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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Banbury’s Cornish Turkeys

They might not actually vote for Christmas but Banbury’s Cornish Turkeys certainly live the rural idyll, raised by three generations of the same farming family outside Padstow on the North Cornish Coast.

And this year for the first time Christmas diners across the land will get to savour the difference between these birds and their intensively reared relatives – via a new national delivery service from cornishfoodmarket.co.uk.

“We hand-rear free-range black and traditional white turkeys here at  Trembleathe Farm and they grow for much longer than mass produced birds so they develop that lovely deep turkey flavour,” says Richard Banbury whose parents  Fernley and  Nancy, wife Clare and little daughters Gracie Ann and Roseanna all play their part in the nurturing process.

“I think part of it is also that our natural environment is so clean and clear with fresh air off the Atlantic – we’re remote from roads and noise and commercial activity and the birds are raised as they should be – stress free.”

For nearly fifty years these turkeys have been enjoyed throughout Cornwall at Christmas time but now the Banbury family – like scores of the county’s best food and drink producers – are working with the team at cornishfoodmarket.co.uk to spread not just the word but the reality of best Cornish fare to the nation at large. Continue reading

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

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

Brandy Butter & Bread Sauce recipes with clotted cream.

In my opinion, there is only really one kind of cream clotted cream – everything else is ‘milk’ (slightly thicker milk, sour milk or milk with air)  in comparison.

Here’s some simple recipes from Rodda’s which I’ll be using over Christmas.

Luxurious bread sauce with Rodda’s clotted cream

Perfect with turkey, chicken and game birds.

Serves 6-8 Prep time 5 minutes plus 2-24 hours steeping time Cooking time 10 minutes Continue reading

I’m thinking lobster for Christmas…?

Fish For Thought selection box.

I’ve had superb fresh Cornish fish from Fish for Thought before, so I can thoroughly recommend both the quality of the fish and the service.

We are sharing Christmas this year with my vegetarian (but she does eat fish) sister-in-law and her two non-meat eating children.  So I’m seriously thinking that this year we should ditch the traditional turkey and have a royal feast of fish. We won’t even be in Cornwall this year, but I’m confident that it won’t make a jot of difference. Fish For Thought assure me that they can deliver freshly caught Cornish seafood direct to where ever I happen to be. So, if we chose to gather somewhere remote and unorthodox for the festivities, if shouldn’t be impossible at all.

Christmas feasting tends to go one of two ways: either it’s a massive over indulgence of food, which we groan at our stuffing or quickly regret; or it’s a taste treat of fine and special food. So, I’m tending towards the later, thinking of celebrating with Fish for Thought’s Cornish lobster, crab and scallops, to name just a few! Continue reading