Certainly there are signs of the winter battering, some shops in Newlyn have sandbags strategically placed, and the entrance to Mousehole Harbour is protected by planks to lessen the effect of any tidal surge, but the hedgerows are coming back to life and the Three Cornered Leeks - one of our native Wild Garlic plants - line many roads.
|Planks protect the harbour|
We popped down for a short break and had a great time!
Our base was The Old Coastguard in Mousehole, a sister to the Gurnards Head over the moor in Zennor, and the Felin Fach Griffin near Brecon. With Winter and Spring breaks available in all three, including dinner and breakfast they really are worth a visit.
Style wise they remind me of the relaxed atmosphere at Ballymaloe House, and the food has similar characteristics, not surprising as Charles Inkin trained at Ballymaloe Cookery School, and Darina Allen enjoys stays at the Old Coastguard.
Just 100 yards (genuinely!) from the centre of Mousehole the hotel has great views and a pleasant garden to sit or dine alfresco. But it's a place for all seasons and a sign says "where better to watch the wild weather than from the warmth of the lounge?"
No wild weather during our stay and seas so calm that we could see a pod of dolphins hunting fish about 20 yards off the hotel garden.
Arriving in time for lunch, but on a package that included dinner, we settled for a light lunch.
We both had a great Roast Rib of Beef. The Ballymaloe influence was clear in the vegetable accompaniment, Red Cabbage, Kale, Carrot and Mashed Swede with a fresh Horseradish cream.These ARE seasonal vegetables, not the "Seasonal Vegetables", "Chefs Selection" or "Market Vegetables" that are on so many menus and are Carrot, Broccoli and French Beans 12 months a year. IF the chef selected them the only market that would have them a in season at the same time is the Supermarket, and the freezer section at that. A pint of the Scrumpy style Skreach Cider was an entirely appropriate drink to go with the roast.
A dessert just demanded to be eaten and we chose from the Iberian Month menu which runs through March as a special and both opted for Ice Cream with Pedro Ximinez soaked raisins. Wonderful.
Some hours later Dinner approached. An initial three kinds of freshly baked breads. was followed for me by Potted Salmon with Piccalilli (Romanesco florets instead of the more usual Cauliflower) whilst Janet went Iberian with the Charcuterie plate of Jamon Iberico
Mains were a Fish Stew with Mussels, in a rich tomato bisque for me and a whole grilled Plaice for Janet. Again the vegetables were entirely seasonal, Janet's Plaice resting under Wilted Spinach, Grilled Fennel and Brown Shrimp.
Janet finished the meal with a rich chocolate mousse whilst I had a simple vanilla ice cream.
Breakfast again showed the Ballymaloe influence, a table groaning under fresh breads, home made muesli, pastries, cereals and several home made jams, compotes, curds and marmalades. Yoghurt and milk were available to wash down the cereals and grains and toasters were available to toast your own.
The hot breakfast featured local ingredients including the Hogs Pudding - a Cornish White Pudding, made by Lenterns of Penzance and fish from Newlyn, just around the corner of the coast.
On the first day Janet opted for the Cornish Breakfast whilst I went for Kedgeree with Smoked Newlyn Haddock. The Cornish breakfast delivered hugely on taste and quality of ingredient - I had it for the second day's breakfast and was clearly sourced from good animals and butchers. The Kedgeree was the best I have had. Saffron rice with Wilted Spinach shot through. two large portions of flaky Haddock and a Poached Egg that split at the touch of a knife to send golden yolky goodness cascading through the rice.
Set up for the day we went out in search of good local ingredients to buy and take home.
Here the staff were terrific. They advised on suitable shops, the chef suggesting butchers and cheese shops, reception advising on Farm Shops and providing printed maps and routes and even locating a Farmers Market which would be open on a Tuesday and only 8 miles away - a must for our second and final morning.
Several hours of visiting shops, arranging to pick up goods the following morning and buying items that didn't need chilling such as the iconic Cornish Sea Salt led us via the moor to Zennor and the Gurnards Head, a sister to the old Coastguard.
A light lunch of Pork and Duck Rillettes, with Pickles for Janet and Gougons of Plaice with a home made Tartare Sauce for me, with a pint of Tribune Ale filled any minor gaps and we set off to complete the circuit of the peninsula, but not before Janet had a dessert of Vanilla Rice Pudding with Rhubarb and Apple Compote.
Arriving back at the hotel Janet opted for a walk along the coast whilst I sat on the balcony, admiring the view and with a mug of coffee. The Tea and Coffee tray in the room again showed the commitment to good food with a Cafitiere and locally ground coffee and Leaf Tea for those who prefer tannin to caffeine.
Our second dinner matched the first in terms of quality. After more of the delicious breads Janet had three Oysters whilst I had Porchetta style Suckling Pig.
Mains were pan roasted Pollock for Janet and Ale Braised Ox Cheek for myself. The Pollack had a glorious crisp skin and blindingly white, succulent flesh served with wilted spinach. The Ox Cheek fell apart to the touch and had a rich flavour that was almost very good barbecue in taste. We shared a bowl of Bubble and Squeak as an accompaniment.
Janet opted for an apple tart on thin crisp pastry which was well worth the 20 minutes that it took to bake from scratch, I had a single scoop of Chocolate Ice Cream which was all I could handle!
Our two night stay was wonderful and I cannot praise The Old Coastguard enough. Extremely good food, comfortable rooms and above all a friendly, caring and committed staff. If you want to visit Cornwall this is the place to stay.
It truly is Local and Great.