Good Food in Cornwall

May 11, 2009

Wynette: We have been back from trip a little over a week but want to add a few things that didn’t make the blog earlier.  So here goes …

Cornwall is surrounded on two sides by the Atlantic Ocean, so fresh seafood is plentiful and we ate lots of it. Many places (especially the museums and stately homes and garden restaurants) made a point to mention that they serve fresh local food.  We liked that.

We ate in some fantastic restaurants in Cornwall and want to mention them:

Sam’s, 20 Fore Street, Fowey, Cornwall, PL23-1AQ, Tel 01726-832273  www.samsfowey.co.uk We had great fun sharing a HUGE delicious bouillabaisse .

Hunkydory Restaurant & Bar, 46 Arwenack Street, Falmouth, Cornwall, www.hunkydoryfalmouth.co.uk.  We tried to go to The Seafood Bar but it was full and we didn’t have reservations so ended up at nearby Hunkydory, another place recommended in our guidebook.  We were not disappointed.  The food was delicious and I regretted I didn’t have my camera with me to take a picture, the food was gorgeous and colorful, a work of art.  (Not quite as literally as in Art’s Deli in Studio City, California, where “every sandwich is a work of Art“.)

The Seafood Bar, Quay Street, Falmouth, Cornwall, Tel 315129:  We were careful to make reservations the next night so we could eat at The Seafood Bar.  Turned out not to be nearly as crowded as the night before when we couldn’t get in. The owner Kerry Duffield told us she bought the restaurant 3 years ago after working there the previous 8 years. The previous owner owned it 30 years. It’s a tiny little place just off the main street above the harbor in Falmouth.  The food was exceptional. We shared a seafood chowder appetizer and then each had a fish main course; the fish was prepared perfectly.  The service was friendly and we had fun chatting with the owner and the woman who served us our food (and helped me find my umbrella when I had to go back for it).

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Flood in St. Ives

May 11, 2009

Wynette: As Charlie mentioned in previous post, there was a flood in St. Ives when we were there.  We found a video of the St. Ives main street during the flood cleanup, taken the morning after the flood. (The video starts out slowly but about 1/3 way through it picks up a bit when they start walking down the street and showing what was happening in front of the shops that were flooded. Check out the pastie shop.)

Here is our picture of the street, taken on the same day:

We walked up and down this street the day before and the day after the flood and saw the cleanup depicted in the video. We half expected to see ourselves in the video.  It was sad to see so many small local businesses with ruined merchandise, closed shop, etc. especially in these economic hard times.  Here’s another video if you’d like to see more of the St. Ives flood cleanup.

It was a bit strange: we had such fantastic weather nearly the whole trip and the one rainy patch turned out to be quite extreme.  Charlie and I got soaked walking from our restaurant to B&B the night it all happened but had no idea the storm was going to wreak such havoc.

Sad events

April 28, 2009

Charlie: Not to us, but where we have stayed.

We had had great weather the whole trip until we got to St. Ives. The first night in St. Ives there was a big rainstorm with high winds. Along the coast, about 10 miles from St. Ives, a car was washed off the road during the storm and three people died. We heard about it the next day.

We went into town and several of the shops on a low street had been flooded. (Wynette: shops we’d been in the day before.)  People kept saying they had just spent millions on a flood protection system and it failed the first time it was tested.

This morning, in Bath, we turned in a car at the rental place two miles from town and walked back along the canal tow path. We came to a boat with police in it using poles to look for something in the river. There were four more police and three firemen on the shore and a gaggle of on-lookers. Apparently someone had jumped off the bridge and they were looking for the body. That’s the first time I have come upon something like that in real life. We watched a while and then moved on. It was like the high-speed chases they cover with helicopters in LA, its kind of gruesome; some it is hard to stop watching.

Later:  Read in news they found the body after bringing in divers.

Bath

April 28, 2009

Charlie: They say, bah-th, but somehow it seems funny to say it that way and we find it hard to do. Strangely, Len, a British judge on Dancing with the Stars always say samba, as SAM-ba, like the name Sam, and the Brits say pasta with the same kind of ‘a’ so why Bah-th?

Whatever, the city is very nice. We got a great deal on our B&B it is called “Abbey Green Guest House” and is very nice. Old architecture but modernized very tastefully. We have a huge room, a very large main room and then another small room, and then a bathroom almost as big as our whole room in the St. Ives B&B.

Speaking of that, the B&B we stayed at in St. Ives was named “Rivendell”. No big conference about what to do with the ring though, just a nice visit. The room was quite small but overall we liked the B&B a lot once we had everything put away. (Wynette: it helped to pretend we were in a tiny stateroom on a ship cruise.)

Apparently England still has an extensive canal system, once used to haul freight but now used for houseboats. One canal runs through Bath. Today I walked along it for quite some time. It is very peaceful and pretty. You pass by people’s back yards and lovely meadows. Almost all of the boats are old, wood freight boats converted into houseboats. They call them “narrow boats” and they are narrow, maybe six feet wide, and long, some maybe 50-60 feet long, and low, like five feet high. If you saw the movie “Chocolat” they look very much like the boats that Johnny Depp’s gypsy family used. I guess France has a similar system of canals.

There are hills around Bath so the canal has many small locks. They seem to be self-service. I saw a boat go through one today. They open some pipes and the lock fills in about five minutes. Then they open some large wood doors, by hand, using a long lever. They go in and then let the water out, and move on. Anyway, it seemed like the people in the boat just did it themselves. There is no power required since the flow of the stream does the work.

Yorkshire pudding

April 28, 2009

Wynette gave a good account of the “traditional carvery” Sunday roast we had. I wanted to add that “yorkshire pudding” is what I call popovers. Flour, eggs, and milk cooked for 50 minutes. My Mom used to make them all the time and, as it happens, I just got on a kick for them and made them 3-4 times in the last few weeks before we left for England.

Sunday Roast

April 27, 2009

Wynette:  Around Cornwall we had noticed that the pubs advertised a “Sunday Roast” served just a few hours on early Sunday afternoons.  We never quite made one of those since the hours are so limited.  Yesterday (Sunday), as we were driving from the far tip of SW Cornwall to Bath, we needed to stop for lunch and Charlie remembered about the roasts and thought maybe we could find one on the road.  We were on a “dual carriageway” (known as “freeway/interstate” to our US readers) so knew we’d have to leave the highway to find a place.  I studied the map as Charlie sped along.  Saw a little town named “Altarnun” 30 miles ahead just off the highway (we remember the name because it’s altar-nun and Charlie was raised catholic).  The guide book said Altarnun had a little hotel/food place named “The Kings Head”.  Charlie said “that sounds like a pub, let’s give it a shot”. 

When we saw the Altarnun exit we pulled off and about 200 yards later we were in a TINY village and there was “The Kings Head” and on front was a large banner that said “Sunday Carving 12 to 3, booking recommended” (or something like that).  We couldn’t believe our luck.  We asked if they had room for two more and Bridget Jones (just joking but she reminded me of her) said “certainly” and a younger woman take us to our table.  She said “help yourself to the meat and other food on the carving table” and I’ll bring you your gravy. 

We had our choice of any or all of the following: beef roast, pork roast, gammon (I had to ask, it means “ham”), cheese cauliflour, (amazing) roast potatoes, squash, applesauce, cabbage,  stuffing balls,  little sausages wrapped with bacon, and yorkshire pudding.  (I’m sure I’ve forgotten something.)  I’d never had yorkshire pudding before.  They’re kind of like popovers with the top sunken down.  We spooned gravy in them and ate them like that.  Very good. 

It was an old place and just exactly as you’d probably imagine an old English pub in a tiny village half way between Lands End and London.  Just about everyone else there was local.  Across from us was a table with 6 women probably all in their 70s or 80s, chatting up a storm.  They were very friendly with us, asked us where we were from, were very sypathetic when they found out we were from New Mexico ( re. that flu they’ve been hearing about so I’m sure they thought we were having it in NM because of the news about Mexico).  At one point I snapped a picture of Charlie eating his Sunday roast and they all thought it was amusing that I wanted a picture.  As they were leaving one woman in the group stopped by our table and told us that in Yorkshire you always eat the Yorkshire pudding (with gravy) BEFORE the meal.  She said that is to fill you up so you don’t eat as much of the expensive meat that comes later.  (We weren’t in Yorkshire so I think it’s ok that we ate the Yorkshire pudding along with our meat.)  I asked her if she came for the roast often and she said she tried to come frequently.

The woman behind the carving table who carved the roast for us was fun, too.  We asked her if we were supposed to help ourselves to the veges, etc. and she said, with a smile, “if you don’t get enough to eat, you have only yourself to blame”.  Practically everyone there chatted with us.  We said how lucky we felt we were to have found this place just off the highway and two different people said “this is one of the best roasts you’ll find”.  Later on, the carving woman was taking a break and sitting with some people at a table near ours and I heard her say “I don’t mind cooking at home, but a ‘please’, and ‘thank you’, and ‘that was lovely’ makes all the difference.  I don’t get any of that at home.”  (Those were her exact words, I wrote them down.)  Charlie and I surmised from that that she was also the cook.  We had some tea at the end.  Some of the best tea I’ve had on this trip.  The whole thing cost us £15 pounds (for both of us).  I.e., about $10 apiece, including the tea.

When I was growing up, my mom often made (delicious) roast beef for Sunday dinner (lunch).  Dad grew the beef  and mom cooked it.  I wonder if that tradition came via their UK heritage.  I also, as a young girl, I remember drinking tea with milk and sugar and loving it.  Must be the Brit in me.

St. Ives

April 24, 2009

We got to St. Ives today and I like it a lot already. The guide books say it is “artistic”. It has lots of galleries and it has the Tate St. Ives branch, so maybe so. Kind of like a Cornish Santa Fe. Some books complained it was too commercial and affected. It seems nice enough although certainly more upscale than Falmouth seemed. Falmouth seemed a little shabby the first time we saw it but we came to view it as homey.

The town is built on a peninsula and the end has a smaller little bulge they call “The Island” which is a park basically. Very nice views and steep cliffs around it. Crashing waves on rocks and the blue water that makes. It could be Monterrey CA if you ask me, it looks so similar. I walked a bit down the Southwest Coastal Trail and it was all quite beautiful.

The SW Coastal Trail is great. In he her direction it follows a local train so you can walk down and take the train back, although the pamphlet you to take the train out and walk back. Seemed backwards to me unless you have a precise knowledge of your hiking limits. Whatever, it is pretty cool. A nice trail and every mile or two there is a pub so you can have a nice local ale or a bit to eat or maybe a nice Cronish cream tea with the jam on first.

The harbor is quite pretty, when we came the boats were all aground, sitting in the wet sand. Low tide we assumed but there were about 20 boats. I looked at it later and a few had floated again. I suppose they all are now.

Wynette maybe talked about the seagull incident. The town has seagulls, pigeons and crows. I wonder who would win in a fight between them?

Beware the Seagulls of St. Ives

April 24, 2009

Wynette.  St. Ives.  We bought Cornish pasties for lunch (mine was lamb with mint) at tiny bakery recommended in Rick Steve’s guide book.  We then found a park bench overlooking the harbor to sit on while we ate them.  I laid mine down on the bench (on its wrapper) to free my hand to dig out my hat (it was a little cold sitting there). Practically the second I laid it down a seagull swooped down and tried to grab the pasty and demolished one end of it.  It happened so fast and was scary having the big gull so near and so agressive and so sudden.  A lady passing by advised me not to eat even the end he didn’t touch.  So, I threw the whole thing out.  Only got one bite (all delicous flaky crust) before it happened, so I still don’t know what lamb with mint pasties taste like.  Charlie gave me half of his chicken and bacon pasty and we decided that would be enough lunch for the two of us.  We’d seen signs earlier warning about the seagulls but I forgot about that when I laid down the pasty. I’ve never seen seagulls be so agressive.  I guess they’ve taught each other tricks around here.

Cornish Pride

April 24, 2009

One of the guidebooks said that there is a persistent, albeit hopeless, movement for Cornish independence from the UK. They certainly have a lot of regional pride. They have “Cornish ice cream”. We had some, it didn’t seem that different that other premium ice creams. Places advertise “relax it’s Cornish coffee”. How different could it be?

But I just saw a “traditional Cornish cream tea” which REALLY is different, that is, “put the jam on first”, and that is, put the jam on the scone then the clotted cream. Clotted cream is think, like butter so this makes no sense to me. I can’t see how it would work well, but it is Cornish.

More metric

April 24, 2009

When you buy vegetables and other things by weight the prices are listed in per kg and per lb. I think I read recently that Britain petitioned for and got a waiver to continue listing in both for a few more years. I guess it is the older people who have more trouble with the change. I remember something in “1984” where someone was complaining about how he liked pints not half-liters or something like that.

I passed a sign that said 6′ 11″ overpass in 200 yards. We have our TomTom set to give distances in miles and yards.