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

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?

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Stein’s Seafood Restaurant wins West of England Business of the Year Award

Rick and Jill Stein’s The Seafood Restaurant in Cornwall has been recognised as the West of England Business of the Year 2011, in the category of businesses with less than £25m turnover.  The 23rd annual awards are organised by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) in conjunction with ITV West and Beacon Southwest and were held in Bristol last Thursday.

The Seafood Restaurant is the first Cornish company to win the prestigious award in the last five years and battled it out with three other finalists from the West Country. Tracey Bentham, of PWC and chair of the judging panel said “the judge’s decision was unanimous in choosing the Seafood Restaurant as a worthy winner. The great progress they have made in the last year was most impressive to the judges, not only in developing their new Falmouth businesses, but also in the structure and strategy within the organisation. We were also impressed with their plans to keep growing in the future”.

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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