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saffronbunny - food - blogger - cornwall

My mum once wrote a notebook of recipes for one of my brothers when he went to university. One of these recipes was entitled: Marmite on toast. Thereby making it a dish in its own right. Marmite on Toast. I laughed then. I wouldn’t now.

It should have read: Marmite on toast with Lots of Salty Full Fat Cornish Butter, and you’re almost there. Add in to the mix a strong brew and white bread and I am all over it. The ultimate comfort food so quintessentially British that our more sophisticated gastronomic neighbours would rather hurl themselves onto a burning pile of oily fish and ripe tomatoes than go anywhere near the filthy brown (unnervingly shiny) goo.

To add fuel to the fire, or rather olive oil to that already burning pile, have you ever tried spaghetti, butter and marmite? No? Do it. Nigella raves about it, referencing Anna del Conte as her source and justifying it as an Italian tradition derived from using leftover stock with spaghetti. No need for that. Put the spaghetti on in the normal packet way, chuck a knob of butter into a saucepan, a teaspoon of Marmite and some (a dessertspoon or two) of the pasta jus to lubricate, add to pasta and if you’ve got it, sprinkle a bit of Parmesan on top (or Cheddar, come on). Mangez. Mangia. ‘ave it. Etc.

I find that Marmite slips under simple dishes in a very satisfying manner, not unlike a special piece of well-fitted underwear: on toast under baked beans, under scrambled eggs (or any egg for that matter) or melted cheese for an English rarebit. Most useful of all is its ability to masquerade as a vegetarian stock; many a dish of mine brinkering on the I’ve-made-it-up-but-not-quite-pulled-it-off has been resurrected with a generous teaspoon of Marmite; gravies, glaze and other things not beginning with ‘g’ – rims of cocktails are being marmite-d, there are cakes, roast potatoes but as yet, no beauty treatment. It’s only a matter of time.

I have a huge amount of love for Marmite. I have chased its bulbous brown figure down the aisles of many a foreign supermarket with increasing success. It’s been welcomed back into the lives of the Danes after a three-year ban and now there’s even more of a reason not to shop at Tesco and to have voted ‘remain’. 

Get more about Marmite from the  Ministry of Marmite and there is also the very comprehensive Marmite cook book. Oh and it’s worth mentioning Ms Marmite Lover, a well-respected food blogger with a well-respected name.

Why I no longer call myself a foodie

saffron_bunny_food_journalism_cornwallBeing a foodie was great. Once. I ate the food of some of Cornwall’s best chefs, hung out at festivals with my press pass, stayed overnight in some stunning seaside locations, received countless edible freebies in the post and even got to take my tastebuds to the pistes of the Dolomites and sample some of Italy’s finest. Hell, I even thought I was a half decent cook myself.

Tell people about it and they are naturally very envious. My husband is a bit miffed that he no longer gets to piggyback onto my fine dining commissions. So why have I given it all up? What’s not to like about free food?

It all got very boring very quickly. Don’t hate me for being ungrateful, I feel extremely lucky to have cooked alongside Paul Ainsworth, interviewed Nathan Outlaw and eaten with Rick Stein, but I just can’t do it anymore.

Firstly, food ‘fashion’ does my head in. Just as education should not be the political football of every newly elected party, so food should be left alone to the test of time and taste. What’s all this nonsense about local and seasonal and it was Mr Brown from Muddy Farm who grew our carrots today? What a load of old supermarket fictional faff. Yes, I love to eat Cornish and respect the changing bounty of the seasons, but I don’t need it rammed down my throat (literally) as if it were a new ‘invention’. The French and Italians would laugh in our rosbif faces: they’ve been doing it quietly for generations.

Secondly, writing a review of someone’s business is a tricky business. Perhaps a PR company set you up with the gig, so it makes it somewhat ‘awks’ if you then go ahead and slate their client. You get dinner, wine, possibly an overnight stay, all for free, so can’t help but feel a certain obligation to string together some glowing remarks, even if you don’t like underdone lamb and the white wine is warm. And in case you hadn’t noticed, this is Cornwall not London and I am no Jay Rayner. I have no right to potentially ruin people’s businesses in an already tough industry. So I’ve given up the constant tight-roping of compromise. Call me a fool, but I’d rather go out and pay for my dinner these days.

And finally, the latest sugar-free food trend brings up just a little bit of sick in the back of my throat. Self-righteous media-luvvy ladies of loveliness who bathe in coconut oil, #eatclean, turn vegetables into spaghetti and think that dates have no sugar in them. Food has become an expression of moral superiority over others at which point it stops for me: I’m doing no kneeling in front of any courgetti altar and there’ll be no repenting of gratuitous pork fat snacking any time soon on this blog.

I’d rather embrace the amoral delights of sliced white toast with Marmite, the best meal I’ve ever eaten at Treliske hospital after the birth of my son. I think that means I have officially resigned from the lofty towers of ‘foodie-dom’.







Four best … moans about Cornwall

Cornwall? What moaning, you say? None whatsoever about Aidan Turner.

Other things? A few. Four to be precise.

Media perception of Cornwall

With Poldark reaching out to 5.9 million viewers on Sunday for the last episode of series 1, the Stein-tinted, Rock-drunk, sun-skewed media stereotype of Cornwall has likely evolved from flip-flops and surfing to bare-chested galloping and opportunistic scything (complete with fair maiden back at the farmhouse). I for one have taken to roaming the cliffs in the wind with a basket full of saffron buns looking for my husband down at the mine (although the ginger wig may be a bit of a giveaway…).


It will rain on the bank holiday. This is Cornish fact. Despite knowing this, we will all still head out to the beaches and have a moan about the rain. Best solution? Take a Thermos and go for a dip. The one will negate the other and you won’t even notice the rain (the hypothermia may be a little more obvious however …).


Showing your passport at the Tamar is about as international as we get. Cornwall is mainly a sea of white faces split into two tribes: those that have come in from ‘up-country’ and those that have lived here all their lives. Expect the oddly non-sensical: ‘people from round ‘ere ‘ain’t from round ‘ere!’ as well as intrusive questions about how long you’ve lived here and whether you are Cornish or not (my go-to defence is that I am 50% Cornish – how absurd). London and Bristol become distant dreams and other countries …


Tiny lanes and 4x4s. Tiny lanes and huge tractors. Tiny lanes and drivers that seem to have been born without the gene to reverse. Tiny lanes and caravans. Tiny lanes. The A30 late-morning on the weekend in summer. Driving. Everywhere. Petrol: expensive. Local transport? Shite.


Post-surf breakfast

I say surf but really I lawnmow. Yep, that’s right: I don’t ride barrels, have no idea how to carve and rarely wipe-out. Instead I gently slide, belly on wood (behind neoprene) into shore with an occasional squeal, not unlike the action of cutting grass: arms outstretched, pushing forward. And that’s how I like it best.

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The Harbour Kitchen Supper Club at Hay Studio

saffronbunny-food-blogger-cornwallWe were beyond fashionably late but then Hay Studio, tucked away in Burlorne not far from Wadebridge, is not your average dinner destination.

Emily Scott, award-winning chef and once owner of The Harbour restaurant in Port Isaac (now Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen) has made her name as a chef who has a love of simple, seasonal and quality food. The Harbour Kitchen Supper Club is part of her private catering company The Harbour Kitchen, which she describes as being all about: “good food and bringing people together round a shared table.” Read More