My plan for Hungry In Cornwall has always been to report back on ALL the various culinary delights that Cornwall has to offer – ‘from fish and chips to fine dining and everything in between’ – and this is a policy that I firmly intend on sticking to.
I am sure there are people, Cornish people even, who can afford to eat in the very best restaurants every week – but I am certainly not one of them. Regardless of this I think it is far more interesting to write about what I like to eat and what I actually eat on a weekly basis, rather than the increasingly rare occasions when my bank balance dictates that I may eat a meal that is not hand-held or home-made.
So to follow on from my last post’s brilliantly simple subject matter – a ham and cheese sandwich – I am remaining within the ‘food encased in bread” sphere with a look at the very finest takeaway food available in Falmouth and most probably Cornwall in its entirety.
As this week’s adventure took place slightly further from home (only very slightly), the trusty skateboard was replaced by a mode of transport better suited to distance travel – my 1970′s ‘Locomotief’ racing bike, that I had shipped over to Cornwall from a kind Dutchman just over a year ago, store in the living room to keep it safe and generally love with a passion usually reserved for real people. I would like to point out at this stage that attempting to take a photo of the bike, whilst cycling the wrong way down a one-way street, feet firmly strapped into the pedal clips, is a risky way to start any journey.
So where was I headed on my beautiful Dutch steed at one o’clock on a Saturday afternoon? Well, I am glad you asked.
My destination was Falmouth’s Prince of Wales Pier – an uninspiring stretch of concrete usually associated with the departure of small ferries, homeless fishermen and gangs of unruly seagulls mugging small children of their ice-creams.
Despite all these attractions, which would be worth the 15 minute cycle alone – my real reason for visiting the pier on what can only be described as a typically British day of grey clouds and the ever-present threat of rain, is the quite excellent Falfalafel falafel trailer.
FalFalafel has been around for coming up to 3 years now and can normally (October to May) be found just outside of Remedies nightclub on The Moor. Sadly, for reasons known only to the council (who have tried to shut down Fal Falafel before, to the outrage of many residents), the lovely duo of James and Hagit are banished to the bleakness of the Prince of Wales Pier for the summer months – almost completely hidden from view round the side of the Pier Cafe.
This unfortunate summer pitch has seemingly done nothing to halt the progress of Fal Falalfel. Starting with just the one trailer, they now also have a permanent pitch up at the Tremough Campus of University College Falmouth (or whatever it is called now) – serving their own brand of chickpea heaven to malnourished students right on their doorstep. I cannot begin to express how jealous I am of the current students of Tremough, when I was there the best you could do for food would be a packet of crisps from the union or a tin of beans from the shop – so a delicious falafel would have been a massive step up in quality. As well as this expansion they were in 2008 awarded a top 3 place in the ‘Best Takeaway’ category (which included takeaways from all of the country, not just Cornwall!) at the BBC Food and Farming Awards, which gives you an idea of the sort of standards that Fal Falafel reaches.
Where Falfalafel really excels is in their simplicity. They do falafel. That is it….
…Well ok, they also sell coffee (Turkish coffee with cardaman to be precise – probably lovely but I am yet to try it), halva slices and soft drinks – but generally it would be accurate to say they just do falafel, and boy do they do it well.
Let me start with a bold statement – the falafel they serve is by far and away the best I have ever tried. Compare them to the dried-out flavourless pebbles of chickpea that you can buy in supermarkets and you can see how Hagrit’s Israeli roots and the couples many trips to Israel to hunt down the perfect falafel recipe (information I have stolen from www.falfalafel.com) have fine tuned a dish that you would be forgiven for thinking is simply deep-fried ground chickpeas but is actually so much more.
So, almost 800 words in, let’s have a look at some food shall we? You may notice that once again I am sat on a bench. Not for me the glamorous world of complimentary fine dining like some of those bloggers from ‘that London’ – nope, when you really want to get the heart of Cornwall’s very best food, then you have to be prepared to slum it a bit. Right – photos of food .
Looks good right? Lets see how it looks after a few bites…
Bloody lovely yes? And finally let see how it looks as a boat…
“Hhhooonnnkkk hhhooonnnkkk, it’s the ‘HMS lashings of beautiful fresh veg, humus, sauces and expertly deepfried falafel’ coming into dock – man the gangplanks”
The construction of the ‘HMS falafel’ which you can see taking its maiden voyage above (not the only sea-faring vessel to be made that day in the Falmouth bay, but surely the tastiest) is a thing of beauty.
Firstly the falafel balls are dispensed from the rather amazing ‘falafel ball making machine’ which looks like it has been in service for many centuries, into the deep fat fryer. Whilst they bubble and crisp away you get the choice of a white or brown pitta, which is then liberally lined with their own special hummus which is fresh and homemade each morning. Once the Falafel are cooked through, three of the six are added to the pitta, followed in closely by the salads – crisp fresh tomato, cucumber, red cabbage, carrot and lettuce – and then the remaining 3 falafel balls. This is all topped off with fresh parsley, pickles (my favourite bit) and the Exocet missile of ‘HMS falafel’ in the shape of a rather aggressive little chilli. To finish off you have the choice of three sauces – tahini, red chilli and a green Yemen chilli sauce, and I would certainly suggest a combination of all three.
If I could have broken a bottle of champagne over its bow then I bloody well would have. On a personal level I find it a miracle in itself that my culinary loins can quiver so violently for a meal with no meat involved, but quiver they do.
So for a very reasonable £3.90 you can get one of the incredible falafel’s you have just seen, which are more than enough for a filling lunch and obviously taste great (did I mention that?) Forget your boring pasties, your greasy fish and chips or your soggy sandwiches – when it comes to takeaways in Falmouth look no further, we have a winner.
Before setting off on my very full-stomached cycle home – I decided to take in a swift half at the Hand Bar in the Old Brewery Yard just off the Old High Street, which according to their Facebook page is coming up to its first birthday. How I have missed out on this place for a whole year is beyond me, as their incredible selection of draught and bottled beers is that good that I actually returned later that very same evening for round two. I treated my self to a half pint of The Anchor Steam breweries ‘Old Foghorn’ and a 1970′s copy of National Geographic from their library – a great combination.
If you get a chance to visit Hand and try some ‘Old Foghorn’ then grab it with both hands and a foot if you can. Old Foghorn is a delicious barleywine style ale, which has an amazing rich and hoppy flavour and at 9.4% a healthy sting in its tail which made the cycle home that little bit more exciting.
Fal Falafel – The Prince of Wales Pier, Falmouth, Cornwall – firstname.lastname@example.org
Hand Beer Bar – 3 Old Brewery Yard, TR11 2BY Falmouth, Cornwall