Category: Food and drink

A fresher taste: spring recipes

After the grey, mizzly days of winter, Cornwall comes alive again in spring: what are the seasonal flavours to try in your cooking best tasted fresh?

Wildflowers in the hedgerows, young lambs in the fields and the first new crops of the year, the farmers’ markets are fully stocked and there’s a new abundance awaiting foragers.

We caught up with three Cornish chefs to find out about their favourite spring flavours. They shared a special recipe featuring ingredients that are best eaten as fresh as possible – ideally on the same day.

Wild flavours

Carla Viladomat is the head chef and co-owner of El Huichol, a Mexican street food company serving up brunch, lunch and dinner at their new spot Pachanga in Newquay.

Her food combines the traditional flavours of Mexico with the fresh ingredients of Cornwall – two places which share a surprisingly close culinary heritage thanks to the large numbers of Cornish miners who crossed the Atlantic to help Mexico mine silver to pay for the Mexican war of independence in the 19th century.

Carla also has a mobile Mexican food van that travels to events and weddings around Cornwall throughout the summer.

Image credit: El Huichol

Favourite spring ingredients

After the Cornish winter I’m pretty sick of tubers – potatoes and turnips and all the rest – so I always look forward to spring, which is when the vibrant flavours of Mexican food come into their own!

“My number one spring ingredient is wild garlic. It’s packed with flavour, and easy to collect in the hedgerows around Cornwall”

There’s so much on offer in Cornwall at this time of year. Fresh mackerel is fantastic, bought from the fishmonger or from the fisherman if you know where to ask! We like to smoke it and make into a lovely paté with pickled smoked chilli, served on a crispy tostada with a mackerel fillet on top. That’s one of our most popular dishes at this time of year.

I also love fresh cauliflower leaves – sometimes I tempura them for texture, or roast them and make them into a purée with lots of fresh lime.

Carla’s on the day recipe

Wild garlic pípian

My number one spring ingredient is wild garlic. It’s packed with flavour, and easy to collect in the hedgerows around Cornwall in March and April. Look out for the wild flowers and the dark green leaves that have a strong garlic smell. It’s best used straight away, but you can also ferment it for extra flavour.

I make it into a Mexican salsa called pípian, or green mole. You need to collect quite a few wild garlic leaves. I blend them with toasted pumpkin seeds, coriander, chilli, fresh radish leaves and plenty of olive oil. It’s like a Mexican pesto, punchy and packed with flavour. The consistency is thick because of all the ground up seeds, but if you like it runnier, just add extra olive oil.

It’s a really versatile sauce. Traditionally it’s eaten with pork or chicken, but I like to use it in a fresh radish salad. I use the freshest radishes I can find, ideally ones I’ve just picked myself, chopped up finely and served with plenty of pípian drizzled over the top.

The freshest fish

Rich Adams runs Argoe, a sustainable seafood restaurant opposite the historic fish market in Newlyn. The restaurant celebrates the best Cornish fish and seafood, and champions species that rarely make it on to British menus.

“Spring is a superb time for trying some different varieties of Cornish fish, with several species coming into season at this time of year”

Favourite spring ingredients

In Britain, we’ve been stuck in our ways eating the same old fish for the last fifty years, and here at Argoe we’re passionate about changing that. Spring is a superb time for trying some different varieties of Cornish fish, with several species coming into season at this time of year – including two of my favourites, megrim sole and spider crab (or Cornish king crab, as we’re calling it these days!). Both are at their best in spring. You can buy them from fishmongers in Newlyn, literally straight off the boats.

Image credit: Argoe

Rich’s on the day recipes

Boiled spider crab and grilled megrim sole

When it comes to spider crab, there’s not much you need to do. Put the crab to sleep by putting it in the freezer for a couple of hours, then drop it into a pan of boiling salted water; the rule of thumb is about 15 minutes per kilo of crab, and 70g of salt per litre of water. I’m a great believer in doing things simply, and presenting things as they are – so once it’s done, turn it whole upside down onto the plate, and separate the claws away from the body.

We pre-crack the claws with a rolling pin or pincers to make it easier to eat at the table. Prise the inner part of the shell away, leaving the brown meat inside – add a squeeze of lemon if you like, and serve with fresh bread and lots of homemade mayo. You’ll need crab picks to get out all the meat, but it’s worth the effort – for me, nothing tastes so much of the sea as fresh spider crab.

Megrim sole is even easier. A fish of about 600-700g is perfect for two. It’s best cooked whole, under a piping hot grill or over a barbecue. Brush with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. It cooks quickly – 5-7 minutes each side. I serve it whole at the table. Getting the fish off the bone is easy once you know how – we use two forks to pull away the flesh from the centre.

Don’t miss the best bits: cheeks, collars, crispy edges and fins. If it’s your first time cooking sole on the bone, ask your fishmonger for advice if you’re unsure, or better still come into the restaurant and we’ll show you how.

What the garden grows

Daisy Hillier is head chef at Potager, a vegetarian cafe and kitchen garden located outside Constantine.

Image credit: Potager

Favourite spring ingredients

At Potager, we’re lucky to be able to grow lots of our own ingredients, and I always look forward to all the fresh flavours of spring and early summer – from edible flowers like nasturtium and borage, which I like to use in salads, to the first Cornish asparagus of the year, delicious lightly steamed and eaten with lots of fresh Cornish butter and black pepper.

“Many people dread cabbage, thinking of that horrible boiled stuff we all had at school. But it’s actually one of my favourite spring vegetables – and the fresher the better. It’s especially well-suited to Asian-inspired dishes”

Spring is also a great time to wander the lanes and forage for wild flowers and edible plants. Recently, I’ve been experimenting with floral flavours in some of my gins at the distillery – watch this space!

Daisy’s on the day recipe

Pan roasted cabbage with togarashi and miso and orange butter

Many people dread cabbage, thinking of that horrible boiled stuff we all had at school. But it’s actually one of my favourite spring vegetables – and the fresher the better. It’s especially well-suited to Asian-inspired dishes like this one.

Start by making the miso butter: 2 tbsp miso paste, 10 tbsp salted butter, 2 crushed garlic cloves, 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar, the zest of an orange and the juice of two more.

Then peel and cut the cabbage into 8 pieces, retaining some root on each wedge to hold it together. Heat a non-stick frying pan with vegetable oil, add half of the wedges, and fry on each side for 3-5 until caramelised. Put the wedges on a baking tray, cover with the miso butter and a splash of water, and roast in foil for 15 minutes. Turn over and roast on the other side for another 5 to 10 minutes until soft.

While it’s cooking, make the togarashi, a Japanese spice mix. It’s made with the dried zest of an orange, 3 tbsp toasted white sesame seeds, 1 tbsp toasted black sesame seeds, 1 tbsp toasted poppy seeds, 1 tsp sichuan peppercorns, ½ tsp ground ginger and 1 sheet of nori, ground up together.

Serve the roasted cabbage with a fried egg and a good sprinkle of the togarashi spice mix, and some sushi rice on the side.

For more Cornish foodie inspiration, browse our blog.

Shoreside inspired drinks

Christmas cocktail nights, seasonal hosting, or settling down with a warming drink over ice on a dark evening, add some coastal flavours and inspiration to your glass…

House seaweed bitters for umami notes, gin that could only have been made in St Ives or an oakwood and sea rosemary, alcohol-free, take on an after-work classic. What will it be?

Only in St Ives

St Ives Gin came into existence around six years ago in a restaurant looking out to St Ives harbour, says Tim at St Ives Liquor Company (Silco): “Considering the amount of G&Ts we sold and the fact we made everything else ourselves it made sense to make our own alcohol.”

Image credit: Silco St Ives Gin restaurant

What started with a locally-sourced and made gin has expanded to nine drinks: other gins, liqueurs and ready-to-drink cocktails are now on the menu at Eat Silco.

Image credit: Silco St Ives Gin

“From day one, we’ve foraged for botanicals from the surrounding area. No air miles, sustainable, and, so, competitively priced,” explains Tim.

The west Cornwall coastal stars of the show at Silco are bladderwrack seaweed and the shoreline plant samphire. “Their minerality and salinity really balance drinks nicely,” says Tim.

“We have always used gorse in our drinks; we find the slightly bitter coconut flavour works so well in cordials and infusions. We also use seaweed to add an additional umami note.”

Spritz sans-alcohol

Days spent in the north Cornwall surf as instructor and evenings at work in London bars led Alistair Frost and Ed Grieg-Gran to create Pentire, a maker of non-alcoholic spirits, aperitifs and cocktails founded on botanical flavours native to the Cornish coast.

And Pentire has just released its own sea-influenced take on an after-work classic, originating from Italy: the spritz. Like other Pentire drinks, this one has been “crafted in collaboration with some of the world’s best bartenders, who share our love for the outdoors,” says Alistair.

Image credit: Pentire Coastal Spritz

The Pentire Coastal Spritz aims for a balance of natural bitter flavours and refreshing coastal tones, taking the company’s signature coastal blend and combining it with tastes of blood orange, sea rosemary and oakwood.

The core flavours in Pentire drinks came together during experiments in a kitchen in Port Isaac, after Alistair’s discovery – with the help of a botanist – of 1000 different plant species growing along just one Cornish headland.

“It’s a naturally bitter and refreshing aperitif,” says Alistair.

Foraged cocktails

At Tom Thumb cocktail bar in Newquay the drinks menu is currently all about the RNLI with a selection of sea-themed spirits ready to mix. These reach further along the coastline to the Channel Islands, including Salcombe Island Street Rum and a Tidal Rum from Jersey.

 Image credit: Jamie Mitchell, Tom Thumb

The ingredients that go with the spirits though come from much closer to the bar. “We always forage for local ingredients,” says Jamie. “We are blessed to have many naturally occurring products to use along the coast. We have always used gorse in our drinks; we find the slightly bitter coconut flavour works so well in cordials and infusions.

“We also use seaweed to add an additional umami note. The added saline from seaweed also brings underlying notes and can add another element to the drink almost as if its seasoning the drink for us.”

On the current lifeboat-themed menu is The Oggin (an old maritime word for the sea). “We infuse gorse and cacao nibs through a pear cognac, and add a number of other ingredients all bought together by our house seaweed bitters,” says Jamie.

Another drink on the menu takes its name from an active member of the Newquay RNLI. The Dangerous Bri is a cherry-flavoured carbonated Negroni, made with Tidal Rum and a kelp seaweed dilution.

A measure of coastal plant-infused spritz with soda, something stronger with seaweed bitters or the fresh taste of the sea with tonic, just some of the shoreside inspired drinks produced and mixed around Cornwall. Why not add a splash of coastal wonder to your drinks line-up this festive season.

10 restaurants with sea views

There’s no better way to appreciate a sea view than dining beside it, creating an enriching experience as you taste the flavours that the coastline in front of you has produced. We have hand picked 10 seafront restaurants, where you can sample seafood caught in the nearest bay and soak up views of the rolling tides.

PORTHMINSTER KITCHEN, ST IVES

This acclaimed beachside restaurant combines Cornish produce and global flavours in dishes showcasing the freshest seafood, garden grown produce and foraged coastal ingredients. Recently awarded a 2 Rosette award for culinary excellence, this is a go-to destination for the finest of Cornish cuisine.

THE COLONIAL, TOLCARNE BEACH

A slow paced, lavishly designed restaurant and bar positioned right on the sand of Tolcarne beach in Newquay, The Colonial is the perfect dinner spot for those looking to unwind and indulge. Their menu is inspired by the colourful flavours of the Caribbean, but you can expect seafood and traditional hearty dinners throughout the year. Wave watch on the terrace with an invigorating cocktail or settle by the open fire for a full three courses and wine.

LEWINNICK LODGE, FISTRAL

Lewinnick is the ultimate coastal restaurant. Situated on Pentire headland, you can soak up sweeping vistas as you eat, the perfect viewing spot for striking sunsets. With a bar area, pool tables, fireplace, plush carpets and sofas, you can wind down with a glass of something bubbly before heading to the sleek and sophisticated restaurant room for a classically Cornish supper.

THE MARINERS, ROCK

A chef’s take on pub grub, washed down with the finest of Cornish beer. This loved-by-locals pub overlooks the Camel Estuary and serves up the likes of crispy pollock hot dogs, Porthilly oysters and market fish of the day from Cornish waters.

THE FISH HOUSE, FISTRAL

If you’re a seafood lover, this beachfront restaurant is your go to. Situated on Fistral beach, the Fish House is in a prime position for sunsets and dramatic surf. Sample the flavourful menu of Sri Lankan prawn curry and spiced monkfish before walking across the beach back to your retreat.

GYLLY BEACH CAFÉ, FALMOUTH

Gylly Beach Café sits right on the sand, where you can gaze out at the ships and sailboats dotted along the water. It serves hot food and drinks all day and evening long, so taste the chilli kick of panko breaded squid or the zest of fresh lemongrass seabass with the buzz of the beach in the background.

UGLY BUTTERFLY, CARBIS BAY

There’s no such thing as an ugly butterfly, in the same way as there is no such thing as food waste. This is the motto of Carbis Bay’s new sustainable restaurant, showcasing beautifully presented dishes crafted with locally sourced ingredients. Offering an all-day dining experience, the Ugly Butterfly bar uses trims and offcuts from the ingredients used in the restaurant to create delicious drinks and bar snacks.

OUTLAWS NEW ROAD, PORT ISAAC

Nathan Outlaw is to Port Isaac as Rick Stein is to Padstow. For the ultimate fine dining experience, sample cured mackerel and spider crab at this harbourside eatery, before wandering the streets of Port Isaac under the moonlight.

THE BEACH HUT, WATERGATE BAY

One of Cornwall’s best beach-side hangouts, The Beach Hut welcomes surfers, families and even the dog. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, food is unfussy and tasty, the atmosphere laid-back, and all with a view of Watergate Bay’s two-mile stretch of beach out front. Perfect for sunset watching and sundowners.

THE SARDINE FACTORY, LOOE

Dine overlooking harbour water and you’re guaranteed fish as fresh as they come. The Sardine Factory is a go-to restaurant for seafood lovers, and its sustainable fish dishes won the prestigious accolade of a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2020.

Charlie Walters, head chef of The Sardine Factory, is currently representing Cornwall competing on this year’s Masterchef: The Professionals.

Stay in a retreat near the best Cornish restaurants and enjoy a foodie trip to the coast.

Find your fish

A fresh-from-the-ocean catch for dinner – just that bit fresher and tastier when staying by the sea? Time to expand your piscatorial horizons and find out what to pick up at the fishmonger and how to cook it, with Ben Tunnicliffe at Newlyn’s Tolcarne Inn

Newlyn Harbour, on the sheltered west side of Penzance Bay, has welcomed fishing boats with their catch since the 15th century. And it continues to be a thriving fishing port landing multiple species every day, from mackerel and monkfish to John Dory and cuttlefish.

A few hundred yards from the pier is the 300-year-old home of the Tolcarne Inn. An unstuffy pub, it’s lauded for its lip-puckeringly good seafood, which travels from sea to market to plate in hours not days.

Award-winning chef Ben Tunnicliffe set up in Newlyn in 2012. “In other European ports, seafood restaurants are abundant. Newlyn has arguably the most diverse fish market in the country, so it made sense to open a fish restaurant here,” says Ben, who buys his fish daily from the market or direct from day fishing boats.

A freshly caught fish will have bright eyes and slimy skin. It also won’t smell of anything.”

Choices, choices

Planning a fresh fish supper? Ben recommends seeking out a local fishmonger and quizzing them on what’s landed that day.

“A freshly caught fish will have bright eyes and slimy skin. It also won’t smell of anything. If it’s starting to smell it means it’s getting old. Be guided by what’s on ice in the shop,” he says.

“If you’re new to cooking fish then have a good chat with the fishmonger. They’ll be happy to answer your questions. They can also prepare it for you, if you need them to, by filleting and pin boning, and then can give you advice on how to cook it.”

Once you get your freshly wrapped fillets or whole fish back to your retreat, Ben recommends not trying to do anything too fancy and risk ruining it by submerging it in an overpowering sauce. Whether it’s a meaty monkfish fillet or a juicy piece of hake, let the delicate flavours shine through and allow the fish itself to do the talking.

“Less is always more,” says Ben. “The simplest way to cook fish is to wrap your fillet in foil with some lemon juice and some herbs stuffed into its belly, season it and then stick it in the oven. Or put it under the grill, as opposed to on top of the grill, or fry it quickly in some butter.”

Gently does it

The biggest faux pas home cooks can make is to overcook their fish, says Ben: “If you think of the amount of raw fish that’s eaten in Asia that tells you not to be afraid of eating undercooked fish. You want it to remain moist and succulent, so it doesn’t dry out. This is a delicate product. Keep it slightly underdone and it will continue to cook in its own steam before you serve it.”

“One of the earliest pieces of advice I got in my career was: ‘what goes together, grows together’”

With fish and seafood prices soaring over the past couple of years, Ben also advises that you experiment with lesser-known species, rather than your traditional coastal favourites: “There’s a huge demand for popular catch like lobster, turbot and mackerel, which means prices are driven up. So, don’t be afraid to try something new and perhaps more affordable.

“Occasionally in the restaurant we have great weever fish on the menu – the fish that buries itself under the sand and can give you a nasty sting. It’s not commonly eaten in this country and people are a little unsure about it but when they try it, they love it.” He recommends asking the fishmonger what’s in season and how they recommend it’s cooked.

The perfect partner

With your fish taking the starring role on your dinner platter, it’s just a question of which sides to serve. While the humble potato – boiled, chipped or fried – is always a safe bet, look at what else is currently in season.

“One of the earliest pieces of advice I got in my career was: ‘what goes together, grows together’,” says Ben. “If you go to the local veg shop, see what produce is coming off the fields at the moment and it’s likely to match with what’s coming off the sea. It’s a really good tip.”

He offers up this seasonal serving suggestion for half-term holidaymakers: “All the brassicas are in season right now, so take some curly kale and fry it off in a little oil and water. Throw in some finely diced chilli, anchovies, lemon zest and lemon juice, continue to fry for a few minutes, and season. This would be a delicious accompaniment to a baked juicy fillet of gurnard, seasoned with a little olive oil and lemon juice.”

If you’d prefer to let Ben do the cooking, head to the Tolcarne Inn, Newlyn.

Enjoy your pick of coastal culinary treats when you stay footsteps from the shore.

10 of the Best Roasts on The Coast | Cornwall

What better way to reward a Sunday stroll along the coast than with a hearty roast beside the beach? Here are some of the best places for a roast in Cornwall just a pebble’s throw from the waves..

Trevone Bay

Fox’s Revenge, near Newquay

Locally sourced, lovingly prepared food in an atmospheric setting. What’s not to like? This 400 year old pub is set in Carvynick estate and serves up a spectacular roast, with all the trimmings. With a choice of succulent meats or veggie options, and a range of unique sides such as truffled leeks and cauliflower or pigs in blankets, their Sunday lunch is best washed down with your choice of wine or local ale.

Roast dinner at Fox's Revenge

Port William, Trebarwith Strand

Explore Trebarwith Strand at low tide and you can splash in the rock pools, jump in the waves and stroll along the sugary sands. Or perhaps you’d prefer a cliff-top ramble to neighbouring Tintagel, with its eye-popping scenery and sea-lashed fortress ruins? Whichever you choose, once you’ve mustered an appetite in the briny air, retreat to the beachside Port William for a legendary Sunday roast. Book a sea-facing table or hunker by the fire with your dog at your feet, and tuck into delicious seasonal food and local ales in this boutique coastal inn.

theportwilliam.co.uk

The Mariners, Rock

When Paul Ainsworth took the helm of this water’s-edge venue in May 2019, there was little doubt that his foodie reputation, teamed with Sharp’s Brewery beers, would prove a winning combination. Whether you’ve stomped along the coast path from Polzeath or floated across by boat from Padstow, this is a stunning location to dine with views over the Camel Estuary. Sunday lunch is a celebration of finest local ingredients, with classic Cornish Dexter beef sirloin and saddleback pork belly roasts alongside contemporary vegetarian and seafood options.

paul-ainsworth.co.uk/the-mariners/about/

Catch, Mawgan Porth

Sunday’s were made for surfing and wild walks on the beach and cliffs. So after a dip in the waves at Mawgan Porth, and a stroll along the cliff tops to the spectacular Bedruthan Steps, tuck into a roast by the coast at Catch Seafood Bar and Grill. Hunkered beside the beach, within easy reach of the sandy runway and Atlantic rollers, this contemporary beach-chic restaurant serves up hearty roast dinners and classic seafood dishes, not to mention the best Bloody Mary on the North Coast.

catchmawganporthbeach.co.uk

Lewinnick Lodge, Fistral

Perched on the wave-lashed Pentire headland, Lewinnick Lodge is a sublime location to eat and drink on any day of the week. Originally an 18thth century cottage that has since posed as a smugglers’ den and a lobster hold, here you can clap eyes on the Atlantic, and often spot passing pods of dolphins. From classic roast dinners to catch of the day, it’s the perfect spot to while away a Sunday afternoon after a surf on the famous Fistral beach or a windswept coastal walk around Pentire Headland.

lewinnicklodge.co.uk

Summerhouse, Perranporth

Warm up and enjoy wintery beach views from a contemporary dining spot overlooking the waves from a prime cliff-top location. Warm your cockles with soup of the day, before a delicious platter of slow-roasted beef or lamb, with all the trimmings including swede mash, pickled red cabbage and Yorkshire puddings. Or perhaps you’d prefer a baked fish dish or veggie risotto? Whichever you choose, make sure you’ve worked up enough of an appetite to squeeze in a lip-smacking dessert, such as panna cotta or platter of Cornish cheeses.

thesummerhouse.co.uk

The Old Coastguard, Mousehole

Situated in a stunning seaside village, with views to the fishing boats and St Clement’s Rock (where you’ll often spot basking seals), The Old Coastguard is a stylish and laid-back setting to enjoy Cornwall’s finest food and drink. Add to that an award-winning chef, Jamie Porter, serving up three-course Sunday lunches showcasing Cornwall’s finest game, beef and poultry, as well as seafood landed nearby in Newlyn and just-picked seasonal veg. To top it all off there’s some incredible walking territory on the doorstep, such as the six-mile loop to Lamorna Cove, that takes you from boulder-strewn beaches, past Tater Du lighthouse, and through the magical woodland of Kemyel Crease.

oldcoastguardhotel.co.uk

Gurnards Head, Nr Zennor

Minutes’ walk from one of the wildest stretches of Cornwall’s coastline, kick off your walking boots, chill out with the dog at your feet and sample Cornish ales, fine wines and a Sunday roast packed with produce plucked from the coast and countryside. As well as classic beef and lamb dishes, there are modern seafood and veggie dishes, created from seasonal and foraged ingredients. When you’re fuelled up and ready to hit the coast path again, follow the narrow promontory to find the remains of an Iron Age cliff castle (keep dogs on leads), and then wander alongside the crystal waters of Pendour and Porthglaze coves, searching for a legendary mermaid on your way to Zennor.

gurnardshead.co.uk

Star and Garter, Falmouth

An award-winning gastro-pub boasting dreamy sea views, The Star and Garter takes Sunday lunch very seriously indeed. From moorland-aged rump of beef to Cornish roast pork served with the best crackling, all the meat is supplied by renowned local butcher Phillip Warren. And it’s and served with crispy duck-fat roasties, monster Yorkies, silky gravy and a selection of local, seasonal veg. So, bring your best appetite, kickback by the fire and soak up sea views while feasting on artisan ingredients cooked up by some of Cornwall’s most talented chefs.

starandgarterfalmouth.co.uk

The Longstore, Charlestown

Priding itself on serving locally sourced food from the land and sea, The Longstore is a bright and contemporary venue nestled beside Charlestown harbour. Admire the historic tall ships, paddleboard around the bay or a take a coastal walk to Porthpean, before tucking into classic house dishes such as Cornish mussels and crispy squid, and the centrepiece of the supreme Longstore Roast. Low and slow-cooked Cornish beef, slow-roasted rolled pork belly, roast chicken and nut roast, come with all the trimmings you could wish for, including rich red wine gravy, Yorkshire puddings, stuffing, rosemary and garlic roasted potatoes, cauliflower cheese, swede and carrot mash, roasted root vegetables, and seasonal greens.

thelongstore.co.uk

Pandora Inn, Mylor

The best way to arrive at this divine estuary-edge venue is by boat, kayak or even paddleboard. But whether you arrive under sail, by bike, on foot or by car, it’s worth making the journey to this timeless 13th century inn on the banks of the beautiful Restronguet Creek. Take a seat on the pontoon and unreel your crabbing line, or choose a cosy nook inside this historic inn to tuck into a classic Sunday roast, loaded with the finest ingredients from Cornish farmers and local suppliers.

pandorainn.com

If all this talk of Cornish roasts has you hungry, check out our last minute availability and head to the coast. Find a retreat in one of our beach locations.

Search self-catering holidays in Cornwall

Beach BBQ tips

When the sun is shining, you want to spend as much of your time away outside and on the beach as possible – and that includes meal times! We recently caught up with our friend Rupert Cooper of Philleigh Way Cookery School (on The Roseland Peninsula) and Cove Café (above the beach at Hayle looking across St Ives Bay), to get his tips for cooking on the coast.

“Cooking can and should be as enjoyable an experience as eating, even if you’re not in the comfort of your kitchen” Rupert tells us. All it takes, we’re told, is a bit of preparation and a few tricks of the trade to make beach barbecues so much more than burnt bangers and burgers with a dusting of sand.

The first piece of advice that he has for us all, is to invest in a reusable BBQ such as the fold-able Flatdog made by Cornish company ProQ Smokers, which packs down into a case not much bigger than a large laptop. They’re more efficient, great value for money over the course of their lifetime, and cool down quickly enough that you can carry it back to the car after finishing your dinner and drinks. It turns out that disposable BBQs are bad on a lot of levels. Sure, only a few inconsiderate litterers leave them smouldering on the sand, but even for the rest of us there’s the fact that they cannot be recycled and over one million end up in landfill in this country each year. That’s why Waitrose no longer sell them.

Rupert’s tip, particularly for the ProQ Flatdog that he takes to the beach for family cook-outs, is not to overfill it with charcoal. “They get super hot, so it’s better to start small and top-up.”

He also advises to take a paper bag of good quality lumpwood charcoal, and a couple of (natural) firelighters. There’s no waste, no flavour taint from synthetic firelighters, and it’s one less thing to carry back to your car or accommodation! You can check out Rupert’s guide to different charcoals for barbecuing here.

“If you use good quality lumpwood charcoal then you can start cooking almost straight away. The only reason we’re told to let a barbecue burn down is because most disposable barbecues or “easy light” charcoal is covered in chemical accelerants that need to burn off so that they don’t taint your food. But with good charcoal you can start charring peppers and aubergines whilst there are still flames, and then start cooking meat or slower cook items once those have died down.”

With our equipment sorted, what’s best to cook for a delicious, easy, and stress-free meal? “Try cooked lobsters!” Rupert tells us. “They’re really easy, there’s no packaging or faff, and they’re super tasty. Just warm them up with butter on the BBQ. Eat them as-is or follow our recipe for home-made tartare sauce or cucumber salsa to make in advance and take them in jars to make classic lobster rolls on the beach.”

Another suggestion is to make simple kebabs and koftas in advance (lamb koftas are delicious and really easy) and you can either make simple flatbreads yourself to cook on the grill, or buy ready-made flatbreads to serve them in with a dash of plain yoghurt and cucumber.

If you’re vegetarian or don’t like the idea of dealing with meat when cooking outside or away from home, preparing portobello mushrooms with butter and herbs ahead of time then wrapping them in foil so that they’re ready to put straight on the grill is a great option.

Any last tips from Rupert? “Ice cold drinks, of course! There are some incredible craft breweries, wineries and distilleries in Cornwall, as well as companies making low-and no alcohol alternatives. If you’re enjoying great food and good times on the beach with family and friends, then make sure you don’t let that part of the picture slip!”

Enjoy the sun, be careful and sensible when cooking outside over fire given the recent dry conditions (this article is about barbecuing at the beach, but you might be barbecuing in a back garden), and if you’re cooking and eating in a public space then please remember to leave no trace.

If you’d like to learn more about the art of woodfired cooking, or cooking in general, during your time in Cornwall then check out the calendar of cookery courses at Philleigh Way Cookery School on the beautiful Roseland Peninsula here. There are courses covering everything from how to make Cornish pasties or various fish and shellfish courses, through different cuisines, baking and of course, barbecue.

Alternatively, if you just want to eat his food with a view over the beach rather than cooking for yourself, Rupert’s latest venture Cove Café, nestled in the low cliff above the sand of Hayle Beach with incredible views across St Ives Bay, is open daily from 9.30 – 4pm with special evening events such as their hugely popular Portuguese chicken nights a regular occurrence.

Where to eat and drink by the sea

The teams at the National Lobster Hatchery and EW Wines share their recommendations for venues offering great food and drink in great coastline locations…

Across Cornwall, the list of places to enjoy the finest food and drink is eclectic and increasingly sustainable. We asked some Cornish residents working in the wider industry – with their own produce and drink credentials – to reveal recommended venues.

The National Lobster Hatchery (NLH) is a standout organisation in Cornwall’s dynamic seafood scene. Founded in 1998, the charity’s focus is education, research and conservation. Its key conservation project is a pioneering programme to enhance the Cornish lobster population, working closely with the local fishing community.

Image credit: National Lobster Hatchery

The NLH expert team rears lobster babies through their most vulnerable life stages, to improve survival chances by approximately 1000% above survival rates in the wild. This supports a healthy and sustainable lobster stock, and the local fishing communities, both now and in the future.

“Another champion of the seafood scene on the South Coast is the beautiful Hooked on the Rocks. Located overlooking Swanpool beach near Falmouth, this restaurant is perfect for a long lazy lunch overlooking a spectacular vista.”

Chief Operating Officer Nicola O’Donnell says: “For an up-close look at marine conservation in Cornwall, including a peek at our lobster maternity ward and nursery, you can join us in Padstow at our main hatchery site. A centre for all ages to learn more about marine biology, sustainability and, of course, lobsters.”

Seafood with sea views

Nicola recommends The Lobster Shed at Harlyn Bay for great, sustainable seafood by the sea. The lobster served at The Lobster Shed is caught off the coast of Padstow by local fishing boats, and the whole menu is sourced within a 25-mile radius.

“The Lobster Shed are one of our incredible fundraising partners and run our scheme Buy one set one free’ – a great way for organisations and their diners to support sustainability.”

Image credit: The Lobster Shed

Keeping it local but with the sound of something more exotic, the restaurant’s Lobster & Camel pairs Cornish lobster with a Pinot Noir Rosé Brut from the Camel Valley.

“Another champion of the seafood scene on the south coast is the beautiful Hooked on the Rocks. Located overlooking Swanpool beach near Falmouth, this restaurant is perfect for a long lazy lunch overlooking a spectacular vista,” says Nicola.

Bar on the beach

Molly Gardiner, Communications and Admin Officer at the NLH, says the Blue Bar in Porthtowan is a great seaside spot any time; a café by day, with a bar and live music for the evening. “Grab a coffee or a pint and sit back, right by the beach. Siting there recently I saw about 50 dolphins out in the Atlantic. It’s a perfect stop off on a coast path walk or post-surf,” says Molly.

The team also recommend the Cornish Cream Teams available at Berryfield Tea Room, on the road down to Porthcothan Beach.

And to drink?

EW Wines, based at Indian Queens near Newquay was voted the best regional wine shop in the South West last year by wine magazine Decanter. One reason for the accolade is probably that it offers more than a quality selection of fine vintages.

The company is on the journey to becoming a B Corp – a certification scheme for more sustainable business. And as well as special tasting events, you can call in for free wine tasting from a selection of 16 wines, with Jim Bass – EW Wines’ WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) Diploma qualified lead educator – offering a guide to the wines in store too.

“For a picnic lunch, we’ll call in to Da Bara bakery for provisions and I’ll take along some of our new range of premium canned wine. We’ve got a dry Muscadet that is absolutely delicious.”

For anyone staying by the sea this summer, they’ve curated a coastal wine box which can be delivered to your door on arrival.

Image credit: EW Wines

When it comes to finding a great spot for a glass of wine with a view, Jim recommends packing a picnic and adding some cans of wine to the hamper.

Favourite spots for picnic lunch or dinner include Porth Island and Whipsiderry Beach, both north along the coast from Newquay. “We had a takeout dinner up on Porth Island recently and watched the setting sun, one of the best views I’ve had with dinner for a long time.”

“For a picnic lunch, we’ll call in to Da Bara bakery for provisions and I’ll take along some of our new range of premium canned wine,” says Jim. “We’ve got a dry Muscadet that is absolutely delicious; it’s the same quality as a bottle – light and crisp, with a little texture. And the canned Fleurie we stock is the first Beaujolais in a can I’ve tasted that I would recommend.”

For takeaway dinner, Jim recommends the filled homemade flatbreads and fried beignet potato sides served at Babu, tucked away on the Treloggan Industrial Estate in Newquay. For dinner out, The Secret Garden in the town isn’t to be missed, serving artisan pizza paired with organic and biodynamic wines. “You wouldn’t know it from the outside; the terrace is really cool and has an amazing view,” adds Jim.

Found a favourite place by the sea for food and drink? Share your recommendation with us on social media, using @beachretreats and #bigreveal.

Huddle-up in a place for two, a walk from north Cornwall’s renowned beaches and eateries, or make the most of being together this summer, footsteps from picturesque picnic stop-offs. Where will you stay?