:: Following Wales, our travels took us to Cornwall in the South West of England.
After almost two weeks of fantastic winter weather, the legendary UK drizzle caught up with us and we were plunged into long spells of grey fog and rain. Normally I wouldn’t have minded as I’m very much a winter girl at heart, but it does rather adversely effect the venture of sightseeing as the crucial component is, well, sight…
The first stop in the Cornwall leg was the ruins of Tintagel Castle, the legendary birthplace of King Arthur. Perched atop a windswept knoll overlooking the ocean and rugged coastline, it definitely conjures up impressions of mystique and grandeur.
Padstow is a bustling little fishing port whose main industry goes back centuries. However, these days its fame is largely thanks to the chef who’s credited with kickstarting Cornwall’s fine dining scene. Rick Stein opened his now famous Seafood Restaurant in 1975 and since then has added several other restaurants, shops and a pub to the list.
With all the repute surrounding ‘Padstein’s’ seafood, I held out the entire trip to sample traditional British fish and chips with mushy peas in the town’s South Quay.
While I’m not entirely sold on the whole mushy pea idea, the freshly caught, golden battered fish and perfectly cooked chips were among the best I’ve eaten. Just as well they lived up to their celebrity reputation!
One of the things I found about the UK is that it’s overcast for such long periods that you grow to take it as entirely normal that the sky is grey. And then suddenly, the sky will break open and glorious sunshine will flood a place that hasn’t seen the sun for a few days, bathing everything in light and vivacity.
This is exactly what happened on a visit to St Ives, as you’ll see in the photos below. A popular holiday destination, St Ives is well known for its art community, galleries and beaches, as well as fishing to suppy the local restaurants.
Following the Lonely Planet guide, our lunch destination that day was a commended local burger joint but after traipsing back and forth along the harbour trying to hunt it down, we discovered it was closed for the off season.
Luckily, with appetites still firmly set on a tasty burger, we managed to find a substitute in the way of Hub, a bustling kitchen joint selling burgers, hotdogs and craft beers. And even more luckily, these burgers were GOOD! – towers of fresh bun, juicy patties, melted aged Cheddar and seasoned mushrooms, served with a huge side of fries and slaw. Eaten with great satisfaction watching harbour life roll by.
One foodie destination I’d had on the list since the beginning of the trip was River Cottage. River Cottage’s humble beginnings go back to the stone cottage in Dorset where Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall moved to in 1998 to start growing and rearing his own produce.
The River Cottage ideology is a sprawling project, with two canteen-restaurants and delis in Plymouth and Axminster, as well as running landshare opportunities and community campaigns for more eco friendly farming.
Plymouth’s River Cottage canteen is located in a stunning waterside heritage building in the Royal William Yard. Dinner commenced with fresh bread and quality butter, which although a simple thing, can often indicate the calibre of the rest of the meal. We weren’t to be disappointed.
For my main I had the roast duck breast with red cabbage, roast potatoes, confit shallots and red wine sauce. The duck was cooked to perfection (blooming pink in the centre with a delectable crispy skin) and was paired with the heavenly sweet sour red cabbage and melt-in-your-mouth shallots.
And finally, it wouldn’t be a trip to Cornwall without sampling their global export – Cornish pasties. Although the traditional pasty is vegetarian, these days they are filled with anything from steak, lamb or venison to cheese, onion and chutney. I ate mine sitting in the rain on the docks of Polperro, relishing the warm and hearty treat.