Whilst grabbing a few days break, mid January in the far reaches of Cornwall, I started to wonder does just a county border make a difference to what people like or want.
Ok we were by the sea and a well know tourist destination, but there must still be people who live there all year round, what do the locals do?
We arrived late Sunday evening, to find the heating had packed up and the wifi down. Paul was on the case first thing Monday morning and the landlord had the plumber around in no time, BT however was installing faster broadband in the area, so no service or signal for us, apart from the odd street corner. (Mark thanks for fixing what you could even though none of it was your fault)
Whilst wandering around the town on Monday morning we were somewhat surprised to see some of our usual haunts shut for a month, a week, only open at weekends or not there at all!!
Are they so busy in the summer months that they can afford a major holiday or can they not afford to stay?
The menus throughout the town are very much on the same theme, many items repeated time and time again, very fish orientated, as you would expect, with the odd steak and pasty thrown in for good measure, as always some places cared about their set up, ingredients and service, others really didn’t bother, we sampled a few of each.
So the Cornish like us promote there own beers, lagers and wines and have their favourite dairies and butchers and I’m sure like for like for every Devonshire pub there is a equal in Cornwall. Would The Swan do Ok, yeah I think it would, it might be a much-needed change.
Wednesday we had our treat of the week, a night out at Bens Cornish Kitchen, his first nights opening after a few days away for a bit of rest and inspiration, we were not disappointed although Ben was a little unsure, as all chefs are and I’m sure there will be some tweaking to the dishes over the days and weeks to come, until he’s totally satisfied. But Ben your customers were happy and that’s what we’re all aiming for.
Our waitress that evening was telling us she was off travelling to Costa Rica for two months, which coincides with two of our lads departing to Thailand and surrounding areas for three months.
Maybe a border makes little difference but nearly 6000 miles will, a snippet I caught on the radio whilst driving around had a group of Thai girls tasting crisp flavours for the first time, the sounds were not good, they were none too impressed, apparently honey and butter, onion, snow pea and shrimp are there favourites, so guys pasties, cornflakes and BLT might be a thing of the past.
So back into full service on Friday night and nearly fully booked, with Saturday breakfast, lunch, footballers, evening service and a surprise 40th to look forward, the sound of the seagulls seem suddenly a while ago.
3 of the 40th birthday party are vegetarians and this is one of my favourite tasty dishes that is good for both individual portions and a larger tray bake.
SHALLOT AND CHICORY BAKED ROTOLO WITH HAZELNUTS
2 garlic cloves
jar or box passata
2 pinches caster sugar
onions or 6 shallots
100ml white wine
knob of butter
8/10 pasta sheets
25g toasted hazelnuts- roughly chopped
1.Heat oven to 180 0c gas 4
2. Gently fry crushed garlic cloves and diced onions in olive/sunflower oil
3.Add passata, sugar and basil (rinse out passata jar with a little water, add)
4.Simmer for 15/20 mins- reduce by half
5.Fry thickly sliced chicory and rosemary in the butter until soft, mix in the mascarpone, season to taste and set to one side
6.Bring a pan of salted oiled water to the boil, cook pasta sheets for 2 mins, then rinse under cold water and cut in half length ways.
7. Put the tomato sauce into an ovenproof dish, roll up the strips of pasta and place on top
8. Spoon the chicory and mascarpone mix over the top, grate Parmesan and add hazelnuts.
9. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden and bubbling
This is a great dish that you can really add what you like to, or omit the things you don’t. Mushrooms. Peppers, chillies, bacon, ham, change the cheese to cheddar or a crumbly white, what ever takes your fancy or whatever is in the fridge. Keeps well for a day or two in the fridge and freezes well.