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 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

St. Austell Brewery takes Glastonbury by storm

A staggering 30,000 pints were sold in  St Austell Brewery‘s ‘pop-up’ pub – the ‘Cornish Arms’ in the heart of Glastonbury Festival.

For the second year running the ‘Cornish Arms’ was a massive success – despite the mud – with the bar crowded from 10am until the early hours with festival goers enjoying a pint or two of St Austell Brewery beer. It was the only bar at Glastonbury serving cooled cask ale.

The Brewery’s mission was to meet Michael Eavis’ request to recreate a proper Cornish pub in the middle of Glastonbury festival.

Jeremy Mitchell, Marketing Director at St Austell Brewery, said: “We’ve had excellent feedback, with many people saying it was the best bar at the festival – no small compliment considering there were more than 100 bars to choose from. Continue reading

The Arboretum at The Cornwall

Soused Mackerel Starter

Some menus are written to impress or bewilder with mousselines and veloutés. Others are distinctly ‘French’, ‘Italian’ or ‘Fusion’ in flavour. Methods need to be translated and dishes explained in dialogue that entices enthusiastic responses. Head Chef Tom Bradbury’s English dishes were presented as lists of ingredients, nothing more, in the most straightforward way a menu can be. Without the ritual of appetite seduction, I felt abandoned to an objective rational. Who’d have thought a lack of description could leave me so underwhelmed. “I’ll try the lamb,” I opted, “Not had that for a while.” Continue reading

Cornishman opens Denmark’s first pasty shop

A Cornishman has taken on a nation famed for its baking ability by opening a successful Cornish pasty shop in the home of the Danish pastry.

Jason Mather partnered with Crantock Bakery to open the Cornish Pasty House in the Latin quarter of Copenhagen earlier this year.

Jason claims his is the first Cornish pasty shop in Denmark: “I love pasties, and I was sure that the Danes would too. I have been delighted how the people of Copenhagen have taken to them.

“Denmark is famous for its bakeries but they mostly specialise in sweet products. I felt there was a gap in the market for a quality product and wanted to see how the Cornish pasty fared against the Danish pastry.

Keen to offer the Scandinavians an authentic Cornish product, Jason selected Crantock Bakery to provide him with a range of pasties and sausage rolls.

Jason is even able to market his products as genuine Cornish pasties as Crantock’s follow the rules set down by the recent decision from the European Union to award the pasty Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status. Continue reading

Chef’s Special: The Loop Restaurant at Retallack Resort and Spa

Crispy Fried whole line caught Sea Bass with chilli and tamarind sauce.

Stephen Lloyd

Crispy Fried whole line caught Sea Bass with chilli and tamarind sauce.

Recipe by: Stephen Lloyd, Head Chef, The Loop Restaurant at Retallack Resort and Spa

After ten years working as a chef in Australia including a number of years in the ‘Spirit House’, an award winning South East Asian restaurant in Queensland, Stephen Lloyd’s cooking follows a method of pure Asian food. “A million miles from the ‘fusion style cooking’ people talk a lot about,” he says, “or ‘confusion’ which it can easily become. I learnt completely different techniques, while working in a South East Asian kitchen, using very different flavours and produce.”

He took on the role as executive chef at Retallack Resort last August and it’s natural that he would want to introduce some Asian dishes to his new menu for coming season. Stephen also has plans for special menu events, Thai evenings, weddings and functions and it is hoped that local people will also recognise his unique dining experience in Cornwall.

“My food is very much in the style of the street hawker markets in the region where fresh ingredients cooked to order. It is traditional for many different dishes to be eaten at the same time. Of course in the restaurant they are presented in a much more refined way.” Stephen’s dish might appear deceptively simple to cook, however the recipe has large portions of sea bass that, without an industrial sized fryer or large wok, can be difficult to cook at home.

“Cornish line caught sea bass also shows complete traceability; the fish has a log number tag that will show who the fisherman was who actually caught it. However, bass is expensive so farmed sea bream can be used as an alternative. All the Asian ingredients: the tamarind, coriander root and palm sugar can be purchased from the Lana Thai supermarket in St. Austell.”

“This dish is ideally shared by two people and eaten, picking the pieces off the bone, by hand. It makes a dining experience that is actually quite intimate and romantic,” Stephen explains. “Chillies have something in them that is known to release endorphins and feel pleasure, however the tamarind sauce is a well-rounded balance of spicy, sweet and sour in one. It takes out most of the heat leaving a pleasant tingling sensation. I’m keen that people should try something new,” he adds, “but I want to keep it friendly and not scare people away by being too different.”

The Loop Restaurant offers relaxed dining in a bright, vibrant and fun environment. Using locally sourced ingredients, Stephen Lloyd creates simple, delicious, quality dishes at reasonable prices. As a family friendly restaurant, the menu caters for all ages from gourmet burgers to locally caught fish dishes. Continue reading