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


Clandestinely having my cake and eating it.

The rise (and rise) of home baking has a lot to answer for. Talk of such is everywhere. Across telly, in all kind of magazines, whole social groups brought together over cake recipes and sharing tips. In the chill of hard times ahead and the gloom of a deepening recession the waft of vanilla essence seeps into our daily life. Butter cream, chocolate, jam or cream cheese fillings wrap friendly arms of reassurance turning morning coffee time, plain cake and afternoon tea into comforting occasions. Brash muffins and cheeky cupcakes move over, the noble Victoria sponge has regained her top spot on the cake stand, graced on every side by numberless cakes of every invention.

My kitchen cupboard spills forth an assortment of baking tins and mixing bowls; a licked spoon, a scraped bowl and a spatula lie discarded in the sink; the work surface has been liberally messed by flour and sugar and smudges of buttery cake mixture have appeared on my kids’ faces. One tweet, a cyber whisper and the rumour’s out there: the first Clandestine Cake Club in Cornwall is about to happen but nobody knows where.

I’m curious. What is a cake club? Who goes, and why the big secret? Lynn Hill started the first Clandestine Cake Club, however her whereabouts in Britain, or who she is, remains unknown. The premise of a cake club, Lynn’s website reveals, is create opportunities for social interaction with cake loving strangers to bake, bring, eat, share and take slices of each other’s cakes home. Continue reading

Cornwall’s finest ice creams: ‘first and last’.

To take a tour via all of Cornwall’s best-known ice cream producers, from west to east, would be a heavenly endeavour. Imagine how many scoops of lusciousness you’d be obliged to sample. Pop into Newlyn for a Jelberts, head to the Lizard for Roskilly’s, whip on up the county via Callestick and Kelly’s in Bodmin, onto Looe for Treleaven’s and then northbound for a Boscastle rendezvous with Helsett. Or start from the east, with your back to England, where’d be your first delicious lick in Cornwall? Or before you topple off the end, belly full, whose ice cream is the full stop in this trip of divine superlatives?

The most westerly, by a tiny fraction is Moomaid’s of Zennor. Robert Monies, aged 28, and his brother Nicky make their ice cream on Tremedda Farm which has been in the family for over 100 years. At the other extreme end near Bude, Sarah Redman, 38, makes Daisy’s on Hackthorne Farm. Not only are they the county’s newest ice cream producers they are also in a very real sense both the ‘First’ and the ‘Last’ in Cornwall. Continue reading

Scrumptious Summer Desserts

elderflower cordial

Image via Wikipedia

I don’t normally do this. Post something which isn’t Cornish. But in a moment of weakness – and I’m a sucker for delicious summer deserts.

So here’s some, featuring cordials by Belvoir Fruit Farm from Lincolnshire that capture the very essence of summertime…

But feel free to supplement with good Cornish alternatives! 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

Chef’s Special: Silks Bistro & Champagne Bar, Atlantic Hotel, Newquay.

Dark Chocolate & Pear Fondant, Conference Petals & Caramel with William Syrup, Pear Drop Brittle & Roddas Clotted Ice Cream.

Recipe by Aaron Janes, Silks Bistro & Champagne Bar, Atlantic Hotel, Newquay

Image courtesy of

Aaron Janes

Dark Chocolate and Pear Fondant

There is no doubting Aaron Janes’ ambition and determination to put Silks on the culinary map, and he is proud of the fact that the menu will be as Cornish in its ingredients as it is possible to be. “Silks is the only restaurant in Newquay to win a Taste of the West Award in 2009,” he enthuses, and in February, Aaron was part of team that came second at ‘The Cornish Challenge’ (run by Cornwall Catering Excellence to promote the use of Cornish ingredients). “Our menus are 96% made up of Cornish ingredients. If we could grow sugar, coffee and or citrus fruits reliably, we’d guarantee you tasted only Cornwall on the plate.”

“Silks”, he says, “is changing. We have updated the menus using classic dishes. There will be a choice of set menus of 2 or 3 courses with complimentary pre-starters and between course sorbets. We will also have a local fish special every day. We’re moving away from the habit of stacking ingredients on the plate, and working horizontally, as the Japanese do, making it possible to taste ingredients separately or combining them together.” Aaron’s aim is to show how flair can take the minimum of main ingredients and transform them into many different guises on a single plate; “For example a lemon tart with lemon sorbet and lemon brittle.”

“Desserts are my forte, and this particular one was made in the competition. The pears are from Westcountry Fruit Sales and the chocolate is Trenance’s.  The dish is deceptively simple but looks complex. If you can make a caramel, the rest is easy; it is only the decorative garnish which makes it appear complicated.”

Continue reading

Cuisine Couture Catering

William and Nicola Marsden

Pencoose Pantry

It’s not everyday that when you go round to meet someone for the first time they are ready to serve you a wholesome and extremely appetizing brunch. William and Nicola Marsden’s business premises at Pencoose Barn are also home. Catering operations, alongside family life, centre on a long wooden table that runs down the centre of a large and busy kitchen.

On the morning I met them, their youngest child, Tommy, aged one and a half, was happily enjoying a wholesome, fresh-baked roll and, judging by the aroma, I think there may have been an added slight sea-salt crust and hint of rosemary. Nicola regrets that, “My children have to move aside when the serious catering takes over,” and with typical mother’s guilt she berates herself for this. Meanwhile he was busy play cutting a set of plastic fruit and vegetables, while I looked on in awe. An early apprenticeship I supposed?

Continue reading