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Intro to Cornish Food and Drink
Cornwall sits at the south-western end of the UK, stand at the promontory of Land’s End and look out to sea, it is hard to imagine the next land is America. The county is far enough away from London, and is also separated from its closest neighbour, Devon, by the river Tamar, to enjoy relative isolation. Cornwall is much warmer than the rest of the UK which gives it a head start in the spring, a longer summer and foods not easily grown elsewhere.
Cornwall sits at the very south-western end of the... UK. Stand at the promontory (now a theme park) of Land’s End, look out to sea, the next land mass is the US.
The county is far enough away from London, and is also separated from its closest neighbour, Devon, by the river Tamar, to enjoy relative isolation. Cornwall is much warmer than the rest of the UK which gives it a head start in the spring, a longer summer and foods not easily grown elsewhere and hence, an abundance of Cornish foods.
The industries, both past and present, have influenced some of the most famous dishes of the county, the most notable being the Cornish Pasty. Tin mining was once one of the main industries and It is generally believed that the pasty evolved for Cornish tin miners, who, unable to return to the surface at lunchtime had a hearty, easy to hold and eat, lunch dish.
Fishing is still a major industry which is no surprise given that Cornwall has two lengthy coastlines, one on the Atlantic, the other the English Channel which is a coastline of 326 miles. Fishing has always been integral to Cornish life; the industry provides thousands of jobs and many millions of pounds for the local economy. There is a wealth of fish and seafood from these shore including, mussels, crab, lobster, turbot, sardines, pilchards, sea bass and much, much more; 40 different species are landed every day.
Agriculture and dairy farming are also important industries for the county as a look at some of the cheeses produced in Cornwall, and the famous clotted cream will bear testament.Continue to 2 of 12 below.
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A Cornish Cream Tea
A Cornish Cream Tea is one thing that must be done on a visit to the county, fresh scones, thick jam and a pile of Cornish Clotted Cream. Thanks to some help from foodie friends on Twitter we were recommended a few places (there are hundreds in the county so hard to know where the best may be) and settled for the Smugglers Cottage at Tolverene owned by Tregothnan, the only place in the UK where tea is grown.
The cottage is... just as you would imagine with a thatched roof and tiny windows. The Tregothnan tea (we drank the classic blend) extremely flavoursome and the scones light and fluffy. The jam normally served with a Cream Tea would be strawberry but here it is a jam made from Kea Plums,which are an old variety of Cornish plum grown in this part of Cornwall. And, the cream, so delicious, thick and yellow with the distinctive crust that makes clotted cream so special. This cream was made by Rodda's, perhaps the most famous cream maker.Continue to 3 of 12 below.
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Cornish Clotted Cream
Clotted cream is a silky, yellow cream with a distinctive crust on the surface.
Clotted cream is made by heating unpasteurized cow's milk, or full cream milk, which then is left in a shallow pan for many hours which causes the cream to rise to the surface and 'clot'.
Clotted cream is an essential component of a Cream Tea, served in place of butter to spread on fresh scones.Continue to 4 of 12 below.
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Cornish Pasties Hot from the OvenContinue to 5 of 12 below.
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Dressed Cornish Crab
Fresh crab is such a wonderful food especially if you can pick one up straight from the coast as I did with this crab.
The hefty crab I bought had already been cooked by the fishmonger and if you are a little squeamish, this probably the best way to buy it. Preparing the crab (dressing) after cooking is very easy.
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- Place the crab on its back onto a large chopping board and snap off the tail flap, legs and claws. With a fresh crab this should be very easy.
- Carefully push a chef's knife or... large knife between the shell and the body of the crab, twist and the shell should open.
- Inside you will see the 'dead man's fingers' (off-white spongy gills) which must be removed. Then remove the stomach sac and hard membranes inside the shell.
- Using a teaspoon scoop out the brown meat, place in a small bowl and mash gently with a fork.
- Remove any white meat, you will need to root around in the nooks and crannies to find it all. Keep to one side.
- Crack each of the legs and claws and pick out all the meat. Once removed check through the meat to make sure there are no splinters of shell.
- Return the brown meat to the centre if the shell and the white meat to each side. Serve with mayonnaise, brown bread, a wedge of lemon and a little finely chopped parsley if liked.
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Cornish Crab SandwichContinue to 7 of 12 below.
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Cornish Sardines aka Scrowlers
Scrowlers is the traditional name for Cornish sardines which have been descaled, cleaned and spilt open, seasoned and cooked on a griddle on each side.
The sardines here have been cooked as described above and served hot and fresh on toast. Simple, quick and delicious.
Cornish sardines have PGI status - products produced or processed or prepared within a specific geographical area, and with features or qualities attributable to that area. To call a fish a Cornish Sardine means it has to have been... caught within six miles of the Cornish coast, landed in Cornwall and primary processed in Cornwall (filleted, smoked, frozen etc or if fresh and whole in boxes of less than 10 kg) - information courtesy of Nick Howell of Pilchard Works, Penzance, Cornwall.
Cornish Sardines are healthy as they are an oily fish and rich in Omega-3.
Other spellings include Scrow(l), scroal, scroach, scraw(l) or scroll.Continue to 8 of 12 below.
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Drinks in Cornwall
It's not all food in Cornwall, there is also a wealth of drinks to be had.
Across Cornwall there are cider makers, microbreweries, vineyards and the only tea in Britain comes from here.Continue to 9 of 12 below.
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Cornish Saffron Cake
Yellow, soft and tasty - a Cornish Saffron Cake
Saffron cake is actually more of a bread than a cake as the recipe contains yeast as the raising agent. The distinctive, yellow coloured cake can be found across the county and is delicious with, of course, clotted cream.
Saffron was grown in Cornwall, near up Bude, up until the late 19th century and the Cornish have held on to their love of it through the cake.Continue to 10 of 12 below.
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Creamed Leeks and Smoked Haddock
I tried this wonderful dish at the St Kew Inn, near Bodmin.Continue to 11 of 12 below.
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England's Only Home-Grown Tea - Tregothnan
It came as a surprise to me, but we actually grow tea in England. It is in one place only and that is on the Tregothnan Estate in Cornwall.Continue to 12 of 12 below.
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One of the most famous dishes to come out of Cornwall, the Cornish Pasty is known and loved throughout the world.
Video on How to Make Cornish PastiesThe Cornish pasty is known and loved throughout Great Britain and Ireland and fierce arguments abound as to the origins of Cornish Pasties with neighboring Devon also laying claim to the origins of the pasty. Whatever the origins, a Cornish Pasty Recipe is so easy and fairly quick to make
It is generally believed that the pasty... evolved for Cornish tin miners, who, unable to return to the surface at lunchtime had a hearty, easy to hold and eat, lunch dish. With their hands often dirty from a mornings work, the pasty could be held by the thick pastry crust without contaminating the contents. The thick crust also acted as an insulator, keeping the contents warm for several hours. Pasties were often also made with a meat filling at one end and a sweet filling of fruit or jam at the other - a complete meal in one!
While there are no set ingredients of the Cornish pasty, traditional recipes will always use minced or diced steak, onion and potato wrapped in shortcrust pastry. Variations include the addition of swede or carrots, even peas but a Cornishman will tell you these are not the genuine article.
Pasties may no longer be the food of tin miners, but they are one of the nation's favorite snack or lunch foods. The pasty also makes a substantial supper dish when served with peas and gravy.