Cheesy Ends

Davidstow, gawd bless ’em, sent me a sample of their of a three-year-old matured cheddar earlier this month and I put it aside in the fridge for later and then forgot about it. I don’t suppose that could do it much harm, as what’s month at the back of the fridge to a cheese that has been around for 36 months already?

I unwrapped it from its brown paper and inhaled.

I love Davidstow cheese, methinks as I sniff deeper…. I would happily put myself of an Atkins-style Davidstow only diet if they would supply me enough cheese to support this radical experiment…

My ‘three-year old’ looked at little dry around the edges but I rather like my cheese when it goes a little crunchy. It wasn’t long before a curious teenager with a more receptive nose than I turned up and started to nibble the slithers I’d been grating.

“I like that, can I have some more?” he asked. My answer was pretty short. This cheese was gold (it took three years to mature, remember?) and I knew I wasn’t going to get anymore of it.

So what to do with it? I reckoned on the theory that the stronger and tastier the cheese the further it will go. I’m about half way through my wedge now but it has been used to enhance two family meals so far. 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

Cornwall’s finest ice creams: ‘first and last’.

To take a tour via all of Cornwall’s best-known ice cream producers, from west to east, would be a heavenly endeavour. Imagine how many scoops of lusciousness you’d be obliged to sample. Pop into Newlyn for a Jelberts, head to the Lizard for Roskilly’s, whip on up the county via Callestick and Kelly’s in Bodmin, onto Looe for Treleaven’s and then northbound for a Boscastle rendezvous with Helsett. Or start from the east, with your back to England, where’d be your first delicious lick in Cornwall? Or before you topple off the end, belly full, whose ice cream is the full stop in this trip of divine superlatives?

The most westerly, by a tiny fraction is Moomaid’s of Zennor. Robert Monies, aged 28, and his brother Nicky make their ice cream on Tremedda Farm which has been in the family for over 100 years. At the other extreme end near Bude, Sarah Redman, 38, makes Daisy’s on Hackthorne Farm. Not only are they the county’s newest ice cream producers they are also in a very real sense both the ‘First’ and the ‘Last’ in Cornwall. Continue reading

‘Big Love’, Pasta and a Proper Job.

I have a particular soft spot for Fifteen Cornwall where I recently celebrated my birthday lunch. It is great in the day time because the view is always interesting. The weather and the big waves out of season can make it dramatic, the surfers and dog walkers keeps it animated, the local food sourcing policy and the opportunity it has given many young, otherwise ‘given up on’ people to turn their lives around makes me feel warm inside. But none of this would be worth the trip on their own if the food wasn’t so delicious. I’ve never eaten anything there that I haven’t really enjoyed every last morsel of.

Here’s a piece I wrote for Cornwall Today a while ago.

The ‘salt of the earth’ (and sea) which nurtured the ‘roots,’ tended the ‘sprouts,’ which made the restaurant bloom that attracted the bees… Continue reading

Spring Feast at the Porthminster Beach Café

My sister, for her 50th ‘googled’ for a place to eat near the beach. I’m so glad she did.

For had she not, we might have chosen to celebrate her birthday lunch on more familiar territory and not have made the hour’s car drive west to St. Ives just to experience the pleasures of the Porthminister Café.

Well worth the trip in every sense. This was much more than a pleasant restaurant with a gorgeous spot on golden sands with and uninterrupted sea view. The food was original, the ambience light and airy, and late Sunday lunchers positively encouraged….and when my kids got restless we just sent them outside to play on the beach 🙂

I won’t bore you with details of what we ate or how good it tasted. I’ll just show you pictures of what we had…

Want to try it? A lunch time, Monday to Friday and well worth getting out in the Cornish Spring sunshine for some gastro exploration. Continue reading

The Flavour Weekly: Proper coffee and real bread

I’ve been busy.

Busy is good. Not only have I been occupied working but I also been busy taking my taste buds on a sensory adventure. Now it’s time to play catch up.

Last week I happened to be in London and since that’s a bit a rarity for me to venture across the Tamar, I leapt at the invitation from the ‘make mine Milk’ team to learn a few proper coffee making skills along with a group of other bloggers. It was a ruse to get some feedback on their campaign so far and discuss upcoming activity for 2011, however I’m easily seduced by the fantastic spread of breakfast they provided us with.

The ‘coffee morning’ took place at the London School of Coffee where  we were treated to a crash course in Barista skills.

Daisy Rollo, originally from Brittany, was our barista trainer. She grew up with the smell of cafe au lait and a warm croissant in her nostrils everyday. I grew up with Tetley tea and burnt toast in mine so I feel I started life – as most Brits – with a certain plebeian disadvantage. Continue reading

Kids, Garofalo pasta and grated Davidstow Cheese .

My children love pasta. It’s quick, convenient and a very easy meal to put together in and the one dish that’s guaranteed to have them all leave their plates clean at the end.

My normal, basic winning formula is to mix an ordinary, bland supermarket pasta with a tomato-based sauce made more flavoursome with a spoonful of pesto and top each bowlful with lots of tasty grated cheese. I try to give variety as much as possible with minced beef, bacon, and bits of chorizo or squeezing type of vegetables in that they would normally pick at suspiciously.

The pasta, however, is normally treated as a bland platform to support a richer, tastier food and I’ve tended to buy the cheapest ones I can find.

Offering to try and then review Garofalo pasta, I thought would be a challenge in itself. For one, I wanted to know if the difference between premium pasta and a cheap one is great enough is to pay the higher price. Secondly, I wanted to see if my children could taste the difference.

Garofalo pasta is a top-selling brand in Italy, however, what chance does it have among the British at growing a loyal band of premium pasta followers? Continue reading