Recently, I received a press release from the Four Seasons hotels enticing me to take a culinary break at a far flung location. And whilst I could dream of jetting to the Seychelles just to go and catch a fish which would then be prepared by the head chef for dinner, it wasn’t exactly practical.
Mr EF and I have enjoyed quite a few food adventures over the years. We find it is a great way to get to know a place and the people. The food is so good in parts of Britain these days that our trips no longer need to be as far flung as Kerala (as long as I don’t mention the weather).
Enticed by the prospect of exploring somewhere new and tasting a lot of good food on the way, Mr E F and I took the Flybe plane from Edinburgh down to Newquay in Cornwall for a “seafood safari” masterminded by the Food Travel Company.
We were based at Lanyon Cottages, set in 200 acres of farmland and 10 minutes from the beaches at Hayle. We stayed in a house that could be rented for a large family or group of friends and were very happy to make the aquaintance of an illustrious group of food and drink bloggers.
So much more than Padstein
The beauty of an organised tour is that you get to do things it would be challenging to create yourself. A particular highlight for me was to visit the Newlyn fish market (not open to the public) despite a very early start. We were shown round by Robert of Wings of St Maws and Andy Wheeler of Cornish Fish Producers Organisation on behalf of Seafood Training, who are very passionate and knowledgeable about their fish.
The sheer size of some of our favourites such as John Dory astounded me – not surprisingly they were destined for London’s top chefs. Other fish we found it difficult to instantly identify – it’s not often you see some fish whole. It was fascinating to learn about the different types of fishing and how they are suited to different types of fish and how continuous improvements are changing the less sustainable methods. We rather liked the fact that skippers have embraced new technology to tweet ahead their day’s catch to tempt buyers.
The highlight was having our own Masterchef (semi-finalist 2010) Lee Groves, now chef patron of Seagrass St Ives, to demonstrate how to prepare and cook fish on two days. We got involved with much of the prep and I am particularly pleased to report I can now shuck an oyster. Lee was endlessly patient as we bombarded him with questions whilst he prepared some very delicious dishes including a not so lucky 35 year old lobster.
Any trip to Cornwall should include a trip to the Eden project. It really is a must for food lovers. The tropical biome was fascinating with many species of exotic fruits, nuts and seeds growing. Food highlights were the baobab smoothie and lunch in the cafe – absurdly good value at £5. It was raining pretty hard so we rushed through the gardens, but I particularly liked one section where plants used for medicine were growing.
It is not all Padstein
We cannot ignore the influence that Rick Stein has made on the area, but now a myriad of talented chefs are making their mark basing their dishes on the wonderful local produce. At the Rock Oyster festival it was rather wonderful to have one of the chefs hold up a ling and proclaim “This was from Newlyn fish market yesterday morning”. Yes, we know we saw it there!
Back at Lanyon Cottages, we sampled some delicious Cornish produce, including a hamper of goodies from Simply Cornish Hampers. I particularly enjoyed Cornish Orchards soft drinks – the elderflower presse especially and the Cornish Blue Cheese. A fierce debate raged over whether Cornish or Devon Clotted cream was the best – I think we ended up rather divided on that.
It’s such an easy trip from Edinburgh to Newquay airport by Flybe – just 1 hour 20 minutes and well worth a visit. We’d definitely return and maybe this time the weather will be kind enough and we’ll go on the mackerel fishing trip! The Food Travel Co can create your own special “seafood safari”.
Seafood Cornwall Training
Newlyn Fish Market & Harbour Tour with tour guides Robert Clifford-Wing of Wings of St. Mawes and Andy Wheeler of CFPO.
Cornish Fishing & Seafood Guide by Carol Trewin “a book about the fishing industry that’s not full of tales of threatened stocks and livelihoods … an uplifting study of a vibrant sector with a bright future” Coast. And some great recipes! £4.99
Trencherman’s Guide – Top Restaurants in South West England