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For such a quirky, low-key film – especially one that was released almost ten years ago – Sideways had a curiously long-lasting effect on me. Snippets seem to enter my consciousness at relatively frequent intervals. The bit where he drinks his most treasured wine out of a paper coffee cup in a life-defining ‘fuck it’ moment. The romance of the road trip. The search for amazing wine. And the tragi-comic intricacies of the protagonist’s mid-life crisis, but there I digress…

My latest little Sideways moment came at Read the rest of this entry »

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Cafes don’t get a whole lot smaller than Genki in St Agnes, which is to all intents and purposes a painted hut with a few cosily packed tables, occupied on my visit by Finisterre-clad surfers. But this particular little beach hut has a few other strings to its bow: a sweet Zen-style cafe garden inspired by the owners’ time in Japan, free wifi, and a serious smoothie menu.

Smoothies are often the most expensively disappointing thing on cafe menus in this country – insubstantial and never cold enough. But something told me to try my luck on the Mavericks Mocha Smoothie (£3.50), which contains banana, cocoa, peanut butter and espresso. It was stupendous – thick, ice-cold, filling, sweet not sickly. Crap cafes of Cornwall, take note.

Quay Road, St Agnes, 01872 555 858. Follow Genki on twitter here.

Cornwall cried when the beautiful Pandora Inn on the banks of Restronguet Creek was destroyed by fire last year, and cheered when it rose again a year later. The age-old pub looks only a little different for its ordeal I discovered and the pontoon is still an eye-wateringly gorgeous place for a pint on a sunny evening.

(It also has a golden letterbox! thanks of course to a certain Mr Ainslie.)

www.pandorainn.com

manuka leaf tisane tregothnan

The caffeine-free hot drink is a problem to which there seems – or seemed – to be no solution. Every time I’m at the herbal tea aisle of Archie Browns, I appear to suffer some sort of repetitive amnesia: they promise so much – smell irresistible, have pretty packaging – and deliver so little. But it turns out I just wasn’t spending enough money!

A sachet of Tregothnan Manuka Blossom Leaf Tisane, picked on the banks of the River Fal, landed on my desk this week and it has none of the processed flavours of your Twinings Raspberry & Catpee fare but rather offers the complex, earthy taste of the leaf and bark, with – and this is the limited edition bit – the delicate white blossom of the manuka bush. And Tregothnan, Cornwall, has the only manuka plantation in the UK, which – for your £7 per 25g caddy – is also kind of cool.

www.tregothnan.com and selected stockist, including sweet little Dishotay on Chapel Street in Penzance.

More pics here: Read the rest of this entry »

There has been no shortage of new Cornish food and drink products appearing in recent years (let’s see, this one, that one, and this one) but there is one product that emerged this year that has a particularly interesting backstory – one that had me clicking through to the press release with unusual speed. I’m talking about the first Cornish whisky, made collaboratively and on a very small scale by Hicks & Healey’s, both leaders in the Cornish drinks industry.

I got busy arranging an interview and most importantly getting my hands on a very, very small wax-sealed sample bottle of this liquid gold (priced at £150 a bottle, with only 319 bottles in circulation), pictured below. It was handed over with all the weight of a historical artefact, which I suppose is what it is – a true limited edition.

I thought p&c readers might like to read more about it, so here is the little feature I wrote about it, first published on the food pages of Cornwall Today.

It was amid a flurry of curiosity and inquisition that leading Cornish drinks producers Hicks of St Austell Brewery and Healey’s jointly launched the first Cornish, indeed also the first English, whiskey – an oak-matured, seven-year single malt made with Cornish ingredients. Barley isn’t traditionally grown in these parts, nor of course is whiskey traditionally distilled in England, let alone the South West. But then improbability isn’t traditionally something to deter the Cornish.

The plan to create the first Cornish whiskey was hatched between two men ten years ago, who realised that Read the rest of this entry »

These are words that greet you on a sandwich board outside 108 Coffee in Truro. And that is exactly what the owner-barista at 108 Coffee in Truro has done: he moved on from Starbucks to launch his own house of beans a few months ago.

I’m glad he did, because my flat white was perfection yesterday, as you can see – served in a glass, which always makes things feel that bit more continental. I visited on the strength of Dave’s recommendation in the p&c Cornwall coffee shortlist the other day, and assorted word-of-twitter praise, and left rather enamoured with this nine-week-old coffeeshop.

108 Coffee, 108 Kenwyn Street, Truro.

cornish pink polgoon orchard, penzance, cornwall

Fruity ciders seem to be all the rage round here at the mo, which is fine by me, even if I tend to think of them as a one-drink novelty. A bit like that lovely German cherry beer Kriek. But I just discovered one that I’d be delighted to drink all night long… you know, should the opportunity arise.

The spanking new Cornish Pink from Polgoon comes in girly, pink, alcopoppy bottles but the label belies some classy bubbles inside. Not too fizzy and carbonated, it’s a very smooth ride. £2.50 a bottle in a deli near you.

www.polgoon.co.uk

scarlet wine cornwallscarlet wine cornwall

The good thing and the bad thing about blogs is the freedom they give you to trill on about your own little obsessions and gripes, blissfully undeterred by the eye of an objective editor.

I try and hold back from blogging repeatedly about places and venues in west Cornwall I have a crush on but… sometimes it’s just not possible. So today, newly enthused after their Spanish wine tasting last night, I’d like to reiterate how much I still love bar-resto-deli Scarlet Wines‘ wine nights in Lelant!

They really are getting everything right on the night – and how often can you say that about somewhere? Owner Jon Keast is an enthusiastic and charming host, managing to deliver high-level wine chat without a hint of pretension or dryness. There’s a well-stoked wood-burner; an amazing selection of beers; cool decor; creative tapas (standouts: baked figs with sherry and goat’s cheese, and chestnuts dipped in brandy sauce and oven-crisped serrano ham).

AND better yet, the bus from Penzance stops right outside – last one at 12.29, which I think you’ll all agree is pretty wild. The bus took such an indirect route on the way home that at one point it took a worrying turn towards Helston, and it cost £9.50 return for two (!?), but you know, you can’t have it all…

The wine tasting nights happen once a month, except in January it’s… whisky-tasting night instead for Burn’s Night. Could be messy.

Click here for my last enthusiastic blog post about Scarlet wine tastings.

Scarlet Wines –  The Old Forge, Lelant, Hayle, TR27 6JG. www.scarlet-wines.co.uk. Wine tasting nights usually £25 including six wines (non-stingy servings) and tapas.

Oh and here’s 8 seconds of uselessly dark video footage for your viewing pleasure!

home brew cornwall

Nice book alert. Just got my mitts on this cloth-bound, hardback book co-authored by Sara Paston-Williams, who lives in St Neot on Bodmin Moor.

Loving the eccentric English vibe of tipples such as parsley wine, peapod wine, gorse wine, blackberry wine and ‘Nursemaid Milk Stout’.

Home Brew’ –  £12.49 on Amazon here.

More pics of the book:

homebrew cornwallhomebrew cornwall Read the rest of this entry »

Playing the limping card (a little worn around the edges but it’s still good), I managed to get myself a bespoke tractor ride around the orchards at Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm (look, it’s the Cornish spelling alright..) yesterday – here are a few autumnal pics.

They were right in the middle of a bumper harvest and they had apples coming out of their ears. Healey’s are of course the people behind Rattler, the cider beloved of Westcountry drinkers, which as of two weeks ago was rolled out in Wetherspoons across the country. Go forth and conquer!

I also got to try the Pear Rattler for the first time, which was surprisingly subtle and tropical. You can read my tasting sesh of its sister, Berry Rattler, the other day here (summary: girly, refreshing, two is probably enough).

www.thecornishcyderfarm.co.uk

korev cornish lager

Similarly to the way I started necking strong coffee at regular intervals while living in Buenos Aires, having never shown any interest in the stuff before, I have become a keen ale drinker since I’ve been in Cornwall. It just seems, well, the right thing to drink… particularly on one of Cornwall’s specialist mizzly days.

But there are summer days, yesterday was one of them, when Betty‘s warm embrace isn’t quite so appropriate – and for those days rather excitingly there is now a posh new Cornish lager.

While it’s not perhaps a Belgian flavourfest (nor necessarily would you want it to be if you’re in the market for several pints), it has a ton more flavour than the Fosters and Carlings of this world.

Beer demon blog was talking about it just the other day: “I think it’s a good thing that there is more and more quality lager being produced in Britain so we don’t just have to turn to the Europeans for quality alternatives to the mass produced piddle on the supermarket shelves.”  Hear, hear.

It’s a suave-looking bottle too, with black and white pic of Perranporth beach and the Cornish flag. Tis even called Korev, the Cornish word for beer.

With this, the Cornish drink cabinet must surely be almost full: champagne, elderflower wine, ale, cider, aval, tea, spicy cola, pear cider and stinging nettle beer … OK, so who’s going to turn out a nice Cornish aged rum then?

Read all about Korev here on St Austell Brewery’s website.

st ives harbour cornwall

The first St Ives Food & Drink Festival seemed to be going with a swing yesterday when I swung by – though it’s hard to imagine what wouldn’t go with a swing when the skies are blue and St Ives looks, as it does on sunny days, like it’s been dropped in from the Bounty advert.

The Guild Hall food fair was a bit of who’s who of cool new Cornish food & drink companies (and there really are TONS). With everyone enthusiastically handing out tasters and being generally friendly and chatty, it was a convivial scene.

Polgoon was there with its new River Cottage-endorsed elderflower fizz in champagne bottles (tasty stuff but £17 – ouch!), then there was the Rev Berriman’s fiery chilli cola (which I enthused about the other day), Cornish Stingers nettle beer, Cornish Blue cheese, amazing Helford River cheeses, real ale, St Ives beef….

Down on the harbour wall, a small crowd had gathered for the chef demos. I listened for a while to the chef from the Greenbank in Falmouth demonstrating how to cook fish to perfection (in brief: score the fish, high heat, skin first, shake the pan, then don’t be tempted to keep moving it away from the hob…).

Oh, and I took the park & (train) ride from Lelant for the first time – it’s the only way to go. (10% off tickets the Cornish rail card btw – yay).

More pics of the festival care of the Clotted Cream Diaries blog here.

http://www.stivesfoodanddrinkfestival.co.uk

scarlet wines cornwall

I think Scarlet Wines & tapas bar in Lelant might just be my new favourite place in west Cornwall. I had suspected it might indeed be rather cool when I stopped by Beaten Green next door the other day, but after attending their South American wine & food tasting on Tuesday night, I am now officially Read the rest of this entry »

I took this vid of the Grand Prix of the Sea on Saturday in Penzance, a powerboat racing event. As you can see, the shameless seagulls couldn’t believe their luck. Er, sorry I don’t seem to have focused for very long on the actual sporting action there.

To be honest, I found it a bit of a tricky one to get into as a spectactor as the boats were really just dots in the Bay – albeit impressively fast dots. But it was SO nice to see the town make use of its fantastic promenade for once – it’s such an underused feature and, trivia alert, it’s also the only one in Cornwall.

Everyone seemed very happy sunning themselves and knocking back flutes of pink Polgoon bubbly and eating big slices of watermelon. More soon please… Read the rest of this entry »

Berry Rattler Bottle cornwallcornish stingers bottle cornwall

In Cornwall’s steady move towards food & drink domination, three new bottled drinks hailing from these parts are hitting the shelves this summer. (Domination is a slight exaggeration, but we do now have 100% Cornish ‘champagne’ from Camel Valley, tea from Tregothnan, ‘aval’ from Polgoon, all manner of Very Expensive premium juices, such as Helford Creek and Cornish Orchards, not to mention the ridiculousness that is bottled Cornish spring water.)

Two of the new brews are alcoholic, but the third is no shrinking violet. I’ve been sipping away selflessly to bring you some tasting notes:

Berry Rattler

Cornwall’s favourite cider, Cornish Rattler, has given birth to a fruity new Rattler infused with red berries.

The look: cloudy, red, girly, new surfy label. The taste: fruity but not Read the rest of this entry »

p&c january header: artist’s studio Newlyn

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