Posts Tagged ‘Padstow’

We had these last night with quinoa, plain green beans, and garlicky yogurt sauce.

It’s adapted from a recipe by Rick Stein–known as the uncrowned king of Cornwall.

When we were filming Poldark in Cornwall 35 years ago, eating out in the county was very different from what we experienced last weekend and Rick Stein has a lot to do with it.  His fish restaurants in Padstow have set a benchmark. Things have improved!

We tried to reserve a table at one of Rick’s places a couple of weeks before our trip but they were all booked–sad for us but “Hooray” for Cornwall!

for 2+

500gms/1lb aubergines–cut up into smallish pieces (quicker to sauté), lightly salted and left in a sieve or colander for an hour to drain off their liquid, then dried ready for the pan. (This seems tedious to do but they absorb less oil this way.)

4 tablespoons olive oil

1” square piece of fresh ginger--chopped fine

3 garlic cloves–pulped with half a teaspoon of salt

1 tablespoon of water

2 tablespoons whole fennel seeds

1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds

1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds–crushed

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon chili powder

500gms/1lb tomatoes–chopped with their juice (or use tinned)

3 more tablespoons of water

  • whizz the ginger and garlic in a tablespoon of water to form a loose paste.
  • heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan that you can cover.
  • when hot, add a single layer of  the dry aubergine pieces.
  • turn them in the oil and sauté on all sides until nicely browned–a pair of cooking tongs comes in handy here–then set aside. (It’s worth taking your time to make sure the aubergine is cooked through.)
  • continue the process until all the aubergine pieces are cooked, adding more oil as needed.
  • let the pan cool a little before heating two tablespoons of oil and adding the fennel and cumin seeds.
  • let them colour for a few seconds before adding the ginger and garlic paste.
  • cook this gently for a minute or two before adding the coriander, turmeric and chili powder.
  • cook this gently for a minute before adding the tomatoes and the extra water.
  • turn the lovely looking mix over and cook on a low heat for ten minutes to form a sauce.
  • add the aubergine pieces turning everything over thoroughly before covering the pan and cooking for a further 5 to 10 minutes.
  • test the doneness of the aubergines, cooking them a little more if necessary, adding a little more water if  needed.
  • check the seasoning and sprinkle some chopped mint, fresh coriander, or parsley over the dish before serving.

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We were filming the second series of Poldark in spring 1977 and were based for a while near the seaside town of Padstow on Cornwall’s north coast.
On May 1st the town is taken over by the ‘Obby ‘Oss (Hobby Horse) Festival–an excuse for a day of communal good natured madness and merriment, with obvious origins in traditional fertility festivals that pop up everywhere at this time of year.
This is the account of it I wrote in my book Making Poldark .
 We’d finished filming the expedition to France,

"Operation Rescue"!

 and it was May Day;  a group of us decided to go to Padstow for the Festival.
We arrived at about 7 pm, and from far away we could hear the beat of the drum and the music.It had been going on for at least twelve hours and the atmosphere was “jolly” –you might say. We rounded the bend and came into a square and there it was! The umpteenth parade of the hobbyhorse in full swing.
The drumbeat was mesmeric and the man inside the hobbyhorse never stopped moving–round and round he went, tempting and teasing the circle of young maidens. A pagan ritual full of fun and danger. Not English at all.

Someone in the crowd recognised me and although George Collins, my dresser, insisted I was his cousin Fred, and not Poldark,  they weren’t convinced!  So we moved on quickly to a pub down the hill.
The beer and the cider were flowing freely, and it happened again and again.
I was bought pasties and pints everywhere. 
A man in one of the pubs came up and said, “You’ve put Cornwall on the map. Thank you.” I was amazed and flattered, a  little embarrassed and by this time somewhat stewed.
We settled down in a corner to listen to the accordionist. We sang and we danced and everyone forgot about Poldark. It was a great night.
I suppose I was naive to think I could go to a big Cornish festival like this and remain anonymous–television is a powerful and popular medium–but as for “putting Cornwall on the map”– on the evidence of this particular evening–it later occurred to me that it might be the other way around.

The Poldarks enjoying a previous 'Obby 'Oss fayre?

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