Pandora, adore her :-)

Much to the delight of regulars, the 13th century Pandora Inn has reopened its doors just under a year since it was destroyed by fire, on March 24th last year.

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The historic and much-loved Pandora Inn is once again a replica of its former self. Officially opened to the public on Friday March 9th. The Bishop of Truro, the Right Reverend Tim Thornton, joined the pubs’ tenants and St Austell Brewery directors to officially mark the inn’s opening on the evening of 8th March.

I was not a regular. In fact, its many a year  since I last stepped inside the Pandora.

It doesn’t mean that I didn’t adore her. Ok, so it’s not quite on the scale of ‘remembering the exact moment and where I was when I first learned the news’ – I was most likely at my computer…however, I do remember feeling quite sick when I saw the images of the fire that had taken hold of the thatch.

My dad owned a sailing boat and I’ve many happy memories as a teenager sailing over to the Pandora at the weekend for lunch. Approaching the long, boat pontoon, my sisters and I nimbly leaping off as we drew alongside with a rope to secure us tight. I fancied myself a bit then. We were 3 girls with long blonde hair and brown legs in skimpy shorts and it was a thrill to know we made the heads of drinkers and diners turn.

Although masquerading as the ‘deck totty’ off a sleek white sloop,  all we could afford to buy for lunch was  a pasty or a sandwich. I’d tiptoe the intimate dinning rooms upstairs on my way to the loo and promise myself that one day, as a grown up, I return to sample the evening fare. For the Pandora has always had a great reputation as a place to dine in style.

But I never have and the thought of the Pandora no more felt like a dream never to be fulfilled.

Former head chef, Tom Milby, is back at the helm, cooking up many of the favourite dishes regulars will remember. As ever, with its location on the edge of the creek, fresh fish will feature prominently on the menu.

John Milan and Steve Bellman, who have been tenants at the Pandora Inn for more than 12 years, said: “It is a great feeling to be back behind the bar of the Pandora and officially marking the reopening was a very special day. After so much interest in the Pandora’s return it’s wonderful that we can now welcome regulars and visitors alike.”

Adam Luck, Estate Director for St Austell Brewery, said:”After the trauma of the fire nearly a year ago it is amazing to see the Pandora restored to its former glory.  I am sure customers are going to be delighted to see their pub back and appreciate some of the improvements we have taken the opportunity to make during the painstaking rebuild of this historic pub.

Adam added: “We would like to thank all those involved and in particular our architect Steve Peacock, builders Cummins and Pope, master thatcher Guy Moore and of course John & Steve and all the staff at the Pandora who have been so supportive during the last year. We look forward to seeing you there soon”

To contact the Pandora call 01326 372678 or visit www.pandorainn.com for more information.

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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

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

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

Taste of the Fairground

Paul Ainsworth at Number 6 Restaurant, Padstow

By the time you read this – and I had to wait until Cornwall Today who commissioned this published it first – they’ll be a long queue forming of diners at Paul Ainsworth’s door. Keen to try his celebratory dessert made up of raspberry curd-filled doughnuts, honeycomb lollipops, chocolate-y peanut popcorn, toffee apples and marshmallow kebabs. A pick and mix pudding, the ‘Taste of the Fairground’, is a clever twist on sweet spoils for kids.

BBC Two’s programme, The Great British Menu, inspired by the Eden Project’s Big Lunch, chose ‘cooking for the people’ for this year’s theme.  24 chefs from across Britain were invited to take part. The brief was to create awe-inspiring food that could be shared in ‘A People’s Banquet’ or the ultimate street party. “It’s all about breaking down barriers, sharing dishes and creating conversation,” explains Mathew Fort, one of the Menu’s three judges alongside Oliver Peyton and Prue Leith.

“I’ve Nathan Outlaw to thank,” Paul explains, “for my taking part. Nathan had taken part in a previous series of the programme and was invited again, however he was too busy so he put me forward.”

Paul’s story, his growing reputation, and his approval by his chef peers should inspire any young school leaver uncertain of their career choice and future.

“My background isn’t one of being inspired through cooking at home. The desire to be a chef happened by chance. Working in the Star Hotel was just one of my work experience options during school. If I’d ended up in the camping shop things might have been very differently,” Paul remarks, “The landlady, Mrs. Brown was a kind of ‘Peggy Mitchell’ character. She saw how keen I was to get a job at 16 and earn some money. I started as a kitchen boy, washing up in a blue boiler suit. Eventually, the chef would let me prep the food a bit, and then I was allowed to make the odd toasted sandwich too. My ultimate thrill was being in charge of a ‘Huntsman’: a steak baguette with mayonnaise. It led me onto catering college.”

Paul built his career through 8 years of working with London’s finest including Gary Rhodes, Gordon Ramsey’s Petrus and Marcus Waring. In 2005 he came to Cornwall to be head chef in Padstow’s ‘Number 6 Restaurant’. “The menu was an ambitious one, aiming towards the fine dining market with expensive and complex menus. We were cooking to impress with amuse-bouches and tasting menus. But”, Paul explains, “in Cornwall this is not really what dinners want. Even if used to eating in places like ‘The Fat Duck’, visitors relish a more relaxed style of dinning when they come to Cornwall.”

When Paul was offered sole leasehold of the restaurant in 2008. He rebranded the restaurant and changed the whole ethos of the menu, “although it can feel like putting your neck on the line,” he remarks, calling it ‘Paul Ainsworth at Number 6’. Offering 3 courses dinner and lunch menus at an affordable set price. “We provide children’s menus to make families feel welcome and we are just as happy when people just want to pop in for coffee and a dessert.”

Paul beat Michelin-starred André Garrett, Head Chef at the Hilton Park Lane Galvin restaurant, and John Hooker from Tavistock in the regional heats, making it to the final eight-chef showdown. Ultimately, it is his ‘Taste of the Fairground’ that triumphs to be paraded down the ancient cobbled streets of Leadenhall Market to grace the tables of 100 expectant guests. The competition required the chefs to think differently, think big, generously and theatrically, as well as gastronomically. It is good to know that ultimately ‘A Taste of the Fairground’ did just that.

Paul has just opened new venture, ‘Rojano’s’, in keeping with his belief that the only way to cook is with fresh, local, seasonal produce.  As a big Italian eatery in the heart of Padstow, it’ll surely ease the popular queue at ‘No.6’.

For Further information:

6, Middle Street, Padstow,Cornwall,
PL28 8AP

Tel: 01841 532 093

Email: enquiries@number6inpadstow.co.uk

www.number6inpadstow.co.uk

The Harbour Restaurant, Port Isaac

Taking the entire family out to a grown up restaurant is a calculated risk. At best the children won’t whine. At worst we will be asked to leave for causing such a rumpus and spoiling the other dinners’ intimate soirées. However, there comes a time, when the ‘little darlings’ have to be initiated, or no family would ever enjoy a bit of civilized dining out. I enquired cautiously on booking, “We’d like to bring our kids, would that be alright?”

“We do mostly fish,” came the warning. Fresh Port Isaac crab cakes, scallops, sardines, mackerel, lemon sole and sea trout: it makes perfect sense.  From the front door, the view is direct onto the Platt where fishermen still land their daily catch. “That’s Ok, they all like fish,” my fingers firmly crossed. My youngest has an expensive predilection for lobster. It’s just important to keep greenery off his plate. Luckily, owner and chef Emily Scott has children too so accommodating kids doesn’t faze her in the least. Continue reading

Chef’s Special: Bustophers Bar Bistro, Truro

Balsamic Poached Cornish Strawberry Mille Feuille with Spun Sugar

Recipe by: Dale McIntosh, Head Chef, Bustophers Bar Bistro.

When General Manager Tom Hancock and his wife Vicky approached Dale McIntosh to take over as Head Chef at Bustophers, he wasn’t to know how lucky an opportunity it would be. “Bustophers is about creating a whole dining experience. People like to be able to linger, dink at the bar and take time over dinner,” said Dale, adding, “It felt right. I can spend more time over the food, plus Tom and Vicky aim to win awards for their food and service as much I do.”

Continue reading