Forage & Feast At Porthminster This Spring

As those who frequent the coastal path and beach near to Porthminster Beach Café will know, not a day goes by without a foraging excursion by our merry band of chefs. Periodically they can be found scampering perilously over slippery rocks or disappearing into a prickly hedgerow in pursuit of edibles, occasionally alarming passers-by and certainly winning some perturbed looks.

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Despite the occasional scratch, sting and the odd broken ankle (!), it’s a rewarding task. The immediate area yields some great finds; leaves, flowers and herbs which enhance dishes with their vibrant, fresh flavours and contribute to the Cafe’s push for sustainability and task of nurturing it’s stunning surroundings.

 

Fat Hen 1This spring, you can learn more about what the chefs look for, where they find it and how they use it during two very special Forage & Feast days. In collaboration with ecologist and forager Caroline Davey of The Fat Hen, these courses will highlight the diversity of wild food available along the coast in springtime. Cookery demonstrations will show how Executive Chef Michael Smith uses this bounty in adventurous and innovative ways, and guests will enjoy a feast of fresh flavours in celebration of their day’s efforts.

Forage and Feast – 11th and 25th March from 10am. £50pp including coffee and pastries, a two hour forage and a three course lunch. To book, click here.

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Participants will meet at the Café for coffee, before beginning their foray along the beach and coastal path. Botanical expert Caroline will guide the group through the secrets of harvesting delicious wild food full of flavour, whilst keen forager Michael will explain what his chefs look out for on their daily ventures as they gather plants, herbs and seaweed from their immediate environment.

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“This will be a great time of year to really get to grips with what the coast path and the beach have to offer for the wild food enthusiast” says Caroline, who will be looking out for things like Alexanders, Navelwort, Sorrel and Japanese Knotweed. “This day course is perfect for anyone keen to discover the amazing produce growing all around them, and how to use even just a small touch of foraged ingredients to transform the way they cook at home.” The courses have been timed for low-tide, so seaweed can be gathered and its uses explained.

Once back at the Beach Café, Michael will cook up a feast. Using the foraged ingredients to create a three course meal, participants will have the opportunity to see him in action, and learn about the techniques which bring those fresh flavours together. This late lunch will be served to the group in the Café, overlooking the beach.

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“We forage daily around Porthminster Beach at all times of year,” explained Michael. “That knowledge of the local environment has transformed the way we cook and this, along with our policy of using sustainable fish, reflects our interaction with the stunning setting of St Ives Bay. The Feast and Forage courses will be giving some of our secrets away, about where to find fantastic wild ingredients and how we use them in our kitchen.”

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Success in the Food Mag Readers Awards!

It was a wonderful end to 2012 when, just as our annual closure kicked in early this month, Porthminster came away with the award for ‘Best Cafe’ at the Food Mag Readers Awards.

The team at Porthminster were over the moon to hear that readers of the magazine, which covers the whole of the South West, picked the beach cafe out in such a strong category. Runners-Up included Toast in Honiton, Bel Green in Exeter, the Duchy of Cornwall Nursery Cafe and Relish in Wadebridge.

The award recognised Porthminster Beach Cafe for its fantastic food, served in a relaxed and friendly environment. Voters also loved the way the Cafe makes the most of its stunning location, cultivating fresh herbs and vegetables in its small garden, foraging on the coastal path and championing sustainable fishing practices.

“2012 has been a great season, especially given the tough economic times,” said owner and Executive Chef Michael Smith. “We’re thrilled to win this award and we would like to thank everyone who voted for us. It’s down to the amazing team we have here, in the kitchen and out-front, and everyone behind the scenes. We have so much that is new and exciting planned for 2013 and this, along with a damn good rest, will give us a kick start!”

In its second year, the awards received thousands of votes as South West food-lovers shared their favorite places to eat, drink and shop across the region. An online voting system allowed consumers to vote quickly and easily for their best pubs, cafes, retailers, restaurants, hotels, local food and drink producers and chefs.

In the ceremony held at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall was named as local food hero and best chef was Emily Scott of The Harbour Restaurant in Port Isaac. Best restaurant went to Ben’s Cornish Kitchen in Marazion, and best Foodie Hotel to Watergate Bay.

After letting their hair down in the sun or snow variously, the Porthminster team will return next month, with lots in store for 2013. Watch this space!