“For me, Cornwall has more to offer in the winter than summer: clear roads, no queues and the weather is sunny but crisp. And the quality of seafood is much better: more moist – although it’s a double-edged sword for the fishermen, of course, because the cold makes it harder to fish.
I’m always up at 7am on Saturday to take out our dog Bud, make fresh mint tea for me and my wife Rachel and attempt to wake the kids. I’ll follow the tea with a Lavazza chaser, and when Jake, 14, and Jessica, 12, surface, I’ll make poached eggs with salmon and toast.
Leaving Rachel at home – we live near Wadebridge – we walk along the Camel Estuary: it’s where the sea and the fresh water meet, so we see salmon – and sometimes dolphins – jumping.
Later, we’ll drop Jake at his acting class on our way to the farmers’ market in Truro, where we go to a stall called Kernowsashimi (the fishmonger is Cornish and his wife is Japanese). I find it funny seeing a little old lady buying her cod to poach in milk with no idea she is buying some of the country’s best fish.
Then I’ll disappear and Rachel knows exactly where I’ve gone: a vintage record shop called Nostalgia. The last album I bought there was an original pressing of De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising, which was not cheap – but music is a passion. It’s unusual in a high-level restaurant, but I play music in the kitchen: ska, soul and hip-hop to raise the tempo, or something slower to calm the pace. I always see the difference reflected in the chefs’ performance. I have been around catering all my life: I moved to Cornwall to work for Rick Stein when I was 19 and my father is a pastry chef at The Capital hotel.
We all meet at Craftworks Street Kitchen, where the owner, Dan – a chefs’ chef – serves great burgers out of a shipping container. I’ll have the Curbside cheeseburger sitting outside on the quay, watching the world go by.
Then, it’s time for a matinee at the Wadebridge Regal, an old-fashioned cinema with cosy armchairs and lots of legroom, which is great for me because I’m 6ft 5in. The last film we saw was Guardians of the Galaxy: we are all Marvel fans.
By 7.30pm, we’re driving to Kahuna in Newquay. It’s a restaurant with a very relaxed atmosphere, and the best Asian cooking in Cornwall. I’ll have the excellent crispy chilli beef or pad Thai with a pint of Doom Bar. We get home around 10pm for tea and television, with me hoping that no one texts me from the restaurants before bed.
If Jake is playing rugby with the Wadebridge Camels we have breakfast at home on Sunday, then go to support him. Otherwise, we’ll go to the Beach Hut in Watergate Bay for their hearty full English, then walk it off on Trevone Beach.
I might visit Prindl Pottery, which supplies our Cornish restaurants with local china-clay crockery. Chris Prindl makes it all by hand, so it has taken me years to get the plates I needed, but it’s worth it: no two are the same.
Another of my favourite stops is Lanhydrock, a Victorian National Trust property in Bodmin, where we’ll go to see the huge kitchens. You can just imagine the family cook getting dinner ready on the huge stove. There was even a proper dairy parlour and a courtyard for the cattle. If we are not going out, we might stop off afterwards for a pasty at Barnecutt’s – the best for miles around. I’ll have the traditional steak; the others are a bit gimmicky, mainly for tourists.
Or it’s an early dinner of fish and chips at St Kew Inn in Bodmin (it’s a myth about not being able to get good fish on a Sunday by the way). Then steamed treacle pudding with custard, a pint and home to get ready for the week ahead.”