Polgoon Cider Orchard and Vineyard

One of our favourite local producers is Polgoon Cider Orchard & Vineyard, award-winning makers of wine, cider and fruit juices.  

Polgoon is owned and operated by Kim and John Coulson. The couple previously ran a business in Newlyn, but in 2002 they bought a derelict farmhouse on the edge of Penzance and set about restoring it and the surrounding land. Now Polgoon occupies a series of sun-drenched slopes, home to lovingly-tended vines and apples trees as well as a tasting room and a store featuring other local produce.

Polgoon02There are not many sites suitable for vines in this country. Luckily for Kim and John, their gentle south-south-east facing hillsides and well-draining soil is ideal. They had to choose grape varieties that grow well in the English climate, including Bacchus, Orion, Rondo and Pinot Noir, which is used in Champagne.

From these grapes they make white, rosé, red and sparkling wines. The vineyard has a relatively low yield due to the climate and it can be a risky business. For example, Kim remembers the 2007 growing season. “Rain in July and August destroyed the crop, the grapes literally rotted on the vines. That was really heartbreaking; there is nothing you can do!”

For several years, the fledgling vineyard weathered the storm, winning awards and loyal followers despite poor conditions for grape ripening. “We focused on careful vineyard management and keeping yields low,” explained Kim, “that is the way to keep quality high in tough years.” However 2013 finally brought sustained warm weather and plenty of sunshine – just what is needed to produce ripe grapes full of flavour. “Its an exciting time for Polgoon,” said John, “for the first time our tanks are full and the quality is again superb, I am really enjoying the winemaking and for the first time have a sparkling white wine nearing completion. The weather in 2013 was kind to us and we believe we will see some interesting and award winning wines again this vintage.”

As well as nurturing these vines into maturity, Kim and John also produce delicious apple juices and sparkling cider. The latter is made by allowing the cider to undergo a secondary fermentation in the bottle. The bottles need to be turned gradually, allowing the sediment to make its way to the neck. The sediment is then quickly ‘disgorged’ and the liquid is topped up and re-corked.

“We have over 400 apple trees,” said John, but the varieties that go into Polgoon Aval (Aval meaning ‘apple’ in Cornish) are a well-kept secret. At Porthminster we serve Sparkling Aval Raspberry – refreshing pink bubbles made by combining apples with a hint of raspberry.

Polgoon also produce a Perry and a Sparkling Elderflower, as well as juices.

You can visit the store at Polgoon or take a tour between March and October. Click here to find out more.

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Cornish Crab & Mussel Linguine

A recipe from ‘Porthminster Beach Cafe – The Cookbook’ to tantalise your taste buds this weekend.

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This is one of Michael’s favourite recipes and a really popular dish on the menu at the restaurant; it goes down a storm at lunch on a sunny day, accompanied by a glass of Rosé! Michael says “this classic combination of simple ingredients – chilli, lemon, garlic and parsley – works so well with the crab and mussels here.”

Cooking technique is very important in getting this dish right. Using fish stock can be a bit strong and make the crab overpowering so we use chicken stock instead, which gives a rounded flavour to the dish.

Serves four

Ingredients

120g picked white crabmeat

350g dried linguine

100ml mild olive oil

40 mussels

2 red chillies, deseeded and finely diced

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped garlic

300ml light chicken stock

Juice of 2 lemons

Half a bunch of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

First pick through crabmeat to make sure it’s free from any bits of shell. Scrub the mussels under running water and remove any grit and pull off the little ‘beards’.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the linguine, cook as per instructions until al-dente.

Meanwhile, in a pan large enough to take all the mussels comfortably, heat the olive oil, add the mussels and stir until they begin to open. Next add the chilli and garlic and cook till softened, stirring regularly, do not let them brown. Add the chicken stock and lemon juice to the pan and bring it to the boil.

Drain the pasta and reserve a little of the cooking water. Add the drained pasta to the mussels with the parley and crabmeat and toss together until everything is evenly mixed – loosen with a little of the cooking water if the pasta looks too dry. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

The book will be available to buy from the 18th May, from the restaurant and online (and at the St Ives Food and Drink Festival, taking place over the weekend 18th and 19th May).

 

Trip to Champagne? If I must…..

Rebecca, our brilliant and unflappable front of house manager has had a busy year. Months have passed in a whirlwind of coffee beans, shift requests and stock sheets, and we thought she deserved to put her feet up. A long train trip seemed in order, so we sent her to Champagne, where the sounds of tinkling cutlery could no longer reach her….

Reims Cathedral

“Would you like to come on an all expenses paid overnight trip to the Ruinart Chateau for dinner and champagne tasting?”  When faced with this question over the phone, mid service on a busy September afternoon in the Café, my answer was easy!  And so after a mere twelve hours train travel from St.Ives, I arrived in Reims, a city of traditions and centuries-old know-how, and one of the main gastronomic centers of France.

The Champagne region is a very ancient province of France, consisting of 319 villages or vineyards, each one having its own characteristics and in total possessing an incredible 250km of cellars.

Prized stocks of past vintages

Ruinart is the oldest established champagne house, exclusively producing champagne since 1729.  Founded by Nicolas Ruinart, the house is today owned by the parent company LVMH Moet Hennessey Louis Vuitton SA.

Ruinart cellars are among the largest in the region, and are Gallo-Roman in origin.  Like most cellars, they are the product of chalk mining, and extend 38 meters below ground and are 8km long.  The chalk helps to keep the cellars at a constant 11 degrees celcius.

Exploring the maze of ancient cellars

As we shivered our way through a fraction of the maze of ancient cellars, we were told how Nicolas Ruinart, an entrepreneur, came to make Ruinart an authentic champagne house.  In the period immediately following the 1728 edict of Louis XV, which authorized the transportation of wine in bottles, the house was established.  Prior to this edict, wine could only be transported in barrels, which made it impossible to transport wine to distant markets, and confined consumption primarily to its area of production.  Nicolas Ruinart founded the house of Ruinart in 1729.  The first delivery of ‘wine with bubbles’ went out in January 1730. At first the sparkling wine was a business gift for cloth purchasers, as Dom Ruinart’s brother was a cloth merchant, but six years later Maison Ruinart terminated its cloth selling activities due to its success in the champagne business.  Since then the house has kept the standards of excellence of its founders.

Tasting and food matches

After a chilly but fascinating cellar tour came the best bit, the champagne reception and dinner!  Ruinart has a long standing relationship with the Arts and its recently and beautifully renovated reception bar and dining hall holds some stunning art work to enjoy whilst sipping a glass of their Blanc de Blanc and enjoying a canapé or two!

At dinner each of the five courses were perfectly matched with one of their five champagnes, Ruinart Blanc de Blanc, Dom Ruinart, Dom Ruinart Rose, “R” de Ruinart and Ruinart Rose and each enjoyed all the more knowing the time and effort that goes into the production of each and every bottle at Ruinart.”

Too many bubbles Rebecca?!

We currently serve “R” de Ruinart Brut by the glass at the Café and Blanc de Blanc by the bottle. The latter goes spectacularly well with our Fish and Chips as well as the current new season oysters.

150 Best Restaurants in the UK

Today The Good Food Guide, in conjunction with The Daily Telegraph, released a guide to 150 of the best restaurants in the UK. The selection was made from the 2012 edition of the guide, based on feedback from readers and backed up by anonymous expert inspectors.

Pigeon-holed as a “funky beach hangout”, Porthminster was described as reliably popular in the summer but also a great destination on a blustery winter’s day, when wave watching becomes a spectator sport.

The editors acknowledged the excellent seafood and also the great options for vegetarians.

“One successful lunch began with superb fried cuttlefish in citrus miso and went on to baked hake with white bean pureé, and what are confidently declared to be the best fish and chips to be found anywhere (beer-battered haddock with homemade tartare, and chips cooked with whole cloves of garlic and sprinkled with crisp-fried rosemary spikes.)”

The anonymous visitor also obviously felt the need to return for dinner and enjoyed “baked Pollack with spinach and a truffled egg-yolk parcel” amoungst other dishes, with our desserts and wine list also garnering praise.

The Cornish section of the guide also included our favourite local burger bar, Blas Burgerworks and gastro pub bolt-hole The Gurnard’s Head, as well as the top Michelin-starred dining rooms of Nathan Outlaw in Rock and Chris Eden at Driftwood over on the Roseland. Cornwall is definately the place to be for great food experiences this summer!