Down in Cornwall, summer time is not properly here until that literary feast and celebration Port Eliot is in full swing. We may have had weeks of sunshine, and the fields surrounding the festival site may be swishing with golden corn, but Port Eliot is an institution and one that demarcates the start of the summer (holidays, at least).
Last year, I decided to eat my way around the festival. From late night, chocolate soaked churros to stacks of shellfish in the walled garden, what I didn’t eat at last year’s festival wasn’t worth writing about. Headed up by Posh Pasty Co.’s James Strawbridge, but basically managed by the force of BBQ that is the Inkie’s girls, the Orangery area offered delicious barbecued seafood and meat, there were wood fired pizzas on the lawn, and Mark Hix’s fishdogs went down a storm with my nieces. Hands down, the Port Eliot festival wins for its dedication to good food and is the highlight of my foodie year.
My message of advice for first time Eliot-ers this year: come hungry. This year’s foodie line up looks to be even more diverse, even more exciting and even more downright finger lickin’.
POLPO, the renowned, award-winning, Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant, will create an authentic Venetian bàcaro experience at the festival this year.
Venetian for a simple restaurant, a Bàcaro serves simple food and good, young Italian wines. Port Eliot’s very own Bàcaro will be built onto the exterior of the house in the style of Al Merca in Venice, surrounded by antique beer hall tables, wine barrels and bunting, while the historic stillroom inside the house will be transformed into the kitchen where chefs will prepare the food.
POLPO’s menu will include freshly-fried fritto misto (mixed fried things), sumptuous spicy pork and fennel meatballs, and fragrant summer broad bean and mint bruschetta, all washed down with lashings of prosecco and classic Italian Aperol and Campari Spritzers to cool us down in the Cornish sun.
All day from 10 til 10, POLPO will be doing their thing. Be sure to check it out.
English tea being a very Eliot offering, given the history of the estate and its quintessential English lawns, the festival welcomes Comins Tea this year, to the Orangery. A place where you can escape, relax and immerse yourself in tea and tea culture. Their theme is connection: connection with tea and its culture, the people who grow and process tea, and closer to home the people they work with to create the Comins experience.
Choose from Comins’ full range of over 25 fine teas, all prepared using traditional methods with both take-away and table service. The breakfast menu will feature Matcha Granola, Egg Hoppers and sweet Japanese Hokkaido Toast. Lunch will include Comins’ much-loved Japanese Gyoza Dumplings. And afternoon tea will showcase a section of Comins’ Cakes (including Gluten Free), scones and Tea Breads. They will also be offering tastings and short tea talks and tutorials, so keep an eye out for their program if tea is your thing.
With a seafood heavy menu in the Walled Garden, The Oyster Shack returns this year, as do ex-Falmouth Mono chefs Angus and Mitch, who handle pork and pig tails in the most incredible way. I am really excited about checking out Wild Food Kitchen, a new Cornish food outlet, who are sourcing local ingredients including foraged food and wild game to create unique dishes. Falmouth local food outlet The Shellfish Pig are cooking up some interesting things using seaweed and local charcuterie. There is a diverse range of exciting ice cream, bubble tea and sweet stands as well, scattered around the eclectic festival site. One thing is for sure: Eliot attracts a certain type of foodie, and the calibre of food stands here are the best I have seen at any festival.
In its third year now, the flower and fodder stage welcomes our food hero Nathan Outlaw, who will be undoubtedly cooking some incredible fish recipes and bringing his brand of gentle humour to captivate the audience. We caught up with Nathan last year and cannot wait to eat more of his delicious fish dishes. Other Flower and Fodder guests will be Blanche Vaughan – Food writer who trained at the River Cafe and cooked in restaurants across the UK such as Moro and St John; Sally Clarke – One of Britain’s most acclaimed chefs and restaurateurs; and Madeleine Shaw a nutritional health coach, qualified yoga instructor, bestselling cookery writer of Get the Glow and creator of the Glow Guides App.