Boscastle Food Festival – Yearning to be Cornish:
This year was my third visit to the Boscastle Food and Craft Festival. On reflection, over the last few years these festivals have been life markers for me. For six years or more I unwittingly became tied to London. I stopped travelling, let my passport expire and found every possible reason not to leave home. My mother was very fragile and having encouraged her to move to London, I was reluctant to leave her. When she died, after 8 months in hospital, I was, as I suspect most people would be, very numb. Boscastle was the first time I left London after her death. Beautiful places become special when your emotions are raw, they become the reason to carry on and the justification for life. Chocolate for the soul perhaps, but it works.
Each year, some of Cornwall’s top chefs give their time free of charge to the festival. Local producers turn up to show off their goods. And, I return. Of course I do know North Cornwall quite well and already did so before I first went to the Food Festival. I used to sing at St Endellion, a vibrant music event with choirs, orchestra and soloists when I was in my 20s. And, my friend has a holiday cottage there so I’ve visited regularly ever since. But I’ve never lived there and I have no heritage in the county and no claim to being Cornish. This year, London Unattached is over a year old. My life has changed radically as a result of writing and, while for the moment I don’t know where I am going, I am quite enjoying the journey.
Some of my favourites were there again this year. Port Isaac is home to a fish merchant called ‘Fresh from the Sea’ and we indulge in fabulous crab sandwiches for lunch each day of the festival
The Deli Charcuterie deserves to be better known – though, having a secret supplier for cured meats is not a bad thing at all
And, I always seem to manage to come home with clotted cream. Usually from Cansford Farm. This year they were selling rose veal too and I ate so many tasters of the rose veal sausages I felt obliged to buy some! The butcher does look VERY stern doesn’t he!
And then there were the new boys. I’ve never seen sea vegetables at the festival before – but somehow I managed to come away with three large bags to experiment with
And I indulged in a little venison too, I love most game and having enjoyed my venison steak last weekend, I can promise you that Cornish Game sell beautifully tender and well hung venison.
It’s the chef demonstrations though that really make Boscastle festival special. Understanding that entrance to the show is £3 and that the chef demonstrations are completely free perhaps doesn’t mean too much till you realise that Cornwall is home to a real showcase of excellence. Over the two days you could see a whole range of chefs including Paul Harwood, Andy Appleton, the 2 michelin star chef Nathan Outlaw and the newest, and obviously delighted Paul Ainsworth. This post is too short to cover what they were presenting in detail and I want to try making some of Emily Scott’s simple but beautiful dishes which she made with the help of her daughter (obviously concentrating VERY hard at the moment I took this picture)
But where else in the world could you spend £3 and get to see and taste the cooking of both Nathan and Paul in one afternoon?
This is a festival of friends and one where there is no place for politics, snobbery or misplaced self importance.