Cornwall LivingIssue #113
This month we sit down to a veritable feast at the ever-growing table that is the deliciously Cornish food and drink industry.
Made up of vast stretches of fertile land and surrounded by clean salty waters, Cornwall offers a thriving natural larder that has become globally renowned and locally treasured. While this beloved county is famed for the immensely beautiful landscapes and breathtaking coastal vistas we all recognise and adore, the unique culinary signatures that hail from the farms, bakeries, breweries, distilleries and restaurants are renowned throughout the rest of the country, and in fact the world. But what makes the Cornish food and drink industry so successful in and out of the Duchy?
With such a rich and complex industry at the heart of our county, we thought it only prudent to consult Cornwall Trade and Investment on what quality food and drink really means for the Duchy, and the people who live here. “Built on the foundations made by the region’s fishermen and farmers, Cornwall’s food and drink sector has proven itself a cornerstone of UK gastronomy,” explains Nicola Lloyd, Director of Trade and Investment. “As the number one food destination in the UK, the industry is key to the region’s economy, seeing an annual turnover in excess of £2 billion!” Unsurprisingly, the sector creates one in three jobs in Cornwall and is a huge draw for tourists, which in turn creates further employment. The incredible food and drink produced, sold and exported from Cornwall is integral to the region as a whole and has an ever-growing place on the local, national and global food highway. From the Cornish pasty and the iconic cream teas to the freshest local seafood caught right here, Cornwall has made a name for itself in the arena of top-notch cuisine.
Sourcing locally caught fish and Cornish potatoes, Seasmiths Fish and Chips is an advocate for local, good quality produce that speaks for itself. For more information, visit seasmithsfishandchips.com
There seems to be an incredible connection between businesses and their suppliers and produce that lies at the heart of the county, and Nicola shares with us her thoughts as to why that is: “The region’s growers, suppliers and food and drink businesses are all united by a genuine passion for Cornwall’s produce. Cornwall’s peninsula effect encourages practical collaboration with purpose across the local food system: shortening local supply chains, maximising regional food value, minimising food waste and improving food justice.”
This collaboration is key to the sustainability and future growth of Cornwall’s food economy and is responsible for its innovation and forward-thinking practices.
When it comes to catering and hospitality, an industry that the Duchy is undeniably famed for, Cornwall has seen numerous Michelin starred chefs operating locally, drawn by both the culture and the quality of seafood and farm produce on offer. Rick Stein, Paul Ainsworth and Nathan Outlaw are amongst the most well-known, not to mention Michael Caines, who has recently set up shop in the pretty harbour-side village of Porthleven, known locally for its rich food culture with a dedicated festival every year to celebrate it. Born and raised in Devon, Michael was immersed into a local food culture from the start:
Etherington’s Farm Shop is home to a range of home-grown ingredients, specialist products and award-winning meats from their very own butcher, make sure to visit etherington-meats.co.uk for a truly local foodie experience.
DID YOU KNOW?
Local fishermen work in collaboration with the National Lobster Hatchery to preserve the natural stocks in Cornwall’s waters, delivering ‘berried’ females to the team, and then returning them to the ocean! To find out more, visit nationallobsterhatchery.co.uk
“I grew up in a large family, and my love of food and cooking came from the big family meals we always shared together, prepared by my mother who was a wonderful cook. My father loved to grow vegetables and fruit in our garden, and so I grew up appreciating the flavours of the freshest foods, picked that day and simply prepared.” After nurturing a natural talent and passion for food, spending time with chefs like Raymond Blanc in Oxfordshire, and the late Barnard Loisseau in Paris, Michael returned home to Devon to take his place at Gidleigh Park as Head Chef with a new wealth of knowledge and experience. “Bernard taught me the importance of ‘terroir’,” recalls Michael, looking back to his time in France, “that all great cuisines are rooted in the products, produce and seasonal ingredients of their own locality.” Having spent 21 years at the helm of Gidleigh Park, in 2016 he went on to create the luxury five-star country house hotel, Lympstone Manor – a dream come true for the Devon chef.
Here are a few of our other favourite foodie businesses to get your mouth watering:
Cornish Sea Salt
Boscastle Farm Shop
Michael’s cuisine is refined and elegant and is rooted in seasonality, regionality and locality, an ethos reflected in all of his establishments, including the fourth addition to his collection – The Harbourside Refuge Restaurant and Bar in Porthleven. The protected harbour was originally created as a safe haven for sea vessels travelling along the beautiful yet rugged south Cornish coast. Here, Michael has created a safe haven for all lovers of food and drink who choose to make their way to this idyllic spot in fine weather or foul. “You can’t help but be aware of the beauty and power of the sea when you come to Porthleven, and also the rich bounty that it perennially yields to those intrepid fishermen who brave its wrath,” explains Michael.
Michael’s belief in seasonality and regionality means that this strong ethos is central to his cuisine and to the supply of ingredients and produce: “I have gone on record many times that the south west doesn’t just have the best larder in the UK, it has the best larder in Europe!” It’s this attitude shared by leading chefs and local artisans that is putting Cornwall at the forefront of a delicious movement towards a local resourcefulness, with more and more people becoming aware of this rich, natural bounty that lies on our very doorstep.
If you’re looking for a way to wash all that foodie goodness down, look no further than the Little Gin Shack, Wadebridge ñ a ‘ginporium’ with a huge range of tipples from Cornwall and around the world. To find out more, visit thelittleginshack.co.uk
One such cultivator of a popular local product is the family run Trink Dairy, a farm that understands the value of knowing exactly where your food and drink originates from. Having earnt itself a reputation for high-quality, great tasting produce, with a two-year consecutive Taste of the West Gold award, and named Champion Dairy Product for 2020, Trink is at the top of the list for many local residents and businesses.
Dairy Manager, Rachel Knowles, talks to us about this noticeable shift towards higher quality, responsibly sourced local products: “People completely underestimate milk, especially for coffee, it’s a key ingredient! Even some baristas didn’t realise there was such good quality milk out there. Trink milk is high in protein and butterfat, and it makes such a difference.”
The team at Trink are so proud of their process, and rightly so! As they welcome customers to watch the cows being milked and see them grazing on the fresh local pastures that flourish in our Cornish climate, you can witness the resulting milk being freshly pasteurised and hand bottled amongst a complete transparency that surrounds the farm. “The practice at Trink farm has converted a few vegans back to milk drinking as they know exactly where it’s produced and how the animals are treated – but only from Trink! The milk forms an important part of their balanced diet,” notes Rachel. Affectionately referred to as their ‘mini farmers market’, the vending machine outside the dairy stocks enough milk and various local products to see you through the week, and it’s open 24 hours a day for ultimate convenience. With no milk tankers, no factories, and no motorways involved, Trink takes us back to a simpler time of using the land on our own doorstep to make the highest quality produce in the simplest way.
An age of appreciation for the gorgeous possibilities that Cornwall’s bountiful natural larder affords us is dawning, whether it be for farmer, grower, catcher, maker, distiller or brewer. From the lobsters, crabs and fish that prefer our Cornish waters, to the artisanal creations made with fresh local harvests, luxury abounds in the food and drink that hails from our little corner of the world. Won’t you join us in celebrating it?
An exploration of culinary Cornwall would not be complete without a mention of Rick Stein ñ the lead image of this feature is proof of that! To find out more about Rick’s iconic foodie presence in Cornwall, visit rickstein.com