Diary of an unadulterated pig. Part 2 – a week or so of eating in the South West of England

This is a continuation of a Part 1 post documenting a rather nice holiday, based in Porthleven (in the far south of Cornwall) predominantly, in respect of which (well it is me) eating and drinking featured quite heavily. You don’t have to read Part 1, but this Part 2 probably makes a bit more sense if you do so.

Day 6

Bit of a meh day weather wise (always thunder and lightning on Mrs. SF’s birthday  – it was light drizzle at it’s worst in reality😂) and we decided to head north to an old stomping ground in the form of Portscatho on the Roseland Peninsula. Last time we were here Mrs. SF and had just got engaged and according to Mrs. SF it feels like a bazillion years since then!

Coming from the South you get across the River Fal by way of the rather charming (but quite pricey – £7 one-way, £10 return) King Harry ferry.

A key reason for the visit to Portscatho was its location near the much acclaimed Hidden Hut, an alfresco establishment just up from Porthcurnick beach named in many an article as one of the best seaside restaurants in the UK

The Hidden Hut looks a simple affair,

but the food is far from your basic fare.

I went for the chipotle pork,which was very robust on both the flavour and portion front. Lovely spicing on display here and bountiful amounts of spoon tender meat.

Mrs. SF’s fish stew was even better,

with big chunks of cooked on point fish, bountiful shellfish, crunchy croutons, fresh herbs, a really good saffron rich sauce,

and a (based in house) potato roll.

If you just want something a bit lighter (fuel for a walk further along the South west coast path in which it sits) they do other stuff.

Pastries (bet the pasties here are killer),

cakes and drinks (no booze, but you can bring own)

Not cheap, but well worth the money.

On the way back we called in on some friends and fellow border terrier fans for a cuppa who just happen to include a very talented potter, Hugh West, who is on show in various galleries in Cornwall including in Porthleven (we have a number of his pieces) and in Portscatho and who supplies the restaurant Kota (run by Great British Menu stalwart Jude Kereama) in Porthleven with their ceramics.

This provides a neat segue to that evening’s events, when we went to Kota Kai (the more informal sister restaurant of the aforementioned Kota) situated in the building at head of the Portheven’s inner harbour.

A sort of mini me to the posher “go for a blow out” Kota, the nice pan Asian focussed menu plays heavily to the founder’s roots.

Salt and pepper squid with a Thai style salad hit all the right notes, being suitably crisp, chew free and nicely spiced.

My seared tuna with a celeriac remoulade, with even better,

with the tuna beautifully cooked,

the remoulade nicely punchy and it all complemented by the Asian flavours of wasabi and ponzu.

Mains entailed a good chicken massamen for Mrs. SF

and an Asian inspired bowl of moules and frites for me.

Nice spicy coating to the crisp chips and a lovely rich coconut and zesty, lime and lemongrass mussel broth.

This was all accompanied very well by a rather nice Clare Valley riesling.

Lovely pairing, I thought, with Aussie riesling just the business with South East Asian spicing.

Rather well sated we waddled back to the cottage, getting caught in the only real rain we had the whole holiday.

Day 7

The sun returned and that morning bought a spot of breakie at the Twisted Currant.

The menu seems to have moved on from the old (rather loved by me) greasy spoon persona to a bit more crushed avo et al (more signs of padstowification, I fear).

After breakie we headed on to one of my favourite beaches in the UK (actually anywhere, probably bested in my heart only by La Concha in Donostia San Sebastian) in the form of magnificent stretch of sand (including Hayle beach, Mexicon Towans beach, Upper Towans beach and Gwithian beach that goes up from the River Hayle all the way up to pretty much Godrevy lighthouse.

Oscar did his The Six Million Dollar Man/dog impression,

which was rather apt with the amount of metal work in his leg (ruptured cruciate knee ligament last year) and the amount it cost to put it in (thank the Lord for insurance).

Mrs. SF and I drank in the views, paddled in the surprisingly warm September sea

and watched the surfers (would love to give it a go, but suspect dyspraxic surfers are few and far between with coordination and balance not exactly our strong suits),

all along wishing the Pippo (who loved it here)

was still with us 😪.

Food wise the Rockpool cafe is highly rated, but we headed back to base in Porthleven and the Mussel Shoal.

for a glass (well paper cup – shame that, but understandable given it’s right on the harbour location) of gruner veltliner with a rather lovely view of the bobbing boats (which made up for the cup).

The food here is unashamedly seafood focussed, with interesting twists.

and a decent selection on the booze front.

We ate here last year and had a rather interesting Southern fried monkfish dish.

Alas Mr. SF didn’t fancy anything on the menu and was in the mood for a burger. I was rather taken by the thought of the smoked haddock and butterbean chowder, but acquiesced to Mrs. SF’s burger urge.

We moved on, therefore, to Big Eats StEATkitchen

which does burger, dogs

and various sides.

Decent burger (hint of pink in there) and fries for Mrs.SF

and a somewhat indifferent chilli (no tangible heat) dog for me (should have stuck to my guns with the chowder back at the Mussel Shoal, but heyho).

The evening was finished off back at the cottage with a rather fine 2015 gran reserve Rioja from Spanish Wines Direct.

Day 8

I slightly miscalculated our walk on this day, with my estimate of the distance for the days walks (including a circular route to Helston and around Loe Pool and back along the coastal path ) being 7.5 – 10 miles max., but we actually ended up doing a monster 16.9 mile hike over quite variable terrain.

After such a calorie devouring effort, we deserved to treat ourselves to a good late lunch and Dan Dan the Lobsterman (on the harbour wall in Porthleven) was just the alfresco venue to refuel big time.

An extra large half lobster salad for me

and a crab sarnie for Mr. SF.

We were still hungry after demolishing that lot, so had the smoked mackerel pate.

British seafood at it’s very best this. Spankingly fresh, not mucked about with and just lovely, beautifully flavoured, stuff.

Of course, with seafood of this quality it would be criminal not to have a decent bottle of wine to drink with it! Luckily this place let’s you bring your own booze (no corkage charge) and it was a case of lobster and louro (a rather fine Galician wine from the God of godello Rafael Palacios)

and the opportunity to try out a new toy to keep it cool from Wearth (worked rather well).

Cracking pairing with the lobster, crab and smoked mackerel have to say.

Interesting example of inflation at work here in terms of prices last year (left) and this year (right). Oddly, the “medium lobster” seems to have the highest percentage price rise (at over 14%) and the “extra large” the smallest (at just over 6%) if my rudimentary maths has not betrayed me 🤔.

Still not sated (don’t judge us after 16.9 miles), we moved just up the road to the Harbourview Cafe

for a cream tea.

Very nice, although Mrs. SF risked being driven out of town by a pitchfork and flaming torch carrying mob due to her insistence on putting the clotted cream on first then the jam 😱 (I of course did it properly, as documented above).

On the way back to the cottage, we bought some local gin

as you do.

Day 9

Departure day and a final walk on the beach (a case of “Once more onto the beach, dear friends” 😀)

before going to the Roastery, which has plenty of parking on site so you park up your fully packed up car, for coffee and brunch on the way out (in this case North to Devon).

Ideal for picking up, to take back home, their rather good roasted onsite coffee.

Next stop was Trelessick Gardens, which has beautiful dog friendly grounds (house and gardens regrettably are not).

Fabulous way to kill a few hours walking around the estate.

The next leg bought us to Lydford on Dartmoor and the Castle Inn.

Really nice room and dog friendly (even got a doggy pack) everywhere.

Only downside of the room was a rather weedy shower, but other than that it was great. Duly settled in, resisting the temptation of a pint in the bar, we walked down the road to the fabulous Lydford Gorge

An absolutely stunning walk this (take good walking shoes/ boots as it gets quite challenging underfoot at points),

with it taking us just under 2 hours to complete the full circumference of  the gorge.

Great way to build up an appetite and the Castle Inn didn’t disappointed dinner wise.

Lovely hearty dinner,

with the stars of the show being my Devonshire black pudding, duck egg and cep starter and Mrs. SF’s steak pie (it was a proper pie). My beef short rib was very good, but I was a tad envious of Mrs. SF’s pie (love a good, proper, pie me).  Even Oscar played ball and behaved (he was a bit tired).

After a great night’s sleep in the super king sized bed, we were out early for Oscar’s ablutions with a walk before breakies (exploring the “castle”).

Breakie was good (could have lived without the beans – Mrs SF wisely did, but at least they were properly segregated – mind)

and set us up nicely for the day.

Waving a goodbye to Devon, we meandered our way through Somerset to Bristol via Wells Reclaimation Yard (absolute catnip for Mrs. SF)

and then my Mum’s shop “The Changing Room” for Mrs. SF to buy more stuff. It was then on to Bristol to stay with friends.

Some rather nice wines were had in the September sun (we were very lucky with the weather),

before we sallied forth to Caper and Cure (my dyspraxic brain very firmingly feels it should be Cure and Caper), having been highly recommended by people whom I trust on the food front.

Very good it was too,

making for a rather fitting ending to a great holiday. Believe the hype about this place – a must go to if visiting Bristol!

The Verdict

I love a UK holiday and I think they are often unfairly decried as against trips abroad. If the weather is with you and you choose wisely in terms of destination and where you stay, eat and drink, there are few things better than a week or so holidaying in the UK (especially if you have a dog and like walking).

Porthleven is a place that hits the brief admirably. Good holiday cottages, marvellous scenery and great walks on your doorstep or in close proximity, with loads of good options food and drink wise (most of which are dog friendly).

We stayed in  Honeypot cottage (booked via Harbour Holiday cottages), which was great.

If coming from South Wales or further afield I would highly recommend a stop off to break up the journey. The Castle Inn was the pick of the two places we stayed in on route – lovely place in a gorgeous setting.

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2 comments

  1. Very nice Tim. We’ve just got back from a week in Cornwall (staying on the north coast at Gwel an Mor in Portreath) and are back there for 3 nights in between Christmas and New Year.
    On the way back you should stop off at Strawberry Fields farm shop in Lifton https://strawberryfieldslifton.co.uk/
    and also Phillip Warren butchers in Launceston https://philipwarrenbutchers.co.uk/ I can recommend their beef wellingtons, two of which are still in my freezer ready for the weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

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