A guide to Cornwall’s most delicious drinks

Posted on 24th July 2017

More than perhaps any other county in the UK, Cornwall has a real and distinct sense of identity. If you have ever spent any time in the county, you will know that – whether you are relaxing on a golden beach, exploring one of the seemingly countless pretty harbour towns or villages, or discovering an ancient historical site – the Cornish have a justified pride in the beauty and individuality of their home, and it is an appreciation that is quickly passed on to visitors.

Tarquin’s Dry Gin with orange peel

It is not just through its physical features that Cornwall is able to celebrate its unique character, however. Down the years, the Duchy has also been associated with fine food, from cream teas and Cornish Yarg to stargazy pie and, of course, the pasty. Until recent years, though, what the county has done for the world of drinks – both alcoholic and non-alcoholic – has perhaps not been fully appreciated.

Three pints of Skinner’s beer on tray

However, with an exciting batch of high quality producers and others who actively champion the now emerging sector, the future of the Cornish drinks industry is looking extremely rosy. In this article, we will introduce you to a few of our favourite brands, who represent just a handful of the myriad passionate drinks makers letting the world know all about the amazing skill and wonderful flavours that originate in England’s westernmost corner.

Anna Clark, who blogs about all things Cornish on her The Cornish Life site, told us what she thinks the county’s best beverages are, through the eyes of someone who lives there:

“Cornwall is probably best known for its cider, and there are plenty of locally made brands to choose from here! My personal favourite is probably Rattler (Cornish Cloudy Cyder, made by Healey’s); it’s strong in both flavour and effect, so go easy, but it’s definitely one to try.”

“If sweet ciders aren’t your thing, I’d highly recommend a new local peach beer brand called Jubël! Based here in Cornwall, you can find it in many of our beach bars along the coast, as it’s perfect for an after-surf drink. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a delicious and refreshing garden party drink this summer, you should try a gin & tonic mixed with Tarquin’s Gin; handcrafted & distilled here in Cornwall!”

 

Southwestern Distillery

Tarquin’s Dry Gin and Pastis bottles on beach

It most likely will not have escaped your attention that gin is currently enjoying a huge resurgence in popularity, with thousands of pubs, bars and restaurants across the country suddenly creating extensive craft gin menus.

After Anna told us about Tarquin’s Gin, we thought that we had to get in touch with the man himself to see what all the fuss was about! It’s fair to say that we were not disappointed – Southwestern Distillery, which creates both gin and the anise-flavoured spirit pastis – is a true Cornish gem.

Read on to see what the company has to say about their beginnings, and how the growth in popularity they have enjoyed has not changed their wholesome, traditional brewing methods one bit.

‘Tamara’, one of Tarquin’s copper pot stills, on the beach

“Nestled on a windswept hilltop overlooking the wild north Cornish coastline and the Atlantic Ocean beyond, Southwestern Distillery is a true throwback to the traditional techniques of old-school distilling and craftsmanship.”

“Established in 2012 by Tarquin Leadbetter, back when he was merely 23 years old and completely self-taught, we like to think that this is no ordinary establishment. At the heart of our distillation process are our three 200 litre copper pot stills – “Tamara, Senara and Ferarra.”

“Just as we have always done, we continue to heat these stills using a direct naked flame (our trusty paella burners) and even seal the top of each still with bread dough. This is true old-school, analogue distilling.”

Tarquin waxing gin bottles at Southwestern Distillery

“These antiquated, somewhat maverick techniques are largely unheard of nowadays, but we’ve never been fans of convention.”

“At all stages of the distillation process Tarquin meticulously monitors every variable; tweaking, nosing and tasting as he goes. We genuinely believe in the importance of human touch to maximize quality.”

“The result: multi-award winning spirits (including “World’s Best Gin” at the San Francisco World Spirits Awards 2017 for our Navy Strength Gin, “The SeaDog”) that have been lovingly crafted with the utmost care and constant consideration.”

: Tarquin’s dry gin being poured into glass

“Post distillation every single one of our bottles that leaves the distillery has been filled, waxed, stamped and labelled by hand and then personally signed and given batch tasting notes by Tarquin himself.”

“No corners are cut, no machines used, and no quality compromised. When we say: ‘Handcrafted in Cornwall’ – we really do mean it.”

Skinner’s

Range of Skinner’s ales in bucket

If you think that, while spirits are all well and good, nothing beats reclining with a proper pint of ale, you’re in luck – we also spoke to Skinner’s brewery, whose founder Steve Skinner was happy to tell us about the origins of a small company which has now grown into a multi-award winning Cornish sensation, producing some of the county’s finest beers:

“In 1997 I set out to start up my own community brewery on the banks of the Truro River in Cornwall. I started brewing my first golden ale – Cornish Knocker – using the finest ingredients my local area provided: Cornish grown barley, wheat and crystal clear Cornish water. So many factors affect the final product we make – the ph. of the water; the quality of the materials and the temperature we keep the yeast at, so we ensure that we only have the best ingredients so that we have consistently great-tasting beers.”

: Skinner’s Head Brewer, Paola Leather, preparing ingred

“We are really lucky in Cornwall that we have amazing producers all around us, and local ingredients help make our beers so unique. We’ve also got a thriving beer community, with pubs supporting local breweries and a huge number of local beer enthusiasts who help spread the word about our beers far and wide!”

As well as tasting amazing, we can also tell you from personal experience that the artwork and blurb on Skinner’s ales is something to behold. Many of their beers take their names from ancient Cornish myths, legends and places, and each bottle contains a detailed – and often amusing – explanation of what inspired it. In our opinion, using Skinner’s as an educational resource is even more enjoyable than reading a good book!

Skinner’s ales in a row on table

 

Polgoon

The last producers we will focus on in detail are the wine, cider and soft drink experts at Polgoon. We were very grateful to John Coulson, the Cornish winemaker who founded this now widely admired vineyard, for telling us the story of how he and his wife’s business grew from humble beginnings and – through several ups and downs – came to be regarded as one of the county’s greatest drinks success stories.

Polgoon’s Bachuss white wine

“I set up Polgoon Vineyard and Orchard with my wife Kim in 2006 and for the last 10 years we’ve been dedicated to producing artisan English wines, ciders and juices from our farm in Penzance.”

“We were originally Fish Merchants in Newlyn, but this changed when we bought an overgrown, run-down flower farm and started planting vines…”

“‘Polgoon’, Cornish for ‘Pond on the Downs’, is a word that describes the original setting of the location of the vineyard and orchard that sits on sunny hills, overlooking the sparkling sea of Mounts Bay. This unique position is reflected on our label that depicts an abstract view of the vines and the sea – two things we feel strongly connected to here at Polgoon.”

John Coulson, Polgoon co-founder

“We have a wide range of award-winning still and sparkling wines, ciders and juices sold in outlets across Cornwall and the West Country.  Our mild Cornish climate and unique Cornish terroir means that the grapes we grow here are the grapes we use in our wines – which means most of our wines are single estate, something that only a few English vineyards can claim.”

“Our wines have always performed well when it comes to awards. We won a trophy for the Best Still Rosé in the UK for our very first Rosé produced in 2006. This came as both a delight and a surprise – it marked the moment we realised that we were really quite good at this!”

“But, every great story has its ups and downs and Polgoon suffered terrible harvests in 2007 and 2008 after enduring dire Cornish weather conditions, leaving almost no wine…”

“Determined not to be beaten, we planted an orchard and perfected a Cornish cider called Aval (Cornish for ‘apple’), a sparkling cider product made using the Methode Traditionelle, the same method used by French winemakers to produce their sparkling wines. We then added a further product to the range, Raspberry Aval, another Gold medal winner that has gone on to become our bestselling sparkling drink.”

Polgoon sparkling apple cider

“In recent years the weather’s been kinder and we’ve grown stronger and created more great wines. Of note is our Silver Award winning Seyval Blanc Brut Sparkling, a single variety, single estate wine. Made using the Methode Traditionelle, it’s light and pale in colour, with hints of lime and tiny bubbles bursting with greenfruits. It’s a very popular wine that’s perfect when paired with Cornish seafood – especially fresh Newlyn crab, Cornish charcuterie and canapés.”

“Our Pinot Noir Rosé Brut Sparkling 2014, a single variety, single estate wine, is also rather special.  A delicate pink colour with a golden hue, it has a nose of zesty citrus and toasted crumb.  With its delicate palate, hints of tangerine, honey and spice, it makes a perfect pairing with light and not too spicy dishes – excellent with sushi, salads and oysters.”

“The Bacchus, one of our signature wines, is consistently good and always awarded. The 2015 vintage, another single estate, single variety wine, has an aromatic nose and notes of gooseberry, elderflower, citrus and fresh spring grass. This is a classic, refreshing Bacchus displaying vibrant lemon and lime flavours with hints of grapefruit and passionfruit.”

Polgoon vineyard wine tour

“We have tours that run from April-October and it’s a great way to experience life on a Cornish vineyard, where we share our knowledge of growing vines and creating fine English (or should it be Cornish?) wines. These tastings give customers ideas about pairing wine and food as well as an appreciation for the character and depth of a wine. We also have a Vine House Kitchen serving fresh, locally sourced food and a Vineyard Shop selling other local produce as well as our own.”

“As Polgoon continues to go from strength to strength and our knowledge and expertise increases year on year, we endeavour to ensure our passion is always reflected in the quality of every product we produce – without exception, whatever the weather…”

Simply Cornish Hampers

If your appetite has now been well and truly whetted but you can’t quite decide which delicious drink to try first, why not try a selection of different beverages, or combine them with some top quality Cornish food? As well as ales, cider, gin, wine and even mead, Simply Cornish Hampers, based in Redruth, also provide a great range of local delicacies like fudge, chocolate, biscuits, scones and – you guessed it – pasties.

Cornish food and drink being served outdoors

We were very grateful to the team, who see and taste so much fine Cornish fare every day, for sharing their thoughts on which local drinks they think are the very best currently available. Read on, and you might see a few names you’ll recognise from earlier on!

“At Simply Cornish Hampers, we are really proud to sell only Cornish produce. Working with Cornish suppliers means we get to know them well and often deal directly with the owner. ”

Tarquin’s gin with aromatic flowers in glass

“Polgoon vineyard is a fantastic example of a family business which is true to its philosophy of putting exceptional standards above all else. Winners of the Cornwall Life Food and Drink Awards in 2015, they produce a delicious variety of Cornish wines and more. They choose to prioritise exceptional standards above all else.”

“Skinner’s are admired for their range of (very) locally produced ales, using only Cornish barley from within 5 miles of the brewery. Much of their range is actually vegan too, which is great! Quirky names complimented by great tastes.”

Steve Skinner enjoying a pint

Sharp’s Doom Bar is such a classic that proves the strength of the Cornish drinks market. We love our ‘Pasty and Doom Bar’ hamper. This iconic hamper is of course one of our best sellers.

“We are a big fan of Cornish Cream’s range for their unique qualities – in particular their three liqueurs, which are just irresistible, as well as their Sunset wine, made from the juice of fresh strawberries. It is perfect for a celebration! Cornish Cream is such a friendly company, fully embedded in Cornwall.”

“We admire Cornish Orchards for their authentic, award-winning cyder making. We are also very fond of their non-alcoholic range, particularly the Elderflower Presse and Orange and Lemon Sparkle (which make great mixers too!) These guys produce truly fantastic tasting cyder.”

“Healey’s have to be admired for setting the mark in resurrecting the Cornish cyder industry, and for its innovation over the years in expanding its range to become the largest cyder maker in Cornwall. It’s so much more than just apples and a really great company to work with.”

Gin still thermometer

“Gin continues to grow in popularity, and this includes Cornwall, with many well-known and less well-known brands successfully selling in and out of county. Recently we added Curio Rock Samphire Gin to our range and we won’t ever turn back! Their husband and wife team put the upmost care into each and every bottle. Distilled in small batches, this gin really does capture the wild aromas of the Cornish coast if you like a little fragrance in your gin.”

“I could not discuss drinks in Cornwall without mentioning the Cornish Mead Co, producing a classic range since the ‘60s. This is a really popular product (but don’t drink too much, it is not for the faint-hearted!)”

As you can see, there will be a huge diversity of high quality produce to choose from if you stay at one of our cottages on the Cornish coast this summer, so how could you possibly resist trying some of it? Get your trip to the county arranged soon and look forward to enjoying all that this glorious destination has to offer.

 

A food lovers’ tour of Cornwall

Posted on 14th April 2017

Cornwall incorporates its distinct connection with nature into its cuisine. Some of the country’s finest seafood can be found in the UK’s southernmost county, while there has been both national and international recognition for its ale and cheese.

Cornish food festivals

There are few things more serene than sitting by the beach as the sun goes down with some fish and chips, or things quite as Cornish as walking down the high-street of an eclectic town with an authentic pasty in hand.

It doesn’t matter when you visit Cornwall, you will find someone celebrating the food and drink of the region, whether it is in a pub or restaurant or at a local festival.

Whatever your taste, we will give you all of the information you need to know for a food lovers’ tour of Cornwall.

Food and Drink events in Cornwall

Mix together some of the country’s finest locally sourced food and drink, some rays of sunshine and leave it to set in a picturesque seaside location and you’ll end up with these fantastic food and drink events in Cornwall.

Porthleven Food and Music Festival

Now in its ninth year, the Porthleven Food and Music Festival attracts people from across Cornwall and the UK to the town’s harbour port for a celebration of the best local and national food.

Porthleven harbour

This is more than the conventional marquee in a village field. Porthleven is flooded with up to 30,000 people coming together to indulge in street food and entertainment.
This year’s theme will be ‘Under the Sea’, a reflection of the close bond that Cornwall has with the sea.

“The Festival has grown to be one of the largest of its kind in the South West,” said Mandy Feldon, Marketing Manager for Porthleven Food & Music Festival.

“We are now in our ninth year and remain true to our original ethos, to ensure the festival remains family friendly, put community at the heart of what we do and keep it local. What makes the festival so incredible is the quality of the events, the fact that it remains largely free and the enthusiasm of the volunteers and helpers. Porthleven is an extremely inclusive and friendly town and it shows.”

This event, which takes place from the 21st-23rd April, is perfect for any food lover, but caters to all tastes and interests. Live music will be playing throughout the festival, with parties, literary tents, art shows and the Chefs Theatre.

Porthleven Food & Music Festival

The Chefs Theatre, held on the Shipyard Stage, presents the likes of Antony Worrall Thompson and multiple talented chefs from Cornwall, the South West and the UK to give talks, shows and demonstrations.

St Ives Food and Drink festival

Considered to be the only beach food and drink festival in the UK, St Ives Food and Drink Festival takes places on the famous Porthminster Beach between the 13th- 14th May.

St Ives Food and Drink Festival

Showcasing the quality of Cornwall’s cuisine, visitors are able to sample and buy the most authentic tastes from the county amongst food demonstrations, musical performances and numerous stalls.

A spokeswoman for the festival had this to say:

“Michelin-starred Cornish chef Nathan Outlaw is amongst the big names announced to showcase at this year’s annual St Ives Food and Drink festival. The festival, which is held on the iconic Porthminster Beach on 13-14th May, will celebrate the very best Cornish produce, abundance of activities and entertainment, promising a fun-filled day out for all the family.”

Cornish ice cream in St Ives

Tickets on the gate are £3.00 for a single day pass or £5.00 for a two day pass – children under 12 go free.

Great Cornish Food Festival

Head down to Truro on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th September for the Great Cornish Food Festival.

Heaven on Earth for food lovers can be found at Lemon Quay in Truro this September as the festival sets up again after 12 successful years.

The largest festival dedicated to celebrating Cornish gastronomy, the event incorporates pop-up street-food vendors from some of the county’s finest restaurants, as well as stalls covering local butchers, bakers, breweries and chocolatiers.

Free to enter, the event which has run since 2004, is an ideal day out for anyone holidaying in one of the many beautiful Cornish coastal cottages.

Food to try in Cornwall

Food means different things to different people. Some like to stick to classic dishes, while others are more adventurous and eager to dive into the local cuisine. Whatever your taste, we’re sure you’ll find something you love in Cornwall.

Cornish Pasty

A dish that has spread across the world, the humble pasty even has its own World Championships, attracting amateur and professional bakers from around the world to the Eden Project.

Philp’s Famous Pasties

Greg, manager at Philp’s Famous Pasties spoke to us about what makes a great pasty:

“We believe that what makes our pasties great is using the highest quality ingredients as locally sourced as possible. We use premium grade flour in our pastry that we believe gives the pasty a robust feel making it the perfect hand held snack as well as giving it a delicious flavour.”

Philp’s Famous Pasties is a family run business, with Greg’s father and two uncles running the business after their grandfather began the enterprise:

“Every element of our pasty production is done by hand following strict recipes created in 1958.”

Nowadays you will see high street chains selling curiously filled pasties, even with Thai and Mexican flavours and ingredients. This is a far cry from what constitutes an authentic Cornish pasty, as Greg explains:

“In 2011 the Cornish pasty was granted it’s PGI (protected geographical indication) status and became a protected food which means that unless the pasty is made in Cornwall it cannot be called a ‘Cornish pasty’ under any circumstance.”

Moving on from the traditional ingredients of beef and vegetables, variations of pasties now include beef and stilton and cheese and onion, but as Greg says, the Cornish Pasty Association has outlined the ingredients that make a genuine Cornish Pasty:

According to the Cornish Pasty Association a genuine Cornish pasty must contain the following:

* Roughly diced or minced beef

* Sliced or diced potato

* Swede (turnip)

* Onion

* Seasoning to taste (mainly salt and pepper)”

Greg went on to describe the process:

“The ingredients must be uncooked when the pasty is assembled. The pastry must be savoury and can be shortcrust, puff or rough puff and must hold all ingredients through cooking and handling without cracking or breaking.”

Genuine Cornish pasty

“The pasty must be crimped into a D shape, with the crimp towards one side and glazed with egg, milk or a mixture of both.”

Greg also spoke about the historical significance of Cornwall’s most famous dish:

“The Cornish Pasty has long been the staple diet of the traditional Cornish man and woman. Originally the pasty itself dates back as far as the early 1500’s but in Cornwall it became popular amongst the working people in the 17th and 18th centuries, particularly with miners, as the story goes, because their hands were soiled they would hold the pasty by its side (the crimp of the pasty) once they had consumed the rest of it, that part would then be thrown away.”

“To this day the Cornish pasty still remains one of the most popular Cornish food products enjoyed both in and out of Cornwall.” 

After trying an authentic Cornish pasty from the one of the many local bakers, you will never be able to settle for a high street alternative again.

Cornish Yarg

Cornish Yarg is another intriguing Cornish staple that you must try. Wrapped in stinging nettles, this creamy pale cheese is soft beneath the natural rind, before becoming crumbly in the middle.

A tangy cheese, the Yarg dates back to the 13th century, when it is believed to have been discovered by Allan and Jenny Gray – dairy farmers from Cornwall.

Cornish Brie

Known for its deliciously mild and creamy flavour, Cornish brie melts away as you eat it and is widely regarded as one of the finest cheeses made in Britain.

At the Cornish Country Larder, added cream is incorporated into the recipes to create the St Endellion, a must-try cheese if you have some space to fill on your cheese board.

Slice of brie

The Cornish Country Larder is indeed the place to go for the finest quality cheese. Winners of numerous national and international awards, it was awarded Gold in the International Cheese Awards 2009 for its Cornish Brie and Cornish Character Brie.

Stargazy Pie

A Stargazy Pie is something that is quintessentially English and a dish you can perfectly imagine being presented to the table back in Tudor times.

Embedded in Cornish culture, the stagazy or starrey gazey pie is by no means a local delicacy. But it does hold a seat in Cornish culture and food.

A pastry crust sits atop of pilchards (or similar small, whole fish), eggs and potatoes with the heads of the fish poking out through the pastry. This strange presentation is supposed to represent the fish staring up at the stars.

Recipes for the stargazy pie date back to the 16th century, when fisherman Tom Bawcock set sail during a storm to feed his starving village of Mousehole. Bawcock returned with a bountiful supply of fish, much to the shock of his fellow villagers. A pie was cooked with the heads poking out so that no one could argue that there wasn’t any fish.

Where to eat in Cornwall

Hidden among the rolling green hills, overlooking the rugged coast and tucked away in the cobbled streets, discover Cornwall’s best eateries.

It is one of the most frustrating conversations you can have with someone, as you spend hours painfully going through all of the options for your dinner. Here we have compiled a short list covering the places you can try some of Cornwall’s most famous creations.

Fish & Chips

For many, fish and chips is the national dish. It is a firm favourite amongst holidaymakers and families particularly when visiting the seaside.

This takeaway classic is so popular it is even recognised with the National Fish and Chip Day, on the 2nd June.

There are countless numbers of fish and chip restaurants across the country and a great number in Cornwall, but we have picked a couple that you really should try.

Harbour Lights

Award winning Harbour Lights have been celebrated for their fish and chips on a national scale.

Harbour Lights Restaurant

Pete Fraser, owner of Harbour Lights, spoke to us about what the restaurant offers its customers and why you should make it your first choice for fish and chips:

“A must on any visit to Falmouth. Voted the UK’s best independent Fish & Chip restaurant 2017, it’s one not to be missed.

“All fish is sustainably sourced, with Cornish fish specials daily. Amazing harbour views if you choose to eat in the restaurant, or from our takeaway you can choose your favourite place to enjoy the very best of this British Seaside tradition #wheredoyoueatyours?”

For families, the grown-ups can opt for delightfully cooked classics, while the children can be treated to their meal coming out in small buckets symbolic of Cornwall’s famous beaches and the coast that means so much to the county.

Harbour Lights menu

Stein’s Fish & Chips

Starting life out as the Great Western Nightclub in 1974, Rick & Jill Stein decided to change direction and created a small seafood bistro a year later. In the decades that followed they have been able to open several restaurants across the country, including four in Cornwall.

Using quality Cornish ingredients and having a heavily homemade based menu, Stein’s Fish & Chips has established itself as one of the best places to get Britain’s favourite takeaways in Cornwall.

Michelin-Starred restaurants in Cornwall

Cornwall is home to three Michelin-starred restaurants, sharing out a total of four stars between them.

Nathan Outlaw’s Restaurant Nathan Outlaw in Port Isaac holds two Michelin Stars, while Chris Eden’s The Driftwood near Portscatho and Paul Ainsworth’s No 6 in Padstow both hold one star respectively.

These high-end restaurants are homage to the high quality of produce in the area and they really make the most of it.

Cornish Pubs

Winner of the Best Gastro Pub of the Year award from the Cornwall Life Food & Drink Awards 2017, the St Tudy Inn celebrates “the finest seasonal produce from the surrounding area.”

The Inn can be found in the quaint Cornish town of St. Tudy where you can visit for a quiet drink or a bite of their rustic cuisine. If you’re looking for a real taste of Cornwall – the food, drink and local people – then this is the place to visit. But you’re really spoilt for choice.

 

Image Credit: Harbour Lights Porthleven Food & Music Festival St. Ives Food & Drink Festival Philp’s Famous Pasties

 

Best summer pubs in Cornwall announced

Posted on 24th June 2014

Cornwall is a hugely popular holiday destination due to its amazing beaches and stunning coastline but now the county’s pubs have been recognised.

A guide that was published in The Times created a list of the 50th best pubs to visit in the summer months and several pubs in Cornwall featured in their lists.

So if you are staying in one of the famous Cornwall coastal cottages for two or in a coastal cottage for the family then keep an eye out for one of the pubs mentioned in the Times guide.

The Times said that The Godolphin Arms in Marazion was named the greatest pub with rooms as it is perfect for those walkers that want a bite to eat or a quick refreshment as it is located close-by to many beautiful coastal walks.

The Ship Inn in Mousehole was named as the best pub by the sea and was singled out as being “perfect for walks along the coast”. The pub is also popular with people staying in nearby holiday cottages in Cornwall as it offers diners great views of St Michael’s Mount.

Image Credit: Robert Pittman (flickr.com)

The Cornish picnic survival guide

Posted on 18th June 2014

Few summer activities are as enjoyable as the family picnic, particularly when it is spend soaking up the summer sun on the coast of Cornwall.

With the southern county offering some incredible views and the best of the British weather, few places offer such a perfect picnic location.

From where to go to what to pack this guide will help you make the most of self-catering holiday cottages to rent in Cornwall, with plenty of inspiration for a family picnic to remember. 

Where to go

With so many beautiful picnic hotspots and fantastic views to be had in Cornwall it may be difficult to decide where to go for your picnic, particularly if you’re visiting on holiday and don’t know the area all that well. Here are just a few of the best picnic spots in this wide and picturesque landscape:

  • Polly Joke, Newquay

Polly Joke beach in Newquay is a great choice for a picnic. Just round the corner from the hustle and bustle of popular surfing location Fistral Beach in Newquay, it offers all the fun without so much of the noise.

  • Kynance Cove, Lizard

This spectacular location was voted the best picnic spot on the south west coast path, as nominated by Layla Astley from The National Trust. Its fantastic views of turquoise waters and the sandy beach make it a clear choice for coastal picnics for the whole family to enjoy, with plenty of space for the kids to run about.

  • St Agnes Head

Next up is St Agnes Head in north Cornwall, which was also in the running for the best picnic spot on the south west coast path. This beautiful spot it owned by the National Trust and is a great place for both people and dolphin watching as it is alive with activity from both.

  • Rosemullion Head

A south Cornwall entry for the south west coast path best picnic spot competition, Rosemullion Head is popular for its secluded coves that offer the perfect protection from the elements- and seagulls- when it comes to eating your picnic food.

What to pack

As for the picnic food itself Cornwall offers plenty of help in this area too. Picnic Cornwall, a coffee shop and deli in Falmouth, not only offer great cakes and coffees to enjoy on a walk around the area but they also provide Cornish visitors with some great picnics and hampers that they can order online. From the great Cornish pasty to cream teas, their ‘Click & Collect Picnic’ pages make picnicking easy with quality hand-prepared food- all you have to do is choose- which might be harder than it sounds with such delights as the Cream Tea with Cornish Fizz Picnic Hamper and the Quintessentially Cornish Picnic Hamper to choose from!

Around the corner in Porthleven is another fantastic picnic service, Gourmet Picnics, who pride themselves on their locally and ethically sourced produce for families who want a real taste of Cornwall. With a team of top chefs making picnics freshly to order, there will be no more soggy sandwich picnic memories for you.

When to go

While summer may seem an obvious time to book in your family picnic in Cornwall, National Picnic Week in June is encouraging even more families to roll out the picnic mat. The week provides people with the perfect excuse to swap picnic ideas and tips and get out and enjoy one of summer’s best British traditions. 2014 sees National Picnic Week sponsored by Pom-Bear, as shown in this great video, and has seen the likes of Fearne Cotton, Jamie Oliver and Peter Andre showing their support on Twitter. So let picnic week inspire you to book a holiday to Cornwall and enjoy some quality family picnicking time- the sun won’t be around for long!

Image Credit: alex lang (flickr.com)

Experience the very best of Cornish Food

Posted on 09th April 2014

Standing among the most popular holiday destinations of the UK, the rich history, scenic tours and relaxed way of life found across Cornwall make it the perfect place to head in search of peace and tranquillity.

While you explore the endless catalogue of blue-flag beaches or peruse the streets of the quaint harbourside towns that are brimming with tradition and charm, it’s almost certain that you will work up quite an appetite while staying in one of the beautiful coastal cottages in Cornwall. With this in mind, why not expand your cultural voyage of the Duchy to your palate and sample some of the region’s traditional recipes?

Stargazy Pie

Sure to look like no pie you’ve ever seen before, the stargazy pie is a fish pie that traditionally contains sand eels, dogfish, ling, horse mackerel and herring. This combination of seafood is then mixed with eggs and potatoes before being encased in a shortcrust pastry top. The key ingredient is whole pilchards, the heads of which will be shaped to protrude out from the pastry. While this method helps them look to be gazing skyward, reflecting the name of the pie, it also has a practical method because it allows the oils released during cooking to flow back into the pie.

Showcasing Cornish food at its best, the dish originates from the fishing village of Mousehole near Penzance, which was thought to have been served to commemorate the bravery of a 16th Century fisherman called Tom Bawcock, who went out on his boat during a severe winter storm to save the whole village from the threat of starvation. It’s this story that was used as the basis for The Mousehole Cat, a children’s book written by Antonia Barber which won the 1991 British Book Award for Illustrated Children’s Book of the Year.

Cornish Yarg

Image Credit: Nick J Webb (flickr.com)

Cheese makes up a large part of Cornish food, although none offers quite the same taste as Cornish Yarg. Produced solely in the Duchy, it is a semi-hard cheese produced from the milk of Friesian cows. After being left to mature, the cheese is wrapped in nettle leaves which, in time, form an edible rind. The uniqueness about Cornish yarg is its varying textures, from the crumbly texture in the middle to the beautifully soft and creamy cheese found just under the skin. A variant is the Cornish wild garlic yarg, which is covered in wild garlic leaves in place of nettles. Although widely available in supermarkets, the cheese is at its best when it comes straight from Lynher Dairies.

Cornish Pasty

By far the most famous of all the Cornish foods, the popularity of the pasty is incredible and, despite being initially popular with the working class, it continues to be the snack of choice for people all over the country to this day. Whether you call it the ‘teddy’, ‘oggie’ or ‘pastie’, the traditional key ingredients are beef, swede, onion and potato. This delicious concoction is then spooned into the middle of pastry circles, which are in turn folded in half and sealed with the trademark crimp. It’s this crimp that is thought to have made the pasty popular with Cornish miners during the 17th and 18th Century, with the cooler crimp enabling them to eat the pasty without getting any dirt in their mouths.

As the pasty is considered the national dish of Cornwall, the Cornish Pasty name was awarded Protected Geographical Indication (PDI) status by the European Commission in July 2011 following a nine-year-long campaign by the Cornish Pasty Association. While they are available to sample all over the country, why not taste them at their very best during your Cornwall family holidays?

Image Credit: Joe Gough (Shutterstock.com)

Pandora Inn named South West Pub of the Year

Posted on 09th February 2014

The Pandora Inn has won Gold at the 2013-2014 South West Tourism Awards – the second time it has taken the accolade in as many years.

A 13th century inn located on the bank of the River Fal in Restronguet Creek, The Pandora Inn was also named as Cornwall’s best pub at the Cornwall Tourism Awards back in December.

Seeing off competition from establishments in Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Wiltshire and Cornwall to be named Tourism Pub of the Year, its status highlights the fantastic traditional experiences which can be enjoyed by those on their Cornwall cottage holidays.

Among the biggest accolades available for pubs in the South West, the Tourism Pub of the Year award is given to an establishment which offers a wide range of beers, ales and wines, as well as a fine selection of locally produced food – all factors which also have a significant role to play in the local economy.

If you are looking forward to an unforgettable cottage holiday in Cornwall this summer, be sure to pay a visit to the Pandora Inn and discover why it is the subject of such acclaim.

Image Credit: Flintlocker (Flickr.com)