Discover the wild food of St Ives Bay

It’s the start of a new season at Porthminster, and we’re looking forward to rediscovering the wild food of the seashore and coastal path as nature comes to life this spring. No doubt as our understanding and knowledge of every inch of our surroundings is fine-tuned, we’ll be introducing new dishes inspired by our finds as the year progresses. We hope you’ll come and see what we’re creating!

The aptly-named Navelwort....

The aptly-named Navelwort….

Once again in 2014 we are offering the chance to join us and Caroline Davey of Fat Hen, local forager and ecologist, for a Forage and Feast experience. A day of exploration providing a unique insight into the wild food of St Ives Bay, these events start and finish at the Café, and involve a guided walk and a three course lunch featuring foraged ingredients.

Spring dates are as follows:

March 3rd

March 17th

Prices £50pp

Please book via the Fat Hen website.

Fat Hen pioneered foraging and cookery courses when it was launched more than 5 years ago.  Having recently returned from maternity leave, Caroline is relaunching with an impressive new cookery school at her renovated barn near Penzance. Specialist wild food courses in fish, game, seaweed & wild Italian cookery are on the curriculum. There will be a chance for everyone to get involved, including a fun foraging and cooking club for children, kayaking and cycling foraging routes, and gourmet wild food weekends.

Caroline has inspired many people to begin using foraged ingredients

Caroline has inspired many people to begin using foraged ingredients

However Caroline is also happy to be returning to work with the team at Porthminster for Forage and Feast 2014. “Porthminster is a stunning and inspiring location. Micheal and his team are dedicated wild food enthusiasts, keen to make the most of their unique surroundings. The food they create with the seasonal ingredients we find has really impressed me every time we have done an event together. It’s very creative but also refined.”

Michael Smith, Executive Chef at Porthminster added, “alot of the things that we forage along the seashore work inherently well with the delicious fresh fish and shellfish of St Ives Bay. Small touches can really enliven dishes, adding exciting colour and fresh flavours. These wild foodstuffs are out there waiting to be discovered and can easily be used at home.”

Please book early as spaces are filling up quickly. More Forage and Feast dates are planned for the autumn.

Searching for seaweed....

Searching for seaweed….

Autumn Forage & Feast Dates Announced

Last spring saw the introduction of our popular ‘Forage and Feast’ days at Porthminster Beach Café, in collaboration with ecologist and forager Caroline Davey of Fat Hen. The opportunity to discover the diverse wild food of St Ives Bay returns this autumn, as new dates have been announced.

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On the 4th and 18th November Caroline will once again be guiding small groups, exploring the hedgerows, footpaths and shoreline in the immediate vicinity of the Café. The route reflects the daily incursions of the Porthminster chefs, led by Michael Smith, as they harvest the bounty afforded by their unique location.

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 as they gather plants, herbs and seaweed from their immediate environment.

“Autumn provides a rewarding range of tastes and textures for the foraging enthusiast” says Caroline, who will be looking out for things like pennywort, sorrel, wood sorrel, nettles, pepper dulse, laver and cow parsley. “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 these free ingredients to transform the way they cook at home.”

Once back at the Beach Café, Michael will cook up a feast. Using the results of the morning forage, he will create a three course meal. Participants will have the opportunity to see him in action, and learn about the techniques which bring those seasonal ingredients together. This late lunch will be served to the group in the café, overlooking the beach.

Foraging 024

“We forage daily around Porthminster Beach at all times of year,” explained Michael. “Each new season brings its rewards. At the onset of autumn our cooking turns towards warming, earthy flavours and foraging plays a key role in that seasonal shift. Harvesting food from our surroundings has become an integral part of what we do here at the beach and we’re keen to share our passion and give some of our secrets away.”

To book, visit www.fathen.org where you can find a booking form under ‘Courses and Events’.

Course dates – 4th and 18th November, meet at the Café at 10am.

£50pp including coffee and pastries, a two hour forage and a three course lunch.

The Times – 20 best places to eat by the beach

Porthminster Beach Cafe was surprised and thrilled to be included in this feature in The Times (Thurs 8th August). Chosen by top chefs, the places picked from around the coast were a diverse range of architecturally impressive Beach Cafes, old-world pubs and classic brasseries.

Executive Chef Mick Smith and Head Chef Ryan Venning were both very pleased to have been singled out from so many great place to eat by the seaside. Ryan commented “The whole kitchen team work so hard on a day to day basis, especially at this time of year. This kind of recognition has given us a great boost and put a little spring in our step today.”

Here is Porthminster’s entry in full:

Porthminster Cafe

St Ives, Cornwall

“Aussie chef Mike Smith forages on the nearby coastal path for ingredients for his wildly eclectic menu at this casual beach-side cafe that has high culinary ambitions. Feast on air-dried Cornish duck ham with compressed melon, nastursium and fennel followed by a roasted whole lemon sole with white crab and tomato, cucumber and vanilla salsa while taking in the wonderful St Ives bay views.”

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Fellow Cornish restaurants The Hidden Hut, Fifteen Cornwall and Outlaw’s in Rock were also included in the list of top spots.

Summer by the Sea

Summer is upon us and the Cafe is a hive of activity from morning to night, as it’s white-washed walls bulge contentedly at the seams with a constant stream of staff, deliveries and guests. Amidst the mountain of prep, we grabbed a few minutes with Executive Chef Michael Smith, to find out what’s on the menu this summer….

Garden

“At the moment the garden is giving us an abundance of rhubarb, globe artichokes and watercress, sage, mint and fennel. The blackcurrants and raspberries are just ripe; the pastry chefs couldn’t wait to get their hands on them! We also have some gooseberries and there is plenty of elderflower to be found in the garden and beyond – our dessert special tonight is Elderflower & Raspberries, with Puff Pastry, Creme Patisserie and Gooseberries.”

summer

Foraging

“There’s plenty of common mallow, wild mustard, wood sorrel and pennywort around, as well as edible flowers for garnishes. We’re also using a supplier called Foodswild for things like purslane which we love using.”

Fish

“With lots of day-boats going out at the moment, we’re receiving excellent quality whole fish from our suppliers straight off those boats. This means an awful lot of filleting but it’s worth it! Line-caught sea bass and pollock from Wild Harbour is particularly good at the moment, and local stocks of cod and mackerel are strong and currently regarded as sustainable. The majority of fish we are using is handline-caught. We’re lucky enough to have lobster all the time at the moment too.”

Pastry

“Our Pastry Section is going great guns, with loads of creativity flying around! The guys have reinvented some of our classics, such as Caramalized Bananas and Naked Chocolate Brule, and put some absolute triumphs on as specials, including Deconstructed Jaffa Cakes!”

Blackcurrant Dessert Special

Blackcurrant Dessert Special

We hope to see you down at the beach this summer. And remember, if we happen to be full for lunch and dinner, you can now visit us for breakfast instead!

Porthminster Beach Cafe – The Cookbook

It’s not long now until our much-anticipated cookbook is finally published. Launched on the weekend of the St Ives Food and Drink Festival on the 18th & 19th May, the book contains signature recipes as well as stunning photography, celebrating both our food and unique surroundings.

cover

Executive Chef Michael Smith is very excited to see his dreams in print:

“I’ve wanted to produce this book for a while.  The time feels right and I have the people around me to make it happen.  I have included some of the most popular dishes enjoyed at Porthminster Beach Café, simplified so that they will be achievable for anyone interested in food – so the book should have a wide appeal.  This isn’t a chef’s cookbook, but a lifestyle book for everyone that loves Cornwall, its breath-taking scenery and food.”

Mick2The book highlights the wealth of local produce Michael has at his finger tips, and the ways in which he uses the restaurant’s garden and foraged ingredients to add another dimension to his food. “I hope that those recreating the dishes in their homes will have easy access to many of the ingredients, growing them for themselves or shopping locally – encouraging low food miles and sustainable thinking.”

The book will be available from the restaurant from the 18th May onwards and will also be on sale at the festival, which for the first time this year is taking place on our doorstep on the beach itself. You will also be able to buy your copy from local book stores in St Ives and online from our website at www.porthminstercafe.co.uk.

Next week – a recipe teaser from the book – watch this space!

 

The St Ives Food and Drink Festival 2013

We are very excited at Porthminster Beach to be hosting this year’s St Ives Food and Drink Festival, taking place 18th and 19th May. Now in it’s fourth year, the festival is a fantastic celebration of St Ives’ unique location – a true mecca for local and seasonal food from both sea and land, as well as home to many passionate food personalities.

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During the weekend, visitors can meet chefs, producers, farmers, foragers, brewers and many more. The festival will be thoroughly interactive, going beyond the usual schedule of cooking demonstrations with mini cooking classes, encouraging young and old to get involved and get their hands dirty. The little ones can learn to make their own pasties, whilst grown-ups discover the rewards of foraging on the beach and coastal path with expert ecologist Caroline Davey of Fat Hen. Rory McPhee will show groups of enthusiasts how to collect seaweed and use it in their cooking, and there are even fishing trips planned from the beach, weather permitting.

In a marquee on the beach itself, you can taste the finest food and drink from St Ives and its surroundings.

“From wine, cider and beer producers, to chocolate and cheese makers, fruit and vegetable growers and meat, chutneys, curry and bread all produced in Cornwall, the food producers market at the St Ives Food and Drink festival is sure to delight the taste buds.”

As well as all this, Porthminster Beach Cafe will be running an Oyster and Champagne Bar during the festival, and there will be plenty of live music to encourage that festival atmosphere!

For more information, including travel and parking advice, visit www.stivesfoodanddrinkfestival.co.uk and look out for our Exec Chef Michael Smith who is lined up for a cooking demo.

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The St Ives Food and Drink Festival is sponsored by Aspects Holidays and Tregenna Castle Hotel.

A Wild Adventure

Well done to all those brave souls who took part in our first Forage & Feast Day on the 11th March. The weather was remarkably cold, but the baltic temperatures didn’t deter this gathering of intrepid wild food enthusiasts, who joined ecologist Caroline Davey of Fat Hen for several hours foraging along the coast path and on the beach itself, gathering wild leaves, seaweed and other edibles. The group then returned to the café for a much-needed, warming four course meal, prepared by Executive Chef Michael Smith using various foraged ingredients.

The aptly-named Navelwort....

The aptly-named Navelwort….

Journalist and blogger Ismay Atkins, who has written a review of the day on her blog Pasties and Cream, described the collaboration between Fat Hen and Porthminster Beach Café as “an inspired partnership”. Caroline is the ultimate approachable expert, on hand with “all manner of information on her wild food walks, delivered with wit, historical context and ecological authority, and a peppering of cooking tips” whilst Michael’s “creative, fresh, delicate food” brings out the most of these wild flavours. You can read the full article here.

Searching for seaweed....

Searching for seaweed….

One more Forage & Feast Day is planned this spring, on the 25th March, with only two places still available. There are two more dates in the diary for a similar autumn experience – click here to find out more.

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.

cafe for web

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.

More Info:

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.

Fat Hen 2

“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.

Mick1

“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.”

Foraging for Seaweed

Ever wondered about the practicalities of foraging for this widely available ingredient? Our chefs went on an epic excursion to learn more, kept in check (more or less!) by the capable hand of local forager Rory MacPhee. One of the youngest stars of the kitchen, Lucy Holland, is our latest guest blogger to give the inside story.

“This December the chefs from Porthminster Beach Cafe joined local forager Rory in discovery of edible seaweeds on and around the beach at Mawnan Smith, near Falmouth on the South Coast of Cornwall. Bright and early, we all meet in the restaurant sporting our best wellies ready for the days adventure!

Our foraging spot on Cornwall's south coast

Our foraging spot on Cornwall’s south coast

The Cafe has a great reputation for sustainability and it’s something which is ingrained in us in the kitchen right from the start. We love to use produce from just beyond our doorstep to create new and exciting dishes.

Mick learns more about foraging at the seashore

Mick learns more about foraging at the seashore

We were keen to learn more about foraging such a common plant as seaweed, which amoungst other things could provide us with a natural seasoning for some of our dishes.

Using seaweed to naturally enhance flavour

Using seaweed to naturally enhance flavour

On our day with Rory, he explained all the different seaweeds and their beneficial factors, whilst introducing us to new ways we could use each variety in the kitchen. A firm favourite of ours for example is Dulse Seaweed, as we use this to create our own Cornish take on the Japanese dish Dashi. Also now appearing on the menu will be a sour dough bread containing Carrageenan, which was inspired by our foraging trip.

More of the days bounty

More of the days bounty

Some of the other seaweed discussed among us include Bladderwrack which is used in many medicines, Kelp which also appears in our Cornish Dashi, and the serrated Pepper Dulse, which has an intense flavour to it (this was popular with the chefs to have a nibble on!)

We all learnt a lot from Rory and after the days expedition were all itching to get back to the kitchen and try out some new creations!”

Seaweed Foraging 6

Porthminster Chefs let loose!

Rory MacPhee heads up the Falassa Project, which is undertaking coastal research between Fowey and the Lizard on Cornwall’s south coast in collaboration with the Seaweed Health Foundation. The aims are to protect the resources found at our coastal fringes, and to argue the case for the sustainable use of marine algae for nutrition, therapy, agri-food and energy.

“Seaweeds offer a spectacular addition to our diet and lifestyle. You can eat them; you can bathe in them; you can make ointments; you can turn them into cloth and bio-fuel, and you can fertilise your garden.”

The project generates funding through courses and the sale of foraged products and also things like seaweed spa kits. To find out more visit www.falassa.co.uk

Seaweed Foraging 5

Fifteen Farmers Market, Autumn 2012

Porthminster’s Executive Chef Michael Smith teamed up with friend Ryan Venning of The Herring for an inspiring demo at this year’s Fifteen Farmer’s Market.

The pair served up a treat for an audience of food lovers, creating a traditional Japanese Dashi Broth entirely from Cornish ingredients. “We’re having a bit of fun and going for a ‘rock pool’ effect as the end result,” explained Ryan, who prepared wonton’s coloured with squid ink to create a pebble-dash effect. These were stuffed with corriander, lime, chilli and ginger.

Ryan lets Michael do the talking!

Michael explained that many ingredients similar to those used to create a Dashi Broth in Japan could be found within the immediate surroundings of the beach café. For example sugar kelp from the shore line is now picked, boiled and dried and replaces Japanese kombu in the dish. Mackerel from St Ives bay is dried and used instead of bonito flakes.

Adapting local ingredients saves thousands of airmiles

Michael and Ryan added native oysters from Porthilly, local Lobster, mussels and clams, as well as some sea lettuce and foraged samphire to the broth. For a similar recipe and more details on how this Cornish Dashi was created, see our earlier recipe post.

Finishing touches

The audience were keen to have a try!

Thanks to Matthew Stevens and Son, who provided the local seafood for this dish. Ryan Venning is head chef at The Herring, located at Bedruthan Steps Hotel, Mawgan Porth.