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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/

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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

grumpies of cornwall

I’m digging the branding for this new line of Cornish pies from Lanson – it is the brainchild of two self-proclaimed grumpy old men, and it’s pronounced GrumPIES.

Clever jokes and hand-drawn illustrations aside, the product is great. I tried the all-Cornish pork, apple and cider pie for lunch today and it was uncompromisingly meaty and flaky of crust. It’s also really nice to see someone using local, premium ingredients without taking themselves too seriously. I love the food revolution in Cornwall, and writing about it, but sometimes it can all get a bit ‘we hand-knit our own freerange cows’.

Mr Grumpie, who is actually very friendly, tells me Read the rest of this entry »

What can I say? This pasty speaks for itself. It is a standard ‘large’ pasty from Lavender‘s, which measures in at 30cm long. Twice the length of my hand. Look no further for a recession-busting family meal.

I keep reading about the spectacular worth of the Cornish pasty industry but you know for sure that something’s hit the big time when the Economist dedicates an article to it, as it did yesterday. It’s titled ‘The gentrification of the Cornish pasty’ and explores the pasty’s ‘unlikely conquest’.

Course, the very last thing I want when I pass through Waterloo station is a pasty, much as I love them – when I cross the Tamar, my mind is fixated on sushi, noodles, curry…

You can read the full article here and may I remind you while I’m at it of the worth of this droll Redruth-based pasty blog: http://theonlinepastyguide.blogspot.com/ I was shocked to read his damning report on Lavenders’ pasties the other week but I defend to the death his right to… er, analyse pasties.

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

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 »

stein fish & chips

gold standard - stein's fish & chips in falmouth

The Guardian made a splash in G2 on the launch day, and the Falmouth Packet also got pretty excited, but it’s been three weeks since it opened and I don’t think anyone’s actually reviewed Rick Stein’s first foray into the Falmouth dining scene. The venue in question is a high-flying fish & chip shop, judiciously placed Read the rest of this entry »

p&c january header: artist’s studio Newlyn

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