Monday, 24 January 2011

Pride goes before Cornwall...

The English way is to play things down. To apologise when we do something well. To always let others take the limelight. Cornwall is the opposite. It's proud of its coastline, its people and itself. And so it should be. So it was great to see that Cornish food is starting to be recognised.

A new book claims that Cornwall (and the rest of the South West) is challenging London's culinary throne and is where gourmet talent is being fatted up! The new edition of the Devon, Cornwall and South West England Lonely Planet Guide says it's streets (or coast paths) ahead of other areas in terms of cuisine.

The guide says rising stars are being trained by our celebrity chefs and the nurtured talent means more Michelin stars should be on the way. (How has the Driftwood at Portscatho not got one?) But let's face it we're not just leading the way in fine cuisine. Our cafes, pubs and restaurants are also better than any other area. I've never had a better roast than at the Victoria Inn at Perranuthnoe and you can't get better crab cakes than at The Lewinnick Lodge near Newquay.

The guide reckons Paul Ainsworth at No 6 in Padstow is one of the top five restaurants. I've never been but have heard great reviews. (My mum met him when she went to Padstow last year. I was very excited as I am a bit of a chef groupie!) Apparently Jude Kereama, the man who makes the best chocolate fondant in the world, also gets a mention.
This year I need to be a bit more adventurous. I need to try more restaurants. Any suggestions gratefully received.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The Warehouse, Falmouth

It seems like everyone is eating fish this week. Jamie, Gordon and Hugh seem to have inspired everyone to buy mackerel and coley. I am completely clueless about fish to be honest. I can cook shellfish but when it comes to actual fish I have no idea what I am doing. I keep meaning to do a course so I can learn how to fillet and cook fish without it becoming over cooked and tasting like wall paper paste.

I had already made it my New Year's Resolution to eat more fish when eating out. Last night I had the opportunity as I went to The Warehouse in Falmouth for the first time. I've heard a lot about it and lots of people have said the fish is fantastic.

I decided to start with crab cakes. I am obsessed with crab cakes and at least in Cornwall you can get them in most cafes and restaurants.

They were peppery and hot and came with a spiky sweet chilli sauce.

If I hadn't made a New Year's Resolution I'd have probably had the steaks as they looked fat and tender. Instead I opted for the Cornish sole with garlic butter and tartare sauce. My father in law warned me "it's a hard work fish" and he wasn't wrong. The in laws filleted them perfectly whereas mine ended up looking a bit of a wreck with bones everywhere! It was delicious and once I'd got the hang of it loved the meaty flesh.

I didn't have puddings although the boys had a fat blackberry and apple pie with custard and a chocolate brownie with chocolate sauce.

The staff are fantastic and food delicious. If you're in Falmouth and you fancy some fresh fish it is definitely worth a visit.
A three course meal is about £18-20
The Warehouse, Customs House Quay
01326 313001

Star light....

St Enodoc's Nathan Outlaw has been given a second Michelin star as the guide published its list of honours today. Nathan has two restaurants up at Rock, the Restaurant Nathan Outlaw and the Seafood and Grill.

A newbie on the list is the Pony and Trap in Chew Magna, near Bristol (hopefully I'll convince my sister to try this out this weekend when I'm up country!)

Read more about Nathan Outlaw and his delicious recipes here

Friday, 7 January 2011

Love a duck.....(part 1)

"We loved your enthusiasm, never lose that". I remember being told that after (another) failed job interview. At the time I brushed it off focusing on everything I had done wrong. But over the years I've realised that a little bit of enthusiasm can go a long way. Roger from the Cornish Duck Company seems to live by that mantra. I meet him at Farmers Markets and food events sometimes and his enthusiasm for his duck products is infectious and you can't help but get your wallet out. He's always inviting me up to the farm to have a look around and I've finally done it.

It was about as muggy a day as you could pick. The fog was as thick as the mud on the ground. But it didn't seem to worry the ducks. After weeks of freezing temperatures they were probably just happy they could splash about again.

And Roger's enthusiasm rubs off on anyone around him. The ducks he cares for are outstanding to eat. The fat is thick and crispy when roasted and the meat tastes like it's had a happy life. If you're eating out in many of Cornwall's restaurants and you see Terras Farm duck then order it and you'll taste just how amazing Cornish produce is.

Perfect Roast Duck (serves 4)......

1 medium Terras Farm duck
1 tsp Cornish sea salt

Make sure you remove the giblets! Put the duck in a large bowl and pour a kettle of boiling water over the top. Carefully lift out. Preheat the oven to 180'c. Put the duck upside down (breast side down) in a baking tray and season with a little salt. Bake for about an hour and a quarter until the juices run clear. Then carefully turn over and bake for another 20 minutes or so.
Leave to rest for 20 minutes. Then carve. I served this with some of the boozy cranberry sauce leftover for Christmas and a little of the pan juices.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Cornish gem: The Cove, Maenporth

It's 730am and I'm still lying in bed. I have a crumbed plate hiding among the covers from this morning's toast and an empty tea mug on the bedside table. Normally I've already done an hour's work by now so it's a little strange to be going in later this week. Normally over Christmas and New Year I do a couple of days on, a couple of days off. But this year (with a little help of the leave angel) I managed to get a whole 10 days off in a row and it felt like the Christmas holidays I used to get at school.

Yesterday we had that feeling of dread knowing it was the last day of the holidays and went for a walk at Maenporth near Falmouth. It was a fantastic day, warm and still and we decided to have an last minute lunch at The Cove. It's not the first time I've been there. My housemate and I used to drive down there on summer evenings and sit in the sun drinking a gin and tonic. The Cove sits at the top of the beach and it's difficult to be given a bad table as most look across the bay. When eating there the best thing to go for is that tapas. It's not the usual tapas you get at most places but often just smaller versions of their main meals. It means you get to try lots of the menu.

We chose three dishes and some bread. This was an ideal amount for lunch. (Although as I am greedy and my stomach has had a hardcore workout over Christmas, I could have quite easily eaten four.) The first dish was Cornish pork belly with tomatoes and chorizo stew. This was the shining light, smokey and spicy with pork that fell apart on your fork.

You can't visit the cove without eating the fish dishes and the seafood thai green curry was delicious. The fat scallops held their own among the coconut sauce. The bowl was almost licked clean.
Lastly we ate fat king prawns with a really garlicky aioli which we dunked our bread into to finish the meal.

The Cove isn't expensive. The tapas and drinks came to about £20 and the views are worth that alone.
The Cove, Maenporth Beach, Falmouth, TR11 5HN (01326 251136)

Sunday, 2 January 2011

New Year....

Happy New Year! We ate Mexican food and played games.....

It was a good way to start a year!