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.

Four best … yoga classes in Cornwall


I firmly believe that yoga literally keeps me sane. From untwisting my diaphragm to rebooting my brain, getting the lymph system up and moving with a handstand or awakening the inner organs with a good twist, it’s much cheaper than a massage and  much better than a breakdown.

With so many practitioners in Cornwall however, how do you choose? Here are my favourite four, however they are by no means exhaustive as there are other excellent teachers and classes out there:

The Old School, Lanhydrock

Jan takes a Hatha style yoga class on a Thursday morning from 10 – 12. The emphasis is on long and slow, dynamic and controlled without too much focus on the spiritual side (i.e. no chanting or candles). A set of superbly choreographed asanas leaves me consistently refreshed, stronger and able to breathe again! For all abilities.

Ashtanga Yoga, Wadebridge and Polzeath

Denise runs a yoga clinic, a led class and a Mysore style class. The led class on a Tuesday in Wadebridge from 7:15pm is a proper workout that leaves me feeling lighter in body and mind, as well as famished (a post-yoga curry at the local Indian is not unheard of). In true Ashtanga style, the class is based on a series of progressive series of postures to detoxify the body, improve circulation and still the mind.

Lime House Yoga, Mount, Truro

Jock and Emma have used their beautiful home to create one of the most calming yogic locations in the county where yoga practice is more a way of life than a one-off workout. Jock takes most of the classes but alternate Thursday evening classes are shared between Jock and Lucinda Pimlott who also teaches at the stunning Zedshed on a Saturday morning. Classes at Lime House are preceded by chai tea and proceeded by a post-practice chat in the kitchen giving a uniquely personal and nurturing experience. Check out the website for class dates, times and other events (some involving Emma’s delicious food!).

Bridget Woods Kramer

Bridget is an Anusara yoga ‘guru’ who has inspired and trained many of the teachers in Cornwall. She splits her yoga life between Triyoga London and Falmouth / Penryn and also runs teacher training courses and retreats in exotic locations. She is a superb practitioner whose classes often contain other yoga teachers. Be prepared to work and feel amazing afterwards!

HOT TIPS: Keep an eye out for this year’s excellent Surya yoga festival from 22 – 27 May near Falmouth for full yoga immersion. 

Cornwall’s Four Best … Women for International Women’s Day


“We have evolved but it seems our idea of gender hasn’t.” (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

Daphne du Maurier, writer (1907 – 1989)

Strictly not Cornish born but her name and works are written into the landscape and the sea around Fowey where she lived and wrote most of her fiction. The dream of writing and living by the sea was her reality and not always a happy or successful one. From secret liaisons with pirates (Frenchman’s Creek) to repression and new-found identity (Rebecca), a disabled General’s lover and nurse in the English Civil War (The King’s General), to victims of angry birds and forbidden love (The Birds and My Cousin Rachel), du Maurier’s women are always complex, often compulsive, sometimes confused but never conventional.

Kneehigh’s excellent adaptation of Rebecca is currently touring.

Ann Glanville (1796 – 1880), gig rower

During Ann Glanville’s lifetime, gig racing was big business dominated by men. Regattas meant a lot of money for the supporters and sponsors who bet on the races, but little of this was seen by the competitors. Famous in her home town of Saltash and across the country for someone who was rarely beaten, even by male crews, Ann was considered ‘champion female rower of the world.’ And after an ostensibly (and probably exaggerated) “thoroughly sound thrashing” of the male French crews at a regatta in Havre who were, “a little indignant in their own peculiarly irritable way that women should be matched against them”, Ann’s reputation became legendary and she was even recognised for her achievements by the Queen and Prince Philip.

Read more on Ann Glanville.


The Legend of Tamara tells the story of a beautiful sea nymph born in a cavern who loved sunlight and wanted to visit the ‘upper’ world. Her parents warned her against such temptation, but she took every opportunity to get a glimpse of the daylight. She was eventually targeted by two giants, Tavy and Tawrage, who both desired her and persuaded her to to leave the cavern. Her father eventually found her seated between her two lovers and when she refused to return, he was so angry that he turned her into a river that would forever flow into the sea. Tavy was so distraught that he requested his father to turn him into a stream so that he could follow Tamara into the sea. Tawrage too, turned into a stream but took the wrong direction, away from Tamara and so we have today the rivers Tamar, Tavy and Taw.

Rowena Cade

Visit the Minack Theatre and you might assume that a hand of antiquity had shaped the circular stone amphitheatre where the sea, the horizon and an occasional basking shark are as much a part of the scenery as the actors. But you would be wrong. Rowena Cade was born in 1893 in Derbyshire and after the First World War, she moved to Lamorna with her mother. She bought the Minack headland for £100 and built a house there where her family and friends staged their own theatrical productions and Rowena designed and made the costumes.

Planning for a production of The Tempest one year, she realised that there wasn’t enough seating in her own garden, and with the help of two Cornish craftsmen, built a simple stage with rough seating overlooking the sea. The initial prototype developed into granite seating and staging, hewn from nearby boulders and after the Second World War, she became ‘Master Builder’ of the project, adding a car park, an access road and a flight of 90 steps leading up from the beach. Rumour has it that she also dragged up twelve 15 ft wooden beams singlehandedly from a shipwreck on the beach to make the dressing rooms.

Read more about Rowena Cade.


The four best pasties in Cornwall (and how to make them)

There are a few pasty rules in Cornwall that must be followed. First rule: don’t eat a pasty with chips; second rule: swede in a pasty in Cornwall becomes turnip (this even confuses the Cornish); third rule: a high street pasty from a railway station or the high street IS NOT A PASTY; lastly: the Cornish pasty has protected PGI status which means even more rules.

There are more than four best pasties in Cornwall, but here are mine (and no-one can disagree with the last):

Aunt Avice’s Pasties, St Kew Services, Saint Kew Highway, Bodmin, PL30 3ED

This is one of the best pit and petrol stops you can make in Cornwall. Avice learnt her pastry making skills from her mother-in-law and has kept it a firm secret.  Generous, buttery but not flaky, these are the real deal. Get some of the egg and bacon pie if it hasn’t sold out.

Ann’s Pasties, annspasties.co.uk

From mail order and weddings to gift boxes and unusual ingredients, Ann, and now her son Fergus, are fabulous diplomats for the Cornish snack (meal) of choice. With barely a crimp and more of a crispy fold, Ann’s pasties are crammed full of carefully sourced ingredients, including Davidstow cheddar and Cornish grass-fed beef. Get filling in that mail order form now!

Gear Farm Organic Pasty Company

Dave Webb developed the pasty recipe at this organic farm with his aunt, taking full advantage of the produce from the chemical-free fields around them. The farm has been certified organic since 1996 and, coupled with the sweet air of the river Helford, these are some of Cornwall’s finest pastry offerings as well as hugely popular exports.

My mum’s: the gravy forms a puddle in the corner as you eat downwards, the pastry is thin and crisp and the meat has to come from the excellent Liddicoats in Lostwithiel. Oh and only white pepper will do. Here’s how to make them at home:


  • 1lb plain flour
  • 6ozs fat (half lard, half butter)
  • Pinch salt
  • Cup of cold water


  • 1lb beef skirt (chopped to the size of a fingernail)
  • 2 medium-sized potatoes (thinly chipped in a bowl of water, in pieces approx the size of a 20p coin)
  • 2 finely chopped onions
  • Turnip (optional, best finely chipped but grated will do)
  • Sea salt and white pepper
  • Butter

Preheat oven to 200°C. Breadcrumb the fat with the flour and a pinch of salt. Add cold water a little at a time, gently stirring with a knife until all the dry bits are picked up. Take the dough in your hands and gently squeeze, rather than knead, together to form a ball. Take a small lump about the size of a clenched fist and roll it out on a floured surface. Once about 2mm thick all over, place a side plate on top and cut round with a knife. Repeat with the rest of the pastry, using the off cuts for the last one.

Strain and thoroughly dry the potato chips. Place approx. 2 finger fulls of meat onto the top third of the pastry disc, sprinkle a little pinch of salt over the meat, then add a scattering of onion, a more hefty scattering of potato and some more onion. Season with salt and pepper this time and add a small knob of butter. Put some milk in a cup, dip your fingers in and run them around the edge of the pastry circle.

Now gently but firmly bring the bottom half of the pastry disc up over the filling and pinch together in 2 or 3 places, joining the edges. Shuffle the pasty slightly to encourage the filling to settle a little. Now pinch firmly all the way along the side of the pasty, so that about a centimetre is pinched all along. Then go back along, crimping as you go (folding the pastry between thumb and forefinger to form a little ‘hem’).

Rub milk lightly on the bulging surface, create a little vent in the top for steam to come out and put in the oven on a lightly-floured tray for approx one hour or until golden brown.

How to hold a Lobster Massacre dinner party in 10 easy steps.


I write about food but as I get more and more jaded with food trends (local and seasonal, eat the whole pig, oh you’re making gourmet burgers, how unusual, everyone but probably not their dog are making them, and you say that you make your own bread, well that is wholesome yes yes yes, stab me now), I am becoming increasingly aware that I am not necessarily a great cook. Or host come to think of it. Read More