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

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

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

Keveral Farm Community of Growers’ Organic Veg Boxes and a whole lot more.

Micro herbs from Keveral

Mirco herbs and leaves

Sean O’Neill hands me a tiny, insignificant looking leaf.

“Try this,” he says.

I’m looking at the two pinched-out top leaves from a green sprout he has handed me. Or, perhaps it’s an insignificant baby shoot he’s weeded out to let the stronger plants have space to grow strength? All around me, there are endless trays stacked upon shelves, row upon row of intensely bright, yet rather uninspiring looking seedlings. Apparently these infantile plantlets are the crop; harvested just as they reach salad cress height. Does my scepticism show? Surely there can be no flavour to this?

My un-cued response to its fragility is to tentatively nibble a neat fraction – a half-leaf – and I’m gob-smacked!  It’s a surprisingly powerful punch of concentrated sweetness like a saccharine pillule is to a tablespoon of treacle.

“The sugar-plant,” Sean informs me and in an instant I’m a convert. He hands me more and more deliciously different micro-herbs to sample and each one owns a definite and distinctive taste that is unique from one another. Continue reading

Sitting on Green Lawns and loving it.

Food at the Rose-in-Vale (but not at the Challenge)

Having said, I wasn’t going, I did.

I’d cried: “Oh for a baby-sitter…” and my prayers were answered thanks to my lovely friend Wendy (she even said my kids were lovely)!

The thought of a four course dinner on a Monday night is pretty compelling, but the intriguing idea that this evening would be a fine catering ‘cook-off’ made it completely irresistible. Having been shortlisted from 13 or more restaurants that had submitted menus,  six teams, from six very different Cornish restaurants were to cook 4 courses cooked for two tables of guests each. Every menu had to include a fish course and a the main course of pork.

The six teams – The Ferryboat InnThe Rose-in-ValeFalmouth Beach Resort, The Green LawnsThe Pandora Inn and The Coldstreamer, each had to serve 20 guests, as well as the judges. Continue reading