The Flavour Weekly: The Cornish Food Box Company

These were the veggies spread gloriously and deliciously across my kitchen table just over a week ago. Who would imagine that Cornish grown vegetables could appear so fresh, colourful and delightful in December? Slap a turkey in the middle and my Christmas feast is sorted.

The Cornish Food Box Company is run by sisters Lucy Jones and Victoria Amran in Truro. I’d encountered their colourful stand at the Cornwall Food & Drink Festival in September which stood out for the sheer variety of produce displayed.

What you see is their early Christmas gift to me. It represents an £11 veg box and 12 different types of freshly grown (only from Cornwall) vegetables. I’m feeding a family at home and we are still enjoying some of the potatoes, carrots, sprouts, onions, peppers and cabbage you see here.

The Cornish Food Box Company was established 12 months ago and now delivers boxes of fresh, seasonal, local food to homes, offices and holiday cottages. Working with more than 70 small Cornish farmers and producers, the business aims to make it as easy as possible for busy working families to support the rural economy by buying local food. Continue reading

Keveral Farm Community of Growers’ Organic Veg Boxes and a whole lot more.

Micro herbs from Keveral

Mirco herbs and leaves

Sean O’Neill hands me a tiny, insignificant looking leaf.

“Try this,” he says.

I’m looking at the two pinched-out top leaves from a green sprout he has handed me. Or, perhaps it’s an insignificant baby shoot he’s weeded out to let the stronger plants have space to grow strength? All around me, there are endless trays stacked upon shelves, row upon row of intensely bright, yet rather uninspiring looking seedlings. Apparently these infantile plantlets are the crop; harvested just as they reach salad cress height. Does my scepticism show? Surely there can be no flavour to this?

My un-cued response to its fragility is to tentatively nibble a neat fraction – a half-leaf – and I’m gob-smacked!  It’s a surprisingly powerful punch of concentrated sweetness like a saccharine pillule is to a tablespoon of treacle.

“The sugar-plant,” Sean informs me and in an instant I’m a convert. He hands me more and more deliciously different micro-herbs to sample and each one owns a definite and distinctive taste that is unique from one another. Continue reading

Ten ‘Cornish’ best for the Christmas table.

Giving traditional Christmas Day dining a proper Cornish twist with unique food and drink specialities from the best local producers.

1. Apéritif:

Ninemaiden's Mead

‘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 Continue reading

Fair Harvests

Mark Oughtred of Growfair

Growfair cauliflower harvest near Marazion.

A wholesale initiative to stamp pride into Cornish crops.

In Cornwall, we are lucky. Blessed by a favourable climate, an early season and plenty of passionate food growers, there is every reason why we should be able to chomp and munch our way through a staggering variety of fresh, local and seasonal supply of salad, vegetable and fruit.

Yet, what should be isn’t always born out in fact. “The reality is,” says Mark Oughtred, Brand Development Manager for Growfair, “10 years ago there were many more local growers in Cornwall than there are today. Poor financial returns, often below their break even costs, had left local growers very disillusioned and in the likelihood of becoming a rare breed unless something could be done to change things.”

With this in mind, wholesalers Bristol Fruit Sales (BFS), with 50 years of experience and 20 years in Bodmin, launched Growfair in April 2008. “There was a gap in the market for a strong, and easily recognisable, ‘fresh produce’ brand that the customer can relate to as being genuinely Cornish and authentically in season,” Mark explains. Starting with 12 growers, the scheme has quickly grown. It currently supports a portfolio of 25, producing 30 different products so far.

Put simply, ‘Growfair – Pride of Cornwall’ is an initiative to make fresh, local produce into a premium brand. The creation of uniform ‘Growfair’ brand packaging across many different varieties of local fruit, vegetables and salad crops, promotes the value of Cornish produce. It is both reassuring to the customer, and enables the wholesaler to command better prices for the growers. Continue reading