I remember not so long ago when I had to bring all my produce down to Cornwall from London, and now you can find all kinds of unusual vegetables and virtually every type of cuisine.
In St Ives, my favourite restaurant is the Porthminster Beach Café, overlooking the bay and Godrevy Lighthouse beyond. The cuisine has an Asian influence with Cornish ingredients. Everything is fresh, from the vegetables and herbs that come from the back garden to the Porthilly oysters and monkfish served with a tangy curry. Porthminster Beach Café, St Ives TR26 2EB (01736-795 352; porthminstercafe.co.uk).
Further afield from St Ives, take the coast road – one of Britain’s most beautiful – to Zennor, and to the best gastro pub I know: The Gurnard’s Head. It has a very limited menu, which I like because it means that everything – mussels, grilled plaice – is fresh. The Gurnard’s Head, Zennor TR26 3DE (01736-796 928; gurnardshead.co.uk).
In Newlyn, one of the largest fishing ports in Cornwall, I highly recommend a walk along the promenade to the Jubilee Pool, the enormous outdoor pool that’s set into the sea, followed by a Jelberts ice cream. It only serves vanilla – with a dollop of Cornish clotted cream on top – but it’s simply the best. Jelberts, 2 New Road, Newlyn TR18 5PZ.
The village of St Mawes, with the boats bobbing in and out of the harbour, is the perfect, quaint seaside spot for a good meal. I always recommend The Watch House, where chef Will Gould will give you a very good, seafood-centric meal. The village also has a tiny but very well‑stocked delicatessen called Mr Scorse, which is owned and run by Jon Scorse – a friend. He sells a good homemade pesto, all sorts of jams and honey, and delicious Cornish gins. The Watch House, 1 The Square, St Mawes TR2 5DJ (01326-270 038; watchhousestmawes.co.uk). Mr Scorse Gourmet Deli & Wines, 1 The Arcade, St Mawes TR2 5DT (01326-270 045; mrscorse.com).
Summer is also the perfect time to take the ferry from St Mawes across to Place Creek, and walk to The Hidden Hut, which serves excellent seafood chowder and freshly baked bread, overlooking the pristine Porthcurnick Beach on the Roseland Peninsula. It’s a casual spot, a favourite with locals who come for the bespoke espresso martini ice cream that’s made with Cornish clotted cream or, in season, an excellent elderflower cordial. The Hidden Hut, Porthcurnick Beach, Portscatho TR2 5EW (hiddenhut.co.uk).
On the way back to London, Coombeshead Farm near Lewannick is a wonderful bed and breakfast between Cornwall and Devon. It’s just 20 miles from Dartmoor National Park and it’s an intimate, magical place. The owners are the acclaimed chefs April Bloomfield and Tom Adams, and they serve delicious food, grown and picked by them, on their own land. Coombeshead Farm, Lewannick PL15 7QQ (01566-782 009; coombesheadfarm.co.uk).
And of course, don’t leave Cornwall without visiting Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant on the north coast. Rick is still Cornwall’s most famous chef, and thousands come to Padstow every year to eat his simply prepared, incredibly flavourful seafood. The Seafood Restaurant, Riverside, Padstow PL28 8BY (01841-532 700; rickstein.com)