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

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

The Flavour Weekly: The Queen’s, Sam’s and The Cornwall

Last week I ate bream. It was the best most enjoyable piece of fish I’ve eaten in an age.  If fish is served in heaven if will be like this: perfectly cooked, gorgeously moist, delicate and melting in the mouth with a really crispy skin served on a risotto and something green…

You’ll have to forgive me for failing to :

a) photograph it so I could show you now how good it was;

b) recall the details of what else was on the plate. I drank a lot of wine (the waitress kept refilling my glass) and I was having too good a time to take notes;

c) drawing a blank to everything else I need excusing for. I’m getting too old for late nights and alcohol.

But I can tell you that it was cooked by the Cornwall Hotel and Spa’s new head chef, Brett Camborne Paynter.

I started with a ‘Rilette of Cornish crab, gazpacho espuma, crisp basil leaves’ and we ended the meal with a medley of all the desserts on offer. Continue reading

Grumpies of Cornwall

Grumpy pies  to improve your mood?

Two self-proclaimed ‘grumpy old men’ from Cornwall have launched a new range of savoury pies.

My comment was ‘that it saves having to smile at your customers all the time, if looking grumpy is just self-proclaiming the brand.’ I purchased a steak and ale and  blue cheese, mushroom and walnut to take home from the Falmouth Oyster Festival recently and yes they were good.

Grumpies of Cornwall was founded in January 2011 by Trevor Shea and Mark Carne at their bakery in Launceston.

The pair live by their ethos of ‘serious about food’ and use the best Cornish ingredients including local vegetables, Cornish ale, and meat from Philip Warren’s, a prize winning Launceston butcher.

The range of six pies also avoid artificial additives, preservatives and processed ingredients to create products with a home cooked quality. Continue reading

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

Clandestinely having my cake and eating it.

The rise (and rise) of home baking has a lot to answer for. Talk of such is everywhere. Across telly, in all kind of magazines, whole social groups brought together over cake recipes and sharing tips. In the chill of hard times ahead and the gloom of a deepening recession the waft of vanilla essence seeps into our daily life. Butter cream, chocolate, jam or cream cheese fillings wrap friendly arms of reassurance turning morning coffee time, plain cake and afternoon tea into comforting occasions. Brash muffins and cheeky cupcakes move over, the noble Victoria sponge has regained her top spot on the cake stand, graced on every side by numberless cakes of every invention.

My kitchen cupboard spills forth an assortment of baking tins and mixing bowls; a licked spoon, a scraped bowl and a spatula lie discarded in the sink; the work surface has been liberally messed by flour and sugar and smudges of buttery cake mixture have appeared on my kids’ faces. One tweet, a cyber whisper and the rumour’s out there: the first Clandestine Cake Club in Cornwall is about to happen but nobody knows where.

I’m curious. What is a cake club? Who goes, and why the big secret? Lynn Hill started the first Clandestine Cake Club, however her whereabouts in Britain, or who she is, remains unknown. The premise of a cake club, Lynn’s website reveals, is create opportunities for social interaction with cake loving strangers to bake, bring, eat, share and take slices of each other’s cakes home. Continue reading

Chef’s Special: Silks Bistro & Champagne Bar, Atlantic Hotel, Newquay

Slow cooked Gloucester Old Spot Belly of Pork and Pork Fillet, pea croquette with a black pudding crumb, pea rillette, sour apple coulis and pea salt.

Slow cooked Gloucester Old Spot

Aaron Janes

Recipe by: Aaron Janes, Head Chef, Silks Bistro & Champagne Bar, Atlantic Hotel, Newquay.

Aaron lives, breaths and dreams food, such is his passion for Silks restaurant that he helped to create back in 2004. His desire is to bring cooking in Cornwall, well and truly into the 21st century by creating classic British dishes with the very best Cornish ingredients.

“I like using only two simple ingredients and do something spectacular with them,” he explains. “As with the pea and pork – cooked in a variety of different ways with the added the element of delight and surprise so that people say, gosh that really tastes of peas!”

“The Gloucester Old Spot for this dish come from Ballardsfield Farm (practically next door to where I live), It’s great to see exactly where and how the pigs are raised. That’s the fantastic thing about Cornwall, sea and farmland is so close by and variety of produce is abundant and when there’s a glut of top quality something in season, I believe it’s best to grab it when you can!”

“The dish is really not as complicated to create as it sounds.  Every stage is really very simple. There are no complicated techniques, it’s just planning and having all the elements ready to use in advance,” Aaron reassures. “Using a water bath ensures that the meat is kept tender, full of flavour and melts in the mouth when you eat it. Having the meat perfectly cooked beforehand means it is instantly ready to be given the last stage of the cooking to order.” Continue reading