A New Direction…

Whilst the Hungry In Cornwall blog has ceased to exist as a ‘weblog’ as such – being as I have not updated it now for many many moons – it still, unless the statistics provided by WordPress lie to me, serves the purpose as a source of irreverent and rambling reviews on a selection of Cornish food spots.

So a big hello to all of you who have stumbled across the blog thanks to our good friend Google.

As a final sign off or sorts – I would like to tell you about my most recent online adventure, but first some context:-

Where I was once hungry in Cornwall, I have made the traitorous move across the Tamar bridge and am now hungry in Devon. To be more precise – Exeter.

After living in and enjoying the many excellent restaurants, cafes and things to do in Devon capital – I decided to start up a new repository for my food based ramblings – The Exeter Review.

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So if you are planning on visiting, and need information on cafes in Exeter, restaurants in Exeter or even, for those of you with a taste for good quality beer – pubs in Exeter – then check out the Exeter Review. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Hungry In Cornwall’s Top 3 Snacks for 2012

Let me begin this post with a hearty ‘Happy New Year’ to all my regular readers. I hope your Christmas was as fun-filled as mine and that you have your new years resolutions planne…..

…Oh sorry, what was that? Its February? Well I don’t mind telling you that has come as a massive shock.

Well then. It seems this post might be slightly past its sell-by-date… but nonetheless it is with great excitement, drum rolls and fireworks that I welcome you to the first annual Hungry In Cornwall Snack of the Year awards.

It occurred to me that although I have been keeping you sporadically updated on Cornish food, I have neglected to keep you informed you as to which snack foods you should be seeking out in your everyday live – a real error, I see that now.

Let’s face it. There is no purer love than the love between a man (or woman) and his (or her) favourite snack. I have seen grown, usually sedate and measured individuals cry real tears upon being offered a Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup. I have witnessed prominent members of society fight like rabid street dogs over a packet of Frazzles. The emotions that can be provoked by small, individually wrapped parcels of pure joy should not be underestimated.

Personally I have a few select favorites that have stood the test of time in my internal chart of snackfoods – items such as the Tunnock’s Tea Cake – which have stayed with me through childhood and teenage years, and continue to delight me as an adult.  In 2011 I was fortunate to discover 3 truly great snacks that are all serious contenders for a spot on the All Time Greatest Snackfoods list (which exists only in my brain), that I would like to share with you now in no particular order as my ‘snacks to watch’ in 2012.

1. Tabasco Olives

Tabasco Olives

Firstly – I LOVE TABASCO. There you go, I’ve said it.

I love the bottle and logo. Such an iconic design. A small but perfectly formed bottle of delicious that can turn even the blandest of foodstuff into a spicy mouth party. I particularly enjoy Tabasco on scrambled eggs, a combination I suggest you try as soon as possible.

Secondly – I LOVE OLIVES. It’s true.

Although apparently having a jar on your desk at work and periodically poking at them with an often used and slightly discouloured toothpick is both ‘disgusting’ and ‘not appropriate for an office setting’ (not my words.)

So imagine my joy when I discovered that Tabasco (the brand) have taken it upon themselves to combine their famous sauce with delicious pimento stuffed olives. If you can’t imagine my joy, then try. Ok, now double it. You are close.

I am pretty sure I found these in Sainsburys, so lets assume they are available in most of the ‘higher tier’ supermarkets (Tescos or better.)

2. S’mores Pop Tarts

Smoor Pop Tarts

The best thing about the S’more Pop Tart is that it is technically a breakfast food! Just by the sugar content alone I was floating on a sickly sweet buzz for at least an hour after my first tart (is it ok to refer to them in the singular as tarts? As in “I woke up, unwrapped a tart and devoured it in one”) and this was in the afternoon. To ingest this much sugar first thing this morning would almost certainly induce a heart attack, but perhaps the children of America (where else could this be from?) have a higher sugar tolerance, as ‘Pop Tart related deaths’ yields no results on Google.

I first discovered the s’more on a trip to America in its natural habitat, that is to say I first tried one whilst sat around a camp fire. Traditionally a s’more is made thus – take one slab of Hershey’s chocolate (my love for Hersheys is a story for another day, but it is worth saying that if there are more bitter types of chocolate available then I don’t want to know about them) and one marshmallow. Sandwich them, between two Graham Crackers, and toast over an open fire untill the chocolate and marshmallows have melted into the most incredible sanwich filling known to man.  Eat, sing kumbaya and retire to your tent.

To take the s’more and adapt it to become a Pop Tart filling is, like the Tabasco olive, an inspired piece of snackmanship. The British equivalent would be something along the lines of a roast dinner pasty, or a cream-tea breakfast cereal, perhaps even a fish and chips supper sandwich – how good does that sound?

I found them in the Guildford store of www.americansweets.co.uk – comforting to know I am sure that these treats are a mere mouse click (or series of mouse clicks and some online payment) away.

3. Asiko Chilli Plantain Crisps

Asiko Chilli Plantain Crisps

One thing that Cornwall sorely lacks, for want of a better description, are ‘ethnic conershops.’ If you are from or have ever visited London (or any other major city for that matter) then you may be aware of these incredible treasure troves of snacking delights. These shops are typically characterised by vast neverending shelves, stacked to the ceiling with brightly coloured and exoticly named drinks, crisps and other snacks that you would certainly never find in your local Costcutter/Spa. It has been in these style of cornershop that I first discovered such landmarks of the snack world as Rubicon juice drinks (before you could get them everywhere) and Oreo cookies (again, before they went national.)

I came across these Asiko brand Plantain crisps in a small cornershop near to Meanwhile 2 skatepark, which is near Paddington, in London’s Famous London. During a break from getting rad (thats a skateboard term) I ventured to one of these ‘ethnic cornershops’ to find a drink.  I have kindly stolen a picture of the shop from Google streetview, to help illustrate what an ‘ethnic cornershop’ looks like. All I wanted was some water, but I got more than could ever have hoped for (some crisps.)

Second shop from the right. Yes, its not a on a corner and not obviously ‘ethnic’ (is this beginning to sound racist? If it is don’t worry I have many ethnic friends…) but behind those heavily postered windows lay a treasure trove of weird snacks, from the crisps of the carribean to the drinks of india, a little bit of everything.

Sure you can get plantain crisps pretty much everywhere now (I bought some in Devon just this weekend gone) but at the time the concept was new to me and by golly did it bowl me over.

Gylly Beach Cafe, Falmouth

Sorry…..One second…My apologies. The following may seem a little disjointed but do forgive me – As I write this post on my ivory clad smart phone, gripped tightly in my right hand, I am using my left hand to moor my diamond encrusted sailboat to the dock of a small yet perfectly formed Caribbean island – the 3G signal here is average at best so bear with me. What I am really trying to say is I am busy. Busy living the life of a trans-continental playboy. Such is the pace and variety of my jet setting lifestyle (have I mentioned this before?) I have precious little time to go into the minutiae  of every bloody meal that I have eaten in Cornwall (the last time I was there was roughly ten days before my holiday with Gisele in Monaco, and mere hours after my getting kicked out of the Tiger Tiger nightclub with Joey Barton) but for the sake of a few hastily bashed out letters on my iphone (did I mention it was ivory clad?) I may as well give you the lowdown on my number one breakfast stop-off when I am at home in Cornwall.

So where was I? Yes. As I mentioned I was recently on my yacht (in a car), moored on the dock of a Caribbean Island (parked by Gyllyngvase Beach in Falmouth) and ready to live the life of an international playboy (quite tired after falling asleep on the sofa watching Home Alone 2 the night before but ready for some breakfast.) So for the most important meal of the day, me and the enigmatic Miss C went here…

Gylly Beach Cafe Falmouth Gyllyngvase Cornwall

Certainly not the fairest day to ever grace the shores of Cornwall, but passable – i.e. not raining – and certainly not gloomy enough to dampen my spirits when it comes to GOING FOR BREAKFAST!!!!!

Why did you put GOING FOR BREAKFAST in capitals you might ask. Why did you prefix that statement with 5 exclamation marks? Well, for the simple reason that like ivory clad smart phones, diamond encrusted yachts and Joey Barton, GOING FOR BREAKFAST is for me one of life’s big extravagances, something that you know is wrong, excessive, overpriced and ultimately unnecessary – but can still make your heart fill up with a warmth and happiness that is rarely emulated and set you up to accomplish pretty much whatever you please in the day to come.

Can I make a suggestion. If you, like me, feel that GOING FOR BREAKFAST is a slightly excessive yet definitely necessary extravagance (and live in the Falmouth area), get yourselves down to the Gylly Beach Cafe of a morning and sample their American style pancakes with streaky bacon and maple syrup – the main protagonist of this post and for the last few month, my life – so as to ensure that this display of wanton excess is focused on a truly delicious breakfast.

So Gylly Beach Cafe? Yeah, its really nice. Packed to its trendily renovated rafters on a Sunday with young couples + small baby, or young couple + small dog, but still usually with enough chairs and benches inside and out to not leave you unseated for too long. Amusingly it seems the management of the Gylly Beach Cafe have perfected the art of hiring only young, attractive members of staff, each sporting identical haircuts and chins of designer stubble  (female and male waiters respectively) but to be fair they are attentive and good at what they do (and I would imagine you have to be as in the Summer the cafe is rammed.)

What I particularly like about the Gylly Beach Cafe is the outdoor seating area.

Gylly Beach Cafe Falmouth Gyllyngvase Beach

Which for a smoker like me (the finest cuban cigars of course) is a godsend as with the retractable roof to protect against rain and a high glass wall to protect against the sea breeze it is as close as is possible (and legal probably) to the days before the national banishment of smokers to the outdoors, and ranks highly against the ‘standing on a pavement in the rain’ facilities that a lot of pubs/cafes/bars offer. They also score points by providing fleece blankets which I can wrap around both my legs and shoulders in the style of a pensioner; a welcome relief I don’t mind telling you as it does get cold out there, especially in November…

Gylly Beach Cafe Falmouth Gyllyngvase Cornwall

Miss C was wrapped up warm and positively drooling at the prospect of a tasty breakfast (drool just out of shot.)

Whilst we awaited the food, I amused Miss C by playing with the cutlery holder as if it was a boat. She is easily amused.

Gylly Beach Cafe Falmouth Gyllyngvase Cornwall

“Honk Hoooonnnkk, here comes the HMS Hungry ready to launch torpedos, ACTION STATIONS, ACTION STATIONS….Oh yes Hi, the pancakes are mine. Thanks very much. No, thats everything thank you. Cheers.”

Gylly Beach Cafe Falmouth Gyllyngvase Cornwall

And here it is, the object of my desire, my number one food crush, the beautiful coming together of sweet and savoury that is Pancakes, bacon and maple syrup. Granted, not necessarily the most aesthetically pleasing dish in the world (not made any better by the fact that Miss C had dived in to retrieve her half before I had even the chance to turn my camera on. We were sharing. I regret that now) but it has got to be my favorite flavour combo. I have always had a thing for sweet/salty flavour combinations, a love that began in my primary school days when my lunchbox would usually contain a kit kat (two sticks) and a packet of hula hoops (ready salted) which I would eat thus – one stick of kit kat, followed by half the hula hoops, the second stick of kit kat, ending with the remaining half of the hula hoops. Even at such a young age my tastebuds danced the dance of life at the beautiful contrast and since those days I have strived to recreate that marriage of salty and sweet, until I had a chance encounter with some streaky bacon, some American style pancakes and sweet sweet maple syrup, and my search was complete.

And you can get this dish wrong, believe me. I will order it pretty much wherever I go if its on and you would be amazed how often I see  people balls it up. Gylly Beach cafe gets it right, as it does with a lot of what it does. Across the board for breakfast the options are attractive. Such as the sausage and egg sandwich..

Gylly Beach Cafe Falmouth Gyllyngvase Cornwall

Simple food done well, with great quality local ingredients – which sums up the cafe well. Go later in the day and sample the Gylly burger, with a couple of pints and a beautiful view of Gyllyngvase beach and you will not be disappointed. Thoroughly recommended.

Gylly Beach Cafe – Cliff Road, Falmouth TR11 4PA 01326 312 884


A Call To Arms, Cornwall

A Call To Arms – not a place to eat in Cornwall (I couldn’t afford to eat there at the moment even if it was real) but a statement.

I have made no secret of my love for Cornish food. Its produce, its brands and its restaurants are some of the most exciting and up-and-coming of their sort in Britain, a fact that I feel needs championing. With this in mind I encourage you to get behind Cornwall’s bid to win the Love British Food’s ‘Favorite Food Spot’ prize by voting at – http://www.lovebritishfood.co.uk/votefoodspot/ – and to be honest it is pretty damn simple and will take merely a few seconds of your life but could ultimately mean Cornwall gets a tiny bit more recognition for its various culinary feats than it currently does. A worthy cause indeed.

Right – here comes the important bit. You only now have a week to make these votes. Fortunately Cornwall is already doing very well :-

So luckily the fact that is has taken close to 1 whole month for me to post this information is probably going to have only a very small effect on the outcome of the vote and god willing, dear old Kernow will rightly be crowned best place to eat things in the world ever – or something like that. But let us not be complacent, there is only a percent or so in it. It is definitely still worth voting, even if just to hammer the proverbial nail in the coffin for close contenders Lincolnshire and Hampshire – pffhhh, who are they, have you ever heard of those places? So please click on the logo below and place your vote in the righthand sidebar, really genuinely very simple.

As for Hungry In Cornwall as a food blog. Well, basically, I am poor. Something coming soon lets hope, but times are hard.

The Hut, Falmouth

Wow – has it really been two weeks since we last spoke? How the time flies. How the time has flown, flying by without me even considering updating my beloved food blog – such is the pace and variety of my jetsetting lifestyle.

Ok…That is a massive lie. A lie so big that you could ________ and______ with it (insert Blackadder-esque hyperbolic yet hilarious description of how big this lie is in the spaces provided thanks.)

The real reason that I have neglected this blog for so long, neglected like a __________ that has been _________ since birth (sorry – I should really try and write my own jokes) is that I have been scared. In all honesty I have been ‘thinking’ about writing this post almost daily, but have put it off because sadly – I had a meal that I did not enjoy.

As a precursor to this post I would like to say that although my aim has and always will be honesty on HIC, there are limits. This generally means that if I suspect that a restaurant I am to be eating at is either going to be uninspiring or unenjoyable, I will leave my camera at home and visit the restaurant simply as a customer – instead of as a customer who would like to think of himself as a ‘food blogger’ and is planning on leaving with at least a vaguely formed opinion. Simply put – I never go out with the intention of writing a bad review, because I won’t visit somewhere I think I wont like, because I am not a masochist. Ok?

Right – disclaimer (of sorts) complete.

Lets get this started with a picture of two of my favourite things – a lovely beer and a lovely lady (classy? me?). Schneider Weisse and the mysterious Miss C respectively. Blonde, delicious and expensive. The beer wasn’t bad either (fnar fnar.)

Can you tell I am stalling? Ok – so. Right. Ok. Lets go.

As I mentioned earlier it has been a couple of weeks since my last post, which is roughly when this jaunt into Falmouth for a meal with the enigmatic Miss C took place, so I will do my best to piece together my memories of the evening.

After my intial plans to visit The French Bistro in Truro were scuppered at the last minute by a certain someone, a scan of Trip Advisor was in order. Now I am not nessecarily the biggest fan of trip-advisor, but as a quick way to find somewhere to eat it serves a purpose. I would be far more inclined to visit a restaurant on the basis of one good review from a person that I know, than one hundred reviews from people whose mental capacity I cannot vouch for – but saying that The Wheelhouse is ranked #1 for Falmouth restaurants, so I guess its accuracy cant be far wrong.

So on the advice of Trip Advisor, I decided to plump for Falmouth’s 8th highest rated restaurant – The Hut.

The Hut, Falmouth, restaurants in Cornwall

To be honest I had never noticed it before, although in a past life as an often inebriated student I spent many a night sat on the steps next to it, whilst attending Falmouth’s (ex) number 1 nightclub. A drinking and dancing venue supreme – it is safe to say that the dingy basement club, with sweat dripping from the ceiling, will be sorely missed. Ladies and gentleman – Shades (pronounced sha-days,)

Now I am generally not a fan of ‘underground’ restaurants and if I had a choice I would go for a restaurant with windows, but The Hut actually has quite a nice feel to it, if a little dimly lit. The service was also very good, something that was backed up by the arrival of this small plate…

The Hut, Falmouth, restaurants in Cornwall

…of little toasted bread discs, pesto and a tomato-y sauce. I am a stickler for any free food – which anyone who has seen me attack a complimentary basket of bread of an evening will attest to – and I thought this dish was a nice touch, putting me in an optimistic mood for the rest of the meal.

From here we went on to order the fishcakes as a starter to share.

The Hut, Falmouth, restaurants in Cornwall

Sorry about the awful photo by the way. My camera struggles at the best of times, but in the low light of The Hut’s corner table I might as well have drawn you a picture for a more useful visual aid. So yes, the fishcakes were fine, nothing particularly to right home (or blog) about, but then if you can’t do fishcakes then I would probably say don’t even bother. The fishcakes were then followed by a main of Falmouth bay scallops and red mullet.

The Hut, Falmouth, restaurants in Cornwall

If we were playing word association and I was asked to quickly pick a word relating to this dish, it would undoubtedly be – uninspiring. Four or five scallops paired up with three rather small looking bits of red mullet, on a hodge podge of spinach and bits, with no hint at all (in terms of flavour) of the smokey bacon pieces promised on the menu. No particular flavours of interest leapt out at me – frankly I would say it is dish that could have worked, nay should have worked, but for me did not. Nice – yes. Great – probably not. £16 well spent – no.

In all honesty, although for some strange reason I have hyped this up as a bad review, I would say that other than this dish The Hut does what it does pretty well. The problem for me is that if I am spending over £50 on a meal for two (1 starter, 2 mains, 1 desert and a bottle of wine), thanks to some of the new breed of ‘better’ Cornish restaurants, I now have higher expectations of what I should be getting for 50 notes. There are a lot of ‘good’ restaurants in Falmouth and Cornwall as a whole, but in a county where ‘better’ and ‘best’ restaurants are beginning to stick out like a sore thumb amongst a sea of general mediocrity – The Hut for me falls slightly short.

Ok that was painful. Not enjoyable to write and I am guessing hardly that entertaining to read. Although I realise that HIC is hardly The Guardian, and that a so-so review on here will mean little to nothing to the future of The Hut, it still makes me feel uncomfortable to slate it however mildly. I would say – give The Hut a go, make your own mind up, it is certainly not bad enough for me to say ‘dont bother.’

Perhaps I should put my less-than-impressedness down to the fact that my meal at The Hut was sandwiched rather morbidly between my finding out about the Norwegian bombing and massacre and the death of Amy Winehouse. Perhaps.

 

The Hut – 2 Quay Street, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 3HH. 01326 318 229

Fal Falafel, Falmouth

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.

Locomotief Racing Bike

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.

Falmouth Prince of Wales Pier

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.

Fal Falafel, food in falmouth Cornish Food

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.

Fal Falafel, food in falmouth Cornish Food Fal Falafel, food in falmouth Cornish Food

Fal Falafel, food in falmouth Cornish Food Fal Falafel, food in falmouth Cornish Food

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 .

Fal Falafel, food in falmouth Cornish Food

Looks good right? Lets see how it looks after a few bites…

Fal Falafel, food in falmouth Cornish Food

Bloody lovely yes? And finally let see how it looks as a boat…

Fal Falafel, food in falmouth Cornish Food

“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.

Hand Beer Bar Falmouth, Cornish Food, Falmouth Hand Beer Bar Falmouth, Cornish Food, Falmouth

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.

Hand Beer Bar Falmouth, Cornish Food, Falmouth Hand Beer Bar Falmouth, Cornish Food, Falmouth Hand Beer Bar Falmouth, Cornish Food, Falmouth

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 – hagjam@falfalafel.com

Hand Beer Bar – 3 Old Brewery Yard, TR11 2BY Falmouth, Cornwall

Earth and Water, Penryn

I woke up this morning feeling more than a little sorry for myself. Normally I would have put this feeling down to some sort of tropical disease or deadly virus, but alas I believe  it had more to do with the previous nights work summer party and the free bar.

So after spending the best part of the morning gingerly sipping orange lucozade (my own personal hangover elixir of life) and feeling delicate, watching Wimbledon whilst alternating between quietly groaning and weeping – I hopped on my skateboard and made the short journey to Penryn’s Earth and Water health food shop and deli to initiate phase two of my patented hangover cure – the world’s best ham, cheese and pickle sandwich.

Now Earth and Water is an interesting little place. I wouldn’t go as far as to call it a hidden gem, situated as it is pretty much on the high street, so I guess the hidden element exists purely in the fact that it is located in Penryn – not traditionally a place associated with culinary delights. Not until recently.

When I moved to Penryn in 2005 it was a very different place. The last 6 years has certainly seen a general change for better – with a number of interesting independent bars, restaurants and shops opening (Miss Peapod’s, Number 20 and Earth and Water to name but a few) in a town that hardly had a great reputation as a place to live, never-mind a place to eat or go out.

Whether this injection of awesome has been facilitated by the ever growing student population and the extra spending power that they bring, the European Union’s efforts and funding to regenerate Penryn, the new class of gentrified Ryn’ner that have moved into the expensive new flats overlooking the quay or a combination of these factors is unclear – what is does mean though is that I have  even less reason to leave.

Earth and Water, Penryn Cornwall

Right – back to the sandwich. Earth and Water is half deli, half health food shop and half cafe (maths was never my strong point) and is situated in a beautiful building that has been used as a shop since the 19th century. It ticks all the trendy health food shop boxes – old delivery bike in the window, a battered leather sofa to relax on whilst you sip your latte and shelf upon shelf of organic mung beans and fair trade cornflakes to keep the Birkenstock brigade’s cupboards ethically stocked.

If Earth and Water were in Shoreditch or Covent garden then I am sure you would have to fight you way past scores of hip guys with ironic mustaches and shabby-chic young women to even get a sniff of a sandwich. Thankfully Earth and Water is in Penryn and the old man having his afternoon coffee did not delay my food even for a second.

Earth and Water, Penryn Cornwall

Earth and Water, Penryn Cornwall 

For me the real reason for visiting Earth and Water has only ever been for sandwiches. I love a good sandwich. I would not a trust a person who doesn’t like them. I would not even speak to them – that is how fervent my love for the sandwich is. As with any food the quality of the ingredients used is imperative and in that department Earth and Water does not disappoint.

Although they have a board behind the counter with a small list of the sandwiches available – do not let that fool you. Ask nicely and they will make you up a sarnie with any combination of the delicious local ingredients that their chiller cabinet holds.

If you are after the perfect ham, cheese and pickle sandwich then may I suggest you go for:-

Cornish Yarg – Definitely my favourite cheese. Wrapped in nettles, smooth and creamy, Yarg has won multiple awards for its brilliance, including a world cheese award. Its good stuff.

Ham – I have completely forgotten where the ham is from, but you can be sure its local and by golly it is nice. Proper thick too.

Rocket – Not the ice lolly.

Onion Marmalade – Also made in Cornwall. Also I have forgotten where.  Granted its not really pickle, but it is a much tastier alternative.

Baker Toms White RollBaker Tom, Falmouth’s premier artisan bread maker certainly knows his bread.  The perfect ham, cheese and pickle sandwich needs the perfect bread and ladies and gentlemen – this is it, springy, vibrant bread freshly baked mere minutes from Penryn.

Cornish Orchard’s Elderflower Presse – To wash it all down with.

 

The nice young lady behind the counter rustled up my sandwich whilst I sat on the sofa and contemplated which of the many varieties of drinks I put away the night before was the main culprit for my headache. Still none the wiser I happily handed over a five pound note and a twenty pence piece (for that was the cost), thanked the creator of my delicious sandwich (for I am a gentlemen) and made the short walk to one of Penryn’s best benches (top three easily) to enjoy my food in front of a great view of the Penryn River and Penryn Bowls Club.

    

I already knew it would be. Before I even removed it from its brown paper bag home I knew it would be. Before I had even left home I knew it would be.

And it was. Easily the best ham, cheese and pickle sandwich ever.

So in summary. Get yourselves to Earth and Water (or Earth, Wind and Fire as I tend to call it) as soon as possible. They are nice people, sell nice things, make nice food and, well, its nice. Actually its better than nice. Its really nice.

Earth and Water –  St Thomas Street Penryn Cornwall TR10 8JN

The William Bray, Shere

Where the hell have you been? You might well ask. Where the hell haven’t you been? Would be a more appropriate opening gambit.

Well in answer to the first question I have been – around.

More specifically I have been outside of Cornwall at the weekends and inside of work in the week. So although I have remained hungry since you last heard from me, I have been hungry ‘outside’ Cornwall.

At the risk of boring my regular readers (Hi Mummy! Hi Daddy!) with a worrying lack of posts, I have decided to go ahead with a quick review of some food I ate in a land far, far away, well, beyond the confines of Cornwall. This exotic destination being my home county of Surrey, where amongst the rolling hills, picturesque villages and Land Rovers, I was spawned some 25 years ago. Last weekend, somewhere beneath these rolling hills, flanked by rows of pristine Land Rover’s in the picturesque Surrey village of Shere, I visited a ‘gastro pub’ that I shall be referring to as The William Bray – for that was it’s name.

So read on for HungryInCornwall on tour part 1…

The William Bray, Shere

The William Bray sells itself as a bar ‘slash’ restaurant, with emphasis on the ‘slash’. Comprising of two main areas – the bar and the adjacent dining room (oh yes, and an ample and comfortable outdoor seating area) – the William Bray offers both a relaxed drinking establishment and a restaurant serving ‘classic British cooking in a modern setting’ according to their website.

Oh and did I mention that The William Bray is owned by former racing driver Julian Bailey? No I have never heard of him either.

The William Bray, Shere

I am not sure whether the term ‘gastropub’ is still in fashion when it comes to whipping up a creative bit of PR blurb for your establishment but I would hazard a guess to say that it isn’t (as The Bray seems to have omitted this phrase from their site) – but with all the William Bray’s efforts to provide a menu that offers creative dishes alongside pub classics, alongside a proper drinking pub, it just all seems a bit mixed up.

This has always been my issue with pubs that I would consider to be ‘gastro,’ the fact that they generally seem to be caught somewhere halfway between a great place to eat and a great place to drink. That is unless the pub itself is unassuming, but suprises you with excellent food. Call me old-fashioned (or an alcoholic), but I generally like to do these two activities separately.

Eat at a restaurant. Drink at a pub. That shall be my mantra.

The William Bray, Shere

After selecting a pint of the local Surrey Hills Brewery’s ‘Ranmore’ Ale, which if I am honest I was not overly impressed by (although I do realise that I am spoilt by the quality of Cornwall’s beautiful and varied beers, so don’t take the criticism too hard Surrey Hills) I went on to choose a starter of asparagus, poached quails egg and hollondaise sauce, which can be seen above. This represented a solid start to proceedings and I have to say it was an enjoyable dish, the quails egg was expertly poached and delicious – although the asparagus could perhaps of done with a little less bottom half.

The William Bray, Shere

The starter was quickly followed by my main – fillet steak with a green peppercorn sauce, roasted vine tomatoes and skinny fries. This dish was aaalllrrriiiggghhhttt I suppose. My main problem was that the green peppercorn sauce tasted to my palate (a palate that I freely admit may have been dulled over the years by beer, cigarettes and my time as a fire-breather in a Croatian circus*) a bit, well, muddy. I guess the appropriate adjective might be earthy and I am sure this is how the sauce is meant to taste, but regardless of this it still put a dampener on my main course. I didn’t ask, but I am going to assume that the steak itself was local – “you could walk to quite a few of our suppliers from the bar” says the website – so I can only assume that, as is the Surrey way, the lucky cow involved was pampered from birth, fed from Laura Ashley troughs and protected from the ravages of winter by bovine-specific Barbour jackets. Regardless of this, the steak was nothing to write home about (or blog about, but I have started now so…) and I have had better.

I shouldn’t complain too much about the food though, well not much more than I have, as thankfully I did not have to pay. The food was purchased for me and the lovely Miss C by two generous anonymous benefactors (Hi Mummy! Hi Daddy!) so I feel it would be rude to go into pricing specifics. Suffice to say that if I paid that much in Cornwall I would expect to be in a proper restaurant and would expect nothing less than a memorable meal.
To sum up my feelings on The William Bray I would like to reference what I believe to be far and away the best driving game ever. Better than i-spy, better than 20 questions and even better than swearing at scary truck drivers – this game is simply called ‘pubs.’ The aim of the game is to score as many points as possible before the end of your journey, points that are earned by first taking it in turns to spot a pub on route. Points are then awarded depending on the number of legs that the name of the pub you have spotted involves. So ‘Seven Stars’ would gain you no points (stars don’t have legs dummy!) and the ‘Cricketers’ will gain you enough points to win outright in only one go. The ‘William Bray’ would award the player just two points – not great, but better than nothing.

The William Bray – Shere Lane, Shere, Guildford, Surrey GU5 9HS www.thewilliambray.co.uk

*not entirely true

The Wheel House, Falmouth

the wheel house falmouth restaurant review cornish food

Try and think back to a time before the internet took over our lives. A time  when arguments in the pub over the year that Return of The Jedi was released remained unanswered until you could dig out your VHS copy at home and check. A time where recipes came from recipe books, music came from your hi-fi, photos sat in an album and your decision about which restaurant to eat at came more often than not as a result of the mythical ‘word of mouth.’

So yeah, balls to the internet. Those where the days right? Well to be honest I don’t know, as I certainly can’t remember a time where any of the previously mentioned reminisces actually happened. Certainly not to me.

What I did have the pleasure of doing recently, for quite possibly the first time in my 6 years of living in Falmouth (well Penryn, but lets not split hairs) is visiting a restaurant that I was actually genuinely excited about eating at. This child-like excitement was not thanks to 5 stars on trip advisor, or a glowing write up on the Guardian website, but was actually due to a torrent of almost unbelievably positive reviews and ‘word of mouth’ recommendations from practically every person I have met south of the Tamar. This restaurant is The Wheelhouse.

the wheel house falmouth restaurant review cornish food

So let me set the scene. Or waffle on a bit more. Let see where it goes…

This was not to be a solo culinary adventure and for this mission behind enemy lines (the Falmouth/Penryn boundary – its somewhere near Lidl) I was accompanied by the radiant Miss C (who you may remember from my last review) and a crack team of shellfish enthusiasts. Shellfish enthusiasts and this man…

…who was disappointed to discover that the Wheelhouse did not serve meat. This disappointment was luckily doused in rum, which was then met by chips and resulted in smiles. Thankfully the rest of the hungryincornwall squadron were hungry for some delicious local shellfish and were not to be let down.

Now before I get onto the unadulterated praise of what has certainly taken a prominent position on the ‘best food I have ever eaten in Cornwall’ list, I feel duty bound to point out some very minor criticisms of my first visit to the Wheelhouse. Firstly, we were booked in for 9 o’clock and upon arriving at said time, we were greeted by the very friendly proprietor Tina, who informed us that the table would not be ready for another half an hour. No biggy really but for the fact that I had eaten two slices for pizza for lunch at 12:30 and had nothing since, so my stomach was in the early stages of digesting its own lining.  The second, very slight criticism, being that they had run out of the ‘skinny fries’ that they usually serve. Instead they served a thicker cut chip, which although bearable was not (I am informed by a member of the squadron who has visited the Wheelhouse previously) up to their usual high standards of chipped potato.

So with that out the way I can begin to gush…

the wheel house falmouth restaurant review cornish food

There are two things that The Wheelhouse possesses that in my experience is lacking from any other eating establishment in Falmouth – style and atmosphere.

the wheel house falmouth restaurant review cornish food

In terms of style the Wheelhouse is impeccable. From its eclectic selection of seating and beautiful farmhouse tables to the vintage crockery and the clam-esque metal dishes your food is served in, each decision in terms of decor has been perfectly executed without appearing contrived. I was sitting at a singer sewing machine table, which says a lot.

the wheel house falmouth restaurant review cornish food  the wheel house falmouth restaurant review cornish food  the wheel house falmouth restaurant review cornish food

It is the atmosphere in the Wheelhouse that (other than the food) impressed me most, an atmosphere that is created by a combination of the friendliest of staff and the ‘boho living room’ feel of a restaurant that is no bigger than the bar area of most Falmouth restaurants. As we arrived at 9:30 to a service bursting at the seams, you really felt like you were entering a restaurant that was exciting and alive, it’s compact space rammed full of happy customers enjoying food and enjoying life. A place where you literally feel at home – no sterilised decor or pretentious waiting staff to make you feel out of place.

So did you actually eat? Oh yes…Sorry…the food. It was delicious.

The Wheelhouse’s simple menu is easy to negotiate but so very difficult to choose from. With no physical menu (the shellfish on offer is dictated by what is fresh and available) our waiter sat down with us at the table and in what can only be described as a very enthusiastic and charismatic rendition of shellfish, let us know what was good today, which crab is sweeter, what sauces he would recommend – to be honest I was impressed, by both him and the menu – and I plumped for scallops, shell off prawns, a portion of chips and a bottle of the house white.

the wheel house falmouth restaurant review cornish food

As the food arrived we all scrapped for precious table space and then with a short pause for effect began an entry into our own personal shellfish utopia. The prawns were plump and juicy, with a lime, chilli and garlic sauce that worked perfectly – providing just enough tangy and delicately spiced flavour without overpowering the beautiful taste of the prawns. The scallops were some of the best I had ever tasted, sitting invitingly in their shells, with a simple dressing of ginger, soy sauce and garlic (if my memory serves me correctly – it was probably half ten by this point and I had made a decent indent into my Sauvignon) which again was a marriage of flavours made in heaven. I have had scallops before where they have been either badly cooked, or for me, poorly combined with other flavours. This was not the case at the Wheelhouse where the scallops were allowed to bask relatively untainted in all their meaty delicious glory.

I paid a round thirty pounds for my meal, including the lovely bottle of wine (hic), which I was more than happy to pay (look how happy I am above – that is pure happiness right there). Considering I had 6 scallops, which many of the ‘high end’ restaurants in Falmouth would have required either the sale of a lesser needed body part or some sort of finance package for me to afford, I was thoroughly impressed. I could not recommend the Wheelhouse more, one of the best meals I have had in Falmouth, in easily the nicest setting with undoubtedly the best atmosphere – it is one not to be missed.

The Wheel House – Upton Slip, Falmouth TR11 3DQ 01326 318050

The Royal Oak, Perranwell

Having heard good noises about the food at the Royal Oak in Perranwell and having never actually been there, it was decided –  on what looked to be a fairly sunny Saturday morning – to amble the 5 miles or so  from Penryn (the home of HungryInCornwall) cross country to the small yet perfectly formed village of Perranwell.

Accompanying me on this journey was the lovely Miss C, whose choice of walking footwear was not the best.

Helpfully Miss C had procured a map from a brilliant website called Trails from the Track. Although nicely presented the map and accompanying text provided only the barest of directions as the route led you away from the streets of the sprawling metropolis that is Penryn and into the countryside. As chief map reader this afforded an extra element of excitement to proceedings, having to decipher such directions as…

‘Turn left up to a gateway, ignoring a driveway on the left, into a field ahead. Turn right in the field and follow the right hedge line to a track’

…which made the chances of actually getting to sample the food of the Royal Oak slightly less than I would have liked. Never the less we trooped on, on what was a beautiful walk that I would highly recommend, and were quickly rewarded for this perseverance by the discovery of a rope swing over a small stream.

        

After a brief refuel at the Norway Inn, we were also treated to a bit of Cornish history, or mythology depending on how you look at it, with a short stop at St Piran’s well. More of a cave than a well, with a mossy wall from which water was dripping that we were informed by the accompanying plaque holds medicinal properties. Although we didn’t try any of the water, in hindsight perhaps I should have bottled some in case any future ailments are incurable by conventional medicine and can only be combated by the magic waters of the patron saint of Cornwall.

The Royal Oak Perranwell pub food cornwall

Although the Royal Oak looks large from the outside, in a sort of ‘opposite tardis’ way it as actually a lot smaller on the inside than it appears, with low ceilings that make for a nice cosy feel. I can imagine it would be a nice pub to drink in as they have a fine selection of ales and lagers – I had a pint of lovely Doom bar thanks for asking – but as it was only just lunchtime it was more the food selection that I was waiting to deliberate over.

Cornish pub food, like pub food throughout the UK and probably the world can be a hit or miss affair. Sometimes I am happy to put up with the usual burger and chips, lasagna and chips and egg and chips of your bog standard pub menu if I have no other option, but it is so refreshing when you do see a pub create such a simple yet interesting and delicious menu without going down the overpriced gastro-pub route.

The menu, written on a very sturdy tree shape piece of oak, had a lot of items that I would have happily devoured – with panfried scallops with sherry cream and chorizo amongst an enticing bunch. The menu though for me was all but irrelevant, as I had spotted game pie on the specials board as I walked in and my mind was focused on the prospect immediately. It was 11pounds and was absolutely lovely, with a really crispy pastry which when broken into revealed just the right trade off between crunchy top and doughy bottom.

The Royal Oak Perranwell pub food cornwall

The pie itself featured an all star cast of lovely tender venison, rabbit, beef and pheasant and I secretly like to believe that the pheasant (something we saw many many of on our journey to the Royal Oak) was bought by the pub from a local poacher, who delivered it to the pub lashed to the back of his battered Land Rover, but alas this is probably not true. It came with roasted vegetables, broccoli and some of the best potato dauphinoise that I have tasted, which were buttery and delicious. Admittedly I prefer my pies to be fully incased in a thick layer of stodge, whereas this pie was more of a stew in a bowl covered by a (delicious) pastry top – but that is only a slight criticism.

Miss C went for the asparagus and pancetta soup which was also very impressive.

The Royal Oak Perranwell pub food cornwall

Equal to her delight over the creamy asparagus soup, with asparagus tips hidden under its surface and crispy pancetta adding the salty smokeyness that it provides so brilliantly, was Miss C’s delight at the inclusion of two thick slices of really good quality bread and proper butter – an absolute essential with soup, something so easy to provide and so badly missed if not. At 6pounds it is certainly sufficient for those with lighter appetites as a decent lunch and did not disappoint in terms of flavor.

Luckily we arrived for lunch bang on its starting time, punctual as ever and were the first ones in, as the dining area is very small seating no more than 20 in what is a very squeezed and also quite dark area. I can only imagine that for evening meals and busy sunday lunches is would be very tight with all the tables full – which I hear is a very regular occurrence so you may need to book at busier times. At about 25pounds for lunch for two, with a pint and a coffee I would say the food is priced well and will definitely be coming back to either give the tapas or one of their fish dishes a pop.

Happy, full and content we made the short journey home to Penryn on the maritime line, where I was able to experience the novelty of having to hand signal the train driver to get him to stop. A great end to a great day.

The Royal Oak – Perranwell, Cornwall TR37 7PX (01872) 863175