Giving traditional Christmas Day dining a proper Cornish twist with unique food and drink specialities from the best local producers.
‘Ninemaidens Mead’, Lanner, TR16 5TQ.
Mead, a sweet, honey-based alcohol and, was not invented in Cornwall, but has been strongly associated with the Duchy. Ninemaidens produce five different varieties: ‘traditional’, with a strong heather honey nose, and ‘spiced’, which makes an invigorating winter warmer. These could be just as easily drunk as a sweet desert wine. ‘Apple’, ‘blackcurrant’ and ‘redcurrant’ are fruity, slightly drier but equally delicious. Honey is sourced from hives across West Cornwall and the best locally sourced ingredients are added during the brewing process.
For Christmas it can be warmed, mulled or added to a spicy winter punch. Alternatively, try their new ‘Gwires’, crystal clear distilled mead with a floral, honeyed bouquet; a great Cornish alternative to classic single malt.
Tel:(01209) 820939 / 860630 www.cornwallsolar.co.uk/ninemaidens
‘The Duchy Smoked Fish Company Ltd’, Par, PL24 2AF.
John Ketch, formerly Production Manager at the much-missed ‘Cornish Smoked Fish Company’ in Charlestown, said, “I kept meeting old customers who lamented the loss of the company after it had closed.” Alongside his brother-in-law, Jon Vennard, they began trading as the Duchy Smoked Fish Company in October 2009. In their first year wining a Bronze for their smoked mackerel and Silver for their smoked Haddock at the Taste of the West Awards.
The Duchy Smoked Fish Company cold smoke their fish with real oak ‘dust’ which gives it a distinctive, oaky delicacy to the flavour. Their smoked salmon is perfect as a Christmas starter, or John’s personal Christmas favourite is to have their smoked salmon pâté or smoked mackerel pâté. “I like to enjoy it with perhaps a little smoked cheese. I bit of an indulgence after a drink in the pub around Christmas.”
Tel: (01726) 816063 www.smokedfishcornwall.co.uk
3. The Main Event:
‘South Torfrey Farm’, Golant, PL23 1LA
The Andrews family have been producing finest quality organic geese and turkeys for 14 years. “Last year our geese won a blind taste test organised by Rick Stein, with seven chefs agreeing that ours was the best,” tells Debbie Andrews. “We rear them from day one. They roam free-range during the day, kept in moveable arks at dusk, bedded daily on straw and fed a mix of home grown organic cereals. We dry pluck by hand at the farm and they are hung for 10 days. As for the taste, our turkeys are moist and for some reason are easy and quick to cook, while the darker meat of a goose combined with veggies roasted in goose fat are simply heavenly.”
Farmgate prices are £10.50/k for the turkeys and £12.50/k for the geese.
South Torfrey also supply The Natural Store (Falmouth, Helston), Cusgarne Organic Hampers, Trevaskes Farm Shop, Trevelyan Farm Shop, Hotel Tresanton and Riverford Farm. For mail order: Well Hung Meat Co. www.wellhungmeat.com.
Tel: (01726) 833126 / www.southtorfreyfarm.com
4. Classic Condiment:
‘Crellow’, Tregony, TR2 5SE.
Kea (pronounced key) on the Fal Estuary near Truro is home to the special small damson sized plums that are used to make Crellow’s original ‘Kea Plum and Rosemary Jelly’. “Rich, deep plum colour, with shreds of home-grown rosemary,” describes Deborah Richards, “Excellent with the richer meats eaten at Christmas, such as goose, turkey, venison or even pork. Award winning Kea Plum and Rosemary jelly has a robust, sharp and punchy, fairly acidic, flavour.”
It’ll certainly make a welcome change with people who are ripe for something a bit different from the Cranberry import. It can be added to gravy for a bit of colour and flavour, or a spoonful stirred into casseroles, spread into sandwiches with cold turkey or melted over baked potatoes as they cook the last ten minutes. It is a magical, versatile, tasty condiment likely to prove a definite winner.
Tel: (01872) 530853 www.crellow.com
‘Cusgarne Organic Farm’, Cusgarne TR4 8RL
Greg and Teresa Pascoe’s ability to supply superbly fresh produce from their own farm has made them the producers of choice by many chefs throughout mid Cornwall. They supply The Nare, Tresanton and Budock Vean hotels to name a few but also make weekly deliveries of organic ‘veg’ boxes to homes from as far as Helston to Fowey.
Greg’s top tip and his own personal choice for Christmas is a lemony, cream coloured ‘Peruvian Oca’ potato, slightly different as a new potato, delicious boiled and served with butter and black pepper, equally good baked or roasted. Cusgarne’s vegetable crops are chosen for flavour and variety and are unlikely to be seen in supermarkets. Three or four different cabbages, broccoli or cauliflower varieties, and more, are usually on offer.
Tel: (01872) 865922 www.cusgarne.org
6. Celebration Fizz:
‘Camel Valley Vineyards’, Nanstallon, PL30 5LG
Even if when not focusing personally on Cornish fare, there’s only one sparkling wine for me: the delicious, light, lively, hedgerow-scented, Camel Valley ‘Cornwall’ Brut.
Sam Lindo has won ‘UK Winemaker of the year’ this year, but not for the first time. The award is made after blind tasting a range of the vineyards wines against other winemakers. Their pink sparkler, the Pinot Noir Rosé Brut, won best sparkling rosé in the world is already sold out. As Sam says, “It isn’t too difficult to sell an individual bottle of English wine on curiosity value alone, but when customers return time and again to buy our wine, or come to buy a case because they had it in a restaurant the previous night and loved it – that’s when you know you’re doing something right.”
Camel Valley ‘Cornwall’ Brut costs £19.95 or £17.95 per bottle with a case discount.
Tel: (01208) 77959 www.camelvalley.com
7. Christmas Pudding:
The Simply Cornish Traditional Luxury Christmas Pudding recipe dates back over 100 years, “We have simply added contemporary ingredients and feeling to this amazingly tasting Christmas Pudding,” says sales manager, Greg Mewton. The Simply Cornish brand established in 2008 breathes new life into beautiful, traditional foods. Born out of Warrens Bakery, established in St Just in 1860, and the oldest Pasty maker still producing.
‘Simply Cornish’ is a premium range, using Warren’s tradition and knowledge, with the sole aim of providing delicious tasting products. Also for Christmas, their Stollen Cake, which takes Warren’s bakers over 10 hours to make. The result is a very special moist fruity Stollen that has a captivating taste and aroma.
Tel: (01736) 786800 www.simplycornish.com
8. Crème de la crème:
‘Rodda’s’, Scorrier, TR16 5BU
Oddly, the only thing that makes a sweet, sticky heavy Christmas pudding easier to eat is to serve it with a dollop of rich, fresh, cool clotted cream. In Cornwall we don’t really understand ‘whipped’ or thin ‘runny’ creams that lack substance, like feeble cousins of the real stuff. However, Rodda’s also make a double cream for pouring.
Rodda’s make butter too. Requested by the Queen herself. It would be good to imagine the Queen’s brandy or rum butter is made with this. But if you fancy a continental style cream, Rodda’s crème fraiche can be used to go with salmon, gives a soft, creamy flavour to soups, and the perfect base for dips, sauces and turkey curries.
(01209) 823373 www.roddas.co.uk
9. Cake for tea:
Cornish Fruitcake Company’, Goldsithney, TR20 9LB.
Gilly’ Bent’s fruitcakes were winners in the Food and Farming section for ‘Best Product packaging’ at this year’s Royal Cornwall. They also won Royal approval after Prince Charles tasted purchased some for himself.
All her cakes are hand baked, on a small scale to retain their special farmhouse character, using fine quality, locally sourced, free range egg eggs where possible. They are then fed with alcohol and allowed to mature for at least one month before being sold. She bakes four different cakes, however her ‘Gears Farmhouse’ fruitcake is not only very pretty and festive looking, it is light, moist and packed with delicious vine fruits, cranberries and natural glace cherries and fed with port.
1kg cake from £16.00 / 400g cake from £6.00
Tel: (01736) 710030 www.cornishfruitcakecompany.co.uk
10. Brandy Finale:
‘Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm’, Penhallow, TR4 9LW
Healey’s are the largest cyder maker in Cornwall and the first distillery for 300 years in the county. For their Classic Cyder Brandy, specially selected apples are harvested for fermenting from Healey’s own orchards. Only those showing characteristics that will benefit from slow distillation are chosen. Twice distilled and then left to rest in newly-charred oak barrels; it is then the task of the master distiller to craft the maturation process with different aged barrels until an optimum complexity of flavours and aromas has been reached before bottling.
Jim Murray, world authority on spirit blending, described the cornishapplebrandy vintage 2000:“Elegant and unique, boasting a refined and unique taste that will gently arouse the senses and then slowly explode in the mouth – be prepared for the taste of effervescent fruit, bitter sweet chocolate, sweet but not too sweet with an aroma of scrumpy with a lush and tangy note. This is something extra special – to be savoured and talked about for a long time.”
5 year Classic Cyder Brandy £38.95.
Tel: (01872) 573356