Eating through Cornwall
I just spent three days in Cornwall over the weekend and thought I would share some of our experiences. We did no fine dining at all while we were there. Padstow looked ok for that although the best recommended being Margot's et al. were all shut on a Sunday.
Arrived in Truro early on Friday morning and headed straight for the beach. We arrived at Porthtowan where there is a sleepy little surf cove and quite a popular cafe/bar called Blue. It was closed so nothing to report. The next stop was St. Ives with the Tate amongst other attractions. It was hot and sticky already in St Ives and the clock was barely past 10am. Perfect time to start with a Cornish Pasty. Ignoring the many, many options we headed for Farrell's. A small little shop on the corner famous for its simple, delicious pasties. I'm vegetarian so a lot of the art of pasty making is lost on me and I'm afraid at Farrell's the vegetarian option was inferior to what I'm sure is an amazing meat pasty. They did serve a mean buttermilk scone. The plain saffron bun was fair to good.
Wandering around St Ives I was struck by the number of decent, cheap eat options. The was an amazing sprout shop, Living Sprouts, that sells sprouting gear, seeds for sprouting, sprouts and other organic, delicious healthy snacks and deli-type foods . We bought a salad and hummus dip from those guys. It was super fresh and delicious with tomato and feta. They also sell homemade chocolate bars in varieties of flavours. The nut and goji berry were awesome and the ginger decent as well.
The pasty hunt continued apace. Past a nice looking deli on Fore St or was it Duke St (they had a great looking homemade gingerbread which we passed up). Eventually we made our way to the harbour where we came across the Simple Foods Cornwall Pasty shop. It was pretty posh, had some good looking sea salt and some strawberries and cream Cornish shortbread biscuits. Kathryn tried the biscuit, loved it, and suggested that any place that had shortbread biscuits that good should make a decent vegetarian pasty. That logic held pretty true. The ingredients were superb. Pastry quite light but there was nothing holding the fresh ingredients together and the pasty lacked the stoginess that makes them so bad yet so good at the same time.
After a decent stroll we realised (1) we were hungry and (2) somebody had said that St. Ives has the best veggie burger in the UK. So I made a dash for Blas and was not disappointed. Haloumi burger was sublime. Fresh haloumi, red peppers, some salad, great homemade mayo. Just a perfect taste. I also ordered a deluxe veg burger based on a black bean pattie but that was not as delicious. We ate the veg burger in the middle of an ancient stone circle a few miles out of St. Ives. Magic.
Spent the rest of the day at St. Michael's Mount before heading over, past St. Austell, to Buttervilla organic farm, our B&B for the night. A bit hungry after so much walking, swimming and driving we got a tip off to visit the Rod and Line pub in Tideford just past St. Germans. A friendly local pub kind of busy on a Friday night and definitely a nice and relaxing place to spend a few hours. But boy did I wish at this stage that I was still eating fish. As the fish and chips, lobster and every other seafood dish looked sensational. I settled with a goats cheese and mango salad with a side of chips. Pretty decent considering. Heaps of goats cheese dry fried on top of lettuce. Simple and fresh but I’d go the fresh fish if I could.
After a sensational run up and down the Buttervilla hills it was time for the home cooked breakfast. I started with the homemade granola and freshly produced raspberry coulis with local yoghurt. Outstanding. Fresh, light, not too sweet. Followed with potato, cherries and home grown leaves (I love greens for breakfast more of that later). Also they had an excellent strawberry jam. Lovely people, beautiful farm and a great breakfast. We left excited about the day ahead and also armed with an inside tip for the best pasties in the region, Sarah's pasties in Looe.
We were not disappointed. Looe is a pretty port village and Sarah's is the last of many pasty shops along a main pedestrian strip. But ignore the rest and walk straight there. The spicy chick pea with lentil was outstanding, as was the regular vegetarian. At 10am on a Saturday they were pumping pasties out of the oven. Everything was hot and fresh. We followed the pasties with a cherry scone and a fruit scone. Both were excellent. I also made a visit to the cake shop but there was too much in our goody bag already. Looking back I reckon I should have tried the millionaieres shortbread or the Victoria Sponge. Actually another saffron tea cake would have been nice as well.
From Looe it was a pretty drive to the Eden Project. The food didn't look very good there by the way. And from there back to St. Germans to visit Port Elliot which is open just 100 days a year. Spectacular house and gardens and a great little tea house. The Victoria sponge was delicious but way too sweet. We had the traditional Cornish cream tea (note: don’t even think about mentioning Devonshire tea – from the rival county Devon next door). Excellent scones, clotted cream and jam. The cake / pastry cook there was top notch. Satiated and a little drowsy we made our way through the Bodmin Moors through to Bangors Organic near Bude.
Highlight of the trip. Warmly greeted we got ready for a three course dinner with everything coming from the garden. After a starter of artichoke with herb butter for me and cream of lettuce soup for Kathryn we took a stroll through an amazing 10 year journey. About 50 garden beds of every vegetable you can imagine. All organically grown. And all picked fresh and served just a couple of hours later – transported 50 metres to our plate – a true farm experience. Still full after a serious days eating I settled for some freshly picked and steamed greens, flavourFULL broad beans and homemade potato chips. Wow. Super fresh and amazingly delicious. To round out the meal I had a chocolate and almond torte but here I missed out as the freshly picked strawberries with clotted cream were out of this world. Some other options on the menu I can remember were wild trout with fennel and home reared duck, stir-fried in a sweet and sour sauce served with basmati rice. Both served with amazing seasonal vegetables.
Breakfast the following morning was fresh fruits from the garden with granola and then a number of options including cornish porridge with clotted cream. But to cleanse I went for baked beans and steamed greens again which caused lots of confusion. But boy they are amazing. Home baked bread topped off a great feed.
We left with huge bags of vegetables from the garden and a home baked saffron tea cake and took a drive down the wild North Cornwall coast. At Tintagel we stopped to view the castle and picked up the worst pasty of the trip. And then late in the afternoon rolled into Padstow and Rick Stein madness. Which we missed. Had a pasty from Clough which was disappointing as well. Found every restaurant either shut on Sunday's, shut by 4pm or owned by Rick Stein. So after a quick stroll we got out of there