Friday, 23 May 2014
2 Fore Street, Mousehole, and the best of the rest of Cornwall
Here we are then, the last of the Cornwall posts and a fond farewell, for now, to an incredible few days in one of the most consistently rewarding holiday destinations in the world. It speaks volumes that despite the distances travelled and the occasionally atrocious weather (our drive from Bodmin station to Retallack on the first night was particularly memorable, like that scene in Jurassic Park when Nedry's racing for the docks with the stolen embryos, only without quite as many Dilophosaurus), I've done little since being back in London than plan my next visit. I'm sure I'm not the only one.
Our last meal was in the charming fishing village of Mousehole, near Penzance, and at a dockside bistro called 2 Fore Street. In common with most other stops made on the trip, we had about half the time needed for a leisurely dinner, but still had a great time, watching the sun set over the harbour and tucking into yet more fantastic local produce.
The menu, setting and even the cooking style reminded me very much of my visit to Margot's in Padstow a couple of years previously. I'm sure neither party would mind me making the comparison; they're both excellent ways to spend a very reasonable amount of money on great food, and for that same reason they're both consistently popular. 2 Fore Street was busy and buzzing as we took our seats.
Home made bread (I assume) came in two varieties, white and brown, and a little pot of oil and balsamic vinegar. I think we required a refill at one point, so it can't have been bad.
Fresh mussels came in a vaguely marinere-y dressing and accompanied by a saffron rouille. The rouille, in particular, was so good the rest of the table fought to mop it up with chips and bread and I'm not sure exactly how much of it managed to survive to be matched with the mussels. Still, you snooze you lose.
Steak was cooked exactly rare as requested, nicely seasoned, had a great minerally flavour (I forget where it was from exactly, but was of course Cornish) and was served with some excellent crisp fries. Perhaps a bit of a safe choice on my behalf, not to mention incongruous in a fishing village, but look, I just really wanted a steak, OK?
There was no time for desserts, or even proper goodbyes, and so I'll take the opportunity now to thank 2 Fore Street not just for the food but for the fact they'd rushed it all through for us so efficiently. Quite an impressive little operation.
But the generosity of everyone we visited on the trip was humbling. Watch out for further reports on the blogosphere from the other lucky members of our group but I'd just like to say a quick thank you to:
Padstow Seafood School, where I learned I was worryingly good at dispatching a live brown crab, and less good at eating a portion of the resulting Singapore Chilli Crab without getting it in my hair. And my clothes. And everybody else's hair and clothes. Sorry about that...
Etherington Meats where head butcher Frank showed us some speed butchery then showed us how to bone and roll a ribeye roasting joint. If you ever have the chance to do a butchery course, jump at it - hilarious fun.
Rocket Gardens, a clever scheme where the experts (them) do the hard work by starting off organic vegetables from seed, then post them to you as seedlings to grow to maturity in your own garden or window box. They also do a mean afternoon tea, though I think that might have just been for us, not part of the mail order offering.
Cornish Sea Salt who showed us how they use some of the cleanest seawater in the UK (off the Lizard peninsula) to produce the finest, flakiest, snow-white sea salt. Lots of trash talking about Maldon Salt too, which was superb.
Visit Cornwall who paid for the hire car with very useful Sat Nav system, without which we would have been a bit, well, buggered. Apart from one memorable occasion in Penzance when it insisted on directing us into the deep-water dock, it worked perfectly.
But most of all thank you to Rosie Halloran of Cornish Sea Salt, who acted as our travel agent, minder, PA, drinking partner and friend during the weekend and who organised this extraordinary trip in her own time and without expectation of anything much in return other than a shout out for her employer and the chance to show off her home county to some very grateful Londoners. And let's face it, if you lived in a place as magical as Cornwall, wouldn't you want to show it off too?
2 Fore Street 8/10
Everyone mentioned above gave us their time and experience for free, so thank you again all.