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?

Advertisements

Da Bara Bakery

Da bara’, in Cornish, means ‘good bread’. (And dese are da brothers that make da good bread).

I can’t help it, my mind’s off on a tangent all of it’s own now. Perhaps it’s the smell of good bread all around that inspires almost poetic sentiment? There’s no refuting the wholesome fraternity between Ben, and his younger brother Tim. Only a few months ago they turned a long held hobby of bread making at home into a full-time bakery business.

Could it be that there’s some endearing nuttiness in such brotherly love?  Or why would they opt for six nights a week together, smothered in yeast, flour and sticky dough, right through the small hours while most people sleep? Long, nocturnal hours are however proving their worth; brothers Tim and Ben now supply the likes of Fifteen Cornwall, Hotel Tresanton and an expanding number of farm shops with their good bread.

We earn dough, break bread before the daily grind, and spend crusts on food to eat. Bread litters our language as much as it fills our stomachs; it’s so ordinary, but so necessary, and it can lift the human spirit. The final irony, as we despondently advance upon the weekly supermarket shop, is that our nose should be arrested by the warm, wafting smells of baking buns pumped to the front door to draw us in. I’m drawn irresistibly to the shelves of fresh bakes. Each one full of squidgy pledges that never deliver the flavour promised when I get them home. Most bread, as we know it now, has lost its taste and goodness and it’s a bloomer of a shame. Continue reading

The World’s Best Cheese, Beer, Wine (and a whole lot more) Party

If you were one of the 43,000 who visited this year’s Cornwall Food & Drink Festival in the last three days you’ll know that Cornwall’s food and drink, and all the industries associated with it, are pretty special.

The food and drink pavilion wasn’t filled with homely-but-a-little-amateurish WI type sponge cakes, and jars of jam and marmalade;  or in the other extreme, with expansive corporate sales pitches from big food businesses. The catering offerings weren’t greasy chips and burgers or limp ham rolls and the top chefs weren’t brought in from other regions.

The reality, in fact, is so good: the quality, integrity, and passion; sometimes you have to pinch yourself, that what you are actually seeing is just the top rim of a proverbial horn of plenty.

Limited only by the space available on Lemon Quay, you can bet there are dozens and dozens of other food retailers, producers and chefs putting their names down now to be at next year’s festival. Tired and exhausted, they may be, but the twitter buzz is already showing evidence of festival withdrawal symptoms.

One of the best aspects is the sheer friendliness. You don’t pop into the festival for a few minutes to see what’s going on, you lose  yourself in it for hours. Bumping into old and new friends, the pleasure as much in the dialogue as the sampling of great foodstuffs.

There’s one event (I’m now going to strongly advise you book and pay for now for they’ll be many others trying to elbow their way to a place at a table) is the Magnificent Seven Dinner (or #Mag7 if you are a ‘tweeter’). This is the ultimate in pop up restaurants, held in the festival marquee the night before opening, in which all the dishes cooked  from Cornish ingredients by the seven best chefs in Cornwall. Where else can that kind of thing happen?

I didn’t go and listing to the exuberant twitter talk felt more determined to catch the other fringe event – Champions’ night.

“I won’t be late,” I told the kids, “be good for Grandpa” who’d been good enough to be the responsible adult at home. It sounded like some early evening drink and nibbles, the prequel to a proper dinner or a lazy settling back home again in front of the telly. How wrong could I be? Continue reading

Preview of the Cornwall Food and Drink Festival 23 – 25 September

The Cornwall Food & Drink Festival, held on Truro’s Lemon Quay towards the end of September, is a pretty unique foodie event in the UK for the fact that every food and drink producer, every exhibitor, every chef and every sponsor are totally Cornish. There can’t be many festivals where fifty stallholders  (there could be a lot more if the location didn’t limit the size) and a ‘Croust’ bar for Cornish refreshments, plus 3 days of chef’s demonstrations can claim this totally regional exclusivity, can there?

Having known Cornwall all my life, claiming itself a gastronomic capital of food would not have seemed remotely likely 25 years ago. Ask anyone, from Cornwall or beyond, and only Cornish pasties and clotted cream for the ubiquitous cream tea would have summed up food from Cornwall. Rick Stein had opened his first business in Padstow in 1974 and so back in 1986, his restaurant was the best of maybe of two, possibly three, places to dine out in Cornwall. Everything else was very mediocre and I can remember thinking: Just once, before I die, someone will love me enough to take me to eat at The Seafood Restaurant. It represented the pinnacle of food heaven that was out-of reach in terms of cost to the average Cornish wage.

So much has changed. Rick Stein had broadened his empire, great restaurants are aplenty and ridiculously good food is everywhere even in little cafe’s and bistros.I now get sniffy if even pub food in Cornwall isn’t freshly cooked and locally sourced.

Of course clotted cream and the ‘genuine’ Cornish pasty will always been synonymous with Cornwall and wonderfully they’re now both protected with special geographical status to stop inferior imitators giving the foods the wrong image. Motorway service stations would have us think as pasty came wrapped in plastic, contained minced beef and diced carrots and tasted rather dull.

Food hype is everywhere and all over the nation, food enthusiasts are all shouting for their own region. No wonder then that ‘fun’ polls to find Britain’s favourite food spot should inspire passionate food fights, where each county champions their own local food producers, their regional specialties and top-notch dining establishments.  If local people don’t support their local producers they disappear, and if a single region can establish a reputation as a foodie destination then it can thrive like no other.

…And the argument for Cornwall?

Continue reading

Royal Cornwall ‘Food and Farming Awards’ 2011

Big Buns Cake Co

The exhibitors in the Cornwall Food and Farming Pavilion at the Royal Cornwall Show number more than 50 this year and once again they pulled out all the stops  to create a visual feast to match the quality of food on display.

The Food and Farming Awards are a way of praising the effort and innovation of the exhibitors in presenting their product in an imaginative and informative manner. In particular they were enthusiastic about the examples of collaboration between producers in bringing new products to the market and the engagement of the consumer through the product with the wider community.

The Result’s of the Food and Farming Awards are as follows:

Continue reading

Sampling the art of Nicky Grant, Patisssiere and Chocolatier

Romantic Infusion

Nicky Grant is a seductress.

One bite of her ‘Great Taste’ gold award-winning Cornish seasalt caramel truffles and I’m smitten!

It might be the quick snap sensation of the dark chocolate shell breaking apart under my teeth, followed by the oozing creamy-rich, sweet caramel centre on my tongue that transports a feeling of rapture straight from my head to my toes; or possibly the guilty memento of sin touched with smudges of cocoa powder left on my fingertips to lick? However, what sets these caramels apart, and my taste buds spiralling into bliss, is the barely discernible flavour of sea salt. Don’t ask me why or how, but salt appears to add something quite remarkable.  It turns a nod of approval into the tenderest proposal: ‘my heart is putty. I adore you’

All of this is a world away from Nicky’s previous life. Until 2001 she was a Corporate Identity Manager for BAA, a blue chip company in London, where her most of her life was spent in airports designing public spaces. Moving from corporate life to a farmhouse in west Cornwall might seem like a far cry from the sublime to the ordinary. Her husband Tom admitted, “I was a little nervous how she might react on meeting my large and almost overwhelming Cornish family.” However, for Nicky, it gave her the perfect opportunity to fine-tune a passion for another artistic design form completely. 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