Nature Kitchen, St. Austell

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Nature Kitchen is certainly the most interesting and exciting shop in St. Austell. Step inside and you’re instantly transported into a fascinating emporium of  herbs, spices and all the ‘hard to find’ exotic ingredients you could imagine.

Frankly, I’ve just be overwhelmed by the array of colours, the sumptuous aromas and the thrill of endless flavour possibilities that were presently that I’m currently stumped for words. Therefore I’ll let the pictures speak for me.

Or you could pop in and sample it for yourself.

Ally Watkins is a bright and energetic lady, as vibrant as her shop. As a business idea, she has now started recruiting ‘spice merchants’ – almost like a franchise – it gives individuals anywhere across the UK a chance to start a small business selling herbs and spices themselves with the potential to earn £300 – £500 a week at single events and markets.

She is also the driving energy behind the town’s forthcoming Spring Fayre – ‘bringing plants, sunshine and laughter to St. Austell’s town centre’ on 28th & 29th April 2012. The plan is to make this an annual event.

Find out more: contact ally@naturekitchen.co.uk 

Pandora, adore her :-)

Much to the delight of regulars, the 13th century Pandora Inn has reopened its doors just under a year since it was destroyed by fire, on March 24th last year.

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The historic and much-loved Pandora Inn is once again a replica of its former self. Officially opened to the public on Friday March 9th. The Bishop of Truro, the Right Reverend Tim Thornton, joined the pubs’ tenants and St Austell Brewery directors to officially mark the inn’s opening on the evening of 8th March.

I was not a regular. In fact, its many a year  since I last stepped inside the Pandora.

It doesn’t mean that I didn’t adore her. Ok, so it’s not quite on the scale of ‘remembering the exact moment and where I was when I first learned the news’ – I was most likely at my computer…however, I do remember feeling quite sick when I saw the images of the fire that had taken hold of the thatch.

My dad owned a sailing boat and I’ve many happy memories as a teenager sailing over to the Pandora at the weekend for lunch. Approaching the long, boat pontoon, my sisters and I nimbly leaping off as we drew alongside with a rope to secure us tight. I fancied myself a bit then. We were 3 girls with long blonde hair and brown legs in skimpy shorts and it was a thrill to know we made the heads of drinkers and diners turn.

Although masquerading as the ‘deck totty’ off a sleek white sloop,  all we could afford to buy for lunch was  a pasty or a sandwich. I’d tiptoe the intimate dinning rooms upstairs on my way to the loo and promise myself that one day, as a grown up, I return to sample the evening fare. For the Pandora has always had a great reputation as a place to dine in style.

But I never have and the thought of the Pandora no more felt like a dream never to be fulfilled.

Former head chef, Tom Milby, is back at the helm, cooking up many of the favourite dishes regulars will remember. As ever, with its location on the edge of the creek, fresh fish will feature prominently on the menu.

John Milan and Steve Bellman, who have been tenants at the Pandora Inn for more than 12 years, said: “It is a great feeling to be back behind the bar of the Pandora and officially marking the reopening was a very special day. After so much interest in the Pandora’s return it’s wonderful that we can now welcome regulars and visitors alike.”

Adam Luck, Estate Director for St Austell Brewery, said:”After the trauma of the fire nearly a year ago it is amazing to see the Pandora restored to its former glory.  I am sure customers are going to be delighted to see their pub back and appreciate some of the improvements we have taken the opportunity to make during the painstaking rebuild of this historic pub.

Adam added: “We would like to thank all those involved and in particular our architect Steve Peacock, builders Cummins and Pope, master thatcher Guy Moore and of course John & Steve and all the staff at the Pandora who have been so supportive during the last year. We look forward to seeing you there soon”

To contact the Pandora call 01326 372678 or visit www.pandorainn.com for more information.

Origin Coffee latte with Rodda’s milk (no sugar) please…

I’ve just moved house and I’ve been drinking a lot of coffee lately.  I’ve not cared much about how it tasted. Just that it’s hot and wet. The kind that’s endlessly offered as a cheap and routine stimulant. It has kept me going through the day’s shifting, packing, sorting, distributing of household assortments and detritus office paper work. It also seems to pass through me at a rate of knots and has made me an all too frequent traveller to the loo.

Sadly, this dismissive and disinterested attitude of mine is possibly fairly common amongst us Brits.

“With or without?” is all I’m expected to be asked. I don’t really mind how it comes.

“With milk, no sugar, please…” and “… as long as it’s hot and wet.”

“Real or instant?”

“Oh instant’s fine, I don’t want to be any trouble…”

Although, that answer isn’t strictly true.

For, from now on, I actually want high maintenance coffee. The type that seems to take ages to extract a deep, dark trickle of black coffee into tiny demitasse cups. Where the aroma of rich nutty flavours envelop my senses and is accompanied by the aggressive sound of steaming milk and metal jugs clunked on hard surfaces. Don’t give me any of that over frothy, milky stuff which is too hot to drink right away. I want a highly skilled barista to extrude handfuls of gorgeous ground Origin coffee at my bidding and to serve me a bitter-sweet shiny latte with a Rodda’s rich, creamy-sweet, milky top. Continue reading

I’ve been slacking….

It might have looked as if I’ve gone to ground, lost interest in this blogging lark….

Truth is, I had.

I’ve  been moving (if you needed to know) from one home to another, and  the past couple of months have been spent in the throes of completing a new house and then moving a lifetime of stuff, fluff, dust, dirt and 3 kids.  I’d no idea how it would become the all consuming, overwhelming focus of all my energies.

Once BT have me back on-line (big grumble there) in the new office – rather suffering in the icy blast of the old – plus, trying to get used to new vari-focal glasses which play havoc with trying to edit the typos. I’ll be back to resume normal service as soon as possible…

I’d just like to thank Origin Coffee and Roddas for fortifying my renewed energy today…

More on that later.

The Flavour Weekly: Grumpies to lift your mood

Unusually I’m making a second post about Grumpies pies or Grum-pies.

I’m that moved to say how good they are. Jam packed full of only the best Cornish ingredients; these are premium pies that’ll put a big smile on your face.

Who’d have thought? They’ve even been recently taste tested by Rick Stein.

I shall make a plea that every pub in Cornwall should offer a ‘Grum’ pie on their menu, which probably an odd request to make when this is the land of the pasty. However, pies do something that pasties don’t. They’re proper comfort food to eat on their own or to serve up with a plateful of veggies for supper. A pasty, is best eaten in a paper bag as food on the hoof. Served it up with chips and it looks out of place.

The family and I have been sampling my way through each of their flavours and this is the verdict thus far:

Turkey, cranberry and stuffing 

This is just a seasonal special, which quite frankly should be kept on all year round. The husband and I were both in agreement: SUPERB! 

(There’s a Christmas Vegetarian too, with roasted vegetables, stilton and chestnuts).

Steak & Ale 

Lean local steak with mushrooms in a Cornish real ale (from Penpont Brewery they tell me). A popular pie and densely filled with tender, juicy beef.

Lamb, Mint & Potato

Local lamb with mint and red wine. My kids love lamb but were a bit uncertain about the mint. A good thing  as it left all the more pie for me :-)

Chicken, Gammon & Leek in a creamy bechamel sauce. I loved this one! And did my best to fight the others off.

Pork, Apple & Cider

Slow cooked lean pork with Bramley apples and Cornish cider.   On balance, this was probably the family favourite.

Looking forward to tasting the Blue Cheese, Mushoom & Walnut and Homity Pie soon.

The big dilemma now is where can we buy them?

Banbury’s Cornish Turkeys

They might not actually vote for Christmas but Banbury’s Cornish Turkeys certainly live the rural idyll, raised by three generations of the same farming family outside Padstow on the North Cornish Coast.

And this year for the first time Christmas diners across the land will get to savour the difference between these birds and their intensively reared relatives – via a new national delivery service from cornishfoodmarket.co.uk.

“We hand-rear free-range black and traditional white turkeys here at  Trembleathe Farm and they grow for much longer than mass produced birds so they develop that lovely deep turkey flavour,” says Richard Banbury whose parents  Fernley and  Nancy, wife Clare and little daughters Gracie Ann and Roseanna all play their part in the nurturing process.

“I think part of it is also that our natural environment is so clean and clear with fresh air off the Atlantic – we’re remote from roads and noise and commercial activity and the birds are raised as they should be – stress free.”

For nearly fifty years these turkeys have been enjoyed throughout Cornwall at Christmas time but now the Banbury family – like scores of the county’s best food and drink producers – are working with the team at cornishfoodmarket.co.uk to spread not just the word but the reality of best Cornish fare to the nation at large. Continue reading