Posts Tagged: Helford passage

Dec 12

Christmas at Trelowarren and a chocolate cake too

Trelowarren estate

Christmas is not far off now. 2012 has been a whirlwind of a year for me, having written my first three cookery books amongst other things this year.

We’re actually going away right before Christmas is year. Not only am I looking forward to a good break, but it will be particularly nice to get  away at this time of year. There is so much build up to Christmas, that when it actually arrives, it can feel something of a let down, so it will be great this year to be somewhere different.

I thought I’d share our plans with you as I’m sure it will appeal to many foodies alike. We’re off to Trelowarren Estate in West Cornwall. Its right down in the south west of Cornwall in a very remote spot between Helston and the Helford River. The Trelowarran estate is ancient – with 600 years of Vyvyans, 1000 acres leading down to the Helford River and a house that was Daphne du Maurier’s inspiration for Navron in Frenchman’s Creek.

Eco cottage at Trelowarren

Ferrers and Victoria Vyvyan have spent more than twenty years restoring, renovating and building  high spec eco houses, an organic Walled Garden Spa and the ozone pool – all of which are warmed by a giant biomass boiler which burns coppiced wood from the land.

Trelowarran estate

We are staying in one of their very lovely looking cottages. What particularly appealed about staying here, was the New Yard restaurant and pizza pop up on the Estate, so it will be a real treat to have our own space, but not have to worry about cooking and shopping whilst we are away.

New Yard restaurant at Trelowarren

I’ll let you know how we get on. We go at the weekend. Before then, I’ll be back to share some great food and drink ideas for Christmas with you.

And for now, I’ll leave you with a cake recipe we’re really enjoying at the moment, a dark, bitter chocolate and orange loaf cake. It’s very good warmed with a scoop of ice cream on the side.

Chocolate and orange loaf cake

Chocolate and orange cake

Adapted from a recipe by Signe Johanssen


  • 200g chestnut flour (I use Shipton Mill, although it is not gluten free)
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 2 tsp gluten free baking powder
  • Pinch bicarbonate of soda
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 7 oz dark brown soft sugar
  • 2 tbsp plain yoghurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (I use Nielsen-Massey)
  • 1 tsp orange extract (I use Nielsen-Massey)
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp Cointreau
  • 200g chunky orange marmalade
  • juice and zest of 3 clementines
  • 100g butter, or dairy free margarine melted
  • 100g dark chocolate, chopped into chunks (I like Montezuma 73% here)


1)     Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and grease and line a 2lb/900g loaf tin

2)     Mix the flour, ground almonds, raising agents and salt together in a large bowl.

3)     Mix the eggs, yoghurt, vanilla and orange extracts and Cointreau together in a smaller bowl.

4)     Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add all the remaining ingredients.

5)     Gently mix until smooth, then pour the batter into the tin and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 30-50 minutes or until firm to the touch.


Aug 12

A foodie break to Cornwall at Budock Vean Hotel

The Helford Passage

Cornwall is a county renowned for its top quality produce, which includes fresh fish, traditional mead, sea salt and, of course, Cornish clotted cream, which holds the prestigious EU protected Designation of Origin status, and the Cornish pasty, which holds the Protected Geographical indication status.  Food and drink in the county of Cornwall is a £1.5 billion industry, providing a major source of income and work in this hard-to-get-to part of the UK, and is home to over 130 organic, 600 dairy and 2,500 mixed farmers.

Budock Vean Hotel

We stayed at the Budock Vean Hotel, located on the north side of the Helford Passage. It’s a charming independent hotel, run by Martin and Amanda Barlow, who have owned the hotel since 2000. Budock Vean attracted itself to us for a number of reasons; not only because it is a truly independent, family run hotel, but because of its stunning location, wide use of locally sourced food and a sustainable tourism policy.  The hotel itself is situated at the top of a 65 acre organically managed plot, which includes the hotel’s private golf course, and which leads down through stunning sub-tropical gardens to its own private foreshore on the Helford Passage.

The grounds at Budock Vean

Budock Vean's private foreshore

We stayed in a superior room, which was priced at £139 per person per night in high season, which includes breakfast and a four course dinner. Rooms are spacious and decorated traditionally. The bathrooms are small but very modern and well equipped with a range of Elemis toiletries provided. Dressing gowns, slippers and towels are also placed in the bedrooms for use at the hotel’s natural spa, swimming pool, sauna and hot tub, which we made the most of during our stay. The natural spa at the hotel uses Spiezia Cornish organic beauty products which are made locally using ethically sourced ingredients and is a company also owned by the Barlows.

Enjoying an aperitif on the terrace

We arrived at the hotel at around 6pm, which was in perfect time for an aperitif on the terrace before dinner in the hotel restaurant. The restaurant itself overlooks the glorious hotel grounds and down towards the Helford Passage. A local pianist played throughout service every night. Each room is assigned a designated table for the duration of their stay, for dinner and for breakfast. A four course dinner is served in the hotel every night using the best of local produce. The hotel are extremely accommodating to all dietary requirements, which was great to know. Dinner is a more formal affair at the hotel, which does impose a dress code during the evenings, and which is relaxed during the school holidays.

Scallops to start

Highlights for me were the locally smoked Scottish salmon with handpicked St Ives bay crab to start, followed by pan roasted Cornish wild turbot with spinach and a pancetta and basil butter sauce, followed by a Cornish cheeseboard to finish, featuring Cornish Blue and Cornish brie, supplied by Hawkridge Farm. We also enjoyed pan fried Falmouth Bay scallops served with chorizo and a chive butter sauce and a roast sirloin of locally reared beef on the Sunday night, followed by Roskilly’s ice cream and Tamar valley strawberries. Head chef, Darren Kelly makes a point of including a page in the dinner menu detailing all the local suppliers the hotel uses.

Breakfast at the hotel was very good too, featuring a wide range of good quality, well made traditional cook breakfast choices, local farmhouse yoghurt and fruit and an excellent generously portioned locally smoked Scottish salmon and scrambled eggs, and a smoked haddock option. Both of which we thoroughly enjoyed.

Although it is a very long drive down to this part of the county, it is certainly worth travelling every mile to get here.

Boats on the Helford Passage

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