Nature Kitchen, St. Austell

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Nature Kitchen is certainly the most interesting and exciting shop in St. Austell. Step inside and you’re instantly transported into a fascinating emporium of  herbs, spices and all the ‘hard to find’ exotic ingredients you could imagine.

Frankly, I’ve just be overwhelmed by the array of colours, the sumptuous aromas and the thrill of endless flavour possibilities that were presently that I’m currently stumped for words. Therefore I’ll let the pictures speak for me.

Or you could pop in and sample it for yourself.

Ally Watkins is a bright and energetic lady, as vibrant as her shop. As a business idea, she has now started recruiting ‘spice merchants’ – almost like a franchise – it gives individuals anywhere across the UK a chance to start a small business selling herbs and spices themselves with the potential to earn £300 – £500 a week at single events and markets.

She is also the driving energy behind the town’s forthcoming Spring Fayre – ‘bringing plants, sunshine and laughter to St. Austell’s town centre’ on 28th & 29th April 2012. The plan is to make this an annual event.

Find out more: contact ally@naturekitchen.co.uk 

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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

Crantock’s pasties triumph at British Pie Awards

It’s been a great year for the Cornish pasty so far and an even better one for Crantock Bakery who were yesterday crowned maker of the best Cornish pasty in the British Pie Awards.

For over 25 years Crantock’s has been lovingly making hand-crimped traditional Cornish pasties at their bakery near Newquay.

At the British Pie Awards the exceptional flavour was recognised by the A-list of judges including food writers Xanthe Clay and Charles Campion, celebrity chef and food campaigner Rachel Green, and author Tamasin Day-Lewis.

Nick Ringer, Managing Director of Crantock Bakery said: “We are all delighted to have won this award. It is particularly gratifying to win in the year that PGI status was awarded to the Cornish Pasty. We really were up against the best authentic pasties made in Cornwall and the fact that ours won shows we genuinely do make the best Cornish Pasties in the UK.” Continue reading

Cornishman opens Denmark’s first pasty shop

A Cornishman has taken on a nation famed for its baking ability by opening a successful Cornish pasty shop in the home of the Danish pastry.

Jason Mather partnered with Crantock Bakery to open the Cornish Pasty House in the Latin quarter of Copenhagen earlier this year.

Jason claims his is the first Cornish pasty shop in Denmark: “I love pasties, and I was sure that the Danes would too. I have been delighted how the people of Copenhagen have taken to them.

“Denmark is famous for its bakeries but they mostly specialise in sweet products. I felt there was a gap in the market for a quality product and wanted to see how the Cornish pasty fared against the Danish pastry.

Keen to offer the Scandinavians an authentic Cornish product, Jason selected Crantock Bakery to provide him with a range of pasties and sausage rolls.

Jason is even able to market his products as genuine Cornish pasties as Crantock’s follow the rules set down by the recent decision from the European Union to award the pasty Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status. Continue reading

When it’s better to turn a Nathan Outlaw pasty into a pie…

Having made my PGI pasties last week to celebrate St. Piran’s Day there may have been yawning disappointment if I served what looked like a repeat performance…and then to have the exclamation of outrage with the first bite, “What no meat?!”

I followed Nathan’s ‘not a Cornish pasty but made with Cornish ingredients’ recipe and in a farewell nod to British Pie Week made this instead.

Now that this recipe has been turned into a pie, no Cornish folk need get flustered by the carrots.

‘Carrots in a pasty! You never put carrots in a pasty.’ 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

Hovis Wholemeal Bread Challenge

Two slices of squashed Hovis wholemeal with marmite and cream-cheese

Just before Christmas I took part in the Hovis Wholemeal Challenge.

I agreed to give it a go because I’m actually a bit of a glutton and have never been known to refuse the offer of any kind of food.

But, I wish I’d known a little a bit more about what the challenge would entail beforehand so that I could have got my head round the task properly and put myself in genuine ‘guinea-pig’ mode.

I’d assumed I’d be trying lots of different Hovis products and I was really looking forward to seeing what tasty offering they have.

The first week involved filling out a survey everyday to see what my morning eating habits were before the challenge. That seemed simple enough. I was asked what I ate, when I ate, if I snacked during the morning and when I started to feel hungry again.

I did feel a little smug for not eating breakfast or for being a ‘snacker’. I’m a pretty typical woman so not eating leaves me with a virtuous feeling. Although the general healthy eating message is that if you miss breakfast you are more likely to snack and develop unhealthy eating habits.  I knew I wasn’t feeling hungry because I tend to eat fairly carb-loaded suppers. So  I’m not actually a conventional carb-avoider. Continue reading