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.

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Sir Peter Blake in St Ives

Sir Peter Blake, often refered to as the ‘Godfather of British Pop Art’ is exhibiting for the first time in St Ives, at the Porthminster Gallery from 3rd August to 7th September. The exhibition will consist of signed silkscreen prints of recent work.

Sir Peter is most famous for his iconic album covers for the Beatles, including Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. He has also worked with The Who, Oasis, Paul Weller and Madness.

'Vintage Blake'

‘Vintage Blake’

His images “capture the effervescence and optimism of the Sixties, with the use of bold geometric patterns and primary colours” according to the gallery. The work also incorporates comic strips, advertising texts and photographs. Humourous and nostalgic, this is a must see show if you’re visiting St Ives this summer.

For more on the exhibition click here.

Porthminster Gallery is situated at Westcott’s Quay, which is a five minute walk from the restaurant in the direction of the harbour.

Visiting the show? Click here to make your table reservation with us before or after.

Meet our Head Chef, Ryan Venning

Having worked at Porthminster Beach Café in the past, as well as on other projects alongside Executive Chef Michael Smith, we were thrilled to welcome back Ryan Venning as Head Chef at the start of the year.

Now that he’s well and truly settled back in, we thought it was time to introduce him properly, so here goes….

Where did you start cooking?

“I grew up in Durban, South Africa. I started training at the 5* Royal Hotel, which sleeps 2,000 people! It was an incredible 3 year apprenticeship. The hotel had its own butchery as well as an enormous grill department and a vast pastry kitchen. The hotel hosted important functions, including several gala dinners for the President with 1,200 guests. It was a good grounding in all aspects of cooking. After I qualified I worked in some brilliant smaller places, including a gastro pub and a buzzing Cafe which specialized in outside catering, and a grillhouse where we aged our own meats.”

How did you end up in St Ives?

Cooking demo at Fifteen Farmers Market...

Cooking demo at Fifteen Farmers Market…

“I met Mick (Smith) when he was on holiday in Cape Town. He’d been in St Ives a few years by then and was loving it. It sounded like the perfect place to come and cook in the UK – I was happy to bypass London! In a few months I was here; I started at Porthmeor before working with Mick at Porthminster and later becoming the Head Chef at Porthgwidden (Porthminster’s sister restaurant). From there I went as Head Chef to The Herring at Bedruthan Steps Hotel, before returning to my roots here on the beach.”

You arrived in Cornwall eight years ago, and it seems the attraction hasn’t diminished?

“Certainly, I still love it just as much as when I first arrived! Don’t get me wrong, as chefs we do work very, very hard. The hours are long and unsociable. But in Cornwall a positive work/life balance is just that bit easier to achieve. I don’t have to commute to work and I have the beach and countryside right on my doorstep whenever I get a chance to get out there. For me there’s always something different and essential about being by the ocean. It’s a lifestyle I wouldn’t be without, especially now I have a family. Surfing, cooking and my family are my inspiration – not in that order! Being based in the UK has allowed me to travel to places like Morocco and Portugal. Looking for new waves and new food experiences is a great combination.”

In terms of being a chef, what is it that’s unique about working here?

A trip to the garden before service....

A trip to the garden before service….

“For me, the UK in general has four distinct seasons which we just don’t have back in South Africa. This keeps your creativity flowing; there’s always new produce coming into season which is really exciting. Cornwall in particular of course has the best seafood in the world! As well as that, we enjoy an abundance of foraged produce throughout the year. Spring I think is my favourite time for the great variety of local ingredients which come through the door – everything is so fresh it’s impossible not to be inspired.”

Do you find it a challenge leading the kitchen at Porthminster?

“It is a challenge, but it’s a good one. My experiences as Head Chef elsewhere have taught me a lot and they have all been positive stepping-stones. The team here are fantastic – you need to have that behind you in order to create great food, especially during the summer season when cover numbers are so high. I’m finding real satisfaction in coaching the younger members of the crew; I think even more experienced chefs feed off that sense of discovery and learning we see in our apprentices. And at the end of the day our location is unique and inspirational. We’re privileged to work on a beach with this stunning view, and I genuinely think that is reflected in what we create everyday.”

Read more about Ryan and Michael’s favourite seasonal ingredients in our Summer at Porthminster blog feature, coming soon….

Breakfast – The Most Important Meal Of The Day

Arriving early for work at Porthminster, many of us would agree that this is the best time of day: the beach is empty, the sky is bright and St Ives is lit up in the morning light. It seemed a little selfish not to share that with those of you out and about looking for a decent meal to start the day. So, as of this May, we are now serving breakfast between 8.30am  – 10.30am. Starting with excellent coffee and fresh-baked bread, you can enjoy healthy as well as hearty options, or create your own breakfast just the way you like it. Here’s a little teaser –

Two Free-Range Eggs

Poached, Scrambled or Fried on toasted sour dough

£3.75

Roasted Banana Pancake Stack

Real maple syrup

£6.50

Granola, Yoghurt and Fruit

Own-recipe granola with seasonal fruit, wildflower honey & Cornish yoghurt

£6.50

Porthminster Beach Cafe Fry-Up

Bacon, local sausage, field mushrooms, free-range egg, homemade beans, grilled tomatoes, toasted sour dough

£7.95

Build your own – choose from Cornish Back Bacon, Smoked Salmon, Grilled Field Mushrooms, Local Sausage, Spinach, Homemade Potato Hash and more

Children’s options are also available, including mini banana pancakes. Our selection of homemade cakes, brownies and muffins will be on hand for that sweet-fix.

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Porthminster Cook Book – The Launch!

Our brand new cook book was finally unveiled at a party at the restaurant on Friday 17th May. Regular diners celebrated alongside journalists and leading figures from the Cornish hospitality industry, hosted by Executive Chef Michael Smith and the team.

As well as a Foreword written by Nathan Outlaw, whose restaurant in Rock holds two Michelin Stars, the book has been further endorsed by Heston Blumenthal. Heston, whose restaurant The Fat Duck consistently receives the highest accolades in the whole of the UK, was pleased to recommend Porthminster as a “favourite holiday eating spot of mine,” going on to praise “inventive cooking and a gorgeous location.”

Preparing for a thirsty crowd

Preparing for a thirsty crowd

We would like to thank Champagne Louis Roederer, Polgoon and Matthew Stevens & Son Fish for their sponsorship on the night.

A first look at the recipe book of the summer!

A first look at the recipe book of the summer!

The book is now available to buy from the restaurant and online.

Parmesan Brulee with Asparagus & Parma Ham

Parmesan Brulee with Asparagus & Parma Ham

Guests were served a taste of various recipes from the book, as well as freshly shucked oysters.

The launch brought together all those involved with the restaurant's success

The launch brought together many of those involved with the restaurant’s success

It was a fantastic evening, thank you to all who came to help us celebrate. We hope you enjoy recreating these recipes at home!

Images courtesy of St Ives TV

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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.

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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.