Nature Kitchen, St. Austell

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Nature Kitchen is certainly the most interesting and exciting shop in St. Austell. Step inside and you’re instantly transported into a fascinating emporium of  herbs, spices and all the ‘hard to find’ exotic ingredients you could imagine.

Frankly, I’ve just be overwhelmed by the array of colours, the sumptuous aromas and the thrill of endless flavour possibilities that were presently that I’m currently stumped for words. Therefore I’ll let the pictures speak for me.

Or you could pop in and sample it for yourself.

Ally Watkins is a bright and energetic lady, as vibrant as her shop. As a business idea, she has now started recruiting ‘spice merchants’ – almost like a franchise – it gives individuals anywhere across the UK a chance to start a small business selling herbs and spices themselves with the potential to earn £300 – £500 a week at single events and markets.

She is also the driving energy behind the town’s forthcoming Spring Fayre – ‘bringing plants, sunshine and laughter to St. Austell’s town centre’ on 28th & 29th April 2012. The plan is to make this an annual event.

Find out more: contact ally@naturekitchen.co.uk 

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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?

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

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

Slow cooked Gloucester Old Spot Belly of Pork and Pork Fillet, pea croquette with a black pudding crumb, pea rillette, sour apple coulis and pea salt.

Slow cooked Gloucester Old Spot

Aaron Janes

Recipe by: Aaron Janes, Head Chef, Silks Bistro & Champagne Bar, Atlantic Hotel, Newquay.

Aaron lives, breaths and dreams food, such is his passion for Silks restaurant that he helped to create back in 2004. His desire is to bring cooking in Cornwall, well and truly into the 21st century by creating classic British dishes with the very best Cornish ingredients.

“I like using only two simple ingredients and do something spectacular with them,” he explains. “As with the pea and pork – cooked in a variety of different ways with the added the element of delight and surprise so that people say, gosh that really tastes of peas!”

“The Gloucester Old Spot for this dish come from Ballardsfield Farm (practically next door to where I live), It’s great to see exactly where and how the pigs are raised. That’s the fantastic thing about Cornwall, sea and farmland is so close by and variety of produce is abundant and when there’s a glut of top quality something in season, I believe it’s best to grab it when you can!”

“The dish is really not as complicated to create as it sounds.  Every stage is really very simple. There are no complicated techniques, it’s just planning and having all the elements ready to use in advance,” Aaron reassures. “Using a water bath ensures that the meat is kept tender, full of flavour and melts in the mouth when you eat it. Having the meat perfectly cooked beforehand means it is instantly ready to be given the last stage of the cooking to order.” Continue reading

The Best Food Spot in Britain

A Cornish Pasty made by Warrens

Warrens Pasty

It’s Cornish food, but who cares?

Walk down any street in any town in Cornwall around lunchtime,  it can seem as if every other person has held of a paper bag from which a delicious aroma of potatoes, onions and steak in pasty sally forth. The unmistakable Cornish Pasty, our original ‘street food’. If is wasn’t for the pasty in Cornwall there wouldn’t be the half-dozen bakeries along the high street in every Cornish town. It is not much mentioned, but its certainty taken for granted here, how recession proof and plentiful the shops to buy fresh bread, currant buns, saffron cake, fancy cakes and sweet pastries are in Cornwall.

Of course there’s clotted cream with protected (PDO) status that puts it up there alongside Champagne and Parma Ham. Quality that can’t be imitated. Cornish Food is truly special, added to which our location, with the sea on three sides, and our special climate bathed in the Gulf Stream keeping it wet and mild that makes the quality of our raw ingredients. Artisan producers will wax lyrical about the magic of briney airs, lush all year-round grazing and early springs which breath a subtlety of flavours, sweeter, finer, stronger and better than anything that can be produced in the UK.

Not all that many years ago, things were very different. Your average tourist expected nothing more luxurious than a cream tea, ate fish and chips on the sea-front and would have sampled a pasty or two. I remember when there were only two restaurants in the entire county worthy of special reputation. 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