After kicking the month off with a serious eye surgery, I wanted nothing more than to take a break and ‘get away’. This was, of course, ill-advised during the recovery process so I decided to pull out all the stops and embark on the best overnight staycation I physically could…
Though I’m sure I have had an afternoon tea or two this year, I developed an insane craving for the full affair after indulging in a few of Cornwall’s best cream teas.
There really is no better place to scratch said itch in the home of afternoon tea, is there?
As 1830s credit would have it, Anna Russell (Duchess of Bedford) turned your run-of-the-mill afternoon tea into a social occasion after deciding to invite friends to enjoy hers at her side in the heart of Bloomsbury – a stone’s throw and century-plus from Dalloway Terrace.
With this in mind, the restaurant (and indoor-outdoor terrace) recently launched an alfresco afternoon tea to bring the traditional home.
Thanks in large part to the genius of Pastry Chef Mariatu Kargbo (The Dorchester, The Lanesborough, The Berkeley), the afternoon tea is a bite-sized triumph after triumph. The smoked corn-fed chicken in brioche melts in the mouth, the smoked salmon & crab rillette on Guinness bread was so delicious I ordered ‘another round’, and the freshly-baked plain & sultana buttermilk scones were some of the best I have ever had.
In addition to this, the service was so warm and welcoming I ended up tipping more than I spent on the actual meal. There is no schtick or charade here. Just beautiful food, tea and bubbles (you must try the Ridgeview Bloomsbury 2013, a gloriously crisp English sparkling wine) in an idyllic, tourist-free hideaway.
Until last week, I had given very little thought about the equipment in my culinary arsenal. Though a lifetime of knife troubles has left me with wonky ‘fries’, tomato juice in the eye, and a number of battle-wounded fingers (to list but a few tragedies), I had always chalked them up to general foodie experience.
Then I got my hands on some Robert Welch knives and realised a quality set were worth their weight in gold.
To celebrate the sale of their one-millionth Signature knife, the company invited a few food influencers to meet them and their brand ambassador – the fantastic Georgina Davies – before putting their products to the test.
To begin, we discussed their passionately meticulous process for designing and manufacturing their products (the step-by-step stainless steel process you can see below). This, excitingly, led into a small knife-led recipe tutorial which we were asked to recreate at personal stations with their Cook’s knife, Kitchen knife, and Santoku knife.
When creating a fennel, radish and fig noodle salad with salsa verde dressing, there are a number of hard vegetables to tackle (I hate you, fennel) as well as a dire need for fine chopping skills. Thankfully, Robert Welch knives do most – if not all – of the work. After squaring off each vegetable (essential with such sharp tools to ensure a secure hold while the knives do their work), I was able to dice, slice, and arrange the salad faster than ever imagined. It is also worth noting that no salsa verde I have ever made has turned out so perfectly (this one was a blend of hyper-chopped garlic, mint, and coriander with a dash of dikon mustard, pepper, salt and olive oil).
My station ended up looking like the result of Les Poissons in The Little Mermaid – natch – but it was an ode to the knives, if anything.
You could call it work, but it seems unfair to label sunshine, street food, music and frozen margaritas as such.
Though this one-day festival is only in its second year, its packs the punch of an old school festi-fave; everything is experiential. The day began with a manic leap towards The Cheese Truck (which you know I love) before immersing myself in the adoartion of Sigur Ros, Beardyman, Battles, Tinariwen, Calexico, and my long-term girlcrush of girlcrushes, Lianne La Havas.
Every between-stage moment was spent in Tequila Town (natch) dancing to Latin-tinted megamixes with strangers and cooling down with Cuervo cocktails en masse. In fact, I only think I left the temporary Town to secure myself some Popdogs nourishment.
Ben Tunnicliffe is one of Cornwall’s most celebrated foodie heroes. And I was staying a short drive from his eponymous restaurant.
After his arrival in 2001, Ben immersed himself in Cornwall’s best kitchens – so much so it resulted in a Michelin star (for his work at tarting at The Abbey in Penzance) in 2003.
I booked in and spent the day leading up to the dinner hiking across Cape Cornwall and Botallack‘s seaside mining ruins to work up the appetite required for Michelin-tinted feasting.
It took seconds for me to fall in love with the restaurant.
Nestled into Sennen Cove‘s beachside, Ben Tunnicliffe is modern and elegant enough to flaunt itself as a dinner destination, yet has a very cosy, very local feel that draws crowds for casual drinking and dining. The sunlit terrace doesn’t certainly doesn’t hurt, in either respect. Naturally, we chose to have a glass of bubbly on the terrace before moving inside for dinner.
Once introduced to our charmingly and bizarrely bristly waiter, we thumbed through the menu and decided to throw all non-Cornish regard out the window; seafood was the only option.
We shared a little bit of everything – classic mariniere mussels (in white wine, garlic, parsley and cream), crab claws with tarragon aioli, a fillet of turbot (served with peas, pancetta, lettuce, mushroom & silver skin onions) that melted in the mouth, and an unbelievable scallop, crab & john dory linguine with asparagus and herbs. Each dish was a triumph in its own right, but the latter absolutely blew my pasta-indifferent mind.
Hours passed between wine menu explorations (of which there is a tremendous selection) and trips to the terrace before we found enough room to night-cap with an Eton Mess and decadent chocolate brownie (served with mixed berries and clotted cream).
Ben Tunnicliffe may be a trek from our beloved city, but I imagine I’ll become as ‘regular’ as a Londoner can be.