Thursday, 16 June 2011

West Cornwall at the Land´s End & the English gastronomy begins.

Penzance Bay
A week ago Kitchenvoyage ahead in the early afternoon train from Paddington to Penzance to explore the most west English lands, the best way is by airplane but if you can find affordable first class ticket to cover the 300miles and 4:30 hours of journey you will reward for the lovely countryside full of dairy farms and spectacular sea views where the train track seems run over the English channel, a majestic engineering works from Victorian times.
Penzance is the most major town in the English far west, famous for the Pirates of Penzance Opera but really Penzance always has been more a target of Spanish armada than a pirate nest and given their location more a town market or later on a resort since Victorian times, but without doubt today is a good departure point to explore the quality attractions of the far west with really interesting restaurants and great views to the St. Michel´s Mount in Marazion.
St. Michel´s Mount
The tidal island of Saint Michel Mount early in the Christian era has become a pilgrim place given some fisherman saw the apparition of the archangel St Michel and then the benedict monks start to build a monastery. Today when the tide is high you can still access the mount by boat for a little fare (£1.50) and discover all the history and legends of the castle, where is worth for the amazing views of the sea coast and the Priory Chapel, if you are in a short budget you can only access to the sub-tropical gardens where for me the views to the castle are the best and still very good views to the sea, bust the best part of your visit will be the walk in low tide in the causeway between the Marazion town and the mount.

Another activities around Penzance is go to Land´s End across the countryside, I recommend go in the 300 or 10A bus because the routes are very narrow and with many curves and various buses and tractor use it and you need to reverse several times to give pass and also in the double deck buses you will discover monoliths and stone circles.
Land´s end now is a private attraction and very very touristic and a bit dangerous in the always windy day, we enjoy much more the views of the Sennen Cove Beach and much more the “Caribbean” beach of Porthcurno, shame the crystalline water are so freezing but is a nice day out where you can climb to the unique open air theatre of Minack build in the cliff or visit the Porthcurno telegraph museum. Every location has their charming cafes with the best views, but the foods are totally forgeable.
Porthcurno Beach view from the Minack Theatre

More West Cornwall Attraction.
Stone Ages Ancien Sites.
Field Bounderies near Land´s End, Stone Age’s walls created for clear the first cultivation lands.
Quoits- Several chambers tombs knows as quoits, the best preserved are Chun Quoit, Lanyon Quoit and Mulfra Quoit.
Stones Circles, the best Boscawen-au Circle and Men-an-tol
Also in the area develop several castles in the Iron and Roman British Age like Trencrom Hillfort and Carn Euny ancient village.
Mines. Between Cape Cornwal and Pendeen several sites has been mined for tin and copper, look in the map for Botallack Mine houses and the Crowns Engine houses, Greevor Tin Mine Museum and Levant Engine House.
St Ives, benefits as well for the subtropical climate of west Cornwall and has very nice beaches and really charming little streets but also have a Tate Gallery and the Leach Pottery museum.
Marazion is just no the access to mount Saint Michel; they also have a selection of galleries and plenty cafes and bakery for enjoy after your visit to the Mount
Penzance. The commercial street of Penzance unfortunately doesn’t look different to the rest of England commercial streets, but when you arrive to the Market exchange building (just take photo inside is a crappy shop) just follow the indication to the modern building of the Exchange Gallery and you will be in Chapel Street where you find interesting Georgian houses and great old fashion pubs where you need to be aware of pirates on the roof!. Dont waste too much time in the gallery and previously visit to the St Mary Church go to the Penlee house where painting for the fishing industry will impress you.
Gardens:  The presence of the surrounding sea and that carry the gulf current create a best climate for sub-tropical species and several gardens like the one in the St Michel Mount or Trengwainton Garden outside Penzance.

Penzance The Gastronomic experiences

The Bay Restaurant at Hotel Penzance

Pollack with baby shrimps
The dessert!

This is an inviting room with views over the rooftops of Penzance to the harbour below.
We had an a la carte dinner twice on a Sunday and Monday night....Monday nights out of season are a no go for restaurants in the town as most are closed.
The first thing that has to be said is the bread is the best I have ever tasted in a restaurant- particularly the onion bread which this diner could have happily eaten all night.
To start we had Steamed Fowey mussels in a puy lentil white wine and garlic cream sauce and  Pan fries south coast scallops served with potato and vanilla cream and spring onions. Both dishes well presented and cooked. As a main we had Roast fillet of Pollack with baby brown shrimps cucumber and watercress and Pan fried duck breast with smoked fennel, polenta cake and preserved orange jus. Again both dishes were well presented and cooked although the polenta was dissappointing and rather dry.
For dessert we had white chocolate mousse and a selection of cornish cheeses.
To drink a glass of Cornish white wine and a french Merlot.
Portions are a little on the nouvelle cuisine side and the cheese incurred an extra cost to the set price meal which did not impress me.Service is a little on the slow side and I had to waive my arms to attract attention from the staff.
On the second night we sampled the Lobster menu and had steamed lobster tossed in basil pesto with linguini pasta and home dried tomatoes served with a green salad. This was superb but the experience was marred by both slow service and a rather rowdy group of medical professionals who decided to stand around our table while we ate. Eventually the restaurant manager managed to get this group seated but it did spoil the evening.
On a more positive note the breakfasts at the hotel are superb and freshly cooked which I prefer to the serve yourself buffet arrangement at some hotels.
Would I recommend the Bay?? Overall yes but dont expect much change from £100 for a dinner for two.

 Harris's Restaurant

This is a charming and well run restaurant in Penzance.The Harris's have been here for quite sometime and clearly care for the well being of their customers.
Roger is the star chef in the kitchen and delivers well cooked food at a very reasonable price. Mrs Harris is a superb host and keeps a watchful eye over her diners and her young waitress Roxie delivers great service.
To start we had Duck terrrine with Grand Marnier and orange and Grilled scallops on salad leaves with a fresh herb dressing. Both dishes were of excellent quality and generously portioned.
For main courses we had Noisettes of Cornish Lamb and a Seafood Platter which consisted of smoked salmon , white crab meat and prawns.The lamb arrived with a selection of vegetables which were cooked al dente and delicious. The seafood was clearly caught that day and well presented.
Desserts were amazing consisting of Fresh strawberries and raspberries  with white chocolate ice cream in a biscuit basket and a superb lemon mousse.Home ground fresh coffe and chocolates finished off a great meal and evening.
To my mind this is the best restaurant in Penzance and the bill will not break the bank.
The restaurant has a great reputation which it fully deserves.

Whereas Mr. Pring was having a great time in the best fine dining restaurants in Penzance I decided to go to try the new sensation, Untitled next to the enchanting Abbey Hotel and very close to trendy Chapel St.
Untitled tapas room and Untitled tapas mix

Untitled have a fine dining menu and a tapas one which you can enjoy in two separates rooms. Both very well decorated and worth to spend a good time. I went for the tapas menu in the cosy downstairs room, unfortunately it  didn´t work for me, many people told us about that place and the only true  thing is that the restaurant is nice, service didn’t exist that day with only one person on duty perhaps because they didn’t expect people on a rainy Tuesday lunchtime ? Anyway when I am having tapas I don’t care too much about the service but I really care about the flavour beside the meatballs that were executed very well in a rich sauce and the Imam Bayaldi the rest of the menu is Italian tapas mixed with Arabian influences wasn’t my taste and the ricotta spinach croquets were impossible to finish. Another failure was the wine tapas menu; I can’t find a wine that wasn’t too strong or too weak for having with tapas. Anyway next time I think the experience will be much better beside my disappointments I think Untitled has a fantastic location and has plenty of room for improvement.


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