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Just discovered this quietly addictive little video from Rough Island Band, channelling their Scillonian charms into the epic Paul Simon tune ‘You can call me Al’.
Complete with oilskins, beanies and the backdrop of some unmistakably Cornish weather – the sort that falls somewhere indeterminate between dry and wet.
Outside, the weather was doing this. Again. We all know the drill by now: sheeting rain, gale-force winds, couple of feet of mud in areas not usually classed as the countryside.
But inside Mount Pleasant Ecological Park’s music venue on Friday night, it may as well have been Jamaica, such were the sweet tunes and warm, unbuttoned atmosphere at the Cornell Campbell & the Soothsayers gig.
Thank you for the excellent, warming food Cafe Irie and to the main man Cornell for having one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard – a sweet, clear falsetto. And for wearing sunnies in the midst of one of the foulest Cornish winters on record.
What a great venue – check www.mpecopark.co.uk for more gigs. I’ve signed myself right up for updates on their world music programme.
My next discovery in January was the truly fresh-thinking Strong Adolfo’s, recently opened right on the Atlantic Highway. That’s the A39 to those having a more functional day.
The idea of an American-style roadside joint is very clever for Cornwall. This is somewhere where the road-trip rules – even if it’s just from one end of Cornwall to the other, as in my case. We spend our lives fiddling about with miniature parking spaces and one-way streets, so the excess of easy parking at Strong Adolfo’s is – interestingly or boringly – a big draw.
John and Mathilda Friström Eldridge have clearly put heart and soul into opening this place, where the spanking new building and aspirational detail throughout reveal energy and commitment.
The Finisterre-jacket-and-vintage-furniture crew were occupying all available tables on the Saturday I went, so I think we can safely say that this cool cat is out of the bag.
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 »
With Penzance town centre perennially under attack from the faceless threats of supermarkets, parking charges and high business rates, it’s a joy to watch how Chapel Street is turning into a real little vintage and design enclave.
It is an atmospheric street at the worst of times but now it has the likes of Lost & Found cafe (my new cafe favourite with vintage shop attached), one-week-old No.56 (a touch of London’s Labour & Wait plus hand-crocheted cushions), newly relocated Daisy Laing – as well as oldies like Newlyn Books, Fishboy, Steckfensters and the cigar shop – it can genuinely call itself a shopping ‘enclave’.
I also like the way the businesses – all independents – are coming up with shopping extras. See above a poster for a vintage fair at Lost & Found next weekend. Also hark that shops on Chapel Street are opening late on Thursdsays up till Christmas (until 7pm! And yes, if you are reading from afar, that is most definitely ‘late’ & very useful for Cornwall).
How neat is this? It’s by budding Cornish design studio Jetty Street Press. It’s like a 21st-century re-imagining of the wonderful Great Western Railway posters, which are well-loved to the point of cliche. There’s even a touch of Hockney’s clean-lined Californian swimming pool in there… offset nicely by the Cornish cliff-side flora.
‘The drawings are developed from doodles in my spare time,’ Sal from Jetty told me. ‘I wanted to create contemporary illustrations of Cornwall without being too twee or sentimental, focusing more at the nooks and crannies of a place not the obvious postcard views.’ Penzance could be getting the Jetty treatment soon… I’ll keep you post(er)ed.
Jetty prints are currently for sale in Brocante, Mevagissey; £60 for framed print. Or you can buy directly from Sal at Jetty; get in touch by twitter or facebook; an unframed print is £25 plus postage.
I’ve never made it to Cornwall Film Festival, despite good intentions, as it’s been mainly based up the line in Newquay or Truro. Well, this year, a mini film festival in Redruth is in the offing for next week. (In case you didn’t know, Redruth has a surprisingly cool art deco cinema, which I blogged about a little while back here).
The thing about Cornwall is that it is very long. So a happening at one end can feel positively foreign to someone who lives at the other. More’s the shame, as this art event near Bude looks like something discriminating and different (‘bring your own ale‘ certainly bodes well).
It’s curated by the people at Hickory Nines, a surfy collective of writers, artists and assorted cool-sounding people, and is all about the dark side of the coast – ie the bit where there’s no Kelly’s whip *shudder*.
I asked nicely and Cai at Hickory Nines has allowed me to reproduce this mini selection of art on pasties & cream. But for the whole shebang, make your way to National Trust Stowe Barton near Bude on Friday 27th September or Saturday 28th. Full detailage on the poster below.
Friday 27th & Saturday 28th 2013, 6.30pm-9.30pm, bring your own ale (corkage applies). Free entry. Stowe Barton, Nr Bude, Cornwall, EX23 9JW. www.hickorynines.com
This is happening tomorrow and describes itself as ‘not your usual craft fair’. You have my attention!
I have been snapping up cards and prints by Pirrip Press for a couple of years now – everything produced by this small print studio is so perfectly clean-lined and well-spaced, with a classy wit about it. There is a stylish economy to their work that I much covet – just the right amount of white space, never too many colours or words.
The designers in question are Alexandra Higglett and Georgina Hounsome, previously based in Penzance and still maintaining strong ties with the area. Hence their annual limited-edition poster for the Newlyn Fish Festival – a two-colour silkscreen print, this year featuring circling gulls over the harbour wall. I’m not one to romanticise seagulls (if I ever did, then it stopped dead with the theft of my Callestick Farm ice-cream on Porthmeor Beach, summer 2011) but I love this image, printed on thick mushroom-coloured paper.
It’s already a bargain at £10 and they give 20% of the money to the Fishermen’s Mission. Which is why my print has been firmly checked out of their online shop before I click publish on this! They only make 100. You can buy one here.
You can also catch these guys at the Outlaw Craft Fair (tagline: ‘not your usual craft fair’) in Penzance on 14th September.
Penzance Skate ‘plaza’ opened today on the prom and I’m going to offer the (uneducated in skate) opinion that it looks extremarily cool. The undulating concrete skatescape even looked tempting enough for this ultimate novice to ponder the consequences of attempting that satisfying-looking smooth bump to the right of the picture. Power to the prom.
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 »
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 »
My favourite artist in Cornwall is St Just-based Jessica Cooper, whose simple lines and pared-down still lifes are confidently, deceptively simple. I have been coveting a piece for about five years, and wish I had struck then, as Jessica’s star has since ascended, deservedly, into the Cornish A-list. Meanwhile, my budget has stayed decidedly D-list.
Anyway, looking costs nothing, and fortunately Read the rest of this entry »
Exciting news has reached pasties & cream of plans to create a state-of-the-art, two-screen digital cinema and cultural space in Newlyn, in the old Turner’s fish house (pictured above). Up your street? Get thee along to the open day on Thursday to look at the plans & show your support.
With the local elections last week having taken the area’s pulse and found it somewhat faint, this is a well-timed reason to be cheerful. If planning goes smoothly, says owner Suzie Sinclair, it could be up and running by early next year.
My favourite line of the press release is the bit where it promises ‘comfy seats’ and luxurious surrounds. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Savoy Cinema in its own quirky, insufficiently heated way but the seats could never be called comfy.
Open day 2–5pm for general public – all visitors welcome. St Peter’s Church Hall, The Coombe, Newlyn.
Here is my picturebook from a day out at Tremenheere Sculpture Garden, a wondrous garden carved out of a valley overlooking Mount’s Bay, dotted with modern art installations, tropical vegetation and artily placed viewing platforms. It pleased me that it’s not so arty as to neglect the traditional Cornish harbinger of spring: the humble daff. You can read more on the story of Tremenheere in ‘The tropic of Cornwall: How a nondescript field was turned into an unexpected sculpture park’ in the Independent.
The on-site Lime Tree is my Cornish cafe crush of the year, of which more soon.
Tremenheere Sculpture Garden, £6.50 entrance, or free for members, nr Gulval. 01736 448 089, TR20 8YL www.tremenheere.co.uk
I love Finisterre cold-weather clothes and lap up discounts on their high-end gear. This promising-looking workshop sale takes place Saturday at Finisterre’s HQ at Wheal Kitty in St Agnes. Test your gear in the (probably) lashing rain at Trevaunance Cove afterwards. Or better still hang it up and go for a Wheal Kitty pizza at the Cornish Pizza Company – I haven’t tried them out yet but it all sounds perfectly tasty and thin-crust.
Cornish outdoor clothing brand Finisterre has opened a shop! It’s aptly located on a wind-battered Cornish headland, next to their Wheal Kitty workshops and HQ of Surfers Against Sewage. Anyway, I just bought the most expensive hat of my life there – the merino Cable Beanie pictured above. Fortunately, after the initial layout, it has turned out to be the sort of hat that manages to turbo-heat your whole body. Pure wool yet zero itch, and ample ear coverage. Good sale rail at the shop too, by the way.
Cable Beanie, Finisterre, £30. www.finisterreuk.com
It’s Open Studios time again – an opportunity to stick your nose into the studios of Cornwall’s many hidden away artists and designers, woodworkers, needleworkers and illustrators. Just look out for the orange circles.
It is oft quoted that West Cornwall has more working artists/sole-trading “creatives” per capita than anywhere outside London (or something…). The exact statistic has been distorted by Cornish whispers, but it is clear when you look at the Open Studios map that there are a lot of them – even the village of Nancledra, population 150, is stacked with dots.
I am particularly keen on visiting the arty clusters of studios like Krowji and Trewidden. It doesn’t feel quite so much like walking into someone’s house (with the attendant feeling of obligation to chat!) and you can see lots of different work in a small space in a mellow but bustling atmosphere. Plus you can stop by the wildly eccentric Melting Pot Cafe afterwards at Krowji, which on the whole I love, though I wasn’t so keen on being charged £2.45 for a slightly watery hot chocolate in a paper cup on Sunday.
Open Studios is on for the rest of the week, and I’m not done yet, but my highlights so far are as follows:
• Steam-bent wooden lampshades – Tom Raffield, Krowji
High-design steam-sculptured wooden lampshades, flower pots and assorted furniture. www.tomraffield.com
• Logan rock chopping boards – Samuel Walsh, Krowji, from £18
Stacked up, they look like the rocks of Bodmin Moor or West Penwith’s Logan Rock – and they are very strokable. www.samwalshfurniture.co.uk
• Paul Fry – Trewidden
Uplifting simple flowers against fresh white backgrounds. www.paulfry.co.uk
• George Meyrick – Krowji
Minimalist geometric 3D shapes and flat paintings. Could be interesting installing one in a Cornish cottage, where right angles are hard to find. More info on George here.For all details on Open Studios 2012, including full list of participating artists, have a look here: http://www.creativeskills.org.uk/open-studios-cornwall-2012 Free entry throughout.
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
Maybe, maybe not. But in more groundbreaking news, there seems to be life on Penzance prom! Not only is the Olympic Torch passing through tomorrow morning but the Little Tea Caravan, which I blogged about last summer, is also back at weekends. Get your tea and cake kicks from the vintage caravan on the prom (near bottom of Alexandra Road) – open tomorrow from 11am and weekends this summer. Love the idea and love the Victoria Sponge.
Little Tea Caravan – see here for their facebook page.
Time to blog about my biggest Cornish crush in some time. There’s a newish Cornish clothes brand on the scene – not as out there yet as Cornish stars Finisterre and Seasalt, but it has been quietly growing over the past few years and collecting fans. EKO (Earth Kind Originals) is the work of Cornish maid Helen Davies, who moved back to St Just from London to start an eco-aware, coastally inspired clothes label.
Other than occasional desperate dashes to New Look’s Apricot range, the best of a truly shocking bunch on Penzance’s high street, I aspire to move away from cheapie cheap high-street crap. The prices can only belie a world of sweatshop darkness, the clothes don’t last, and the colours are never quite right.
My EKO Dusk till Dawn scarf, pictured above, has been welded to my neck since it arrived – it’s a tactile cotton-cashmere mix but the real sell is the ingenious string of buttons and buttonholes down the edges, which allows you to fasten it any way you like and however artlessly you do it, it seems to look great.
Other things I like: the models look like real people; the catalogue makes you want to Read the rest of this entry »
I went to these guys’ Christmas Mart at Chapel Street’s Trevelyan House and emerged happily with several ‘knitted freaks‘ (see second row above & pic below – they make the world a better place), silkscreen-printed wrapping paper and cards by Studio No.6, and a few fine slabs of brownie. They (that’s Heyday Presents) are holding a May Mart on Friday and Saturday in Penzance – see poster below for full detailage.
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
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 »
Enjoying the announcement of a micro-festival at Barefoot (the place I was rave-blogging about the other day) over the Easter weekend to celebrate the launch of their surf school and record label – uh-huh, a record label on our very own Lizard Peninsula. It’s £30 for a day ticket (£45 for the weekend) but I see BF have managed to lure some interesting folky/acoustic names to the deep south, plus it is being opened by none other than Michael Eavis (if ever there was a good festival omen…).
I’ve been checking out the artists, and here are the ones that caught my eye. The beard count is reassuringly high.
Matthew P (summery acoustic…)
Harry Fricker (guitar-as-drum)
A shout-out for two interesting things happening at the Poly in Falmouth. The first is a talk by very long-time pasties & cream friend Paul Spooner, whose career as an automata maker (“making mechanical jokes for people with short attention spans”) has included pieces for the Science Museum, Louis Vuitton and, er, me aged six – a wooden box that I still have and keep my drawing pins in. Takes place tonight at 8pm at the Poly; pay a little visit here for more information and tickets.
The second thing I’m giving you a fraction more notice for. Opening on 21st February, also at the Poly, is an exhibition of the sumptuous illustrations and photography that appear in the Parabola Project‘s second book, the beautifully designed anthology I blogged about the other day. Here’s a taster, reproduced here with kind permission of Parabola.
I got a little overexcited in Falmouth’s new ‘artisan coffee‘ café Espressini on Saturday. The coffee menu covers an entire six-foot-long blackboard and there are three types of sugar (including one with dried rose petals in, another with chilli).
The styling is also very neat. Your coffee is served in retro turquoise cups and saucers, there’s a centrepiece La Marzocco coffee machine, and piles of mags and papers – all nicely accessorised by the addition of artily dressed Falmouth students. Owner Rupert said he looked at some properties in Penzance but Falmouth won out… Ouch, that was hard to hear (what I wouldn’t give for a good hangout coffee shop in PZ) but it does at least now provide further motivation, should ever it be needed, to make the pilgrimage to Trago.
39 Killigrew Street, TR11 3PW, Falmouth, Cornwall. A website is on its way but in the meanwhile, there’s a FB page for interested parties: http://www.facebook.com/Espressini