Origin Coffee latte with Rodda’s milk (no sugar) please…

I’ve just moved house and I’ve been drinking a lot of coffee lately.  I’ve not cared much about how it tasted. Just that it’s hot and wet. The kind that’s endlessly offered as a cheap and routine stimulant. It has kept me going through the day’s shifting, packing, sorting, distributing of household assortments and detritus office paper work. It also seems to pass through me at a rate of knots and has made me an all too frequent traveller to the loo.

Sadly, this dismissive and disinterested attitude of mine is possibly fairly common amongst us Brits.

“With or without?” is all I’m expected to be asked. I don’t really mind how it comes.

“With milk, no sugar, please…” and “… as long as it’s hot and wet.”

“Real or instant?”

“Oh instant’s fine, I don’t want to be any trouble…”

Although, that answer isn’t strictly true.

For, from now on, I actually want high maintenance coffee. The type that seems to take ages to extract a deep, dark trickle of black coffee into tiny demitasse cups. Where the aroma of rich nutty flavours envelop my senses and is accompanied by the aggressive sound of steaming milk and metal jugs clunked on hard surfaces. Don’t give me any of that over frothy, milky stuff which is too hot to drink right away. I want a highly skilled barista to extrude handfuls of gorgeous ground Origin coffee at my bidding and to serve me a bitter-sweet shiny latte with a Rodda’s rich, creamy-sweet, milky top. Continue reading

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

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

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

Seriously? Cornish Whiskey?

The Cornish Whiskey Story 

Cornwall’s first whiskey in 300 years was born from a handshake between two independent family businesses; St Austell Brewery and Healey’s Cyder Farm which, incidentally, is also Cornwall’s only brandy distillery.

The idea was initially the inspiration of St Austell Brewery’s Head Brewer, Roger Ryman, who has nursed his passion for whiskey since cutting his teeth in the Scottish drinks business several decades ago. It’s a partnership that brings both expertises in brewing and distillation together for the first time in England. Continue reading