Thursday, 11 February 2010

All is Not Lost in Lostwithiel - Photomontage

No indeed, this small town packs in plenty of delights. Lostwithiel is the ancient capital of Cornwall - one of many! Cornwall is not part of England, just ask the Cornish. It's the home of King Arthur, tin mines, pasties, but most importantly clotted cream. A dear friend, now deceased who swam in the seas nearby well into her eighties claimed that the Phoenicians brought clotted cream with them when they came trading for tin several thousand years ago. We came not in search of tin, but of cream teas!
Lostwithiel, a river runs though it, the Fowey, named after the Cornish word for the beech trees that hug its banks. In fact, in the middle ages this was one of the biggest ports on the South Coast of Britain. Since then the river has silted up with all the tin mining going on upstream in previous centuries. It was after all a stannary town - an administrative centre for the collection of Crown taxes on tin exports. Now the only boats you see are canoes and rowing boats. Although a few miles downsteam at Fowey, once home of Daphne du Maurier, large tankers still regularly call in to collect the local china clay.
Restormel Castle up on the hill was used by the dukes of Cornwall to stamp their authority on the region and protect their assets. It took a bit of a battering in the English Civil War. From the castle it's possible to walk through to the Lanhydrock Estate where you can see what they did with the money made from their exploits. There is much more to tell about Lostwithiel including some intriguing connections with the United States.

But enough history - let's eat!
Where better than Muffins, Lostwithiel's very own award winning teashop. Not that we are going to be eating muffins of course, this is a cream tea expedition.
A Cornish Cream Tea is not to be confused with a Devonshire cream tea or any other cream tea to be found in England. The jam is applied to the cut scone first - the order in which this is done is very important. This is then topped with a magnificent dollop of delightful clotted cream. For those who have not yet tried this manna from heaven, it is produced by scalding rich milk from our lush pastures and then skimming the cream off the top. The scones at Muffins are particularly good - better than many of the overblown monsters sold in less deserving establishments. Actually, the scone is a bit of a Johnny come lately. Traditionally, a cream tea was served on a Cornish split - a yeasted roll.
If you are looking for something a little more exotic, you could pop up to Bellamama, a small but perfectly formed deli just up the road. Here you can get such delights as black garlic, chocolate cake, hand made pizzas and local cheeses such as Yarg, a speciality cheese wrapped in nettles - it's delicious, honest!

12 comments:

  1. ooh yum! I saw your guest post on Chow and Chatter, but this is much better with pictures!

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  2. Aaaah, I've just taken a virtual trip to Cornwall! Gorgeous pics, and just look at all that thick, luscious cream! :)

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  3. Pics are just amazing,lovely muffins and cakes

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  4. Hi Choclette,
    It’s Rob from Dorset Cereals. I’ve been reading through your great blog and thought a chocolate lover such as you might be interested that we have created two amazingly moreish dark chocolate Granola recipes. If you fancy we can send you some samples to try and if you’d like to do a competition on your blog we’d love to give some packs to the winner as a prize!

    If you’re at all interested please email me at robward@dorsetcereals.co.uk

    I have to say, I've always thought the Cornish Cream Tea tasted better somehow, and now I know why, it's all about the order!

    Hope to hear from you soon,

    Rob

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  5. This is great Choclette! I love the look of Muffins... cakes look fab x

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  6. wow! Cheese wrapped in nettles, black garlic ...! The cream tea pics have increased my heart rate..absolutely scrummy!!

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  7. I love this bright and lively account of Cornish adventuring, from history to cream teas. Lovely read.

    How funny to think the Phoenicians brought clotted cream (and took away tin). A fair exchange.

    I adore clotted cream. I am also on the lactose-intolerant spectrum. But let me tell you, any digestive discomfort is way-worth fresh clotted cream!

    Thanks for explaining how clotted cream is made. Do you reckon it is always milk from grass-fed cows - not cows fed unnaturally with grains?

    That would explain the yumminess - although you can get organic clotted cream (ie cows guaranteed to graze on pastures) and that is double-yummy, creamy and fresh.

    Now I am intrigued and just did a quick search but did not find answer to my question: Does the cream from clotted cream have to be from grass-fed cows?

    Thanks, Choclette. And for your comment on my blog about the negative effects of Tesco on local shops and communities.

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  8. Janice - yes it's a shame the pictures didn't work. Thanks for wading through a 2nd time.

    Celia - virtual trips cost a lot less than actual ones and are also easier on the waistline.

    Sushma Mallya - thank you

    Rob - sounds like a grand scheme

    Thank you Lucie

    Rashmi - Yes we have a few interesting things down here - you may not like Stargazey Pie as much - then again you might!

    Elisabeth - Glad you enjoyed the post.

    We are very fortunate to have an excellent supplier of organic clotted cream, Helsett Farm. It is absolutely delicious and should not be left unguarded in the fridge.

    My mother and I used to make our own clotted cream with milk from the village. I don’t remember it being that difficult. But you do need raw milk or the clots don’t form, apparently.

    Cornish clotted cream is a protected designation of origin (PDO) product in the European Union, so has similar status to Parmesan and Champagne and other regional foods and beverages. However, I doubt there are restrictions on what the cows are fed. That said, I do know that grass usually grows all year round here, so it would be surprising if it didn’t form a major part of their diet.

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  9. A couple of years ago I went to Cornwall for the first time and we stayed at the Lostwithiel golf club! And just today we were saying that we wanted to go back to Fowey this summer. And now I see this post! Clearly the universe is sending me to Cornwall!

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  10. FoodyCat - shows how much I know Lostwithiel. I didn't know you could stay at the golf club. I am a bit partisan to be sure, but there is so much to see and do in Cornwall and Fowey is another of our favourites. I expect I'll be posting abut our teashop experiences there at some point.

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  11. One of my favourite memories of Cornwall is sitting in a farm garden eating a Cornish cream tea and looking out over the coastal path at the crashing waves below. What I wouldn't give to be there now!

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  12. That sounds like a great memory Hilary - did you get the bonus of sunshine too?

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