Monday, 31 May 2010

A Quick Cornish Crab Sandwich from Cadgwith, The Lizard, Cornwall

This is enough to make my mouth drool.  Freshly picked white crabmeat from the Crab Shop at Cadgwith Harbour, The Lizard, served on our own homemade bread with plenty of ground black pepper and a squeeze of lime juice.  Simple food that I could eat every day of the year.

Have just found out that a major new publicity drive for a fantastic South Devon product - CRAB - has just started - all the info is here:

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Dorset Cereals - Little Blog Award

I am currently fourth on the leaderboard - but I need another 60 votes or so by the end of May - thanks to everyone who's voted for the blog so far - just a few more needed if anyone else could spare a moment to vote or rope in few friends: or click on the button to the right.

It's just a simple click and you need to enter your email, only takes a few seconds.  Thanks.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Ann's Pasties, The Lizard, Cornwall

Ann is one of Rick Stein's food heroes and deservedly so.  Forget Ginsters forever.  These pasties are amazing.  Full of top notch ingredients and baked by Ann in the converted garage at the back of her house in a quiet residential area almost at the Southerly tip of the UK.  

She reckons her gift in life is to be able to correctly season a a pasty.  Well it takes all sorts....Here are the ladies making the pasties:

Phone ahead to reserve them - hungry hikers from the SW coastal path sometimes buy them up en masse.

We took ours to nearby Kynance Cove and perched on the cliff and had a perfect picnic.

Ann's Pasties
Sunny Corner
3 Beacon Terrace, The Lizard, Helston, Cornwall TR12 7PB
01326 290 889

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Contemporary Craft Fair, Bovey Tracey 11-13 June

Just want to advertise the fact that the Contemporary Craft Fair is coming soon to Bovey Tracey, Devon.  Having visited it for the last two years and made several purchases, I can vouch that it is amazing collection of really innovative, interesting and high quality artefacts with artists and crafts people all present to chat to.

The workshops are good value and useful - I did the 'Making Jewellery' one and the local, homemade food is pretty good too.  Slices of cake were far too small though! There are also craft demos, live music and Punch and Judy.

This year, I would like one of these (silver and wood jewellery by Christine Kaltoft) please:
and I'll also have one of these:

This artist's work (Jennifer Collier), was one of my favourites last year, everything painstakingly crafted from paper:

This year I'm volunteering at the Kids' Craft Tent which I'm really looking forward to.

Entry is £6 adults and free for children.  Oh, and you can park on site for free.  I'm going to have a couple of free tickets due to my helping in the craft tent, so if you're local to me, get in touch and I'll give them to you!  Put it in your diary.

The Craft Fair has a target of reaching 800 Facebook fans and only has two weeks left, please join here if you can, then you get all the updates and loads of great photos of their artists' works:!/pages/Bovey-Tracey-United-Kingdom/The-Contemporary-Craft-Fair/10942196351?ajaxpipe=1&__a=13

Enough to Turn a Girl's Head - Skinners Heligan Honey Beer

I am a confirmed non-beer drinker.  Have never liked the stuff (and boy, did I try to when I was in my teens).  However, I had a wee sample of  N's beer during a balmy evening bbq a couple of nights ago and....this was a beer I could almost enjoy.  Skinner's Heligan Honey - with the addition of Cornish honey and apparently commissioned by the fabulous Lost Gardens of Heligan.  These gardens, restored by Tim Smit of The Eden Project, are an amazing place to visit if you ever happen to be in the region of South Cornwall.

This was when we visited in 2006:

But back to the beer! I chose the beer from a service station and, I have to say, it was chosen because it was local and Cornish brewed, not for their classy graphic design: the label is hideous.  N was pleased I  bought it for him to try as he said it was delicious and he would never have bought it with this label on.  Apparently, they also do a well-known (in beer circles) beer called Bettie Stoggs.  There was an even more grotesquely labelled beer called Cornish Knocker - I will try to find a picture - but I didn't like that one.  On so many levels.

Michaelmas Goose Cafe, Teignmouth - friendliest cafe in Devon?

Popped in for coffee and chinwag with lovely L at The Michaelmas Goose Cafe‎. The waitresses here always seem happy to see customers and are so friendly, it's just an all round feel good experience.

There are two weeny seats outside in the sea air (and sunshine today) and plenty more inside.  They support local food suppliers, brew Fairtrade coffee, use Riverford Organic milk and make all their cakes themselves.  I can recommend the squidgy raspberry and apricot cake (served warm) and their divine chocolate brownie.  Seriously dark, chocolatey and with no nuts (bonus).

And I went for a brief stroll along the seafront afterwards.

NB it's a sunny day and look how empty the beach is!

The Michaelmas Goose, 26 Regent Street, Teignmouth TQ14 8SJ 01626 879 000

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Tuckers Local Produce Market, Great Farmer's Market in Ashburton

I can't believe it's taken me so long to discover Tuckers Market!  I went along this morning to buy some organic chicken pellets for our three chooks from the farm supplies shop (next door) and to view the furniture and art sale at Rendells Auction House (next door but one).  

Decided we needed something for lunch and I would follow the signs to where the pink bunting was hanging - what a find - apparently they've been here for two years already - so why hadn't I noticed?  Bought two lemon curd muffins for 50p each, a tomato tart (80p) and some apples - this could become my regular market - ultra-friendly salespeople and handily having a good selection of fruit, veg, baked goods, meat, plus storecupboard essentials.  

Open Tues-Sat.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

As We Were Dining In St Ives....

...we had to go to Porthminster Beach Cafe, or Porthminster Restaurant as it's now known.  We only phoned them the evening before to make a table reservation (which given the popularity of the restaurant was a bit foolish).  They only had outside tables remaining.  The weather forecast was poor, but they reassured me that there was a retractable roof and outside heating if it happened to rain.  Hmmm, we thought, that's fine, but we're parking at J and J's house in Carbis Bay and after a 3/4 mile walk in the rain, we may not be entirely happy to be eating outside.  We are also aware that the restaurant has the reputation for being a bit on the pricey side: we wanted to enjoy our treat, not feel miserable and cold. 

Well, as it happened, the wonderfully fickle English weather turned out to be like this:

An absolutely stunning day of sunshine and blue sky.  Along with the beach cafe at Byron Bay, Australia, I would be happy to eat at the Porthminster every day of the year.  Unfortunately we weren't beachside as we had made a late table reservation, but  the view of the sea is still wonderful. It's a cliche, but the quality of the light really is different in St Ives.  The staff are all young, trendy and sporting ridiculous-for-May tans.  They're also welcoming and friendly which doesn't always go hand in hand with the previous description.  

I tried a glass of Polgoon Raspberry Aval as an aperitif.  Looked very pretty - it's a Cornish 'champagne-style' cider infused with raspberries.  I think they throw in the 'champagne-style' so they can double the price of it, however it was very pink and summery.  I prefer this to English wine - our cider is better than our wine is ever going to be.

 So after our 3/4 mile coastal path walk and quick construction of sandcastles on the beach, we all and chips!  They really were the business.  The children were delighted with the food and declared it the 'best fish and chips ever'.  The chips are mixed with fried garlic cloves, chopped rosemary and plenty of flakes of sea salt.  The fish is perfectly offset by the crispest and lightest batter I've ever experienced.  Served with a wedge of lemon, freshly made tartare sauce and a shot glass of white balsamic vinegar.  (Would be quite funny if you tried to down that in one.)   Looking at these pictures is making my mouth water all over again.
Posh fish and chips.

We went and raided the fudge shops of St Ives for dessert.  Porthminster has a local reputation for being expensive, but I disagree.  For two fish and chips, two child sized fish and chips, one glass of Polgoon, one Peroni, a tea, coffee, salad and bread, the bill came to £50.  I would rather eat here once a year than have a years worth of average or substandard fish and chips that many places provide.

The only problem: we didn't meet a man with seven wives, kids, sacks, cats, kits which left us all a tad disappointed...

Friday, 14 May 2010

Antarctic Explorer from 'The Last Great Challenge' Visits our School!

Last night was very exciting as Justin Miles (pictured above) came to speak at our school about his latest Antarctic challenge.  He spoke to the school children during the day and after asking some well-intentioned questions about Father Christmas (er, no, that's the NORTH Pole) they came away shiny-eyed, with eyes open to new possibilities.  They were suitably impressed by the sheer volume of chocolate he will have to consume each day (a couple of pounds, lucky chap) and some of them at least came to grips with the arduousness of the task.

In the evening, he spoke to members of the community.  He really conveyed his passion and excitement that he feels about physical challenges and helping a wider community by setting an example and getting people motivated.

He aims to earn his place in history by completing the ill-fated Terra Nova expedition that Captain Scott started.  Since Scott’s expedition, nobody has managed to walk from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole and back. Justin will be covering 2,200km on foot without support or re-supply. The walk will be the longest unsupported polar trek in history.

His talk covered how his dream began as a young boy in Bishopsteignton, his grandfather told him, "Don't ever aspire to be average"; how brain injuries sustained in a car accident were instrumental in turning his childhood dream into a reality, and details of the task ahead and his preparation.

I was just amazed that someone could be so single-minded, determined and goal-focused on an extraordinary goal.  He's undoubtedly physically fit, but how do you summon up the stamina to trek in the Antarctic for 77 days? A member of the audience asked him just that.  Well, his answer was direct and honest - he knows he can do it and he's 100% focused on it.  I was expecting an answer where he uses CBT / yoga / religion, but he just believes in his own determination to do it.   I certainly don't have that in me (well, obviously).  His talk was inspiring and made me think long and hard about what my own current goals are...and shouldn't they be just that little bit bigger?

This is his website   

The expedition is hoping to help The British Heart Foundation by collaborating with them on a community fitness campaign, The Great Heart Challenge

I have a feeling that you're going to be hearing a lot more about him, particularly from October onwards when he sets out on his trek.  I'm certainly going to be following his story.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Old-Fashioned (in a good way) Beach Cafe

Harbour Lights Cafe, Coverack in Cornwall is a lovely spot. Indoors there are pine tables that seat around 30, but you have to sit outside and gaze at the sea. This cafe has been freshly done up in simple seaside colours, white, pine, duck egg blue with 1960s mismatching crockery.

They provide simple cafe fare and a specials board - I've previously had the freshly picked crab sandwich and it was excellent. But today we were here for 'tea' so we had milkshakes and scones alongside a magic pot of tea. One of those amazing pots of tea that looks weeny but provides enough for three cupfuls.

The chocolate milkshake was garnished with a fresh strawberry and obviously had plenty of ice cream whizzed into it. The scone was homemade and served with decent raspberry jam.

The service was smiley and friendly - this is how a seaside cafe should be. It has a feeling of being a well-run family business that tries hard and charges modest prices and wants its customers to enjoy their brief sit in the salty sea air. Price: £7.40 for two teas, one milkshake and a scone with jam. Good, old-fashioned price too!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The Lifeboat House Restaurant, Coverack, The Lizard

We were recently in Cornwall and spent a week on The Lizard, the peninsula that juts out at the bottom of the South West of England that actually forms the most southerly point of England. Coverack is a lovely village there - I am exceptionally fond of it, but have never tried the restaurant at the end of the harbour. Fishing still occurs here, so the fish really doesn't have to travel very far - up the slipway to the restaurant, The Lifeboat House. In summary: exceptional views, great food and amazing service.
Even with an overcast sky, this place is picturesque:

We could only be fitted in for lunch at about 1:45pm as they had had the entire cast of a documentary in full period costume in for lunch. I did a double take as we passed ladies and children in old Cornish costume (looked rather like grey blankets edged with lace) and in the absence of filming equipment, we did wonder initially if they belonged to some local sect or whether they always dressed like this. Wish I'd taken some pictures, but at this stage I didn't know they were actors! They certainly gave the village an out-of-time aura.

The panoramic window displays a stunning view of waves, cliffs and bobbing lobster pots. Only one house was visible in the distance. We could see cormorants and gulls and earlier my mother saw a turnstone. This is the view from the restaurant - the sky was fairly overcast - on sunny days, the sea is turquoise:
They had four options for fresh fish on the board - choose your own sauce - today's special was 'Coconut and Beetroot'. We didn't fancy a full blown 'meal' so our amiable host suggested a whole load of tapas style platters and asked if we had a preference more for meat or seafood. My parents are a bit iffy with seafood, so we said to go easy on that. Shame on us being in a fish restaurant!

The children had vast 'child portions' of crisply battered fish and chips (the fries were soft and fluffy on the inside) served with homemade mushy peas. Wasn't too keen on the ketchup sachets. The homemade bread rolls with cheddar and chives were lovely:

The owner-waiter was friendly, chatty, down-to-earth and humorous - keen to extol the virtues of the Cornish food. He even asked if wished to have the music on or off. And this was the seafood salad -
Unfortunately my photos of the meats and cheeses were slightly blurred, so I'm not going to post them. It was so good to go somewhere where they tailored the food to the customers' desires - 'Tell us what you fancy' - reminded me of visiting an Enoteca (wine bar) in Italy, where they ask what kind of thing you feel like eating and then just start producing lovely homemade dishes.

The deep fried bread crumbed herby chicken nuggets were pretty good (liked the fennel seeds), the platter of meats was hard to get wrong, but it was just what we fancied, the three Cornish cheeses were lovely and these were accompanied with two dishes of olives, a bowl of new potatoes with roasted squash, all washed down with a decent glass of white Sauvignon (me) and a pint of the local Doom Bar (other half).

My (extremely minor) gripes would be - the sachets of ketchup - the restaurant's too good for that, and I'm not keen on the carpet on the floor. It's probably for warmth, but I feel like it doesn't go with the vibe of the place. The single yellow roses (with matching yellow paper serviettes) on the tables made me cry out for daffodils - there were fields of Cornish daffodils on the way down here.

Only two of the six of us managed pudding. Apple crumble and lemon cheesecake were both good but the homemade chocolate fudge served with our coffee was what we all made 'Mmmmmm' noises over!

And the bill? No price was quoted beforehand and as we'd just agreed to have non-menu platters, they could have charged the earth....but £5 for the children's Fish and Chips and £9.50 each for the adults' platters seemed very reasonable.

A memorable and enjoyable lunch in an exceptional location.

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