Fish often hogs the limelight when it comes to Cornish food, but the county produces noteworthy foods across the spectrum. The growing interest in local, seasonal produce has been a godsend to Cornish farmers and many of them have developed swanky farm shops that are a far cry from the rough-and-ready, barely-converted barns of times past.
One of the most exciting is Lobbs, next to the Lost Gardens of Heligan. This farm shop is so inviting and attractive it can make your average supermarket look tired and shabby. A big proportion of what’s on display comes directly from the farm next door. The meat is reared here, on feed grown on the farm too. The vegetables have that just-picked quality – because that’s exactly what they are. You’ll find a lot more than the essentials here, everything from biscuits and home-made cakes to Cornish cheeses and real ales, pies baked on the premises to classic hogs pudding. If you’re visiting Heligan, don’t leave without dropping in to Lobbs.
On the north coast is the equally worthy Padstow Farm Shop. There’s something about the fact that the vegetables here were grown in a Victorian walled garden that seems to make them taste better. Beef comes from Ruby Red Devon cattle and the pork is often from a heritage breed such as Saddleback or Tamworth. And you just can’t leave without a pack of the Padstow Pasta, made with durum wheat grown on the farm here, milled at the Cornish Mill and Bakehouse near Newquay and then made on the premises in Padstow – where you can watch it in progress.
Supermarkets tend to be much the same wherever you go – it’s a chore whether you’re at home or on holiday. The Kingsley Village Food Hall, a few miles outside Newquay, is stocked with enough novel produce to make a weekly shop a tad more interesting. A proper butcher, a fishmonger with seasonal seafood landed at Newlyn and an incredible bakery and patisserie section are the stars of the show, but don’t miss the wide choice of Cornish wines and beers.
While we’re on the subject of alcohol, the Camel Valley vineyard, between Wadebridge and Bodmin, has been putting the noses of French champagne makers out of joint with their multi-award winning Camel Valley Brut; you can buy this delectable fizz by the bottle or the case from the vineyard’s cellar door, but even better to make an afternoon of it with a vineyard tour and a tasting session on the veranda overlooking the vines.
Lobbs Farm Shop
Heligan, St Ewe, St Austell, Cornwall, PL26 6EN, Tel. 01726 844411
Padstow Farm Shop
Trethillick Farm, Padstow, Cornwall, PL28 8HJ, Tel. 01841 533060
Penhale, Fraddon, Cornwall, TR9 6NA. Tel. 01726 861111
Camel Valley Vineyard
Nanstallon, Bodmin, Cornwall, PL30 5LG, Tel. 01208 77959