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I wanted to share with you a feature I wrote about a new Cornish cookery school, first published in Cornwall Today.
In which pasties & cream learns how to make, er, pasties and cream (more pictures below the fold):
You can hardly swing an artisan baguette in Cornwall without hitting upon a specialist bakery course, a filleting masterclass or a foraging walk, with everyone from chocolatiers to fishmongers to high-end restaurants now running niche cookery lessons on the side to meet our seemingly insatiable appetite for food education. The flourishing market for food skills and selectively sourced ingredients is, I like to think, part of the nation’s long journey back from the anonymity of the supermarket to the origins of our food.
If ever there were somewhere to help us reconnect with the land without forgoing modern sensibilities, it is Philleigh Way, a dedicated new cookery school on an old farm amid the pristine pastures of the Roseland Peninsula.
The business is the brainchild of brothers-in-law James, a long-time foodie who has left a 15-year career in law, and trained chef George, who earned his stripes in the kitchen at Bustophers in Truro – and their aim is to teach ‘new generation country cooking’.
It’s a back to basics approach, drawing on generations-old recipes and precision-sourced local ingredients, combined (and this is the really attractive bit) with the comforts of a state-of-the-art contemporary kitchen. Unlike the predominantly demo-based courses on the market in Cornwall, Philleigh Way stands out for its custom-created space, with workstations for up to ten people and no expense spared in the fit – marble surfaces, Neff ovens (à la Great British Bake Off), Robert Welch knives and Le Creuset cookware in the kitchen – not to mention the satisfying crunch of gravel on the approach.
No rough and ready farm experience, then, but nor is this an operation that shies away from the necessary mess, mud and blood of real food. One of the courses on its calendar is called, quite simply, ‘Pig’, Read the rest of this entry »
If you live in these parts, and are into such things, you will probably have heard about a little seafood restaurant down an alleyway in Falmouth called the Wheelhouse. Despite actively shunning publicity, it is booked for months in advance and seems to get choice mentions regularly in the media as a den of great awesomeness. Last week, finally, a table had my name on it*.
When restaurants become this desirable, a whiff of pretension can creep in – a subtle revelling in the lack of available tables, or complacent service, contributing to a feeling that we should be so lucky. But despite my tentacles being out, I found the mellow, candlelit scene to be a down-to-earth pleasure. Don’t get me wrong, the Wheelhouse is certainly confident – waitresses take a seat and chat assuredly about the merits of spider crab, the size of mussels and seasonality – but thankfully it is still eager to please.
So, you might ask, what’s the biggie? Well, the story is this: Read the rest of this entry »
I love nothing more than unearthing a unique little enterprise operating out of the corner of some Cornish field/barn/shed/kitchen. This month’s discovery is the UK’s first ‘gourmet’ malt vinegar, made with loving care in a nuclear bunker on the Lizard.
We all know malt vinegar, right? That brown liquid that people sprinkle indiscriminately on fish & chips, so cheap that some people use it for cleaning. Or do we?
Italian balsamic vinegar has been considered the drizzle of choice in the UK for over 20 years but according to this new business, there is an age-old English artisan product that, when made the traditional way from beer, can compete on flavour and versatility. So the people behind Lizard Ales have started producing ‘the only gourmet malt vinegar in the UK’ – made from real ale, matured for months in oak, and unfiltered and unpasteurised.
Verdict? Read the rest of this entry »
In an ideal world, this is how I like my foraged food to look. Spot the candied alexanders stem, carrageen-set panna cotta and wild fennel shortbread in this composition.
It is said to the point of cliche, but nonetheless true, that there is something about foraging for food that seems to tap into our most primitive instincts. Just the simple action of plucking a leaf from a tangled Cornish hedge and finding it tastes like wasabi or watercress or coconut – in short, something you would normally pay for – is unfailingly thrilling.
That probably says a lot about how darkly far we’ve come from the origins of our food. Still, there’s no need to go getting too primitive about these things, and that’s what I particularly like about Caroline Davey of St Buryan wild food school Fat Hen. On her courses, it’s not just about whether the plant is edible, it’s about whether it tastes good… and not just good, but Read the rest of this entry »
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.)
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/
Hope’s Sticky Cinnamon & Pecan Bun. One big fresh bun topped with ultra buttered caramelised pecans – £1. The regulars were queuing up this morning, and her website says they are ‘famous’, so looks like I was the last to know.
Its only rival in the £1 local treat category as far as I can tell is a Jelbert’s ice-cream – though a flake will push you over the threshold.
Available at Read the rest of this entry »
When you are in a post-industrial hinterland like this…
… you don’t expect to find a clean-lined little artisan bakery cafe like this:
And this bold randomness is exactly what I love about Baker Tom’s new canteen-chic bakery outlet. It’s located in the murky depths of the Pool Industrial Estate, one of the most unforgiving, bleak and neglected areas of Cornwall. The move is all the more intriguing when you consider that Tom Hazeldine’s other two bijou outlets are located on Truro and Falmouth’s most desirable shopping streets.
‘We’ve had our main bakery on this site for a year,’ Tom explained to me, ‘And we quickly realised there is nowhere for all the people who work in the area – from office workers to NHS midwives to truckers – to get something decent to eat or a nice coffee. It is quite a brave move as there are no tourists here and there is no view – we are on an industrial estate next to a brewery yard, a meat factory and Furniss biscuits.’
I think all Cornish residents get a bit tired of ‘lifestyle’ Cornwall, airbrushed and geared up for six weeks of tourist dough – the overpriced sandwich, the perfect view, the indifferent coffee – so for me there’s something interesting and creative about this place.
In the event that the homemade jam, fluffy fresh croissants and speciality breads should not be enough to pull you off-course to this post-mining desert, perhaps Baker Tom’s claim to the ‘nicest loo in Pool’ will? The recently opened Heartlands is just around the corner too. As, of course, is Ladds Concrete Products (a personal favourite), Low Cost Storage and TyreFinders!
The Bakery Cafe, Wilson Way, Pool Industrial Estate, Redruth, Cornwall. Open breakfast, lunch and snacks. All sandwiches £4.95, pasties £2.50, breakfasts from £2.50. www.bakertom.co.uk
It was designer-illustrator Emily Fishpool over in St Ives who first handed me a tiny piece of a ‘raw chocolate bar’ at a barbecue. Tiny not because she’s an ungenerous sort but rather because you only really need a small amount – it’s pretty punchy stuff, and I’ve been popping away the little bars ever since, plucked from the fridge at the back of Archie Browns.
Being a stiff believer in full-fat, non-light, food-for-taste food, I initially approached the concept of ‘healthy’ chocolate with characteristic cynicism. But I have to say it is an incredibly moreish thing… and I know that because I just chain-ate all the chocolates in the picture above, one after another.
These little pieces of chocolate art are the work of a new Cornish raw chocolate company I’ve just discovered called Magic Chocolate. They are cutely hand-moulded and come in flavours such as lemon, strawberry & peppercorn, peppermint and chocolate orange.
Being naturally sweetened and free from dairy, they fill a quite different chocolate ‘need’ to your textbook 3pm sugar-low Cadbury’s binge that leads you blindly and ill-advisedly to the corner shop. It’s still satisfying but not overly sweet and it’s more, well, raw. See what you think.
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
Chef Nathan Outlaw’s star continues in the ascendant with the imminent publication of his first cookery book entitled Nathan Outlaw’s British Seafood – it’s out in May but I got my mitts on a preview copy and can report that it’s a beautiful blue hard-back tome with full-colour, full-page pictures of every dish.
Refreshingly free from the lifestyle shots and smug backstory that have become part and parcel of the celebrity chef cookbook (do I need a full-size picture of your daughter/you on a boat with that turbot recipe? Without meaning to be harsh, no, I’m afraid I don’t), it focuses with precision on the food – how, when and where to source British seafood, and methods of preparation and cooking.
The recipes are divided pragmatically and usefully into fish type – flat white fish, round white fish, oily fish, smoked fish and shellfish – and are characterised by Outlaw’s trademark lightness of touch and clever simplicity. Tempting for summer are the cured brill with pistachio dressing, pink grapefruit and pickled chicory – his take on ceviche – the cured mackerel and gooseberry jam roll, and a mussel and saffron quiche with fennel and rocket salad.
The foreword by Rick Stein, who employed Outlaw in his younger cheffing days, pays tribute to the honesty and simplicity of his food, and the “utterly charming, self-effacing man who seems somewhat perplexed about the fact that he has two Michelin stars because he says it’s only simple cooking.”
Nathan really is Cornwall’s favourite adopted son.
Published 10 May by Quadrille, £25. www.nathan-outlaw.com
The Tinner’s Arms – trading in the simple pleasures in life since 1271.
Tinner’s Arms, Zennor, St Ives, Cornwall TR26 3BY. www.tinnersarms.com
Despite being a fisherman’s daughter – there again, maybe because of that – my fish filleting skills are often a pitiful sight involving gut-spattered youtube videos and too much fresh Newlyn fish flesh in the bin. Still, the situation has improved recently – mainly thanks to a commission to write an article for coast magazine about a course at the Rick Stein Cookery School in Padstow, combined with use of Mitch Tonks’ ingenious iPhone fish app.
I attended the classic one-day Seafood Cookery course and it was the business – a highly intensive course introducing beginners/improvers to all elements of seafood preparation and cooking.
The snag is that it is pricey (£175 for the day), which might explain why there was only one other Cornish resident on my course. But should you chose to splash out, that does include about five lunches and wine throughout the afternoon, and access to the minds and tips of some of Britain’s finest dedicated seafood chefs for a whole day. And obviously – this being Stein – Read the rest of this entry »
On a good week, I get paid to criticise restaurants so it’s rare for me to find nothing to fault in a place. That unnerving occurrence did, however, come about last Saturday at Hugh F-W’s new River Cottage Canteen in Royal William Yard in Plymouth. The enclave of bold, forbidding waterside former naval buildings – once a symbol of British military might – has been made into a subtly chic (it’s Grade I listed) ensemble of apartments, boutique bakeries and restaurants facing Mount Edgcumbe over the Tamar in Cornwall. Frankly, it was all a blessed relief after the relentless bleakness of Plymouth city centre in the sheeting rain – it really takes no prisoners.
Service was quick and bend-over-backwards-forwards-any-way-you-like friendly, decor upcycled chic and food just as you might expect from the man of Fish Fight and farm life fame – wholesome but not boring. Splitting hairs, there is the small matter of the smug gilets-and-spotty-Cath-Kidston-bag brigade to be coped with but I can handle that just fine as long as it’s served with a perfectly cooked piece of pollack on a bed of subtly spiced lentils for a tenner (pictured below).
River Cottage Canteen & Deli Plymouth, Royal William Yard, Plymouth PL1 3QQ. http://www.rivercottage.net/canteens/plymouth/
Click through for pics of the food.. Read the rest of this entry »
Alert! Alert! I just discovered a perfect little place out on the Lizard, on a wind-beaten cliff above Gunwalloe. For the past year, word has been reaching me of Barefoot Kitchen being ‘right up my street’ and when I finally made it over to this remote area of Cornwall, so indeed it was. Right up my muddy, single-vehicle-access Cornish lane, in any case.
Occupying Helzephron House (previously home to the Helzephron Herb Farm), this cafe/shop has the kind of pared down intuitive design that makes me think a Swede MUST have been involved at some stage. The shop has a small selection of products, some their own, others carefully chosen, for example gorse-scented candles, the Ghillie kettle, retro wooden bodyboards, earring studs made of softened seaglass, seaweed design aprons… I wanted to bring it all home. The coffee was great, the fish soup fragrant.
Whenever my sister comes to stay with her array of sharp camera lenses, I demand immediate possession of the memory stick so I can use the pictures on pasties & cream, hence an artier than usual selection – and several more photography-based posts on their way.
Oh and Barefoot is opening a surf school in coming months AND does pop-up restaurants in conjunction with Lime Tree. AND there are sea views, when the rain’s not slashing against the window.
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.
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 »
The Cornish sardines stacked on counters in Newlyn fish shops at the moment are a spectacular bargain: five for £1. Fresh, meaty, good for you, supplies not about to expire. Pan-fried, slice of lemon, sprig of parsley – delicious.
That is all.
Being a bit of a tin geek, I approve of this vintage-chic new tin of Cornish Fairings care of Furniss (official makers of the Cornish Fairing – they nabbed a trademark a few years back), which has been designed to celebrate their 125th anniversary in business.
The requisite embossing and retro styling is in place, as well as a motif of a pan-Cornish lighthouse, all brought up to date with some nice pastel colours and tactile matt gold.
Today’s post comes from über-coffee-maker Dave Jones, Origin coffee’s head barista trainer, pictured in green above. I attended one of Origin’s coffee courses (newly available to the public) at their geek-chic coffee lab in Helston last week and was bowled over by the complexities of brewing coffee but most of all by Dave’s amazingly detailist approach.
There are all sorts of things to think about like brew ratios, over-extraction, under-extraction, grind size, immersion time, saturation, freshness of beans… Ah, so that’ll be why there is so much poor coffee sloshing about, often even when the cafe has superb coffee beans to start with (talking of which, try smooth-talking Finca Los Altos by Origin, my new fave).
Don’t know about you but I’ve had enough limp lattes to last a lifetime, so without further ado, here’s Dave’s good coffee guide to Cornwall: Read the rest of this entry »
In a classically west Penwith moment the other month, I got an email from Sara Priddle of the Zennor Wayhouse Museum, telling me about their newly restored 19th-century watermill and the flour they were producing. She had got my name from one kind pasties & cream reader (thanks, if you’re reading), who said – correctly – that it would be right up my street.
I told the story of these accidental millers in the food & drink section of Cornwall Today the other month and thought you might like to read it. If you are sitting comfortably, then I will begin.
In the timeless village of Zennor, Sara and Bob Priddle are quietly busy reviving a long-dormant corner of Cornish history. Ten years ago, the couple left their careers in publishing to purchase Cornwall’s oldest private museum, the Wayside Museum in Zennor, as part of their long-term plan to retire and try their hand at something ‘completely different’. What they couldn’t have predicted when they bought the museum was just how different their new line of work would turn out to be. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m a fan of this poster for the Cornwall Film Festival. It’s the wunderbar work of Cornwall-based illustrator & animator Darren Whittington, and is inspired by the Cornish national [sic] emblem, the chough, which is of course making an exciting comeback on the cliffs of the Lizard. And, no, non-Cornos – it’s clearly nothing like a boring blackbird.
The 10th annual Cornwall Film Festival will be Read the rest of this entry »
I interviewed Andy Appleton, head chef at Fifteen, some time ago for Food magazine – interesting guy, very keen to place the emphasis on Fifteen’s charitable status, which can often be lost in the Jamie factor and the general desirability of the place.
But one other, smaller thing also stuck in my mind from our chat: he was very excitable about Read the rest of this entry »
Look what I picked up at Sennen Market on Tuesday: Mumbai Banana Relish hand-made by Sarah of Peace and Plenty near Sennen (another contender for my favourite Cornish place name).
Full credit goes to Helen over at Newlyn Cheese for the tip-off about Mumbai mania: it is super fruity with a gentle curry kick – best spooned with gay abandon on a mature cheddar, I find.
I love the pretty, low-low-key labels, which are unbelievably hand-coloured in pencil by Sarah (cheaper than a colour laser printer apparently!). Peaceful and plentiful indeed…
Also in the range is the (Cornish-grown) Chilli Relish and Apple Relish. £3.50 for 400g from Sennen market, Newlyn Cheese Shop or a variety of farm shops and delis around the county (phone 07711 730713). More pics: Read the rest of this entry »
I just went to a Cornish press conference in which the new-look Rodda’s clotted cream was unveiled by the lovely Nick Rodda – an essential date for pasties & cream as you can imagine.
When they (literally) lifted the curtain on the new logo, I realised just how instinctively resistant to change we all are – I may even have gasped. For my whole life, Rodda’s (=
bastion of Cornish tradition Cornwall) has meant a red, old-fashioned logo with a clotted cream-laden scone on the front (vintage look pictured below). And now Read the rest of this entry »
Origin, Cornwall’s favourite coffee (based in Constantine but moving to Helston to accommodate big new roaster), has started producing limited-edition coffee bags for the Seasonals range, with illustrations by artists and designers from Devon and Cornwall; just a few hundred packets of each are printed.
My favourite design (and taste) is the Costa Rica Finca de Licho, one of their seasonal blends, with lemony accents – I ground and brewed one up this morning, and it was most spring-like. New designs out this week for June.
Archie Brown’s salads, originating in Penzance, are something of a cult classic in these parts. Chopping up into colourful pieces any preconceptions you might have about salads being boring and/or a side dish, these salads are strong enough to be the main event – they are packed with herbs and sprouts and nuts, as well as secret, rather thrilling ingredients such as preserved lemon and pomegranate molasses.
Long having wondered how they managed to make salad that exciting, I was stoked to see they have started doing salad masterclasses at their Truro kitchen, and immediately snapped up a couple of tickets.
Obviously I am not the only one who is obsessed with them, as all the salad classes have sold out until October – so, it’s not often I say this in Cornwall but, er, book ahead!
£12.50 including a salad and recipes to take home (www.archiebrowns.co.uk); £3.50 for a takeaway salad.
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 »
You know that thing people say about things that seem too good to be true usually not being true? Well, I really hope that isn’t the case… because I just got my first delivery from Cornishfoodmarket.co.uk – the Cornish online groceries store bravely aspiring to be a genuine competitor to the Big 4 – and frankly it bodes well.
But before I get into detail, can I just say OMG THEY DO CORIANDER FOR 99p, an ingredient so exotic in these parts that it is the sole preserve of the supermarkets, or a fixed price of three million pounds a sprig in Read the rest of this entry »