Celestial Celeriac

If I’m honest with myself, the title of this has been chosen purely for the alliteration value. ‘Celestial’ may be a splash on the farcical side in relation to a root vegetable. But then again, Celeriac puree is a thing of divine wonder, so maybe I’m onto something!

 

It’s unrealistic my January will be ‘dry’. Unless of course we are talking about the glorious British weather, in which case it will be characteristically damp. No, my Janurary’s are rarely tainted with resolutions of clean eating, calorie controlled diets or total booze bans. I have however, made a resolution of sorts. To cook foods I often look at in the shop, stare blankly at, and then walk on by. In other words, I plan to overcome my phobias of using certain ingredients, as all too often, I base this on their unfortunate appearance. So, last night I got to work creating something with celeriac. A root vegetable that looks part turnip, part ood (Doctor Who reference, I’m sorry). I implore you to try this one for yourself, even if it’s just to make some puree. Divine wonder, I’m telling you. 

 

 

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It’s easy, delicious, and is a good seasonal variation of a classic dish.

 

Serves 5/6

 

Ingredients:

 

For the celeriac elements:

 

1 Celeriac

¼ of a pack of butter

½ a pint of full fat milk

Olive oil (for roasting)

Thyme (fresh if possible)

4 Portobella Mushrooms

Handful of toasted, and roughly chopped hazelnuts (optional)

 

1 Baking tray

1 Blender

1 Pan

Foil

 

For the risotto:

 

1 pack of risotto rice

25g butter

Olive oil

2 cloves of garlic

1 white onion

Glass of white wine

2.5 litres of hot veg stock

Parmesan

 

1 Large pan

1 Medium pan (for stock)

 

CELERIAC ELEMENTS

 

Start of by prepping the Celeriac.

 

Cut of the top and bottom (the bottom bit is the bit that looks like the ood). This helps peeling the vegetable, as you’ll now have a flat surface to work with.

Using a sharp knife, peel the celeriac.

 

Once peeled cut down the middle and place flat side down, so again you have a steady flat surface to work with.

 

With one half, chop into 1-2cm squared pieces (or there abouts – just nice bite-sized chunks), and place on a baking tray that is lined with foil. Season, drizzle with oil and sprinkle on some sprigs of thyme. With a utensil, or your hands, mix this all together, and then cover with foil. It’s good to cover the celeriac chunks with foil, as they take a while to roast, and may burn easily. Leave on 180 for about 30 mins, or until they are soft and cooked through. 5 minutes to the end I took the top layer of foil of, to give them a bit of colour.

In the same roasting tray you could also add portobello mushrooms if you wanted them as a garnish. I put them in their own foil cocoon though.

 

With the other half, also cut into chunks.

In a pan put your butter.

You can simply melt the butter and then add the chunks of celeriac and season. Do this on a mid-high heat, ensuring the butter or celeriac doesn’t burn of course, but that they do get some colour.

If you are feeling fancy, you can melt the butter, but then turn the heat up (before you add the celeriac), to create a buerre noisette. Here you are simply browning the butter too add some more nutty flavours to the butter. Keep the butter on a high heat, ensure it doesn’t burn, then once it has gone a deep golden brown colour, add the celeriac chunks and season.

 

Buerre Noisette or not, once the celeriac is in, cook it in the pan till all the chunks are gorgeous and golden. This should take about 15mins. Remember to stir it as well, so they don’t catch at the bottom.

 

Once the celeriac is golden and caramelised in the pan, turn the heat right down and add the milk. You only need to add enough milk to cover the veg. For me this was about ½ a pint, but this will alter on the size of your pan. Then, staying on a low heat, gently cook the celeriac through. Once the chunks are soft (15 odd mins), it is done and you can turn off the heat. As this is the pureed celeriac, ensure they are pretty soft, as your about to blitz them in a blender.

 

Drain the celeriac chunks but REMEMBER to keep the milk that you cooked them in, so put a sieve/colander over a large bowl, and drain into that. Blend the cooked celeriac pieces in your food processor and season to taste. If the mixture is not smooth or too thick, add a little of the saved milk. Add this until the puree is a smooth consistency.

 

So your celeriac elements are done. Hallelujah. No, it might sound slightly laborious, but I can promise you it’s not.

 

Once these are done, you can crack on making your risotto. You just want to make a classic white risotto.

 

If of course you feel cooked-out, thin the puree out a little using more of the same cooking milk, and you have a banging soup. Top with roasted celeriac pieces and toasted nuts and seeds.

 

RISOTTO

 

Start by softening the onion and garlic in your butter and a healthy glug or two of olive oil on a low heat.

 

Once softened, add the risotto rice and turn up the heat. You can also add a little more oil at this stage if the rice is sticking. Heat/ toast  the rice for a few minutes, (it will begin to go translucent). Keep stirring!

 

Then add your wine and cook down a little to let the alcohol evaporate. Keep stirring!

 

Once done you can then begin by adding the stock. It’s best to keep the stock in pan on a low heat to keep it hot. Slowly ladle by ladle, add the stock to the rice, stir continuously.

 

Once the rice has absorbed the stock, add more. Keep stirring!

 

Keep doing this until the rice is al dente (cooked, but still has a bite to it).

When at this stage, you can add the celeriac puree in the mixture, as well as 2 handfuls of parmesan cheese. Taste for seasoning and add more butter or cheese if you wish here, but the celeriac makes it pretty creamy.

Ensure the rice is nicely cooked through (still slightly al dente), then serve.

 

I served mine with roasted celeriac pieces on  top, roasted portobello mushrooms and toasted and roughly chopped hazelnuts for a little crunch.

 

Serve immediately, and with a bowl of grated parmesan for those who need an extra cheese hit (me) and rocket salad.

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Merci.

 

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The Bath Priory

The Bath Priory.

The surroundings for this Michelin awarded restaurant is bold. I mean a retirement home come antiques hoard is an acquired taste. But at least they have stuffy service to match.

It’s not that their target market is retired is really the issue. Why would I care? The age of the diners has no impact on me really, but it does filter through to our experience in a few ways. And it’s less a bad thing, and more of a warning of what to expect.

We had a glass of English sparking wine on the patio over looking the gardens, and this was without a doubt the best part of the experience. It was serene, and the warm summer air, muddled with cool fizz and the faint waft of flowers is enough to make any Brit go weak at the knees. We do love it when our summer comes up trumps. And over looking the croquet lawn, I thought we might have stumbled onto Downton. The house itself is gorgeous, and with a perfectly manicured exterior and gardens, it’s a shame the interior is how it is. The main lounge/study area is nice, and while the artwork is dry and uninteresting, the feel is in keeping with the house’s history. I’m down with that, and it adds to the experience. But the bar area had a catastrophic collection of art, and the restaurant itself, in all its peachy glory, is dull, dated (despite a recent refurb), and doesn’t make the most of the picturesque surroundings.

After some distinctly average amuse bouches ‘on the lawn’, which consisted of cacky hummus, tasty salmon and un-delicious cucumber/apple concoction, we were ushered into the dining room. It was quiet in this plush carpeted room. There was a quiet murmur from neighboring tables, but it seemed exceptionally devoid of any atmosphere. Maybe that’s what they’re paying for. Silence. This stiff ambience is added to and accentuated by the staff. After such a warm welcome and friendly disposition from The Ledbury last month, we were hoping for much the shame. Sadly, despite asking for recommendations on wines and attempting to spark a rapport with the waiters, we were met with flummoxed faces and short answers. It’s a shame, I’m sure they’re lovely people in real life, but it seems working in somewhere with such a strict adherence to some outdated standards means their staff are out of touch and cold.

We had matched wine, and whilst they were tasty, especially the dessert wine that was paired with the vanilla mascarpone parfait, none of them matched the eye-watering price attributed to them. Eating out as we do, and seeing the same wines for three times the price here as say Flinty Red or Bells Diner really reinforces the underlying ethos of The Priory: A lot of money for something you can get elsewhere, for half the price. You’re paying to be ‘there’, and unfortunately ‘there’ isn’t somewhere I’d want to be.

So, other than the expense and the staff, we should spend some time on the food. We had a good tomato soup as an appetizer, which was, yeh, good, fine. And the starters also were good. Actually, the raw mackerel was delicious. A simple dish with caviar, cucumber, radish and horseradish, it was fresh, clean and well balanced. Simple, yes. But pulled off. The Innes goats curd mousse with pinto peppers, dressed with thin croutons and fresh basil was again simple, but again, worked. Nothing wow, but good, and I’d eat this again.

For mains we had saffron linguine, soft poached egg and hake. This was bizaree, and the presentation hindered the dish from gelling. Whilst everything was cooked to perfection (other than a slightly heavily salted bit of fish), it was good. It was just confused, and small. The lamb galette, sweetbread, asparagus, pearl barley and carrot purée was much the same. Disappointment I think is the word.

Pudding was exponentially improved by the banging dessert wine. But as it was, was rather underwhelming. The parfait was good, but the slightly burnt honeycomb hindered the dish, and it was just a bit of a non-event. The soufflé was tasty, but again, just fine. Even the petit fours had their highs and lows. With highs from the chocolate praline truffle and tuilles, and lows from the cheesecake shot glass itself. We’re still undecided about the Turkish delight. The jury is out.

So how would I summaries the experience? The service and interior had no personality, whilst the food was OK. Some courses were great, others off the mark, but nothing stuck out as remarkable, in a good or a bad way. It’s a bloody quick way to blow the best part of £200 though. (Unless you can eat the £27.50 set-lunch, and not have wine or coffees – if you can, you’re a better person than me). For me, it’s all a lot of pomp and circumstance, with no delicious food to fall back on. (Go and have a glass of something sparkling and wander round the lawn though.)

— I decided to include the photos as some of the dishes were pretty, but apologies for the dim lighting and bad quality of the images!!!!! —-

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English Fizz.

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Amuse bouche

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Soup

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Innes goats curd starter

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Mackerel starter

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Lamb main

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Hake main

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Vanilla mascapone parfait pudding

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Passion fruit souffle with coconut sorbet pudding

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Petit fours

Bruton (& At The Chapel)

BRUTON

The Bruton train station immediately plunges you into deepest darkest Somerset. With naïve and simply un-googled views of Bruton being ‘just past Bath’ on the train from Bristol Temple Meads, the hour and a half travel time was quite the shock – but at least we had the Sunday papers to keep us occupied. Although, with a table booked for 4:00, and breakfast fast becoming a distant memory, the abundance of food images in said papers was abhorrent. Hunger fully developed, we set off from the tranquil station into the ‘high street’, past the impressive church with it’s forever chiming bells through the Midsummer town. A town I highly suspect was entirely curated by the National Trust or English Heritage.

My first impression of Bruton was its quaintness and charm. With character rich stone houses, dating from way back when, it really is beautiful to look at. And as if to rub its perfection in our faces, it even has a babbling brook trickling through (River Brue). With gorgeous banks on either side, dotted with wild flowers and looming trees. It reminded me of similar dated towns such as Lewes in terms of the architecture, and eclectic mix of old dilapidated building next to tasteful (and expensive looking) conversions and restorations.

Bruton appears to have heaps of character, in the winding alleys snaking off from the main artery, reminiscent of old villages and towns such at Port Issac yet with the grandeur of Bath. However the second big impression was the vacancy of the place, almost death life silence smothers it save those infernal church bells. Walking along the main streets of one of the the smallest towns in England it is clear it is no ghost town, the odd range rover rolls on through. But many shops are closed, other than the obligatory pub, convenience store and the main restaurant. Walking through the back streets and across the river, we never passed a soul. So if you want to really see Bruton, I’d recommend going for one night. You can spend Saturday relishing in the craft shops and cheese peddlers, and getting a better taste for the retail, food and life it offers, while Sunday you can appreciate the serenity that comes with the holiest day of the week.

And oh! What a food haven it seems to be! Given it WAS a Sunday, many of what I can only hasten to assume are the local delicacies were shut. Matt’s Kitchen, a restaurant right in Matt’s home has a daily changing menu that reads fantastically. Truffles Brasserie looked equally if not more appealing, promising a refined and delicious dinner, while Bruton Wholefoods stores looked like the most authentic and interesting organic store come café that I’ve seen in a while. All of these places within basically 100 metres of each other really reinforced a lasting memory of Bruton as being not ‘foodie’ but tasteful. See ya later chains, there no room for you in this little Somerset idyll.

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I took no other photos other than the roast. Apologies!

AT THE CHAPEL

So as unfortunate as it was that we couldn’t spend more time in Bruton and explore these promising eateries, our table was booked ‘At The Chapel’, and it did not disappoint. As you walk up to the restaurant desk, you are immediately taken aback by the size of the place. Not in square meters, but the height of the ceilings leaves a beautiful and open building. The décor itself is refined and tasteful. It boasts a minimalist tone, with streaks of wilderness and modernism helped along by the gallons of natural light filling the room. It’s mainly white with accents of natural tones, exposed wood and glass leaving an impressive finish. And despite much of the modern art on the walls being rather ‘unimpressive’, the splashes of vibrant colour they give the room are welcome.

The meal itself was delicious. Really super delicious. The English Laverstoke Park Farm buffalo mozzarella was a highlight for me, mainly as a novelty more than anything else. In texture, it was unusual, and unlike it’s Italian counter-part. It was soft, but not gooey, yet still melts in the mouth. Not as good as Italian? Maybe not. But delicious in its own right. Hell yeah.

I’d have to say the best dish was probably the asparagus and poached egg though. In the main part because of the ingenious brassica pesto that accompanied it which lifted the simple asparagus dish to another level, complimenting all the flavors and giving you a different taste to your more run of the mill asparagus expectations. Executed beautifully, it is the best asparagus dish I’ve had in a while.

The roast was also a hit, and one of the best we’ve had in a restaurant for years. With perfectly cooked beef, buttery squash mash, cauliflower cheese, well-cooked and seasoned veg, there wasn’t really anywhere to go wrong. The Westcombe ricotta gnudi was also brilliant, perfect in texture and taste, highlighted by the sage, wild garlic and pea shoots, which adorned it.We drank Picpoul, which worked well with the intense flavours of basil & tomato starter and garlic splattered gnudi, but would have been too sweet with the fish. The house red worked well with the beef.

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We were too full for pudding, but did indulge in some take away treats from the in-house bakery. Their brownies were not as good as mine (ahem), but the lemon drizzle was pretty tasty.  At The Chapel has an in-house bakery and wine shop, which is immediately a win for any self-respecting hotel.

Any qualms? Potentially the unfinished nature of the dishes, in that I was recommended sides with everything that wasn’t the roast. Also the puddings didn’t SOUND delicious enough to order despite already being uncomfortably full, which is saying something. The service was temperamental, which tainted it slightly. And the biggest regret was not trying the pizzas. But i’m just picking holes.

In the immortal words of Arnie, we will be back.

THE Ledbury

The Ledbury

This week I had the pleasure of eating out in London, lots. Probably too much. So what did I learn during my lavish time off work? Money can buy happiness? A little. A lot more if you like perfectly executed food, brilliantly matched wine, and made to feel like a bit of a Princess. This is what The Ledbury managed. Currently ranked 10th in the world with talented Brett Graham at the pass, the restaurant is keenly seeking renewed confirmation of it’s excellence when the 1-50 places of the World’s Best Restaurants are released soon. And I for one, hope it doesn’t slip.

The Experience

The ever-increasing damage didn’t hinder this experience. For me, this is the most genuine compliment. – The expense did not taint the experience – The front of house team is so friendly and warm, that we were quickly at ease with the stiff tablecloths. The knowledge they effortlessly reeled off was endless, typified in the wine flight (more of that soon). There was never a point when the thought of the bill crossed my mind through the duration, because there was never a time when the service or food could have been faulted. And when you are presented with exceptional food and drink in such a way, it’s less ‘what am I paying for this!?’, and more ‘I’m allowed to eat that!’, followed with warm feelings of honor and joy. Eating in two-star restaurants is a luxury, and there certainly is a high price tag to match at this establishment, but I would recommend it in a heartbeat.

The vacant dress code really does help set the tone here. I mean, I could’ve done without some of louder Ralph Laurens, but you can’t have it all. The ethos from the oft is one of personal comfort of the customer, matching their own interests and tastes. The experience is food centered, and people are excited. You can’t escape the full Michelin service though, which I find testing at the best of times. The number of times I said thank you, was exhausting, almost encouraging me to stop drinking the water so a refill was never required. However, the most futile challenge was making it back from the bathroom fast enough that there was no time for your napkin to be properly folded. Maybe if I stopped guzzling on water, then this challenge would be redundant also.

The benefits of the customer service were showcased with our spot on wine flight. Presented to us were wines I had never had before, so well matched to the dishes, that they were as necessary as the ingredients themselves. This worked from the Buffalo curd miso style soup paired with a punch-packing PX grape wine right through to the olive oil cake dessert with a Muscat pairing which really felt like an extension of the dish itself. The audible excitement from the well-to-do neighbors on the right on being treated to a glass of wine from their favorite area in France, whilst the table on the left were gifted an extra course which they had been eying up, illustrates this.

The place oozes with refinement (can refinement ooze), and expectation. The setting is unassuming, and as with many high-end restaurants, the décor is tasteless in its mediocrity. It might leave room to appreciate the modern cuisine, but a smear of personality might be nice. Following from this minor negative, the scallop dish was slightly over cooked to the point of them being really chewy. This disappoint does mean my favored scallops (everyone has these right?), are the one from The Lido, sorry Brett!!

The Food

 Let’s get to the best bit. The highlights for me were the oyster cream, raw sea bream, caviar, cucumber and frozen English wasabi. This dish, sounds like something I wouldn’t particularly order, but the way the flavors, textures and temperatures bounced off each other, to create something not only wholly delicious, but cleansing and fresh was really amazing. And that oyster cream was ‘summin else. The next thing to blow me away was the lobster dish, largely for the size of lobster claw presented to me, but also the exquisite plating and on point cooking. And lastly, was the final dish, the pave of chocolate. All the puddings were amazing, and it’s a tough one between this and the pre-dessert strawberry bowl of amazing-ness. But chocolate is my kryptonite, so it was an easy win in the end, and this was unbelievably smooth and chocolaty, perfectly accentuated by the () ice-cream and matched desert wine (which I’m afraid to say I was paying less attention to at this stage).

My big regret is booking transport for 16:00, when we sat at 12:00. We had time for a tasting menu, plus coffees, but unfortunately had to rush off before we could take them up on the tour of the kitchen we were offered. I’m going to hold you to that though, and can’t wait for next time.

Duration: 3hrs 25mins

Price per person: £180

THE PESCETARIAN TASTING

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Smoked mussel and squid ink cracker (left), goats cheese puff with black truffle (right)

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Brioche and cauliflower

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Oyster chantilly, tartare of sea bream and frozen english wasabi (with cucumber and caviar)

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Mackerel, flame grilled and raw, with pickled cucumber, Celtic mustard and Shiso.

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Buffalo curd with onion, peas and broth. & a black truffle rarebit accompaniment


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Scallop, cauliflower.


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Lobster claw, shittake mushrooms, cauliflower.


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Turbot, asparagus (white & green), olives

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English strawberries (pre-dessert)   11208781_10155687138710360_1909931725_n   Olive oil cake, blood orange, white chocolate & tea

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Eating food in France.

So last week I went to France. And after a week back at work i’m feeling rather morose. So I decided to write about it.

Our trip began in Toulouse. It struck me as a grand city, which takes its vibrant food culture seriously. They care and celebrate the amazing produce they use, and really it’s an attitude we in the UK could take some inspiration from. The markets sprawl through main roads, sheltered market halls and ‘très European’ squares. The produce itself ranges from local cheese and wine, charcuterie and meat vendors (lots of fois gras), fruit and veg and endless amounts of fish. In fact, plenty of ‘firsts’ were tried here, from mountain cheese, honey straight from the honeycomb and snails.

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You could spend days here planning out endless meals, nosing through stalls and people watching. The vibrancy and eccentricity is infectious. But there is a moral to the story. Not having our own kitchen here was frustrating. OK, I suppose moral is too grandiose. But it certainly is advise. And this frustration is exaggerated if you have any dietary requirements. The menus are meat orientated in the small bistros (often revolving around foie gras), and often selective. This is usually something I rate, and I do, but it’s no meat//fish//veg options. It’s a duck//foie gras//lamb type arrangement. So you might be just doing a bit more leg work. That’s all.

But onwards to Montpelier we went. Here the food tourism shifted from trawling through markets to inspecting the pocket-sized bars, tapas-eries (yeh that’s a word) and bistros that trickle through the vein-like back streets in the centre.The achingly cool places pepper each corner of the maze streets, which made making a decision that little bit harder. And the diet visibly changed to a more even balance between meat, fish and vegetarian. These were complimented by the large, clean, pedestrianised areas right in the centre.

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We settled with Comptoir Saint Paul for our first meal, situated in the old town, behind St Roche church. The simple and seasonal 3/3/3 menu was initially a good sign. (That, and the beautiful rustic courtyard setting and quiet panic preparation for the busy service ahead.) Busy is good. Not only was each course here pretty tasty, but it was also very… unique. The tuna tartar was one of the nicest things I ate the whole holiday, it really was amazing, well balanced and tuna that just melted in your mouth. The presentation is where the confusion lay. I wouldn’t even know where to start to find a square clear soup bowl with equally dated plates, but it was the balsamic glaze – underneath– the bowl of asparagus soup that really made it. And the idea of just using the same giant purees for each main, and excessive garnish was almost homely. All very charming and forgivable. The wine was also local and delicious. Montpelier is definitely one to visit, and if you’re in the area, try out this place.

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– The view from our table –

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So finally Sète. We loved having a kitchen in here, but given the array of restaurants selling fish along the harbourside combined with the temperamental nature of the markets, it wouldn’t matter either way. But try to stay somewhere with a view. The sea is gorgeous and clear, and waking up to this oh-so-dreamy view really made the stay. That and the patisserie…


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THE harbourside. Right next to our amazing apartment.

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Dodgy photo, but great place. Air b n b at it’s best.

So how did we make the most of the local/seasonal food?

  • Bread from next door, poached eggs and asparagus.
  • Whole boiled globe artichoke, vinaigrette
  • Tuna steak, roast potatoes & tomato salad
  • Loup de mer stuffed with lemon & spring vegetables in white wine/butter sauce.
  • Spaghetti vongole
  • Lots of cheese wine and bread
  • (+ one dinner out at the coolest little fish monger come restaurant, Chez Francois – complete with oyster shucker stall operating all evening) (Side note, cool little place, but the food was actually pretty average… #sorrynotsorry)

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Tuna buying

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Loup de mer

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Oyster shucking stand.

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So cheers to me having a great holiday with a glass of Louis Roederer I guess.

Katie and Kim’s

Here’s a quick one about a new found love this February…

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Katie and Kim’s, (as much as it might not want to be,) is an advertisement for why you’d probably rather live in Montpelier. The laid back and communal feel to the space (instilled by the large, bare wooden table, which dominates the room and invites you to touch elbows with strangers (future friends…?), is what you really want from your brunch. There’s a limit to how often you can eat Eggs Benedict with over priced pressed apple juice on a small trestle table in Clifton Village and enjoy it. Especially in February. The stripped back feel of the place denies any space for pretentious-ness, and the eclectic teapots, cutlery and crockery you’ll be given adds a warmth to the whole experience. What truly makes it though, is the ladies behind this little café, Katie and Kim themselves. Open, chatty, helpful and super duper nicer, these are tops babes you’ll wanna be mates with. But failing that, you can just hang out in their kitchen. Katie and Kim have an informal setting, complete with informal paraphernalia, swing doors to next doors farm shop, and absolutely delicious food. It’s the real deal and I think I’d quite like to move in.

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To start we had cheese and rosemary scones, butter. Served on a wooden plate. It may look unassuming, and slightly burnt. It was in fact, scone perfection. And everyone should try one. There’s the option of adding poached eggs or bacon, but I’d highly recommend au-naturel.

We had hoped for some of their famous custard tarts, but in the agonising queue to order, I saw the last three cruelly snatched before my eyes. So next time, I’m turning up early. Someone play their tiny violin.

We then had cauliflower and keens cheddar tart, with greens and some sweet mustard wizardry. It was delicious, and hearty. We had 2 for £6. As was the growing theme of Katie and Kim’s, it looked very much home-made, but the flavours were bang on, despite the comfort food style.

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Finally, and despite already being full, we shared poached eggs, greens, smoked salmon and aioli on sour-dough. Also good. Also worth a try.

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Pigs in Cornwall

North Cornwall – Fishy Heaven. 

‘Fishy Heaven’ was found a-plenty along the North Cornwall coast. Our lack of driving abilities ensured we were limited to a walking radius from our camp in Polzeath, at the edge of the Camel Estuary. A walking radius that was tested with the Polzeath to Port Issac cliff-top walk. Breath-taking, sure. Leaving us breathless; also true.

Jack and I spent 6 days in and around Polzeath, Padstow (read: Padstein), Rock and Port Issac. This corner of the world is one of my favourite ever places. Sadly, it isn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, an un-tapped idyll of English Countryside. However, with a few handy tips (which will soon be provided), the hustle and bustle of this picturesque coast can be somewhat avoided, and a more relaxed get-away obtained.

First things first; the delicious food. Given it was 6 days, packed with a variety of absolutely lovely, seasonal, local, food shaped gifts, I will endeavour to focus on the PROPER highlights, although, bare with me if this post drags on, it’s my first, and allowances should really be made. (Disclaimer: Given the sheer volume of Nathan Outlaw food that has been consumed recently, it’s only right he gets his own section – but don’t for one minute think he was ignored in his own ends).

Let’s start with the basics.

Best Ice Cream: Roskilly’s in Padstow. It’s Organic, it’s local, it’s tasty. Perfect.

Best Pasty (it is Cornwall after all): Chough Bakery (of recent TV fame) or Pasty Presto (Both Padstow – apologies for ‘fence-sitting’).

Best Pub: The Golden Lion, Port Issac. It’s 17th Century, it’ll make you feel like a fisherman, and offers gorgeous views across the harbour. What more could you want?

Best post-swim treat: The hot doughnuts on Polzeath beach (@ the Galleon Beach Cafe). Comfort food, because let’s be honest, it is England, and despite what people try to tell you – not THAT warm.

Secret Star: The Spar – Polzeath. (The busiest in the UK, if you believe the grapevine). Provider of breakfast goods, (including fresh pastries) and well needed rest-bite from the dismal breakfast the cafes of Polzeath had on offer – all of them seemingly relying on location, with little attempt to provide any proper cornish, or well executed food. Spar also provided plenty of local produce, such as St Endellion Luxury Cornish Blue (with extra double cream) – banging.

Best Fish: Even with the inclusion of the chef heavy-weights, Outlaw and Ainsworth in this area, my best was the fresh fish from the mongers in Padstow (Rick Stein’s, obviously). Coupled with some foraged ingredients, a raw tomato and onion salad, a disposable BBQ from Spar, and the emptying, sunset drenched beach, it was SUBLIME. When the ingredients are that quality, they really need little to no help in making them shine. (Outlaw a strong second though – post for this ‘fish heaven’ up soon).

Best Best: Paul Ainsworth @ No. 6, Padstow. (I got a little carried away with talk of pudding, so this has spilled over into, a separate post. Here.)

NB: Rock has been ignored as the two highlights for me were both Nathan Outlawed shaped, and a different post dedicated to him will be up shortly. However, the Rock to Padstow ferry is something all holiday-goers should board. A ferry run by the same bearded man who was running it on my first voyage in my toddler years. A shout out to him, for the reliable, no-matter-the-weather, service.

 [Photos from a mixture of disposable cameras and iPhone, so apologies for the (altering) quality – none have been edited, as easy as that may be to believe]

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Admiring the coast line. There may be a few of these to come. Strap in!

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Enjoying fresh doughnuts by the scenic car park after a bracing swim.

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The Mariner’s (not featured), and cooking against the odds, in our muddled camp. Making use of SPAR. What a shop.

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Ice creams, (not Roskilly’s, so basically a let down) & busy Polzeath.

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These views. It’s no wonder I love this corner of the world.

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Enjoying the local delicacies.

Finally, the, as promised, ‘top tips’. Potentially obvious, but its very easy to get bogged down in the crowds, and forget they’re avoidable.

1. Avoid the main beaches, namely Daymer Bay and Polzeath. Even the beach on the Padstow side of the Estuary is quieter, and just, if not more picturesque. Lundy Bay is one of my best ‘secret’ ones. Booby’s Bay is also one to check out, not so secret, but oh-so dreamy. (Even the other side of Bray hill will do it!)

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2. In-keeping with the quieter beaches theme, coastal walks are one of the best things to do along this stretch of Cornwall. Immense views, often reasonably quiet, and a good work out after those pasties and fish and chips. I’d recommend the Port-Issac to Polzeath walk. It’s a bit of and up-and down hill slog, but the views can’t be beaten. Make an afternoon of it and take a picnic. I wish we did! (Also, maybe pick better weather)

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3. Explore. Just explore more. It’s easy in the small villages with harbours, to just stick to the harbour, but wander back, explore the more authentic and local areas! This can’t be proved better than my experiences with Padstow. You can find your own hidden gems. (Photos sadly of Port Issac – wish I had been more prepared!)

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4. Use the beaches the WHOLE day. Early morning walks, mid-day swims, and sunset BBQs should all be done. Pictured is our sunset BBQ, complete with scallops, whole bream and whole sardines, courtesy of Rick Steins fish mongers. We foraged the herbs along the coast, and with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of Maldon, it was totally perfect.

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5. If you have no car, get familiar with the local bus schedule. They do run reasonably regularly, and they can be a lot of fun, but do be prepared for them not to be totally on time. But when are they ever anyway?

6. Try camping. I’m a novice, but the Polzeath Tristram campsite made even me feel at home. And it means, even if you don’t have the dollar to pay for those sought after cliff top houses, you get some pretty photogenic views at breakfast and dinner time (even if the previous photo of our camp wasn’t all too appealing).

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– The camp/the view.

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View at the entrance to camp.