from now. Yes, that’s correct, it is February and there is no cover – just how I like it. A hot cup of tea and a chill in the air… makes me feel like I’m camping.

Views across Mount’s Bay, yours for £1.50 for a cuppa, £3 with cupcake. Naturally, I dream about them serving wine… We so badly need somewhere nice outdoors for a sundowner* in this town.

*amongst other things

It also sells cards by the wonderful local design & print studio Pirrip Press.

Visit the website or follow Little Wonder on FB or Twitter for opening dates & times, events etc.

More pics here Read the rest of this entry »

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I am a huge fan of Blas Burgerworks of St Ives, as you may have gathered from gushing mentions on the blog and its place in my top 10 cheap eats on the north coast for the Guardian the other month.

Well, as burger fortune would have it, Blas – intent on reinventing the maligned burger van – has hit the road this summer with ‘Blas Street’, a burger van ‘for people who give a damn’. I snapped one up yesterday on the prom at Quay Fair Day and can confirm that the formula travels exceedingly well – Cornish freerange beef, seeded bun, crispy salad. Look out for the Blas ladies at festivals and beachside carparks this summer.

£5 for a classic burger, add 50p for Davidstow Cheddar. http://blasburgerworks.co.uk/

Since I was berating smugly photographed cookery books last week, I’ve been having a little email debate with my good friend and prolific blogger Emma Balch over at Doble M Design in Hay-on-Wye about the value of the “lifestyle cookbook”. She said she begs to differ and loves a good lifestyle cookbook with inspiring photography. And actually, when I came to think about it again, I often do too – as long as a) I believe the lifestyle in question is real (ie not when chef is standing in chinos and brogues pretending to have landed a huge fish) and/or b) I am interested in attaining the lifestyle in question.

Today’s lifestyle cookbook definitely falls into the latter category. It is roughly two parts lifestyle to one part recipes but I don’t seem to mind nearly as much because ultimately I am into the lifestyle it paints: living and eating outdoors on the British coast (with accompanying checked wool blanket and wild flowers).

The book is Martin Dorey’s Camper Van Coast. I am something of a canvas camping purist tbh, so even though I get the appeal of the VW porn, it isn’t the main lure for me – it’s all about the 100 recipes designed for cooking on a two-ring stove, something I intend to be doing again before long in my camp kitchen, y’know just as soon as the central heating goes off for the season.

I’m basically never happier than under canvas, fiddling about making tricky cups of tea on a Pocket Rocket stove and planning camp desserts such as bonfire-baked banana with dulce de leche. I am outraged to see that Martin Dorey has upstaged this dish by adding marshmallows and digestives and called it Rocky Road – these luxury-chasing campervanners, eh?

Out now, published by Saltyard Books, priced £16.99. www.martindorey.com

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

Seeing as it’s scorchio outside and I’m feeling more deckchairy than bloggy, I’m going to be brief and post some pictures of sunset from the Porthmeor Beach Cafe at the weekend – all in all, a pretty smug-making Read the rest of this entry »

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Like any girl, I swoon at the sight of vintage crockery, bunting, wild flowers and cakes (in pretty much any combination), so imagine my excitement at this pop-up tea shop called Tea by the Sea, which pitched up in the old shipping container that is currently on Penzance prom as part of Cornwall Design Season.

Despite being the only seaside prom in Cornwall – with twinkling views – Penzance prom is quite a bare kind of place. Occasionally, and seemingly randomly, a few potted palms appear, but then they disappear as mysteriously as Read the rest of this entry »

sandsifter cornwall

It’s changed hands a few times in recent years, so it’s hard to know exactly when to get excited about Sandsifter. The fact the old 2009 website is still up doesn’t help. I liked what the last people were doing in terms of club nights (including the Trojan Sound System, which I was sorry to miss), gourmet burgers, serious spirits, cool design etc etc. I don’t know enough to gossip in any depth about what prompted their quick departure but the sands have shifted again and the white box in the towans at Godrevy is under newish management.

I finally got over there yesterday for a quick drink on the new sea-facing terrace at the back – and it seemed to be a triumph. People were mellowing about reading the Sunday papers, listening to the band, drinking Betty Stogs and gazing out over the dunes in the fading September sun.

So in my post-surgery survey of places in West Cornwall that I can get to with minimum walking and maximum outdoorsy effect, Sandsifter has gone straight in at number one (can’t comment on food yet, only had a hot chocolate).

Plus, the outdoor chairs have GREAT lumbar support (below)! As fellow haters of bench seating will know, this is a rare find indeed.

sandsifter cornwall

sandsifter cornwall

I’d like to share with you the “interesting” results of a fishing and sushi-making escapade on the coast of South Devon at the weekend. When it comes to sushi, pollock and wrasse aren’t the first fish that spring to mind – nor for that matter are crudely cut pieces of fish served on plastic plates on a distinctly unminimalist camping table but that’s by the by. When the fish has come straight out of the water, anything is fair game. Very fresh fish is almost odour-free (the fishy smell comes as it decomposes) and fine to eat raw.

So, with a few wrasse and pollock duly reeled in off the rocks, we filleted it and sliced it up, and served it ceremoniously with wasabi, pickled ginger and soy sauce.

Here’s how it unfolded in pictures. In words, the verdicts were variously: ‘mmm… lovely’, ‘a little mushy in texture’, ‘oooh much nicer than I expected’, ‘I prefer salmon’, ‘the presentation needs work’, ‘you can’t just chop up a fish, serve it up and call it sushi’.

st ives door ice-cream colourst ives door ice-cream

While I wade through many MBs of pictures of turquoise seas and secret coves (um, ah, how many different angles do I need of Pedn Vounder beach… oh ok maybe just one more, since it’s got the Logan Rock in the background… oh actually this one’s pretty too with the birds), I thought I’d share with you this rather charming ice-cream-coloured door I saw in St Ives on the coastal road past Porthmeor Beach – right by the Tate St Ives.

The minute I saw it, I needed a Kelly’s of Cornwall whippy cone with a flake urgently but could find no one to oblige. I love the creamy paint peeling off in layers and the cool old guy in shades.

I got totally carried away after a visit to St Ives’ new vintage-styled sweetshop Beau Bonbon at the weekend. Before I knew it, one aniseed ball had led to ten milk bottles, five fried eggs, a black jack and a trillion zingy cola bottles. All that before someone cracked open the edible necklaces…

At month-old Beau Bonbon, a nostalgically chic shop on the harbour with lovely antique dressers, coloured bunting and pink stripy paper bags, no sweet has been overlooked. There were sugar mice and parma violets, love hearts and flying saucers (oh yes), sherbet dips, black jacks, fruit salads, drumsticks, foam bananas, jelly babies, refreshers, fizz wiz, dolly mixture…

As you can see, Read the rest of this entry »

The name doesn’t lie – the Cabin Café, by the beach at Perranuthnoe, is indeed just a cabin. It’s not, as is fairly common in Cornwall, a case of a restaurant trying to inject some laid-back beach vibes into its name (The Beach Hut at Watergate Bay, say, or the Porthminster Beach Café in St Ives…). This is a common or garden wooden shed with a hatch, and a handful of picnic tables and garden chairs alongside – no pretension, no silly prices, no rain cover.

But against the odds, it just happens to be serving some of Cornwall’s best beach food – and, after years of Read the rest of this entry »

blas-restaurant st ives cornwall

blas burgerworks, the st ives burger people

One of my favourite Penwith restaurants – tiny Blas Burgerworks in St Ives – has teamed up with one of my favourite Penwith singer-songwriters – Gulval’s Jenny Bishop –  for a night of gourmet burgers and emotionally charged acoustic songs to celebrate its fourth birthday on Saturday 13th March.

Being an absolutely minute space – the average size of a Cornish cottage living room (which is what it probably once was) – Blas is really just a cosy cluster of tables and a scattering of stools made from recycled materials. All have already been nabbed for the 8.45-9.30pm sitting; book now for a perch at the earlier 7.30-8.15pm session.

Blas makes a good case for specialising – they only do one dish, but they’ve nailed it. Cornish-sourced, freerange burgers with chunky chips start at £8.

The scary prospect of Pizza Express setting up in the old Woolworths premises in St Ives is enough to make me want to add extra weight to my praise. Blas represents everything that ‘new’ St Ives does well: it’s small, creative, sensitive and a one-off.

jenny bishop cornwall

singer-songwriter jenny bishop

p&c january header: artist’s studio Newlyn

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