In Cornwall you only have to cast your gaze out to sea, along the coastline and across rolling pastures to see where your food has come from. So, as people are becoming more tuned in to the provenance of their food, it’s little surprise that the county has become something of a gastronomic hotspot. What with an abundance of seafood, locally-reared meats, freshly picked veg, artisan ales and seasonal ingredients foraged from beaches and hedgerows, food and drink in Cornwall is lauded as some of the best in the UK. And it’s not just the quality of the ingredients that’s put the county firmly on the foodie map – it’s also the talented chefs, Michelin-starred restaurants and a relaxed beachside dining scene.
Since Padstow became synonymous with Rick Stein and Jamie Oliver brought Fifteen to the beach, celeb chefs have been blazing a trail throughout Cornwall – from Nathan Outlaw’s fish restaurant in Port Isaac to Ben Tunnicliffe’s The Beach, nudging Sennen’s waves a short hop from Land’s End. While foodies still flock to Padstow (where Paul Ainsworth’s No.6 is one of the hottest tables in town), it’s not the only destination that lures visitors in search of the best food and drink in Cornwall.
St Ives is studded with at least half a dozen Michelin stars in its foodie crown – from the famous Porthminster Beach Café to the sophisticated Seagrass, more recently opened by Masterchef semi-finalist Lee Groves. Alba serves classic British cuisine from the old lifeboat house, while the more casual Porthmeor Café Bar serves tapas overlooking the surf. Two rising stars awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand award include the Halestown Inn (which serves an original, ethically-sourced menu in a cosy pub ambience) and the Black Rock, where the chef sources ingredients as locally as possible, from line-caught fish and foraged berries, to dairy products from his own herd of Galloway cows.
St Ives’ gourmet attractions stretch far beyond its Michelin-starred eateries. Seek out lesser-known gems such as the Porthgwidden Beach Café, where lip-smacking cuisine is served in a more relaxed and intimate setting, yet it still bags one of the most stunning views in town. If you want to eat barefoot with your toes in the sand you can grab a Cornish pasty straight out of the oven, get your fresh fish to takeaway or enjoy a cone of Moomaid ice cream – made using milk and cream from a local dairy herd grazing on coastal farmland around Zennor. There are also lots of family friendly restaurants in St Ives and the surrounding areas.
Cornwall is well endowed with waterside pubs and bars where you can cool off with a cocktail or quench your thirst on local ales. Perranporth’s Watering Hole and Porthtowan’s Blue Bar are a couple of the coolest places for a sundowner, and in St Ives you can’t beat The Sloop for a traditional pub ambience and a pint of cask ale by the harbour.
The abundance of locally-run butchers, bakeries, delis and grocers also mean that even a stay in a self catering cottage in Carbis Bay or St Ives can be a luxury affair.
If you fancy a smorgasbord of the best Cornish food and drink in a single hit, the calendar is crammed with foodie events and festivals including the St Ives Beer Festival, the Little Orchard Cyder Festival, the Cornwall Food and Drink Festival, Falmouth Oyster Festival and the Newlyn Fish Festival – to name but a few.