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20

May

Wild food

A walk through our new menu…

Anyone who passes over Bodmin moor in order to get to us here in Marazion can testify that Cornwall’s ancient landscape is as wild in as many ways as it is beautiful. The scenery here is both halcyon and hardy, and it’s a combination that’s difficult not to fall in love with.

At Mount Haven we believe in making the most of local resources wherever we can. Our new head chef Ross is a keen forager and he is – literally – bringing you a tiny bit of the Cornish landscape when he cooks for you.

Foraging might be misunderstood by some as yet another food fad, but if you grew up in the countryside, you’ll know better. Sourcing and using wild food in cooking is an ancient and enduring tradition, impervious to city habits, buzzwords and glossy coffee table cookbooks.

Foraged ingredients are fresh, sustainable, intensely flavoured and extremely good for you in a way that no supermarket produce could ever hope to be.

You need only to go back a few generations to find that basic wild plant knowledge was once commonplace. During the war, for example, when there was no access to citrus fruit, everyone made rosehip syrup, because one teaspoon was packed with vitamin C.

In fact, many of our modern fruits and vegetables have their roots (pun intended) in the wild; Our ancestors picked and pollinated them. The evolution from their original form into the  mass produced versions that you’ll find in today’s supermarkets began with the demand for large quantities, and has ended with genetic modification.

Sadly, quantity is often at the expense of quality, especially where fresh produce is concerned. Compare the sweetness of a large supermarket strawberry with that of a tiny wild one, for example, and the contrast between the two is immediate. Often you’ll only need a touch of a wild substitute ingredient in a recipe because the flavours are so intense.

The health benefits of wild plants are usually as strong as their taste, too. If you’re interested in where your food comes from then you’ll know that the level of nutrients in farmed soil have been vastly depleted over the last fifty years. Some studies say it’s halved*, which means that the produce grown is also less nutritious. By contrast, seasonal, foraged food offers a vibrant shot of vitamins and minerals.

Here’s three examples to try from Ross’ fantastic new menu…

Marinated scallops & cuttlefish with fennel, white carrots, crème fraîche & dulse powder

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This is one of our most popular starters at the moment, and the dulse (seaweed) powder prompts the most questions! Ross also uses another seaweed in this dish, Kelp, which he adds to beer vinegar and lemon juice. He then marinades his sliced scallops and cuttle fish in it. It’s delicious – a real beach dish. Edible seaweed is definitely in fashion menus up and down the country, and if you fancy buying some of the best yourself, try The Cornish Seaweed Company 

KELP

Kelp is a natural source of vitamins a to e, as well as  zinc, iodine, magnesium, iron, potassium, copper and the highest natural concentration of calcium of any food – 10 times more than milk. Ross uses it in his broths, stocks, powders… He even cures fish in it. It’s fabulously good for you.

 

dulse

PEPPER DULSE

Pepper dulse is a rarer type of seaweed found in intertidal areas. It is generally used in quite small quantities, variously described as ‘the truffle of the sea’. It has a unique salty, peppery flavour that is a great compliment to seafood. In Iceland they use it as a chewing tobacco! Nutritionally speaking, dulse is a powerhouse of valuable minerals, including iron and potassium.

Hake Fillet, seaweed butter, samphire, charred purple sprouting and new potatoes

Hake

Ross bastes the fish in a special butter with dried dulse, kelp & seagrass for this dish. Once it reaches the beurre noisette (warm, browned) stage, he coats the samphire in the wonderful flavours of the butter and fish.

SAMPHIRE

Samphire is probably one of the most recognisable foraged ingredients, one that’s featured on mainstream menus as a great accompaniment to fish for years. Recipes have been found featuring samphire from Elizabethan times.

samphire_2

White chocolate mousse, rosehip jelly, hibiscus sherbet, raspberries

Ross picks rosehips to makes a syrup (which lasts all year!) for his beautiful dessert of white chocolate mousse, hibiscus sorbet and rosehip jelly.

ROSEHIPS

A handful of rosehips contain twenty times more vitamin C than a supermarket orange. If that doesn’t make you drop the diet for dessert, we don’t know what will….

rosehip

HIBISCUS

Hibiscus flowers don’t just have pretty faces… they’re rich in antioxidants too, and are traditionally thought to soothe coughs and help repair the skin. 

hibiscus

Our head chef, Ross says:

I try to base my dishes on nature, hence my love for foraging.

My style involves keeping things rustic looking as I’m not one for generic, perfectly cut vegetables. I always try to use what’s around me, and in fact the odder the shape the better!   You’ll often find charred whole roots and shoots in my dishes, as a lot of my food is quite ‘earthy’ and veg based.

You should find plenty of unfamiliar names in my menus as I tend to hunt around looking for unusual healthy ingredients which I could incorporate into the menu. We’ve got some brilliant health food shops here in Cornwall and I make full use of them!

The team are currently having ago at growing wonderful (and some weird) things within the hotel grounds, which I think is great idea for any kitchen. It gives my chefs a chance to plant, nurture, then finally cook something they’ve grown themselves.

I’m still in my early stages here at the Mount Haven. My way is to be always trying to improve my dishes, some of the those are winners and I’m really happy with them already.

We also run a classic menu for those who want to stick to something simple.  

I’m hoping to try create something that I feel will be slightly different from the average restaurant around here which people can still relate to. I want to put a bit of nature on a plate, and then let the food do the talking.

Feedback for Ross’ new menu has been exceptional, so if you’d like to book a table and experience it for yourself, then please call 01736 710249 or email reception at reception@hotelcornwall.de

Check out Ross’ latest menu and food related news on our facebook page ›

 

All our beautiful food photos were taken by Jan ONeil

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