Just back from a lovely short break in Cornwall to see family. It was good to get away for some fresh air with Sarah and the kids as I have been working really hard. We spent most of the time walking, rock pooling and beach combing at Hannafore opposite Looe Island. My two sons (youngest pictured) are London boys but love beaches and are at the age(s) when they still marvel at anemones and find hunting for crabs really exciting. I quickly regressed back to my childhood as we explored perfect pools packed with sea life (and even found a beautiful bay sole amongst). It was good to see that the ecology of the UK coast is still thriving. The landscape is striking and different from anywhere else in the world I have visited.
I love the Cornish produce too. The cream is superlative and I really enjoyed the local bitter; Doom Bar (named after an infamous sandbank). I sometimes have this in London but it tasted better in its spiritual home. It is a slightly spicy pint, sweet and bitter in perfect proportion and really refreshing after a few hours walking. It also goes well with a pasty.
By far the best meal of the trip was at the Squid Ink Restaurant (website here) run by Sarah Hall who spends half the year cooking and the other half lecturing at the Glasgow School of Art. She focuses on good local produce, especially fish, and her treacle tart(pictured) was about 3 inches deep and ’to die for’. She is clearly a talented cook because it was head and shoulders above any other version I have ever tasted (and there have been a few).
We came back loaded with Cornish produce including hogget from a local farm and a couple of Cornish sparkling wines. Camel Valley Brut 2009, (pictured) more Prosecco than Champagne but none the worse for it. Ocado stock it and the website reminds us that Sparkling wines were made in England as long ago as 1660. On 17th December 1662, Englishman Christopher Merret presented a paper to the Royal Society on how to ‘render wines sparkling’ – more than 30 years before the French made their first sparkling Champagne! Camel Valley Sparkling Wine is bottle fermented ‘traditional Merret method’ of 1662. It is light, pure and refreshing, great for summer. The other bottle was Bosue Vineyard ‘Quality Sparkling Wine’ from St Austell. I can’t review it because unfortunately the cork had lost its flare or skirt and I guess this was the result of bad storage (in a shop in Looe). This seems all to common an issue with fizz stored on shelves in shops and maybe I will stop buying sparkling wines when this is a possibility. It didn’t spoil a lovely trip and Cornwall like Sussex and Kent is showing that sparkling wine has a great future in the UK.