Sunday, 13 April 2008

Day Eleven-Fish and chips the Rick Stein way-Cornwall

Padstow, or Padstein as the locals are starting to mockingly call it was our lunchtime destination. We had the kind of light this afternoon, that artists rave about bright, clear, crisp. All the colours of Cornwall leaped out at us demanding our attention. Padstow has a healthy fishing industry and the carefully kept fishing boats rested in the harbour for all to see; neighboured by a couplet of Rick Steins’ enterprises on the quay side. A very shiny fish and chip shop followed by an equally shiny Deli in a brand new shiny, shiny architect designed nautical building. All very shiny and contrived, commercial and welcoming.

On the left there is a traditional fish and chip counter. Traditional looking in every way except the staff, nearly all are French and answer to a chef.

On the right is a dining area. A cross between Wagamama tables where you sit next to people you don’t know and the clinical look of blue and white bathroom. It even has fake stones grouted to the sides of the waiters station. Skinny women wearing oversized sunglasses and bleached blond, aged lotharios sit check by jowl amongst bemused middle aged Mums and Dads and their expectant children. All waiting for Rick Steins fish and chips. Surely the best fish and chips we have ever tasted?

I actually applaud the fact the serve alcoholic drinks with the meals. I know it is reported that the late Queen mother’s favourite meal was fish and chips accompanied by a glass of champagne with an ice cube in it. No one dared question her. I felt I had had my champagne earlier (an English equivalent of course) at the Camel Valley Vineyard but opted for a small glass of Chenin blanc. I’ve always thought Fish and chip should sell alcoholic drinks. Who doesn’t enjoy occasionally saying NO, to the cooker and having a Carb’ rich evening in front of the telly with a good bottle of wine?

The service was second to none, the maĆ®tre Dee was an efficient woman who dealt with us extremely professionally and had a beautiful rich Cornish accent. She anticipated our ever wish and as Oskar was napping on Jason’s chest came and popped his untouched food into a takeaway cardboard box.

The chips were perfectly fried in beef lard, which maybe to a lot of people taste but I couldn’t see the benefit? I know animal fats allow the taste of food to be exentuated in the mouth but I found it an odd though not unpleasant taste. I had grilled Cornish sardines and Jason had battered cod with the best homemade tartar sauce I’ve ever tasted. Lemony and mustardy a perfect accompaniment to his melt in the mouth cod in a very light but satisfying batter with a good crunch.

The food was good but we did spent £30 on Fish and Chips and too be honest I don’t think it was value for money. It wasn’t that much better than my local chippie in Chesham and where we can treat ourselves to a fish and chip supper for under a fiver.

Still Rick Stein has and is still helping local fishermen and is raising the profile of the work they do and the problems they encounter and for that I really do give a standing ovation to him. I just wish the focus was more to do with good seafood and less to do with the man; Rick Stein.

1 comment:

Tom said...

One of your best postings, Jade. You really told it like it is (was?) and your opinion was clear and well-stated. I also appreciated mention of your four-year-old son. Since I have three sons, from ages six through eleven, I've been curious about how yours is managing during your trip. Let us know more about him, and the others that you meet during your travels.