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Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Padstow is a tourist draw. It is a bit like Bali, Cornwall style, but with picturesque houses originally built to house fishermen. Fishing is still an important industry in Padstow. So, perhaps, the fishermen still live in those pretty little harbourside houses. There were many shops selling cheap souvenirs and plenty of eateries. Everywhere you turn, there are holiday resorts and holiday cottages for rent.

I had built up some expectations of gastronomic cuisine. Our neighbour in the Cotswolds had very kindly explained that Padstow is seafood heaven. He recommended Rick Stein's restaurant but when I saw the prices on the internet (SGD $300 for 2), I developed indigestion without even eating anything. Still, we went by  Padstow wondering if there were other gastronomic experiences to be had on a small budget. We found a charming little place on the quayside serving mussels (The Basement Café, Padstow).

For a gal weaned on 2 types of steamed fish (Teochew and Cantonese), in love with monkfish liver topped with ponzu shoyu + grated daikon, and who has tasted the shiokness of Sri Lankan chilli crab... expensive seafood à la British style does not quite appeal. A lot of it is either boiled, grilled or battered and fried. So yes, with all due respect to Cornish culture (and I love Cornish clotted cream and marmalade) I feel compelled to be a sort of ummm... seafood snob. No British seafood for me, at least not what one can get on a small budget.

Tomorrow, I will stop by the fishmonger at Widemouth and buy fresh fish caught in the Cornish sea. I will come home to cook lemon sole in white wine herb sauce. Yes, yes... it is white wine herb sauce again. I have to use up that bottle of white wine, the heaps of double cream and the stacks of thyme + rosemary I bought.

Maybe if there were a time machine. One could come to Padstow in the 18th century. It appears that back then, lobsters were so plentiful then that people fed them to prisoners, orphans and servants. In fact, in some employment contracts, it was specified that servants were to be fed lobster no more than twice a week. How silly of them! I don't mind eating lobster every day of every week!

Digression: Back in those days, the New York Harbour generated so much sturgeon that caviar was served free in bars. The salty caviar served to generate thirst and encouraged the sales of beer. Waaah... a time machine with a 2-way ticket to 18th century New York would be a gastronomic delight.

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