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 »

Advertisements

artisan malt vinegar

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 »

Jessica Cooper:  Photography by Simon Cook 01736 360041Jessica Cooper:  Photography by Simon Cook 01736 360041

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 »

newlyn filmhouse

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.

newlyn_filmhouse2

Today I’m sending out the stirring, sincere sounds of James Findlay, who was the starring guest at Penzance Folk Club last night upstairs at the Benbow.

It’s been a couple of years since Findlay won the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award but the early twentysomething must still have felt pretty fresh-faced when looking out over PZ folk club’s mature crowd. I am a big fan of traditional folk music – indeed the name of this blog is a tribute to mighty Cornish folkie Brenda Wootton – and it was a treat to have this rising star in our midst. I live in hope of a revival of a 1960s Count House-style folk music scene in West Cornwall… anyone fancy kicking things off?

www.jamesfindlay.co.uk

www.penzancefolk.co.uk

Click through for another vid from last night… Read the rest of this entry »

hotcrossbun

Forget the insipid buns peddled year round at Tesmorrisains (thanks go to this exiled Penwithian on twitter for that catch-all), Cornish Hen deli’s exemplar is the real deal. 75p each or three for £2. Market Place, opposite Lloyds, Penzance. 

fat hen foraging

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 »

A video about long-time friend of pasties & cream Paul Spooner and his ‘mechanical cartoons’. If you can’t afford one of his automata, you could always buy yourself a bar of Eden Project chocolate, which is illustrated by Paul with the story of chocolate. The sea salt one, in particular, has a nice briny kick.

‘Got absolutely drenched making this,’ says the author of this rather therapeutic slowmo clip.

tremenheere   P1170510  P1170518

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

P1170513P1170508

finisterre sale

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.

www.finisterreuk.com

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 »

28 - Plymouth - Stanhope Forbes - A Fish Sale on a Cornish Beach - Hi Res

Thanks go to my chief Cornish correspondent in the capital and my Cornish-by-conviction friend Chris for alerting me to the fact that Penlee House Gallery‘s walls must be looking a little bare at the moment, thanks to a major retrospective exhibition of Cornish art currently showing at Two Temple Place in London.

What with it being 308 miles away – and by First Great Western’s calculations a £110 journey – I haven’t yet been. But I can see from the reviews that it has some winners from the Newlyn School – paintings that I never get bored of. One of them is ‘A Fish Sale on a Cornish Beach’, pictured above, by Stanhope A Forbes, dated 1885. This sort of industrious beachside scene might be a thing of the past but the bearded guy would not look at all out of place nipping into the Swordy for a pint of something murky of a Friday.

I have to admit that for me there is something slightly jarring, or rather confusing, about the title of the exhibition – Amongst Heroes – but this is clearly a fine slice of Cornish art in a wonderful building. Admission is free, and there is an extensive roster of Cornwall-related activities. Gedon.

‘Amongst Heroes: the artist in working Cornwall’
Two Temple Place, 26 January – 14 April 2013

2 Temple Pl  London, WC2R 3BD
In partnership with the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro. Exhibition Opening Times: Monday, Thursday – Saturday: 10.00 – 16.30. Wednesday Late: 10.00 – 21.00. Sunday: 11.00 – 16.30, Closed on Thursdays
www.twotempleplace.org

95 - Tuke Collection - Henry Scott Tuke - In Tow -p

The guys at Heyday put on these vintage and handmade markets every now and again – I love them. There’s one today until 4pm downstairs at the Acorn. I came back with some knitted freaks, a pack of vintage flower cigarette cards, handmade cards, a starey-gazy cupcake (nice) and a bon bec bag by Alexandra Higlett.

On a stranger note, has anyone noticed how the Acorn sign has grown some sort of seaweedy mushrooms?!

Some smooth, Friday afternoon tones for you from rising folky Kezia, Cornwall’s answer to Ellie Goulding (she is going to get sick of that one but it has to be said). She’s playing at the ridiculously nice new Lime Tree Cafe at Tremenheere Sculpture Garden tomorrow evening – free entry.

www.tremenheere.co.uk

Check out how moody and cool the Jubilee Pool is looking in its close-up in The xx new video Chained, from the album Coexist, out now. Very taken with Penzance’s handsome lido, they were apparently. The underwater shots were filmed subsequently in a water tank. Ha! Don’t blame them – tis chilly in there.

www.jubileepool.co.uk

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

 

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’ve been stealing SD cards again – this time from my friend and keen photographer Chris Pierre, who has been taking a séjour in Penzance this past sunny week. I was flicking through his Canon Ixus and enjoying all the unusual details he had picked out of the Cornish landscape with fresh eyes. I particularly like the railings on the Jubilee Pool, the sofa in a field, the monterey pines and the prettiest cow on earth. Thanks Chris – I will continue to apply pressure for you to start a photo blog.

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

ImageImageImage

Ooo, there’s a new bar opened next to Untitled called the Cellar Door – seems to be going for the Hispanic arty dive bar vibe. It’s a curious, pared down place with exposed brick, £3 house red served in beaker glasses, chalked up pinchos (£2 each) – even Orishas and Jarabe de Palo on the stereo. No credit cards, limited opening hours and just a few old church pews for seats. Me gusta!

www.untitledbyrobertwright.co.uk

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/

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 »

‘Heartlands’, in case you hadn’t heard, ‘is the fruition of a long held ambition in the community to redevelop the Pool area of West Cornwall which was left largely untouched following the demise of the tin mining industry and final closure of the mines in 1998, after nearly 400 years of activity.’ And… it is finally open.

I went at the weekend but it was only a quick tour so I didn’t really have time to get to the ‘heart’ of the matter. All the same, here are some first pics from this freshly opened ‘cultural playground’ in Pool, between Redruth and Camborne.

As you can see it’s a slick-looking and multifaceted new ‘zone’ encompassing an adventure playground for kids (hundreds of delighted squeals), the Red River Cafe (sensitively designed, reasonably priced, standard cafe fare), a shop (a rather curious mix but did at least contain Hager Vor hoodies and Natalie Bonney’s lovely ceramics), workshops and an exhibition centre, plus – most importantly – the carefully restored mining remnants and buildings that form part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As per, Cornwall Council couldn’t resist slapping a pay & display car park on something trumpeted as a free attraction for the community. Still, that won’t stop most locals parking for free on one of the many surrounding streets of the industrial estate instead. Baker Tom’s little oasis in the desert is also just round the corner – weekdays only, mind.

www.heartlandscornwall.com

Logan rocks – chopping boards by Samuel Walsh

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. 

magic chocolate, st ives

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.

http://magicchocolate.co.uk/ 

You can also buy Magic Chocolate bars from Halzephron in Truro and the Muju Studio and Gallery in the Sloop Craft Market, St Ives (www.mujuworld.com). £6.50 for nine chocolates.

Out of season weekend sunshine. Sweet (Cornish) dreams are made of this.

PS Anyone know what that structure is on the headland? Never noticed it before.

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 »

p&c january header: artist’s studio Newlyn

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

pasties & cream tweets…

Enter your email address to subscribe to pasties & cream and receive notifications of new posts by email.