Sea Salt Differently- Cornish Sea Salt’s Simple Seasonings Range

Any friends close enough to come near my kitchen will know that I’m not the most accomplished of chefs (I can hear my mother snorting just at the thought of my describing myself as a ‘chef’). But I love food- I dream about it, write about, travel for it- and while I may not possess the most impressive knife skills, or be able to whip up a banging curry in half an hour (isn’t that what chef-boyfriends are for?) I like to think I’m pretty up-there with my general food knowledge. Most my MA was spent eating and then writing about it, and co-running a restaurant with my other half means that most of our evenings are spent talking about food, reading cookbooks or watching re-runs of Masterchef.

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Cornish Sea Salt- The best water means the best salt

So, when Cornish Sea Salt asked me to try out their flavoured sea salt range I jumped at the chance. Any hack to make home-cooking just that little but easier is a winner for me, and I LOVE salt- it’s savoury over sweet any time in our kitchen. The quality of the salt is important, though, and Cornish Sea Salt is the best there is, hailing straight from the beautiful A-grade waters that surround us in the South West. It has over 60 minerals in its make-up, making a superfood that you add to every meal, and its strong saltiness means you can add less for a fuller flavour.

Salt is also pretty necessary- not just for our bodies, but for our cooking. I’m a fiend, and am often wrist-slapped for automatically delving for our pinch-pot before I’ve tasted  supper, and I’m trying my best to control my addiction and really taste what I’m eating before my automatic feedback is just ‘more salt’. That being said, sea salt is still my favourite thing in our cupboard, and Cornish Sea Salt’s Simple Seasonings range makes brightening up your home-cooking quicker, easier and tastier- so you can impress dinner guests with just a pinch. It’s also great for picnics or BBQs if you want to diversify the flavours you’re cooking with and make the preparation super simple. But after much recipe development (aka using them on everything for the last couple of months) I’ve chosen my favourite way to use each Simple Seasonings flavoured sea salt, so you too can cheat yourself one step closer to that chef life.

 

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Make picnics more exciting with Cornish Sea Salt

That’s start with my favourite- the Salt & Peppery. It sounds simple- but Cornish Sea Salt’s blend of four peppers make this a seasoning powerhouse, and it’s great for pretty much everything you’d usually season with good old salt and pepper. My favourite way to use it is on homemade crisps- simply chop up a wrap, however big or small you like, and layer into a baking tray. Drizzle with rapeseed or olive oil, sprinkle with the Salt & Peppery and bake on a high heat for 20 minutes (or until as crispy as you like them).

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Fresh & Zesty, with its tangy blend of lemon and thyme, is great with all seafood- especially prawns- and saves the hassle and waste of zesting your own lemons. I think it’s perfect for roast chicken, infusing flavour, crisping up the skin, and allowing you to skip the whole lemon-up-the-bum saga.

Okay so let’s talk about garlic. I can’t think of a dish that I don’t chuck a clove or to into, so Really Garlicky is amazing for speedy seasoning without the lingering smell on your hands. Sprinkle (liberally) over fresh salmon fillets before baking for a crispy, garlic-infused skin. Serve with tender stem broccoli and soy-sauce laced rice noodles for a tasty weeknight supper that everyone will love (and that only took you 20 minutes).

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Hot & Fiery- the best for avocado on toast!

Probably the most popular of the Simple Seasonings range is the Hot & Fiery– a punch-packing blend of chillies, garlic and tomato that’s perfect for if, like me, you tend to go a little too heavy on the old chilli and end up leaving your dinner guests gasping for air. The blend of Santa Cruz chilli blend and jalapeno pepper gives an intense but balanced heat, and is perfect for your avo on toast- team with mild and creamy feta for a delicious (and speedy brunch).

This range is perfect for anyone who loves food but doesn’t always have the time for complicated cooking- with an ever-increasingly busy schedule it can be so difficult to prioritise what you eat, but with Cornish Sea Salt you can add a sprinkle of flavour to any dish, and with the handy hand-bag friendly pots they’re great for on-the-go too.

I’m always on the lookout for cooking hacks- use the hashtag #SeaSaltDifferently so I can see all your wonderful Simple Seasonings creations!

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St Ives Food Festival

Cornwall and its food scene really is something to be admired.

The fact that a small, largely rural, county produces some of the best food in the world, as Cornwall does (my own restaurant may make this statement just a little biased…), comes as a surprise to some. But it shouldn’t: with a beautiful coastline, roaming fields and a booming tourism trade to please, not to mention the abundance of creative minds that call it home, Cornwall has an expectation to live up to.

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The Kitchen, Falmouth

Last month I was lucky enough to be invited to The Kitchen, Falmouth’s coolest new hang-out. Serving small plates that use local ingredients in a way that celebrates the best that this country has to offer, with everything having been either foraged, shot or fished sustainably, it’s no wonder that the simple but tasty dishes coming from The Kitchen have already created a buzz that brings both locals and tourists returning.

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Cauli & Cheese

As I sit and soak up the atmosphere of an already-busy Friday evening in the courtyard, co-owner Rory joins me. I’m trying one of everything on the menu- far too much for one person, and this is food meant for sharing.

While we chat about everything The Kitchen is (and isn’t), plate after plate of delicious food is brought to the table. Whole artichoke baked with tarragon butter causes a brief pause in the conversation, as I delight in tearing apart the tender leaves greedily, fingers dripping in butter, grinning in the child-like pleasure of something so simple yet decedent. Next up is local Sea Trout, served with marrow and sea kale. Beautifully presented, perfectly cooked, and fresh. We continue to feast on ‘cauli and cheese’, squid (my favourite dish of the evening- lightly grilled and served with a chilli oil and bobby beans), charred padron peppers, rich pigeon with plums and a new potato and Gouda dumpling, and rabbit with peppery-caramel covered carrots. Each dish brings something new, surprising, and most importantly delicious.

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Sea Trout

It’s not just the quality of the food leaving the pass that The Kitchen’s duo, Ben and Rory, are passionate about: the source of the ingredients, the playlist, the art on the walls, even the countertop underneath the coffee machine has been made by a local artist, who was given the the measurements but otherwise a free reign. ‘We want to support local artists, as well as using local food. Everyone has a part of this thing’, Rory tells me.

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Chef at work- Ben

Considering he’s never worked in hospitality before, Rory has done a pretty good job of running his own restaurant. Alongside head chef and foodie mastermind Ben, who has  always wanted to run his own kitchen, Rory found the space and let the rest happen naturally. With the right ethos, passion and work commitment, The Kitchen has become a hub in Falmouth for food and atmosphere, offering something unique and appealing in it’s relaxed style.

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‘Like stepping into our living room’- Ben leaves his caramel coated carrots to set on one of the dining tables.

‘We want the restaurant to feel like stepping into our home- this is how we would treat you if you came over for dinner’, Rory tells me, before circling the tables to chat to customers and take dessert orders.

It certainly looks like a lot of people want to keep coming over for dinner, and I can’t blame them.

Follow The Kitchen on Facebook and Instagram. Rory & Ben don’t take bookings.

A Vegetarian Feast at Chacewater Market

After a fantastic evening of lobster and chips at The Old Market last month we were delighted to be invited back to Chacewater for the next evening event- a vegetarian feast. Two polar opposite suppers proved that Tony’s culinary skills and his enthusiasm for creating a comforting, community-building space (despite the British summertime weather) are genuine and refreshing.

The dish was a colourful amalgamation of veggie delights. Stuffed aubergines with walnuts and pomegranate, wild rice with chickpeas, dill and crispy onions, a delicious butternut squash, tahini and honey mash, tangy green beans and peppers, watermelon and feta, and a caraway seed flatbread. Bursting with flavour and ingenuity, this veggie supper was beautiful both to taste and to look at, and succeeded in bringing together and showcasing both local and middle-Eastern ingredients in an exciting and inspired plate of food.

 

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However, the thing to praise most about these evenings at the Old Market is the unique dining style. Bringing your own ‘tools’, taking a seat at a long communal table, and collecting your super when routinely called up to the food tent: Tony’s cleverly constructed picnic-style feel is refreshing, relaxing and fun, and allows feasters to meet people, have conversations, and share an evening that feels truly Cornish.

For information about more upcoming feast evenings, or just to find out more about what The Old Market is about click here.

Acorn Vegetarian Kitchen- Bath

In May a friend and I were lucky enough to visit the renowned Acorn kitchen in Bath. Proudly holding Viva’s Best Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurant award, Acorn are known for creating inspired plates of veggie and vegan food that show they care not only about animals, but about good food, wine and a cozy atmosphere.

Set just aside from the beautiful Bath Abbey, we were tucked away in a corner to discover the delights of vegetarian fine dining. Each course was paired with wine, and the relaxed service and cuby-hole feel of the seating made for a dreamy evening that exceeded expectations.

To start we had the Wye Valley Asparagus with a mushroom parfait, dill, hazelnut and a light pickle. Decedent and indulgent, especially considering it was both vegan and gluten free, this plate balanced flavours perfectly- the mushroom parfait was rich and creamy, the asparagus perfectly cooked, and the pickle gave a light-ness to the otherwise heavy elements of the dish that could become overpowering.

I chose the Calabrese Broccoli seared and dressed with truffle, with cauliflower panna cotta and pickled kohlrabi (pictured above). Broccoli is one of my favourite ingredients- and it was not let down in this equally indulgent dish. Almost caramelised when seared, and served with a perfect cauliflower panna cotta, you could mistake this veggie dish for a pudding were it not for the tangy morsels of kohlrabi that brought the whole thing together and gave a zing to each mouthful.

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After an indulgent starter things only took a more decadent turn. Smoked Winchester Agnoletti, with king oyster mushrooms, in a rich mushroom emulsion with celeriac and monksbeard- no meat needed for this flavour-heavy dish. Perfectly cooked pasta in a creamy mushroom sauce, oozing with smoked cheese and layered with more mushrooms… This is truly special pasta, full of the kind of flavour that makes you groan in disbelief with every mouthful.

For a more delicate (ish) option, the carrot and cashew pate with roasted onion, and ‘seven seeds and grains’. This vegan option was stunning to look at- a plate full of colour and texture that was (almost) too good to eat. The pate was smooth and full of flavour, and the grains weren’t too heavy, perfectly matching the other delicate details of the dish.

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To finish we shared a chocolate and coffee parfait, with a pink peppercorn crumb. Dense, as vegan desserts often are, this was maybe not the best way to end such a heavy and decedent meal- perhaps a lighter option would have been wiser, but the espresso parfait and chocolate ganache bar were executed well, and the flavours were balanced, if a little heavy (despite, like most things on this menu, being gluten free).

Overall, this was a truly brilliant meal, that in no way needs to be prefixed with ‘vegetarian’. For a special evening, whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, carnivore, or if you just want to celebrate in-season produce, Acorn offer the best.

To find out more and to book a table, click here.

 

Lobster & Chips at The Old Market, Chacewater

By day the Old Market at Chacewater is an abundance of organic produce, offering anything from exotic fruit and veg to local cheeses and artisan teas and coffees. Family run and loved by locals, the market is open 7 days a week, and is a treat to wander around- especially if you’re after something special for supper that you know has come from a great place.

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On special occasions, however, the market is transformed into a unique dining experience- Tony and his family put together communal-eating-inspired feast evenings that draw upon the best that the market, and Cornwall, have to offer.

Seated outside in the pretty gardens that are at the centre of the market, or in the picturesque greenhouse lined with trellis tables, guests are invited to sit, talk, and feast- the perfect way to spend a summer evening.

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Lobster and Chips may sound like a simple idea for a ‘feast’ evening- but done properly, as Tony ensured it was, these simple treats were a delight to enjoy in this family-supper-style dining experience. With a whole lobster per person, half stuffed with dressed prawns, the other with a tomato salsa, and served with a generous portion of (proper) homemade chips and salad, we were satisfied and grinning with greedy contentment as we drained our BYO bottle of wine and chatted easily to the people sat on the opposite side of the table.

Like a huge (very posh) picnic, we brought our own plates, glasses and ‘tools’ for eating with, and were served with a huge smile from Tony. In true Cornish style, dessert was strawberries and clotted cream- the perfect indulgence after a no-fuss lobster feast.

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For only £30 per person, including the BYO corkage charge (although very reasonably priced wines, paired with the food, are also on offer), this was a steal of an evening out, and surpassed our expectations by a mile.

For more information about The Old Market and to find out about upcoming Feast evenings check out their Facebook page.

 

Lunching in Barcelona- the travel edit

Barcelona is known for it’s iconic and stunning architecture, it’s rambles of narrow gothic streets, and it’s fantastic shopping. For these reasons and more it’s pretty high on most avid travellers to-see list.

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I was lucky enough to visit Barcelona for a few days recently to soak up this atmosphere- and of course a lot of good spanish wine, which was often accompanied by some great long lunches. The cuisine in Barcelona is diverse and exciting, and with set lunches still trending it was often great value for money.

La Polpa-

La Polpa offer a beautiful 3 course set menu, including half a bottle of wine, mineral water and bread, for only €25. The food was beautiful, especially the carrot and peanut soup and the tuna with teriyaki and avocado, and the service was friendly and relaxed. You wouldn’t know that you were paying so little for such a great lunch. If the weather’s nice, sit outside under the heat lamps and watch Barcelona bustle around you while you pour another glass of the great house white.

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Boqueria-

If you’re after something a bit more casual while you’re exploring the hub of La Rambla, head to the Boqueria food market. It’s huge array of fruits, vegetables, fish and sweet treats is a sight in itself, and it’ll take a few times of wandering around before you decide what to pick up for an on-the-go lunch. The produce is super cheap considering how tourist-orientated this area is, so maybe try a bit of everything!

Tapas 24-

I couldn’t write about Barcelona and not talk tapas. We were lucky enough to be staying right next to Tapas 24, commonly known as the best place in the city for the authentic Spanish dishes (which is also evident by the huge number of locals that flood the place at lunchtime), and it became somewhat of our local for the week. The decor is jaunty and fun, with paintings of the food covering the walls. The beer and coffee is cheap considering the restaurant’s great reputation, and the food is something else. Everything you want from tapas, done perfectly, and you can see the chefs freshly preparing the dishes in the open kitchen. Probably best to go at an unconventional time, as opposed to peak meal times, as- like I said- this place is popular.

 

I hope this helps if you’re thinking of visiting Barcelona in 2017. It’s a beautiful city, with so much to offer, especially at lunchtime. 

 

Vegan in Falmouth- the best of

I’m so lucky to live in a town that’s so diverse in its foodie options, especially for alternative diets. Being vegan in Cornwall is not only easy, but it’s really fun too, and Falmouth is especially great. I thought I’d pick the best breakfast, lunch, dinner, takeout and street food options in case you’re visiting and wanna try something new, or if you live here and are looking for something a bit different (that’s great for your conscience, too!)

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Good Vibes Cafe

 

Breakfast- Good Vibes Café. The vegan breakfast at Good Vibes is probably the best breakfast in the world. ‘Home brew’ baked beans, smoky hummus, avocado, Da Bara Bakery toast, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, basil oil: so yummy, and so good for you! Enjoy with a green smoothie for a real superfood boost. Or if you’re just popping in for coffee and cake, Bonsoy soya milk and Rude Health almond milk are available, and there’s normally a couple of vegan sweet options on offer, too (the gluten-free peanut butter brownie is a must). GV have a special Vegan Night on the 27th of November- for more information check them out on Facebook or Instagram.

Lunch- The Courtyard Deli. I recently stopped off at the deli with my family when they were visiting Falmouth, and we all left super happy (which is always tough when you’re trying to make the right lunch destination choice for these occasions). The range of salads on offer for the mezze is always changing, and they were more than happy to put together a little vegan selection for me when I asked. It was delicious, and definitely did not live up to the boring name that salads are usually given. You can also pick up some goodies to take home with you after you’ve eaten- especially great for local Christmas gifts.

Dinner- Wildebeest. The food at Wildebeest is really something special. The selective menu is carefully put together, using fresh & in-season ingredients, to create beautiful and memorable plates of food. The staff are lovely and the atmosphere is relaxed and cosy: with only a few seats available, getting there early or booking ahead is definitely advised. Closed on Tuesdays. Check out the review I wrote for Thoroughly Modern Milly to find out more: http://www.thoroughlymodernmilly.com/2016/10/thoroughly-modern-miss-wildebeest-falmouth/

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Wildebeest

 

Takeout- Brothers Pizza. Pizza is probably the only thing I miss when following a vegan diet. But, fortunately, Brothers are on hand to make sure you don’t miss out when giving the cheese a miss. The ‘Vegan Dreams’ is definitely not lacking- stacked with olives, spinach, artichoke, red peppers and more, on a crispy base with rich tomato sauce- you’ll almost forget why people ever put cheese on this in the first place…haha. If you visit on a Tuesday you get two for the price of one- but get there early, because their tiny stone oven gets full pretty quick!

Street food- Street food in Cornwall is pretty damn good, and in Falmouth we have some awesome vegan options to choose from (so much so that I couldn’t just pick one for this section). Falfalafel serve up fab Middle-Eastern inspired pittas and salad, with freshly made falafel and a bunch of tasty toppings (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Falfalafel/139830362756526?fref=ts). Terry at Salvador Thali is cooking up an Indian storm with his entirely vegan dosas- and he’s always up for good chat (https://www.facebook.com/salvadorthali/?fref=ts). Bango kitchen is out and about with his mouth-watering vegan options of sushi or dumplings- check his Facebook for local ‘banquet’ events.

 

I hope you enjoy getting out in our lovely little town and getting stuck in to some of the great local food on offer. It’s always best to support the small businesses that make Falmouth the cultural melting-pot that we all love, and it’s even better if you can do it without any animal-guilt.

 

SIDENOTE- If you wanna read more about experimenting with home-made vegan treats, check out veganasphuck.wordpress.com. Jesse makes amazing pasta (‘The Pasta Project’, as he calls it) and is really into using innovating combinations of ingredients to create the dishes we know and love, without the animal addition. 

 

 

My Paris To-Do List- The Travel Edit

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My recent trip to Paris held so much expectation, I was almost more nervous than excited. It was everything I wanted to be, and more. That made it pretty tough to narrow down my 8 food/ shopping /cultural picks, but maybe it’ll help if you fancy a city break, or, like me, you just like reading about other people’s holidays and wanderlust-ing from your desk.

 

FOOD-

Fromagarie Denard- Cheese, meats, bread, wine- what more could you want? The people who work in this small street-side deli are friendly, and clearly so passionate about what they’re selling you. The menu is unique- the experts choose your cheeses based on what flavours you like, and when your food arrives they explain each item, telling you which tiny little village it came from and even advising you on which order to eat your cheese in. Sitting on the pavement in the most Parisian way, this is definitely a good experience for a new-comer to the city, and a good introduction to the amazing foods that it has to offer. Find out more about the specialists at http://fromagerie-danard.com/en.

 

Bistrotters- We were recommended this restaurant by a friend, and we weren’t disappointed. The food is fresh, colourful and simply beautiful to look at. The service was friendly, and I had the best dessert I have ever tried- french toast with dark chocolate and a salted caramel sauce. I dream about it every night. Booking ahead is essential- this place is very popular with locals and travellers alike. Reserve your table here- http://www.bistrotters.com.

 

Dose- This tiny Latin Quarter coffee shop would be easy to miss if you didn’t know it was there- something I’ve decided is generally a good sign when trying to avoid tourist traps. So much care is taken over the coffee (they call themselves ‘dealer de café’) and the atmosphere is relaxed and slow. We sat outside on benches scattered with colourful cushions, enjoying some early morning people-watching and sharing a freshly baked croissant. When we walked past a little later in the day the place was teeming with locals, so maybe grab an early table and enjoy your coffee before Paris has fully woken up. https://www.facebook.com/dosedealerdecafe/.

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CULTURE-

The Louvre- Although an obvious one, I really do think the Louvre is worth it. It’s such a beautiful building, you don’t even have to go inside to enjoy a lot of it’s splendour. Paying the small entry fee (or if you’re under 26 and have an EU driving licence it’s free) and taking half an hour to queue (you can pre-book but I actually enjoyed taking some time to enjoy the surroundings of the museum) is a small price to pay for what could be a whole day of exploring. The exhibitions are numerous and there’s something for everyone- we especially enjoyed the Egyptian corner and obviously we crammed ourselves amongst the throng of flashing cameras to peek at the Mona Lisa. Some things just have to be done. After your visit, head to a local store to grab picnic food and sit in the Jardin des Tuileries, enjoying the middle-of-the-city sanctuary that these huge grounds provide.

 

Arch de Triomph- Again another obvious one. But maybe it’s on every ‘must-do’ list for a reason. Free for under 26’s in the EU again, and with a definitely bearable queue, the views from the top of this stunning building are un-beatable. From Sacre Coeur to the Eiffel Tower, and all the way down the Champs Elisees, you can see pretty much everything apart from the building you’re up (we even spotted the apartment we were staying in). Take your time to wander the whole way around the roof of the Arch, taking in every view.

 

Sacre Coeur- My favourite evening in Paris was spent sat on the steps of Sacre Coeur, watching the sun set over the city, occasionally turning around and staring in awe at one of the most beautiful buildings ever built. We sat for hours, surrounded by tourists and locals alike. I can’t really explain the sheer beauty of this place, you just have to go and experience it for yourself.

SHOPPING-

Shakespeare and Co.- I’d been told a lot about Shakespeare and Co. before we visited Paris, but it surpassed every expectation. The shop itself is a rabbit-den of treasures- we visited three days in a row and I found something new to look at each time. People bustle outside, but the atmosphere is relaxed, and the adjoining coffee shop is the perfect place to enjoy the books you’ve just bought with a cup of good coffee and a view of Notre Dame. One to take your time over.

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Rue Mouffetard- One of the oldest food markets in the city, this Latin Quarter street fills with locals on weekend lunchtimes, its streets bursting with freshly baked bread and pastries, specialist cheeses, cured meats, crepes, and pretty much any other culinary treat you could want from France. After grabbing your coffee and a book at Shakespeare, spend the late morning wandering up and down the lane deciding what to get for lunch- check out what the locals are queuing for. It’ll be worth it, I promise.
If you’re reading this while planning a trip to Paris, or you’re already sat in a little french cafe wondering what to do next, you have my full envy. Remember to take time to slow down and enjoy the small things that make travelling the addictive and eye-opening experience that we all love so much. We can too-easily forget to just stop and look around us when we’re somewhere new- sometimes doing nearly-nothing is the best way to experience life. Profiter de chaque seconde!