James Strawbridge explores the county's diversity

James continues his exploration of the county's diverse <br/>food producers.

A Sustainable Life with James Strawbridge

James continues his exploration of the county’s diverse food producers.

For my new television series, Hungry Sailors, I continue to travel around the Cornish coast with my Dad and visit some more of our food producers and food fans. What has struck me is when I meet people is a sincere passion for their product and real love for Cornwall. I am also becoming blindly convinced that if you want to enjoy eating good food, then there isn’t another place on earth that competes with us for taste and variety. Here is another top selection of people and places I would recommend visiting.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan

In my opinion, these Gardens sum up the Cornish spell that permeates so many holiday experiences and the feeling of mystery and a slower pace of life that captures our imagination. They are home to a great collection of exotic plants, ranging from bananas to pineapples, showing-off Cornwall’s micro-climate and the extended growing possibilities. Heligan has taken years to restore itself to its previous Victorian glory but it is ever-evolving, and is now embarking on a series of eco-projects.

Certain projects that are run at Heligan never cease to amaze me, especially the Pineapple Hot Beds that are still running 100 years after their Victorian conception. Traditionally these were heated by horse manure that was broken down and used for generating heat. Nowadays there are less horses on the roads so the heat is now generated using heat mats but the principles remain the same.

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Heligan’s garden team takes regular tractor trips to Gorran Beach to collect seaweed to condition their beds - for me this sort of thing offers a sense of real community. Luckily as a part of the Hungry Sailors my dad and I got the opportunity to pick a range of fresh vegetables and we made a quick Gardener’s Salad under a potting shed. The quality of heritage salads and radishes was superb and we served our dish in a flower pot with a soil made from toasted seeds in soy sauce!

Cornish Fairings

This locally-made ginger biscuit is long-associated with fairs in the South West. Most people agree that the word fairing means objects that were at fairs as gifts. The Cornish Fairing has been made for many years by a Truro-based baker’s firm called Furniss, founded in 1886. I recently met up with Len Parsons who runs the Duchy Coffee Shop in Lostwithiel. His Cornish fairings are crisp, spicy, light and have a nutty brown complexion.

Spices have been widely used in Cornish cookery since the days of early trading with the orient - hence the famous saffron buns. But it wasn’t until ginger became cheaper that the working-class Cornish miner could afford to buy a fairing for his sweetheart. Now everyone can enjoy them when on holiday here. My tip is to buy several and bash them up to form the base of a Kernow cheesecake with lime and coconut!

Trewithen Dairy

Bill Clark runs Trewithen Dairy and is in charge of making its clotted cream, cr�me fraiche, yoghurt and butter. I was not only struck by the quality of his dairy products but also by the visionary way he talked about local produce. Sometimes you meet people who want to change the world and Bill is doing this one scone at a time! The herd enjoys the Cornish countryside and rewards us with delicious food. We made some clotted cream ice cream using an ingenious gadget and also discovered that marmalade with clotted cream is a secret combination that unlocks serious pleasure...

Patrieda Produce

Becki and Andi Sant own Patrieda Produce, a smallholding in Callington. They have everything on their farm ranging from pigs to a variety of poultry producing geese and duck eggs and chicken for the table. The couple is hot on sustainable living and enjoy living the good life.

We were fortunate enough to enjoy some of their chicken and it inspired me to try this BBQ recipe. In this recipe (below) I’ve taken the humble chicken and given it an injection of summer. Making a marinade and preparing the skewers for the chicken and vegetables also means that the work can be done in advance.

Recipe ideas for summer babecues

BBQ Chicken Zing

Serves 4

Allow 4-6 hours for the chicken to rest in the lemon pepper zing mix before cooking for best results.

For the chicken and vegetables

1 x 1.5kg chicken (approximately)

2 yellow peppers, cubed

2 red onions, cubed

For the lemon pepper zing

Zest of 2 lemons

1 tbsp cracked black pepper

1 tbsp fresh lemon thyme, chopped

1 tbsp parsley, chopped

1 tsp turmeric

8 tbsp olive oil

Large pinch of sea salt

For the tzatziki

150 ml Greek yoghurt

� cucumber, grated

8-12 mint leaves, finely sliced

2-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Squeeze of lemon juice

Pinch of salt

Olive oil, to drizzle


1 Spatchcock the chicken, or ask your butcher to do this. Sprinkle over the lemon pepper ingredients and leave covered for as long as possible, four-six hours will really infuse the flavour.

2 Wrap the meat in foil and cook for 20 minutes then remove the foil and BBQ for another 20 minutes. Rotate every ten minutes and brush with the marinade.

3 Thread the peppers and onions onto skewers and put them on the BBQ for the last 10-15 minutes of cooking time.

4 Grate the cucumber and leave in a sieve sprinkled with some salt for 10-15 minutes. The moisture will be drawn out and make the dip less watery. Combine all the tzatziki ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Leave in the fridge until needed.

5 Carve the chicken and pile into a warm pitta with some of the vegetables, a handful of salad and a generous spoonful of tzatziki.

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