Here at Trevigue we relish good, locally-sourced traditional Cornish foods. We pride ourselves on harnessing our Cornish heritage and ensure that everything we serve for our breakfasts is picked, caught, grown or sourced here in Cornwall. The recipes which have been passed down from generation to generation in our family are something which we hold dear.
At this time of year we bid adieu to the busy summer season and welcome the onset of Autumn with heartwarming food, crackling fires and bracing clifftop walks. From wine to cheese and everything in between, the unique subtropical climate here in Cornwall means that our local produce is second-to-none and rivals the best anywhere in the world. The food festivals in Cornwall are the best way to try the best traditional Cornish foods so be sure to make time for them when you visit Trevigue this Autumn!
5 of Our Favourite Traditional Cornish Foods
We can’t have a run-down of traditional Cornish foods without first starting with the beloved pasty. Known locally as ‘oggies’, the Cornish pasty is an institution and is held in such high regard that after a 9 year battle, in 2011 it earned Protected Geographical Indication status in Europe, meaning that only pasties made right here in Cornwall can boast the name ‘Cornish pasty’. A true Cornish pasty is made from buttery shortcrust pastry which is then folded into a ‘D’ shape and crimped or sealed using a twisted ‘rope effect’ on the side (never on top). The filling of a real Cornish pasty should include at least 12.5% meat (good quality beef) with swede, potato and onion with a light seasoning. The pastry is then glazed with egg and slow-baked to create the iconic golden Cornish delicacy which can be enjoyed at any time of the day. Some people add extras to suit their palate such as a dollop of clotted cream to make it extra juicy. Is your mouth watering yet!?
Which brings us neatly to… Cornish clotted cream! Along with the pasty, clotted cream is also one of the traditional Cornish foods which have gained Protected Geographical Indication meaning that only the milk from Cornish cows can produce Cornish clotted cream. Much like our pedigree free-range grass-fed cows here at Trevigue, true Cornish clotted cream is made with milk high in beta-carotene (grass) to give it that beautiful golden top. Clotted cream boasting a thick golden crust and unctuous silky cream below is nothing short of heavenly, especially when dolloped high on scones in a Cornish cream tea (jam before cream of course). But this creamy delicacy doesn’t only have the use of adorning dishes on the side… it can also prove a crucial ingredient in delicious favourite Cornish recipes such as clotted cream shortbread biscuits, clotted cream fudge, Cornish ice cream and Victoria sponges to name but a few!
Originating ‘down West’ in the pretty fishing village of Mousehole, Stargazy Pie is a traditional Cornish food which hails from Cornwall’s rich fishing heritage and tradition. Legend has it that one December in the 16th century, the village of Mousehole was facing starvation as the boats couldn’t make it out to sea due to raging storms. A brave local fisherman by the name of Tom Bawcock braved the storms on Christmas Eve to save the villagers and returned with enough fish to feed everyone in the village. He was hailed a hero, and the fish were baked into a pie with their heads poking out the top to prove that there were fish inside. Ever since, the villagers of Mousehole have recreated the pie which is made of baked pilchards or sardines, eggs and potatoes, topped with a pastry crust with the fish heads poking out the top which looks as though they are gazing skyward. Apparently the fish pointing upwards makes the oil run out of the fish into the pie which gives a richer more delicious flavour. Mousehole also celebrates this tradition with a dazzling array of Christmas lights for which people come from miles around to see, with a giant set of lights taking the form of the stargazy pie itself with fish heads poking up to look at the six twinkling stars above.
The first Cornish Yarg was made by Alan and Jenny Gray in Withiel on the edge of Bodmin moor (‘yarg’ is their surname backwards!). They had found in their attic an old recipe dating from 1615 for cheese wrapped in nettles and decided to recreate it. It is thought that the original recipe is thought to date back to the 13th century but since 1984 Cornis Yarg has been a delicacy enjoyed alongside homemade chutney or simply on its own all over Cornwall and beyond. This delicious semi-hard creamy cheese has a certain uniqueness of flavour due to being wrapped in stinging nettles (and sometimes wild garlic leaves) which are painted on by hand. The nettles changes the acidity of the cheese which affects the way the curd breaks down and produces a semi-hard exterior with a sometimes crumbly centre. This traditional Cornish food is absolutely delicious and it’s easy to see why it has won multiple gold awards at the World Cheese Awards.
Saffron Buns/Saffron Cake
Recipes for Cornish saffron cake vary in combinations of spices and dried fruits from village to village, but the classic saffron cake recipe is beloved over the whole of Cornwall and provides a popular teatime treat (especially when slathered with creamy butter). The saffron bun is a cornerstone of Cornish cuisine and similar to the ‘teacake’ found in other parts of the UK, but it is given a unique yellow hue thanks to the addition of the world’s most expensive spice- saffron. It is thought that the Phoenicians brought saffron to Cornwall and used it to trade for tin which explains how this exotic spice made it to Cornish shores. The basic recipe contains flour, sugar, currants and sultanas, spices such as nutmeg, fat (traditionally lard), yeast and saffron. The saffron is often infused in milk to bring out the colour and flavour of the spice and added to the dough before cooking. We love saffron cake and prefer ours dolloped with clotted cream alongside a pot of Cornish tea. Yum.
Here is an old Cornish recipe passed down from Gayle’s gran – her mum grew all the vegetables in the garden to feed the family of five and loved making this recipe which was passed down through the generations.
Recipe for a Chipple Pasty
A chipple pasty has pastry top and bottom (the original pastry would have been one third lard, to two thirds self-raising flour). Before the shallots grew too large (very important to use all the green part of the shallot) the whole vegetable is cut into slices. The pastry is in a sponge tin and filled with ‘chipples’ lots of salt and white pepper (very important as we never had black pepper back then!), 3 whisked eggs from the farmyard chickens. Sauté streaky outdoor-reared free range bacon, add to the whisked eggs and chipples. Fold, bake, et voila! Enjoy…
We don’t know about you, but we’re now hungry! We hope that we’ve managed to tickle your tastebuds with this run down of traditional Cornish foods. Have we missed your favourites? Let us know over on Facebook and share your favourite Cornish recipe with us -perhaps we’ll try and recreate it whilst you’re staying here on our blissful Cornish clifftop! We look forward to welcoming friends old and new over the coming months, get in touch to book your stay.