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?

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

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

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”.

Continue reading

Cornwall’s in the UK’s best region for food

Rick Stein and fellow chefs Nathan Outlaw, Jonray Sanchez-Iglesias, Peter Sanchez-Iglesias, Michael Caines (pictured here celebrating the launch with Director Jo Rees on the roof terrace of the Seafood Restaurant)

The Trencherman’s Guide confirms the southwest as the hot new region to experience the very best of British food.

The Trencherman’s Director Jo Rees said, “We are at a tipping point in terms of good quality food and drink producers, especially in Cornwall, and yesterday was an appropriately beautiful Spring day in Cornwall for the lunch-time launch of the latest, ‘Trencherman’s Guide 2011-2012 at Rick Stein restaurant in Padstow. The superb quality of food produced locally has been a tremendous boost to the Cornwall brand, and Jo explained that, “When it comes to local chef’s they really do ‘walk the walk’ when it comes to using local produce. It’s all about food with authenticity, and chefs are buying quality fish that has been caught sustainably, produce that has been reared, harvested and produced with care.” Continue reading

Ten ‘Cornish’ best for the Christmas table.

Giving traditional Christmas Day dining a proper Cornish twist with unique food and drink specialities from the best local producers.

1. Apéritif:

Ninemaiden's Mead

‘Ninemaidens Mead’, Lanner, TR16 5TQ.

Mead, a sweet, honey-based alcohol and, was not invented in Cornwall, but has been strongly associated with the Duchy. Ninemaidens produce five different varieties: ‘traditional’, with a strong heather honey nose, and ‘spiced’, which makes an invigorating winter warmer. These could be just as easily drunk as a sweet desert wine.  ‘Apple’, ‘blackcurrant’ and ‘redcurrant’ are fruity, slightly drier but equally delicious. Honey is sourced from hives across West Cornwall and the best locally sourced ingredients are added during the brewing process.

For Christmas it can be warmed, mulled or added to a spicy winter punch. Alternatively, try their new ‘Gwires’, crystal clear distilled mead with a floral, honeyed bouquet; a great Cornish alternative to classic single malt.

Tel:(01209) 820939 / 860630 www.cornwallsolar.co.uk/ninemaidens Continue reading