Wednesday, 16 September 2009


Well, I'm on holiday in Cornwall! I am staying in the village of Mousehole, which is a lovely place on the coast. I haven't had too many opportunities yet for sampling local produce, but no trip to Cornwall would be complete without at least one Cornish pasty:

I really like Cornish pasties - there is something so earthy, if that's the right word, about the design. It's so obviously designed as a means of holding the steak and potatoes and other bits and bobs together in a package that can be easily held in the hand. Of course, this really is the whole purpose of sandwiches and things like that - food in an edible package. This particular example was enjoyed during a visit to Healey's Cornish Cyder Farm (see here) and a fine Cornish pasty it was to! The cider farm was a really interesting visit as well (cyder, with a 'y' is a Cornish variant of the spelling of cider, apparently). The guided tour was worth the money I felt and we were taken round the farm and shown how the cider is produced. We also got a ride in a trailer pulled by an ancient tractor, which took us around the orchard where the apples are grown. One interesting part of the tour was a small 'museum' where they have a collection of old machinery used for cider making in the past. According to our tour guide, a Cooper (someone who makes barrels) would undergo a 7 year apprenticeship before being able to qualify as a professional. At the end of their course, they would have to produce an inverted barrel which should look something like this:

Now, I profess to know absolutely nothing about wood work, but this looks a hard task to me! Not only did they have to get the shape right, but it also had to be completely air tight and this would be tested by immersing it in water and watching for any bubbles coming out. If they failed this task, they would have to do another 2 years apprenticeship before having another go! Unsurprisingly, many dropped out along the way. Our tour guide knew of only one place in the UK now where barrels are still made in the traditional way, by one man, up in Scotland. I think it's kind of sad that these traditional industries have died out so extensively and how we generally have so little respect for manual trades such as this compared to past times.

Cornwall is also famous for clotted cream, although there is some competition between Cornwall and Devon for which is the best! I couldn't possibly go without a traditional cream tea of scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream:

Very nice. The clotted cream came with a particularly thick crust, which is of course how it should be:


Friday, 4 September 2009

Home grown

I was up in Lincolnshire visiting family earlier this week, who, being in possession of a reasonably sized garden, are much more into growing fruit and vegetables than I am! Actually, the apple trees seem to have produced an abundance of fruit this year compared to previous years.

They have also had an excellent crop of runner beans, although I think everyone ends up in the same position with runner beans in that you wait for ages and then they all come at once! Someone from work was selling runner bean chutney a couple of weeks ago - a product of a glut of runner beans and wondering what to do with them I suspect, but an enterprising one at that.

The squash were also looking good:

And, I couldn't help but notice that the hawthorn berries were ready to be picked:

So, I have gathered a good crop of hawthorn berries. I plan to have another go at making fruit leather in the manner described by Ray Mears on TV a couple of years ago. I tried this once before (see here), but it didn't really work properly, so I'm keen to have another go. Watch this space!