Regarded as one of the UK’s last real major agricultural shows and one which apparently began life as a ploughing match between local farmers in Truro over 200 years ago, The Royal Cornwall Show is a major event on the Cornish social and gastronomic calendar.
Suffering the rural quirks – rows of sheep bottoms, howling bantams and a rash of Barbers, I was rewarded with an introduction to 1980s singer Paul Young (who has just published a cookbook) eating curry in a golf buggy (me jogging alongside him) and a handshake with the Duchess of Cornwall complete with sudden small talk about the mead she had just tasted while thrust up against a smiling policeman who had wrapped a rope around me, in front of the corpse of a rabbit whose feet had just been hacked off, ready to be turned into pan-fried loins. Suffice to say that one resorted to Skinners cider to blur the more comically incongruous edges of the day.
Royal Cornwall food highlights:
Cornish Duck Liver Parfait (topped with port and orange jelly) – socially acceptable foie gras from free range ducks (and no force feeding) using a secret recipe courtesy of Michelin starred Cornish chef Chris Eden at The Driftwood Hotel. Mousse-like and delicate yet with all the clout of a hammer to the taste buds, it is the champagne of pâtés. The duck pâté with cognac was pretty impressive too.
Cornish Blue Pâté with Pear and Walnut or Fig- what’s wrong with a truckle of plain old Cornish Blue I hear you muse? Nothing, and I could not be more content than when demolishing a truckle of Philip’s award-winning cheese and have deliberately avoided the pâtés. However, the sweet, fruity spreads are a softer, creamier version of what is one of the world’s best cheeses and serve a different, more continental purpose.
New boys on the brewery block Harbour Brewery’s floral and complex 3.7% Light Ale – perfect summer drinking on the terrace overlooking Cornish blue seas. Watch out for their new brews, one of which is a collaboration with maestro Cornish coffee brewers: Origins.
Lynher Dairies Wild Garlic Yarg – I’m a seasoned nettle Yarg eater and have never been convinced by the garlic infusion of the leaves but am a true convert now. Tangy hedgerow garlic enhances this firm white.
Baker Tom’s for slabs of eat-on-the-spot focaccia, bakewell tart to make you weak behind the knees and pastries, particularly the pain au chocolats – hmm hmm; eat as a chaser to pasty and tea for a continental Cornish workout (only for the strong and greedy). His new bakery and café in Pool is a must.
Grumpies – two grumpy old men from Launceston so busy selling hot pies that I couldn’t get a look in for a chat. Blue cheese, mushroom and walnut will win over any meat eater. Watch out for their Old Tarts coming soon on the pastry scene.