Cornwall’s biggest and best festival has tasty treats this year.
Having grown up in Cornwall, I have several friends who went to Port Eliot when they held the annual Elephant Fayre back in the 80s. Then, it was a punkier version of the now very civilised lit-fest that we Cornish are proud of. The food has always been outstanding, since the festival attracts foodies with a discerning palate. I mean, one year I actually heard someone say, “Hugo’s just sat on my brioche”.
The same year Spore Boy invited us to try a mushroom and halloumi burger, where elsewhere we had lobster tails and prosecco too. Makes a difference from the pie n chips type sustenance needed at some of the more ‘druggy’ festivals. One year, in an inebriated state, the Gash and I rocked up to Peep Show creator Sam Bain to thank him for Peep Show. But that’s the kind of thing that happens at Port Eliot. The Wire’s Dominic West partied to The Egg in a tent next to the Borges tree, which makes the whole event surreal enough not to need hallucinogens. We also spent ages trying to convince a Welsh actor that he was indeed Alan Rickman, but that’s another story! The point is, Port Eliot is a small and comfortable festival where all of its people all hang out together.
This year, the event organisers decided to get the Flower and Fodder stage to up its game further; writing a wish list of chefs and foodies to participate in the event. As we see a shift in localism, this event is worthy of ‘newsing’ on its own, aside from the folky acts and literary greats at the festival.
Cornwall’s food hero, Rick Stein will be hosting a demonstration, as will Skye Gyngell, one of Britain’s most respected and acclaimed chefs, who recently opened her first solo restaurant, Spring, at Somerset House. Fans of Masterchef will be pleased to see that food writer and television presenter Thomasina Miers, co-founder and Executive Chef of Wahaca Restaurants will be cooking fresh food inspired by the food markets of Mexico. Many other cooking and food related events will take place on this stage, situated right next to the Eliot House. In the adjacent church a few years ago, we were treated to Louis de Bernières playing a mandolin: literary references throughout.
As well as the Flower and Fodder stage taking a central role this year, the incredible street food stands will be showing off their wares, including Hix’ Fish Dogs, cooked by Mark Hix. Trading from an antique 1971 Citroen
H van, previously used as a post van in the South of France, this is set to be something we’ll rush to, given the opportunity.
Previously the site of the flower show, in which friends created hilarious flower pieces using recycled dolls in the past, The Orangery will be taken over by chef and owner of the Posh Pasty Company. As well as selling posh pasties, which are sold in Selfridges, the women who converted me to meat: Inkie’s Smokehouse are creating a delicious seafood barbecue, as well as low n slow cooked meats under the name Cornish Picnic and Smokehouse. Having chatted with Inkie’s, I can confirm this menu sounds incredible, and well suited to the festival.
Bookings are being taken for the evenings to eat a gourmet Clam Bake and Port Eliot Feasts. On Saturday and Sunday it will open an outdoor Cornish Festival Market, where there will be food from around the county.