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Eating Our Way Around Western Cornwall

Given that we enjoyed big breakfasts every morning at Warwick House and we were hiking most days straight through lunchtime, we ended up doing a lot more snacking on this trip than any actual sit-down meal-eating. In the four days we spent traveling around western Cornwall, we ate only two dinners in a proper restaurant. The majority of the rest of our meals were either eaten on the road while trying not to drip anything on the rental car seats or grabbed at a mini-grocery and eaten hurriedly while simultaneously walking and balancing cameras in front of our faces. Not exactly blog-worthy. Luckily though, a few of the foods Cornwall is most famous for are perfect for snack-time, and so this trip wasn’t a complete bust for trying out the local delicacies! Below are a few of our favorites, as well as two awesome places to dine in Penzance.

Eating Our Way Around Western Cornwall

Cornish Cream Tea

Bonus points if you can enjoy your tea with a view of the sea! Even though cream teas are popular throughout most of England, I wanted to make a point to have one in Cornwall since this traditional afternoon treat is thought to have originated in Cornwall and nearby Devon. A cream tea in Cornwall consists of warm rolls or scones, Cornish clotted cream, strawberry jam, and of course, tea served with milk on the side. And before someone reprimands me about the above picture, I made a major faux pas – in Cornwall, first the jam is spread on the scone and then the cream. But old habits die hard, and I’m a cream-then-jam kind of girl. I made sure to prepare my next scone the proper way. And I even put a little milk in my tea for tradition’s sake. (I thought it was terrible, by the way. I prefer my tea straight, with not even a dash of sugar or milk.)

We had our cream tea at an outdoor cafe on top of St Michael’s Mount with a beautiful view of the water, but it didn’t last long. About ten minutes after we sat down, the wind picked up so much that our teacups were in danger of tipping over, so we moved indoors to finish the remainder of our food without playing the try-to-keep-everything-from-blowing-off-the-table game. It still counts, though – tea by the sea, check!

Eating Our Way Around Western Cornwall

Eating Our Way Around Western Cornwall

Cornish Pasties

You’re going to want to pronounce pasties with a short “a” sound – otherwise you’ll be laughed at because pasties with a long “a” is something entirely different. (Google at your own risk.) Cornish pasties are a very popular snack/lunch in Cornwall and we were recommended to try ours at Ann’s Pasties near Lizard Point. Apparently, Ann’s are the best in the area. And this is where it gets a little awkward because, well, I didn’t really like them. We had three choices at Ann’s – meat, cheese, or vegetarian. I went with the vegetarian and Cory chose the meat, and I didn’t like either of them. I’m not sure if it was just Ann’s or all pasties that I don’t like because I never had the opportunity to try them again during our trip.

My vegetarian pasty was filled with potatoes, turnips, and onions. Cory’s was the same, with the addition of steak. I was only halfway through mine when I couldn’t eat anymore. These things are so dense! I felt like I had a brick in my stomach for the first part of our hike from the Lizard. I also found the vegetarian pasty a little bland. I tried Cory’s to see if his was any better, but it still lacked a little flavor, in my opinion. Looking back, I think what mine needed was a little cheese, so I probably should have chosen that option instead, but at the time, I was under the impression that cheese pasties were only filled with cheese. Not true. I’d give these things a second chance if we’re ever back in Cornwall, but they did not make the best first impression on me. (Cory, however, loved his and even ate the second half of mine!)

Eating Our Way Around Western Cornwall

Cornish Ice Cream

Here’s one we could both agree on – Cornish ice cream is a winner! Although, if it tastes any different than ice cream in London or America or anywhere else, I couldn’t tell. Ice cream is just good everywhere, I guess! Shops selling “real Cornish ice cream” are a dime a dozen in Cornwall, and whether any of them are better than other remains to be seen. We were desperate for a snack after hiking almost six miles straight and once we reached civilization again, we stopped at the first place we saw with ice cream – nothing special, just an ice cream/gift shop. And their ice cream was amazing! It makes me wonder how much better it would be at one of the local shops where it’s made there on site. The hardest part for me was choosing a flavor – they all sounded good! But we had to eat them fast – it wasn’t even a hot day and our ice creams were melting faster than an ice cube in the Sahara!

Cornish Fudge

No picture of this one, but it definitely deserves mentioning. We had been left a gift of caramel fudge in our room from the owners of our B&B when we arrived in Cornwall. I’d had really good intentions of not eating any of it at all and taking it back to Lexie as a we-really-missed-you gift. But then we ended up walking just a little bit farther at Land’s End than we intended and I could feel my hangry urges kicking in, and so I thought, okay, just one piece of fudge. Well, one turned into two turned into three and 2/3 of the bag was eaten in exactly 5.6 seconds. They were dangerously addictive! I hadn’t had fudge that good since a trip to the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee as a teenager. I really meant to buy a box before we left Cornwall to take back with us to London, but every time we saw a shop we were always on our way somewhere else and I’d think, it’s okay, we’ll get a box at the next one, and then we never did. Definitely make sure you try some if you visit!

Eating Our Way Around Western Cornwall

Eating Our Way Around Western Cornwall

The Old Lifeboat House Bistro

The family-owned Old Lifeboat House Bistro is, just as the name suggests, a restaurant in an old lifeboat house. The oldest in Cornwall, actually, making it one of the most interesting places to eat in Penzance. I’m so glad we managed to get a table in here for dinner one night. It’s such a small place that we almost didn’t – we were, regretfully, being turned away when a couple dining at a table near the door told us to wait just a minute and we could have theirs. I was so surprised and grateful for their kindness that I’m pretty sure I thanked them no less than a dozen times before they left. We sat down at our cozy table next to the window, watching the street lights dance on the water in the harbor, and proceeded to have the best meal I’d had since Spain.

I ordered the fish pie, one of the staples on the Lifeboat menu, and was served a tiger prawn, smoked haddock, and salmon pie topped with creamed potatoes and Cornish cheese. My stomach wanted me to gobble this down, food competition style, but I forced myself to go slow, savoring all the flavors of the fresh fish mixed with the creamy potatoes and cheese. I’m rarely so sorry to see an empty plate as I was that evening. Wherever you are on the coast of Cornwall, you’re never far from a fishing port, so you absolutely must try something fishy while you’re in town!

Eating Our Way Around Western Cornwall

Eating Our Way Around Western Cornwall

Eating Our Way Around Western Cornwall

The Assay House

Our only other sit-down dinner on this trip was at The Assay House, also in Penzance. Newly opened when we visited, The Assay House had such an appealing, well-priced menu that we decided to stick around for awhile and enjoy a full, 3-course dinner – a big indulgence for us frugal travelers. Fresh fish was a highlight on the menu here, too, but I was looking for something lighter this evening and went with the courgette pasta. I had to leave room for that lovely dessert, after all! The vibe here is very relaxed and comfortable, and just like at The Old Lifeboat House, everyone was so friendly and helpful that we felt right at home in their restaurant. (You don’t always get that in a big city like London!)

There was only one place in Penzance that I’d hoped to try before leaving, but we, sadly, never got the chance since it was always closed by the time we returned from the day’s excursions. The Honey Pot, such a darling cafe from the outside, would have been a great place to enjoy a cream tea, had we not already on St. Michael’s Mount. It’ll be on my list if we ever have the good fortune of returning to Penzance one day! If you’ve been to Cornwall, what other foods should I have tried?

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Eating Our Way Around Western Cornwall

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  • Stacie Stamper
    December 1, 2014 at 6:30 PM

    How are you not as big as a house? Yum!

  • Natalie
    December 1, 2014 at 3:13 PM

    Um that food looks so DELICIOUS!

  • Dannielle @ Chicadeedee
    December 1, 2014 at 1:21 PM

    I love a good cornish pasty, but your right, they are soooo filling. Shame you didn’t like them, normally you get more choice, so maybe you just need to try again! The ice ream there is totally other worldly, sooo nice.

  • Tina @ Girl-Meets-Globe
    December 1, 2014 at 10:44 AM

    And I learned something new about the word “pasties!!” Ha!! Didn’t know that one! If I’m honest, it doesn’t look too appetizing. I never thought they have. It does look like it would sit like a brick in the tummy. Very similar to a lot of traditional English food. ;) Of course, everything else looks amazing!! Oh my, that fish pie! Yum! And such quaint looking places!! Ugh, I want to get to Cornwall so bad!! =)

  • Katrin
    November 30, 2014 at 11:36 AM

    That bistro looks so cozy! I love cream tea, I always use almond milk which is the best milk in my opinion. :) I never had pasties but something that looked similar and was filled with different veggies. It was pretty good.

    • Sarah Shumate
      December 1, 2014 at 5:05 PM

      I’ve tried almond milk only once in my cereal and I found it very sweet. Almost too sweet. Maybe I tried the wrong brand. I’d love to find a good one, though, because if I’m correct, almond milk has even more calcium than regular milk, right?

      • Katrin
        December 1, 2014 at 6:27 PM

        Hmm, I am not even sure about the calcium. I need to look that up. It does not have icky ingredients that are often found in cow’s milk. There are different types of almond milk. You get unsweetened and sweetened almond milk. The one I usually have is unsweetened and I love it in coffee or tea.

  • Jenna O'B
    November 30, 2014 at 11:34 AM

    A cream tea and pasty were the two foods I really want to eat when I got Cornwall. Both a firm favourite of mine. Thankfully I eat my scone the Cornish way so no mistake there

  • Esther
    November 30, 2014 at 8:11 AM

    It’s been years since I’ve been, but I still can’t order scones anywhere in the world without getting dissapointed. They’re just the best in Cornwall.

  • Sand in my Suitcase
    November 30, 2014 at 12:38 AM

    Cornish pasties and afternoon tea with real clotted cream – oh, you’ve hit on two of our fave snacks! It’s hard to get real clotted cream in North America though. We have to make do with whipped cream. Guess we’ll just have to taste the authentic stuff vicariously through you ☺.

  • HisFishHawk
    November 29, 2014 at 11:05 PM

    Surely this is a site well worth seeing.

  • rorybore
    November 29, 2014 at 4:28 AM

    I am no longer sure if I want to travel for the sights…. or the food. :)

  • Emma @ AdventuresofaLondonKiwi
    November 28, 2014 at 11:34 PM

    In my very limited experience, pasties seem like a good idea until you’re about halfway through then you’re not so sure. When they were ‘invented’ you weren’t supposed to eat the side handle of the pastie – they were for miners, dirty from manual labour – to clutch in their hangry hands..

    But cornish fudge, oh my!

  • Rebecca
    November 28, 2014 at 5:00 PM

    what a fabulous way to spend Thanksgiving! Your photos are amazing, makes me want to pick up and go! Just want you to know, I do keep up with you, just have a very hard time figuring out how to get my comments to go thru. (what does that say about me)! You seem to be having the best time ever since you left TN, so glad you got the opportunity!

    PS. Kate’s due any day now with her second little girl, and they are naming her……..Sarah Kate

    • Sarah Shumate
      December 1, 2014 at 4:57 PM

      I am so pleased that I’m going to be sharing a name with your granddaughter! Congratulations on becoming a grandmother x2! I hope Kate will have a easy rest of her pregnancy and a safe delivery!

      We are definitely taking advantage of our opportunity here, but my heart still belongs in Nashville! I will look forward to the day when we can settle there again, and in the meantime, travel as much as I possibly can! Thank you for taking the time to comment! :)

  • Lucy
    November 28, 2014 at 1:37 PM

    I go camping in Cornwall every summer and I love Cornish Pasties! As a vegetarian the best pasty I have eaten had sweetcorn, broccoli, potato and cheese in it, you should definitely try them again! :)

    • Sarah Shumate
      December 1, 2014 at 4:55 PM

      Oh, man! That sounds amazing! Those are three of my favorite vegetables…and cheese…well, everything is always better with cheese! I’ll be on the lookout for an opportunity to try one of these again!

  • Sara Louise
    November 28, 2014 at 6:25 PM

    Cream tea, that’s exactly what I want to eat right this second! I’ve always wanted to visit Cornwall, I got close when I went to Brixham, and luckily enough, they have cream tea too :) x

  • topchelseagirl
    November 28, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    Pasties are scrummy – you must’ve had a bad one. Yes the addition of cheese to a vegetarian one is good, as is mushrooms. You must try another some day – there are plenty of places in London selling them. I also have to put cream before jam on my scones.

  • Amanda @ Rhyme & Ribbons
    November 28, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    I don’t really like pasties. (Hides face in shame) xx