Delicious Cornwall

I’ve been meaning to tell you about our fantastic trip to Cornwall for ages. I knew I’d like it in Cornwall, but I didn’t quite expect how much I’d love it, how it would woo me. As they say, love comes in through the stomach. Here are a few things we loved in Cornwall.

 

1) Excellent restaurants

Some Cornwall’s restaurants we’ve eaten in deserve a special post. And my special thanks go to the chefs and staff of The Wave in St. Ives, and of the Gurnard’s Head, near Zennor, for their creative and mouthwatering food! In particular, the staff at the Gurnard’s Head deserve special mention because of their friendliness and informativeness.

We simply didn’t have enough days and nights to try everywhere we wanted to try, so we said good-bye to Cornwall with a list of restaurants to try when we come back next. I can’t wait! 

The Wave, St Ives

 

2) The best fish and chips in the world

I can safely say I’ve had the best fish and chips in the world now.

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The Jewell Chippie in Newlyn sells the most amazing, freshly caught, freshly cooked fish and chips, with daily specials that include lemon sole and scallops. We’ve had one (massive) portion of freshly cooked lemon sole that was just out of this world. Firstly, the fish was freshly caught (the chippie is just behind the harbour, and they buy fresh fish every day). Secondly, it was freshly cooked. Thirdly, and importantly, it was really very well cooked. Just right. Moist and tasty. Non-greasy. Also, it was served by very friendly staff, and incredibly cheap. I give it my vote for the best chippie in the world! This really was something special.

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Funnily, we ate our bounty sitting on a wall in a car park opposite the harbour, but boy what a view we had!

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3) The best cream tea I’ve ever had

The whole of Cornwall is famous for its cream tea, with gorgeous Rodda’s Clotted Cream. In The Kitchen, Polperro, I’ve had the best cream tea ever, with beautiful scones and delicious local strawberry jam.

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4) Fantastic ice-creams

What is a summer without ice-cream? I’m delighted to report that we found excellent ice-cream everywhere in Cornwall, but were particularly impressed by Moomaid ice-cream from Zennor. 

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5) Beers, pasties, etc.

Cornish are proud of their food, and rightly so. They have excellent seafood, and some really very good local produce (try the Cornish blueberries when in season!). We had some stunning local beers in Cornwall. The Cornish Blonde (note, this is not the same as the Celtic Blonde) is a blond beer, with summery notes of heather and hay – one of the best beers I’ve ever had.

You simply cannot go to Cornwall without trying the famous Cornish Pasty. The Philps pasties from Hayle are especially good.

Invite for the pasties

Yes, we will definitely return to Cornwall. I miss it already.

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Croatian Roast Lamb on the Spit, or the village of Gangentine!

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If you’ve ever been to Croatia and taken ‘the old road’ (i.e. not the motorway) from Zagreb to the Croatian coast, you would  have seen the signs saying ‘Janjetina‘ dotted all the way along the road! As a matter of fact, they’re everywhere! There are so many of them that someone once told me how her English friends once asked her ‘Why is every other village in Croatia called Gangentine?’ This was their pronunciation of ‘janjetina’; pronounced ‘yanietina’ in Croatian, and meaning ‘lamb’ (lamb meat)! We both thought that was hilarious, but I must admit that they kind of did have a point! The signs are everywhere, and sometimes it just says ‘ Janjetina  —> ‘. If you don’t know the Croats’ especially enthusiastic affinity to lamb, it’s easy to get confused! I can forgive you that, but I won’t forgive you if you miss trying this speciality when you go to Croatia! There will be plenty of opportunities, trust me!

Now, ‘Janjetina’ does not mean any old lamb! All these sings mean only one thing: ‘Janjetina s raznja’, or Roast Lamb on the Spit! Warning: pictures to follow! At this point, don’t scroll down any further, if you’re sensitive to animal body parts that look like real animals (though these ones remind me of roast dinosaurs!). We Croats are generally not, and happily eat all the parts of an animal, or in this case, we happily eat the whole animal! This is what ‘Janjetina s raznja’ is – a whole lamb, heavily salted before cooking (though it doesn’t taste too salty when done), roast on a spit for a few hours, basted in its own juices, as it rolls rolls and turns around itself! The result is a melt-in-the-mouth, slightly salty, tender, juicy and meaty sensation in your mouth, contrasted by the crunchy salty skin! Gorgeous!  Here it is! Look at that gorgeous colour!

Janjetina

The intestine and liver are taken out, but kidneys, the brain and sometimes ehm testicles are left inside to roast. Sometimes, the lamb is also stuffed. My granny makes a delicious stuffing, consisting of bread crumbs, lamb’s intestine, the liver, eggs, cheese, prsut (pronounced prshut),  which is the Croatian cousin of the Italian Parma ham, or the Spanish Serrano Ham or jamon, and a few other things (I shall have to ask her the recipe). My mother doesn’t like lamb on the spit or otherwise (!), but she does eat the stuffing! We all suspect that she can’t be a real Dalmatian, though born and bred in Dalmatia, because she doesn’t like neither lamb nor olive oil – shock-horror!

You will notice that I said that my granny makes the stuffing. However, cooking the lamb itself is normally a man’s job. In the past, the men used to turn the lamb by hand. Nowadays, they use an electrical motor, that slowly turns the spit around. Cooking it is a bit of an art. You have to know when it’s done, without being bloody on the inside – because in Dalmatia we like our meat thoroughly cooked! It mustn’t be dry either, so a happy medium has to be achieved. The best parts are the shoulder and the leg (the thigh bit). Some, like my dad, like the ribs, and others, like my brother’s godfather, like – the testicles! The brain is also delicious!

Are you cringing now? Well, don’t! I bet you would love it if you tried it without knowing what it is! Also, if you’re going to kill an animal, isn’t it better to eat the whole thing, rather than throwing some away?

Janjetina s raznja

Dalmatians and all the Croatians alike love their ‘janjetina’! Everybody’s favourite ‘guest’ at parties, it is a special, festive food, not eaten everyday (which is obvious, given the scale of the roasting project)! This dish is not cheap, but it’s worth it!We have it in restaurants or make it for major family celebrations, weddings, christenings, festas (festa is Dalmatian for a feast, or fiesta). It used to be traditional to eat lamb roasts for Easter. For a starter, we normally have a platter of prsut and cheese with gherkins and olives, followed by beef or lamb bouillon, clear soup with small pieces of thin pasta. (As a kid, I used to love the letter-shaped small pasta!) The dessert can be anything. (I’ll write about Croatian desserts another time) The lamb is normally served warm with various salads, spring onions, sometimes pickled gherkins and bread. It is also delicious cold, but I love it hot, straight off the spit. Don’t be shy to pick it up in your hand and eat it like that, sometimes it’s impossible to use only a knife and a fork. Nobody will look at you strangely. Some might smile and nod.

Janjetina s raznja

You see what I mean when I say that the lamb on the spit reminds me of dinosaurs?

Dinosaur, British Museum

You’ll notice that I don’t have photos of the served dish. When it comes to that stage, I tend to forget about my camera! 🙂

The lamb normally weighs less than 20 kg; our sheep are small in general, especially when compared to say British sheep. Dalmatian lamb, especially the lamb grown on the islands (for example the island of Pag, see picture below), is considered to be the best, because the sheep feed aromatic herbs growing in the karst, and the meat contains natural salt, which has an effect on the taste of the meat.

Herbs growing in the carst

Herbs growing in the karst

The town of Pag, on the island of Pag

And the recipe for the lamb? Erm, I’ll have to ask my dad, who’s an expert! 🙂

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