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?

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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

Tasting and tours at Polgoon Vineyard’s October Open Days

Penzance’s local vineyard, ‘Polgoon’ has just returned from the Taste of the West Awards with more praise for their latest products. They entered five drinks, two of their 2010 wines and three ciders.  All won awards with the 2010 Bacchus and Ortega white wine winning Gold, the Cornish Black, Cornish Pink and Cornish Dry Cider winning a Silver Award each and the 2010 Rondo and Pinot Noir red wine, achieving Bronze.

Vineyard Owners John & Kim Coulson have seen their business develop over the last 5 years from an amazing start, with their first ever wine, a still rosé, winning the coveted UK Vineyards Association’s ‘Waitrose Trophy’ which John and Kim were presented with at a ceremony at the House Of Lords. 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

Vote if you Love Cornish Food

It’s that simple. Just click here. Then pass it on…

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the British Food Fortnight there is a sizzling campaign raging across the county to get us to vote for our favourite food location.

If Cornwall wins it will be good for everyone. The recognition will help to put Cornwall in the national spotlight for the food and drink we produce. It will help the small food producer, the farmers and fishermen. It will support our chefs, our restaurants and hotels and jobs in related industries for local people.

Currently the prize is being hotly contested between Lincolnshire and Cornwall, although Hampshire is not far behind and voting will close on 11th September.

So what has Lincolnshire got? Some sausages and other pork products we think.  Does that fairly compare to the wealth of food produced in Cornwall? I don’t think so, yet Lincolnshire folk are voting enthusiastically in their thousands to win. In contrast, only a relatively small foodie minority is pushing the ‘Love Cornish Food’ campaign, albeit with valiant effort.  If Cornwall’s to win it’ll only be with concentrated support from all quarters.

Does Cornwall deserve to win as Britain’s Favourite Food Spot? Cornwall Food & Drink think so.

Let’s examine the reasons: Cornish clotted cream and the traditional Cornish pasty are now protected as unique to this region as Champagne is to its. On the other hand, Lincolnshire is the largest potato, wheat, poultry and cereal producer in the UK, and undoubtedly has a fine agricultural tradition even if they are producing on a factory-like scale. Continue reading