I’ve done two articles, one is about Celebrity Chefs in Cornwall, and the other is about that journey from Falmouth to Helford Passage. I’ve yet to do that news story, although I heard there was a problem with the Eden Project’s ice rink. I will investigate and report my findings. Hopefully it will be better than the other rubbish I’ve written for the magazine…
I’m just going to stick them up to be honest. I’m not at all proud of either of them. As pieces of writing they are not great. Although, I can see by reflection that I am a highly cynical writer, and I tend to write directly from consciousness, almost like speech. I do not like my own style of writing.
This needs to change. I strongly hope that I will develop and climb out of this journalistic slum.
First up, ‘Flushing to Helford Passage.’
Flushing to Helford Passage
By George Richardson
There is life beyond Gyllyngvase Beach…Much as we love it…
If you catch a ferry, or even just walk to Flushing, you get another perspective, another angle of Falmouth. It’s very pretty. Flushing is the perfect place for a picnic but that’s about it. You can watch the boats go by, ogle at the expensive houses and admire how old everyone is around you, but there’s only so much of a different angle you can get until you remember that you’re still looking at the same thing.
Most people go to Cornwall with that glamorous image of surfing everyday, sun, sand and general beach going. Unfortunately, the reality is somewhat colder, and gravely damper than what we’d like to imagine. However, the area is still just as stunning in the cold. It just takes more willpower to go out and enjoy it…
The ferry across from the pier costs £7.50 return, pretty steep for a boat trip to the same place. There are a few pubs to visit though, not exactly student friendly, and there are a few other beaches, one or two. You could easily have a just as much of a good time sticking to what you know on the other side of the estuary, at least when you’ve had enough you don’t have to contemplate swimming home.
It’s not fair to say that that the grass isn’t greener on the other side. At least the sand is yellower on the Flushing side, being real sand! It makes a change from Gyllyngvase, except without the essential beach bar. You could make a day of it though, if you really wanted to. You could pack up lots of food, a load of drinks, bring a few instruments and a bunch of your mates, sit around on the beaches on the other side for a change… but you’d have to really want to.
If you fancy another walk in the other direction then you might tread the sands of Swanpool. It’s another beach in a sheltered cove, not that much different to where you’ve already been, but it’s definitely worth a look. Real sand is again, a bonus. The restaurant at the top specializes in local seafood, particularly shellfish. If you’re hungry, then check out the surf and turf, if you have a spare £56.15. With that sort of price tag, you’d have to be starving and have the money to spare. Definitely not student friendly. Indaba and the Gyllyngvase Beach Cafe shouldn’t be compared, they are not restaurants for the same function, although it should be said, the cafe is at least easier for a budget.
Local Cornwall is not limited to what’s across the water or what’s around the next cove. If you’re lucky enough to know someone with a car around here, and cheeky enough to ask, then plague them for a short road trip to Helford Passage for a chilled afternoon. This place genuinely does grant another perspective. The beaches here are popular with locals in the summer, to get away from crowds at Gylly, and if you get at chance to have a look, you’ll see why.
There is in fact, a coastal path that runs all the way from Gyllyngvase to Helford. The path takes you past Swanpool, past the golf course of Falmouth Golf Club, past Maenporth beach, and then onto Helford Passage. It might take a while, but if you’re wrapped up this winter, and want to stretch you legs, or rather if you need to as you’ve flinched at the thought of doing anything in the cold, then this would be an adventurous change.
Helford Passage’s passage is a narrow squeeze down some steep steps around the back of a pub. At the right time of day, you might emerge with your eyes squinting from light bouncing off golden water as you step onto a patio of The Ferryboat Inn. Let your eyes adjust and try absorb the details of a waterscape that is nothing like Falmouth.
The best way to enjoy the view is from the beer garden on the front. Grab yourself a pint and sit outside. After you’ve finished your drink, there is a footpath that trails the edges of the water. You might get the impression that the footpath you’re walking on is someone’s drive… that’s because it is to a certain extent, but keep walking and the path continues past those grand gates and yew lined drives. Lavish homes are peppered over the valley and you wonder ‘who would live here.’ Apparently Roger Taylor and Joanna Lumley have their humble abodes there, but these are just rumours…
If the tide is in, then the beaches are just narrow causeways that link pebbles to pebbles with slipways in between. It seems to just keep going as you look into the sunset. Let the sun go down and skim a few stones over water as flat as a mirror.
Helford Passage is a panoramic experience. Looking over the water you’ll notice that almost everything is pleasing to the eye. This is serene Cornwall. This is the Cornwall you see on boxes or Cornish fudge, on the bottles of Cornish ale, or perhaps on those flyers that say ‘Visit Cornwall!’ This is the image that the Cornish are proud of.
I have very little to say in terms of reflection, other than I hate it. It’s not interesting to me, however, I do appreciate how it might interesting to someone else, even though it’s about an experience of my own. Whatever happens, even if it provokes someone to say, “what, that’s wrong?! I love Flushing, there’s loads going on,” then it might have succeeded in the sense that it is evocative. Next up, ‘Cod Envy: Battle of Celebrity Cornish Chefs’
Cod Envy: Battle of the Celebrity Chefs
Rick Stein and Jamie Oliver have very little in common. They are both professional chefs with the ‘celebrity’ label, but their styles are very different. One is old and uses ‘bouquet’ to describe and encompass specific tastes. The other likes to get political with school dinners and describes his food with grunts and groans.
Another thing they both have in common is that they both have established restaurants in Cornwall. In fact, Rick Stein loves the place so much, he put in six, not to mention his numerous delicatessens.
In Padstow, Rick has created a culinary empire that has become integral to the town’s identity (and economy). Four out of the six ‘Stein stations’ are actually in Padstow; The Seafood Restaurant, St Petroc’s Bistro, Rick Stein’s Café, and Stein’s Fish and Chips. Rick began his journey to stardom with his philosophy, “Nothing is more exhilarating than fresh fish simply cooked.” It clearly worked since now, six restaurants, three delicatessens, 23 TV series later, two marriages and an OBE from her majesty for services to West Country tourism; he’s still at it, currently making another television series on food in the Mediterranean.
But does all that mean that the food in his restaurants are any good?
Jamie Oliver. Now this man hasn’t been around for as long as old Rick, but he already has a firm footing in Cornwall. In 2002, Jamie set up the ‘Fifteen’ initiative, designed to give young people a ‘second chance.’ This scheme was originally based in London but it was duplicated in Cornwall as the county is one of the most deprived areas in the UK. The restaurant is situated near Newquay in Watergate Bay, between Padstow and Newquay.
Fifteen has its staff composed of school dropouts, drug rehabilitators, and people who generally fell off the band wagon in life and are trying to get back on. In an ideal world, this is a highly humanitarian effort. In practice, it’s not quite so black and white.
Steinism or Jamie and friends. Two very different approaches to fine dining and expert cuisine, but there’s only one way to find out who is the Cornish culinary king… try them both.
The Outside has compared the flagship of Rick’s fleet, seafood restaurant in Padstow to Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen near Newquay.
Watergate Bay is one of the most stunning locations in all of Cornwall. It’s hard not to enjoy the views, which is brilliant because unfortunately, you’ll be staring out of them for what feels like hours whilst you’re waiting to be served.
Dinner at Fifteen is an odd affair as you have very little choice, other than to fork out at least £55 per person. You quite literally don’t have the choice. Fifteen offers a ‘tasting menu’ after 8pm, where you can choose what you like from the menu, but the price is the same, no matter what you order. This excludes drinks, so if you fancy a bottle of wine, you’ll be pushing close to £120 for two of you.
The taster menu offers 4 courses not including starter nibbles and coffee at the end. The food is the best bit. It is amazing. The staff clearly have their priorities clear. Table service, and time keeping are perhaps lower on their list. If you do find yourself in the money and maybe fancy treating yourself and someone clearly close to you, since £55 is a luxury that most of us would skip in terms of a restaurant bill, then the grilled monkfish is spectacular and well worth recommending.
After your coffee and Amedei chocolate shot, it may take you some time for a bill to arrive. In fact, it might be a while for anyone to pay any attention to you at all. In some cases, that can be a good thing. Not however, if you want to make a similar trip to sample what Rick Stein has to offer…
The Seafood Restaurant in Padstow was first set up in 1975. Oddly, the restaurant has never managed a Michelin star to date, although that’s not to say that Rick doesn’t know what he’s doing. For a start, the staff know what they’re doing. You’ll step into the a room that doesn’t quite reflect a Cornish fishing town, but you probably won’t complain since, after you’ve sat down, you’ll realise that everyone can hear you. The tables are crammed in to optimise capacity, much like you do for car parking, or maybe battery farming, but that shouldn’t put you off too much. The bill might as you look over a menu that suggests £65 for a ‘taster menu’ that looks a lot like Jamie’s.
The food is stunning. The fish is genuinely fresh, as if it had swam onto the grill. The grilled Dorset sea bass is well worth a try, and try it you can, since you’re not obliged to invest in shares with the place, you don’t have to have a taster menu if it’s past 8.
If you have the chance (and money) to be able to try them both then it’s well worth it, just for the exquisite food. Both restaurants have chef teams that really know how to cook. The staff at the seafood restaurant have less bumps to iron out, however that may be because the establishment has been around for decades, much like Rick himself, and so, they know how to look after you. The guys at Fifteen could perhaps benefit from a lesson or two with old Rick.
In total summary, if you have to choose between trekking it to Newquay for Fifteen, or travelling all the way to Padstow for the Seafood Restaurant then maybe you should go for neither…
Rick, being the older and craftier of the Cornish celebrity chefs, has his fingers in many pies. One of these pies is just cooling off on the window sill of Falmouth, right on the wharf. If you really want to sample celebrity standard cuisine then you needn’t look any further than down the road.
Again with a slightly weighty price tag, the fish is amazing, the chips are a little dry, but it might just be the best fish and chips you’ll ever have.
What I really didn’t want to do was to review the restaurants. I really really really absolutely, one hundred percent, loath the concept of writing reviews. I prefer the concept of suggestions. Why do certain people assume that their opinion is one to be taken and so, perhaps they might publish it in a publication that carries respect or authority, and therefore their opinion might be trusted. I hate that construction within journalism. A film critic, food critic, or book critic. Whatever critic, if they are actually only journalists, then why on earth should their opinion matter in the slightest? Critics are arrogant. There is no other way around it. However, that’s not to say that being critical is not constructive. Constructive criticism clearly is, hence the name, but I loath the concept of journalistic practice that to be honest, shits all over the fundamental that a journalist should be dispassionate and non bias. I need to look into it, I can already see holes in my argument, although that’s not what this post is about.
Good luck mysterious reader, I hope you find more interesting blogs to read! I strongly suggest WikiLeaks at the moment…