A Fabulous Weekend at Boscastle Food Festival
This is my second year of visiting Boscastle for the craft and food festival. It’s a sleepy Cornish harbour village best known for the flood a few years ago. Unlike Fowey, Rock and Padstow it doesn’t have a major restaurant or celebrity chef and the lack of beach means it doesn’t get overwhelmed with tourists. And therein is the charm of the place.
My friend has a cottage in Boscastle and discovered the festival a couple of years ago. Last year I went along for the first time and was stunned that for my £3.00 entry I not only got to taste some fabulous local produce but also enjoyed free chef demonstrations from some of Cornwall’s finest. So I jumped at the chance to go back again this year.
The line-up this year was stunning! Imagine sitting on the front row of a demonstration by Nathan Outlaw, Andy Appleton, Paul Harwood, Martin Dorey, Adrian Oliver, Phil Thomas, Aaron Janes and Paul Ainsworth. Well, that’s what I got at Boscastle this year. Each presentation was around an hour and involved the chef making and serving one or two dishes. And, we got to taste pretty much everything that was made. Sadly that’s partly why I have such a lack of pictures because at the point at which the food was served my stomach took over!
The first demonstration saw Martin Dorey, the campervan man cooking mussels for us in two ways using a small camping gas stove. We had delicious Thai style mussels with coconut milk, coriander, chilli and fish sauce. And, smoked mussels, cooked in a small stovetop smoking unit. They were delicious – I am off sourcing a stove top smoker this afternoon because it really did look simple!
We went on to see Paul Harwood, the head chef at Rick Stein’s St Petroc’s Bistro. He made us a lovely dish of hake on a braise of potatoes, caramelised garlic, tomato and onion and also showed us how to prepare a hake – a large and very ugly but sustainable fish that is caught off the coast of Cornwall! The first day was rounded off by Aaron Janes from Silks Bistro in Newquay cooking us up a great seafood fricassee.
Day two was packed! First Andy Appleton from 15 Cornwall cooking up a fabulous ‘light Sunday lunch’ using a local cured meat to wrap a fabulous fillet of beef which he then wrapped up in baking parchment before pan sealing then cooking in a high oven along with seasonal roasted vegetables, wild mushrooms and cavola nero. Obviously it took a LOT of concentration;). 15 is a Jamie Oliver project to help disadvantaged young people by providing them with a cookery apprenticeship. I was amazed at the ratio of chefs to students (I think 20 chefs for an intake of 15 students!).
Then an amusing double team of Adrian Oliver and Phil Thomas making sticky toffee pudding, chocolate panacotta and a wonderful roast loin of lamb with onion icecream!
Sadly I missed some of Paul Ainsworth’s presentation, though by now I was rather full of lamb and beef, so maybe it’s just as well! He cooked some wonderful deep fried oysters and then a take on liver and bacon using a water bath to cook the bacon and a mixture of wild mushrooms and chicken liver for a really delicious version of an old school days ‘classic’ that many of us remember and fear! And, I really wish I’d managed to take more pictures of the food – it was all beautifully presented!
And, last but of course but by no means least, Nathan Outlaw who cooked Mackerel with an apple salad and then Pollock with a mayonnaise based tartare sauce on wilted little gem lettuce, really showcasing local fish and how to cook it quickly and simply for us.
Now, you might think this was just a cookery demonstration, but alongside watching some of the greatest chefs in the UK, we were also treated to a real feast of local produce. Kay and I managed to dine on crab and lobster for 2 days in a row thanks to http://www.freshfromthesea.co.uk/…with treats of home-made chocolate truffles, Cointreau and orange ice-cream from Daisy’s Ice-creams, fabulous brownies and delicious elderflower and lemon presse. And, there were great cheeses and meats for sale at a fraction of the price you’d pay in London. I read with interest that the farmers responsible for the fantastic beef and lamb on sale had turned down an award dinner in London to go to the festival!. I came home with cider washed Cornish cheese, smoked lamb prosciutto and Cornish coppa from http://www.delifarmcharcuterie.co.uk/, peppered smoked mackerel, clotted cream, a game pie and…brownies! I’m only sad that we spent so much time watching the fabulous chefs at work that we didn’t quite get to see all of the festival or buy much from the craft stalls in the other marquee.