Seafood and Saffron

Seafood and Saffron

Eat this lot

Eating is, and always was, meant to be fun - whatever the Puritans would have us believe. And it needs to be said from the outset that in Cornwall you'll find cuisine and restaurants to match the best.

One delight of Cornwall is coming in for a good meal after a day's walking or sightseeing. You'll find a wealth of hotels restaurants and pubs, offering excellent food and service, open throughout the year.

Not surprisingly, seafood is regarded as something of a speciality. With fishing fleets large and small in every cove and harbour, with oyster beds on the Fal and Helford rivers, locally caught fish features high on most menus - and French and Spanish chefs swear by Cornish crab. Fish, whatever your fancy, scarcely comes much fresher.

But Cornwall has other specialities, too. They range from the outright bizarre - such as Star-gazey Pie, in which the heads of half-a-dozen pilchards protrude from the pie-crust like gargoyles - to the tried and trusted favourites, like saffron cake, or clotted cream.

And the pasty, of course. It is still readily available at Cornish dinner tables, and remains a complete meal in itself - and a succulent one. The original was a fish wrapped in pastry, and for family dinner it was customary to mark each person's initials in one corner: this way there was no acrimonious debate about portions or left-overs!

Nowadays, the food in these establishments is lighter, less reliant on cream and fat, with many external influences, principally Mediterranean and Far Eastern. Comfort can still be found, however, in homely produce, served with grace and flair. The Cornish food tradition is kept alive, not so much by sales of pasties, star-gazey pie and the like, but more by the ingenious use of local foodstuffs. Dishes often rely on raw materials such as saffron and clotted cream, but not necessarily in the 'traditional' manner.

There is something to suit everyone's taste and pocket. Some places, understandably, specialise in seafood, notably Rick Stein's Seafood Restaurant in Padstow. Seafood features on most menus as we are supplied with the finest, fresh fish and shellfish from local waters.

Cornish produce features prominently too: quality beef and lamb, dairy produce, charcuterie products and interesting cheeses. The Yard Bistro, Trelowarren, and the Trengilly Wartha Inn, Constantine, offer food encompassing all these great sources within a very special Cornish atmosphere.

Choose the elegance of Nansidwell, a traditional country house, or the charm of the Cornish cottage Pennypots. The cliff-top Tredragon Hotel, or the harbour-side Lugger hotel, both make eating out a joy. Wander down the cobbled street in Penzance and you'll find Harris's, an intimate candlelit restaurant.

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