PRESS CRITIQUES

Cornish Guardian ‘What’s On’ 11th October 2012

The Western Morning News 2010

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Mean comeback for the terrine. A retro French delicacy is popping up on menus again. Becky Sheaves learns the basics.

I’ve noticed lately that terrine seems to be popping up on the menu all over the place these days. A few years back, it seemed hopelessly stuck in the 1970s to cram baking tins with chunks of game, ham, duck and even seafood.

So why is this retro French delicacy suddenly so smart? And, more to the point, how on Earth do you make one? This week I felt it was definitely time I found out more.

My guide was Head Chef Ben Bass of The Old Quay House Hotel and Restaurant in Fowey, South East Cornwall. For me, it was a case of getting back to my roots as my great grandparents came from this lovely harbourside town, a famous smugglers’ haunt back in the day.

But I was there on legitimate business. And Ben is surely the right person to start me off making terrines. After all, he did spend three years begin taught by that most consummately French chef, Raymond Blanc himself.

“Raymond was exactly like he is on television, a tough but fair teacher. Everything had to be perfect,” Ben remembers. “If he liked my cooking he’d leave me alone to get on with my work. If it was a failure in any way, I’d be cleaning spinach or scrubbing mussels all day.”

For my masterclass, Ben, still only 27 – he trained with Raymond from the age of 16 to 19 – chose three dishes. One is a truly classic French duck terrine, and there’s a British version made more simply with ham hock.

I’d asked for advice on a fish terrine but he steered me towards a tian of crab instead, where the ingredients are piled up into a little tower just before serving. “It’s a lighter style which suits seafood better,” he explains.

Ben says the great thing about a terrine – like so much of classic French cuisine – is that it uses cheaper cuts of meat and stretches expensive ingredients. A ham hock costs just a couple of pounds and, in terrine form, will feed six.

The worst of terrines can look like unappetising chunks of meat in jelly, though. So Ben has made sure that all these dishes look appealing by adding colourful elements. There are lightly cooked carrots and handfuls of fresh parsley in the hock terrine.

The duck version has green pistachios, which look fabulously jewel-like once it is sliced. And the crab tian with its rough-chopped guacamole topping is quite simply a thing of great beauty.

He advises I go home and experiment with the recipes. “You can ring the changes in all sorts of ways,” he says. The thing to remember is that the classic French recipe for terrine is that the proportions are always equal – one part meat, one part fat and one part liver.

To my relief, I did not have to go near a sheet of gelatine all day. The ham hock produced enough natural gelatine to set from being cooked first on the bone.

The duck terrine is held together with beaten egg, and a spoonful of mayonnaise provides enough “stick” for the crab dish. I can honestly say that all three of these spectacular dishes aren’t overly tricky in any way. What’s more, I’ve managed to smuggle the recipes out of Fowey – so here they are to delight you, too.

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The Times Online 2010

The Western Morning News 2009

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Sea Bass flitted among the dark chains deep down inn the blue ocean, but Ben Bass – a Fowey chef with a rather apt name – and boat skipper Will Hancock weren’t looking at fish. What was catching their attention – and just about filling their entire watery field of vision – were mussels. Lots and lots of gleaming black mussels. So many mussels, indeed, that Will was worried.

“I’m not sure the winch on the this boat is strong enough to bring that lot up,” he murmured. He tried not twice, but three times, before finding a might chain of the purple black jewels just light enough that it could be hoisted aboard. Even then the other four of us aboard had to counterbalance things by standing on the opposite side, to stop the 20ft boat capsizing.

Once a great chain bearing the molluscs was safely aboard, Ben ripped a mussel from its beard, cleaving its shell apart and devouring its meat contents raw and alive. “Yes!” he sighed. “These really are the Rolls Royce of mussels.”

Which is exactly what we’d expected them to be. The promise of seeing and tasting Rolls Royce standard mussels was why I’d be invited down to Fowey to visit the excellent waterfront Old Quay House Hotel, where Ben is Head Chef and the proprietor is Jane Carson who had heard about a revolutionary new mussel farm right on her doorstep.

Please click here to read the full article.

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The Good Hotel Guide 2009

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A great place. So nice to be right on the water in this lovely town. Our delightful bedroom overlooked the estuary.’ Praise this year for Jane and Roy Carson’s modern hotel, a stylish conversion of a Victorian seamen’s mission which has just been awarded a gold award by the Cornish Tourism Authority as ‘the Best Small Hotel in Cornwall’. Drinks, snacks and summer dinners are served on the rear terrace by the water; inside there is an ‘eclectic collection of furnishings and ornaments’ and ‘lots of raffia’. Bedrooms are done in pale pastel shades. ‘A DVD-player and waterproof coats were nice touches; excellent bathroom. In Q, the large restaurant, chef Ben Bass serves a ‘modern British menu with European influence’ (e.g., duck rillettes with grape chutney; rib-eye steak with Lyonnaise potatoes). ‘Excellent food, attentive and pleasant service. A good breakfast, on the terrace, served by a delightful Polish couple.

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The Observer 2008

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Choose one of the rooms perched on the water’s edge in picturesque cobbled Fowey, and pray for a bit of wind and rain. What could be more perfect than being snugly holed up somewhere designed with romance in mind, with salty air lashing the windows? The Old Quay House has revamped its rooms to create the ultimate seaside retreat, with rooms that maximise light (some are in a creamy palette, others with vibrant purple walls), cream chairs and sofas and what must be the widest beds in Cornwall. If the weather’s good enough (or you’re just very brave, or in possession of a souwester) eat on the terrace overlooking the Fowey estuary, avoiding the dive-bombing seagulls.

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Conde Nast Traveller 2008

GUIDE REVIEWS

The Good Hotel Guide 2013

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On the waterfront of a pretty old seaside town, this former seamen’s mission has been turned into a stylish hotel by owners Jane and Roy Carson; Anthony Chapman is the hands-on manager. ‘An absolute delight from start to finish; what lovely people,’ said inspectors. Readers agreed in 2012: ‘A well-presented hotel in beautiful surroundings’; ‘Simply spot-on, chic and comfortable’. Because the town has narrow streets and tough parking restrictions, arriving visitors are asked to drop off baggage before parking 800 yards up the hill (cost included). ‘The welcome is friendly, luggage already taken to the room. Ours was excellent, with a harbour view, large bed and nice touches: a folding umbrella, two smart rainproof jackets, white waffle bathrobes.’ In the restaurant, which has glass doors opening on to a waterside terrace, the chef, Ben Bass, has a modern style with dishes like Cornish crab, pomegranate dressing; pan-seared fillet of Red Ruby beef, fondant potato, crispy shallots. ‘A good meal; we could have done without the background music.’ Breakfast was ‘excellent; eggs Benedict came in three versions’. (Hayley Gathercole, Natalie King, Stephen Cromie)

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The Good Hotel Guide 2012

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‘A welcoming, relaxing hotel in a beautiful position.’ Praise from Guide inspectors in 2011 for Jane and Roy Carson’s stylish conversion of a Victorian seamen’s mission on the waterfront of this pretty town. With their managing director, Anthony Chapman, they ‘make a formidable team’. Visitors arriving by car are encouraged to drop their baggage at the hotel before parking 800 yards away (the ticket is included in the room rates). ‘Anthony whizzed out to unload our bags; when we returned he took us to our room explaining everything as he went.’ Smartly painted corridors are hung with local artwork. A fridge on the landing has fresh milk; in a small room is a computer for guests, books and guides. ‘Our room, decorated in black and white, had a balcony with a view of the harbour; a large bed, desk and cupboard; a wardrobe but only one chair; lovely big bath in the well equipped bathroom.’ The restaurant has glass doors opening on to a waterside terrace: Ben Bass’s cooking is ‘excellent and good value: we enjoyed delicious asparagus, poached egg and truffle butter; tian of Cornish crab, shaved celeriac; beetroot risotto. Service was superb.’

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The Times Cool Hotel Guide 2012

The AA Guest List 2010

The Good Food Guide 2009

Alastair Sawday’s 2008

The Good Food Guide 2008

Concierge.com – Editor’s Pick 2008

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Typical of many Londoners suffering from urban ennui, the owners of this 11-room waterfront hotel escaped to the countryside. In the idyllic seaport of Fowey (pronounced “foy”), they bought an 1859 former seaman’s hostel and gave it a boutique makeover. While they’ve retained its quaint exterior, the bedrooms have been modernized and “dressed” slightly differently – a Moroccan mirror or table in one room, basket chairs and tables in another – but all follow a cream and white color palate. Only Room Three strays into dramatic territory with deep-red velvet throws and cushions. Book one of the eight rooms with patios and views of the estuary, otherwise you might end up overlooking a pretty but occasionally noisy street. On the ground floor, there’s a lounge and a restaurant with a lovely terrace facing the water. The food is, as expected, mainly fish (Cornish sea bass, Cornish crab, Cornish plaice), with a Mediterranean twist. The hotel is well placed for visiting the Eden Project and driving or yachting around the gentler coastline of South Cornwall.

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TRIPADVISOR

I felt the need to join trip advisor just to rave about this hotel. Anyone who doesn’t come here is foolish! The best hotel in Cornwall by far. Beautiful estuary views, lovely rooms with everything you could possibly need, plus service that really goes the extra mile. This is our 4th time and we will be back again and again…

Jack Ridge On Trip Advisor

A winter break including Valentine’s Day is the perfect way to chase away the winter blues, this hotel is the perfect tonic with their relaxed atmosphere and 1st class customer service, all the staff go the extra mile to ensure we had a lovely holiday, the new changes the hotel has made to the bedrooms and restaurant made our stay…

Kerno Phile On Trip Advisor

PRESS ENQUIRIES

For all press enquires please contact:

Barefoot Media,
T: 01208 895 089
www.barefootmedia.co.uk

ACCOLADES

2012
Good Hotel Guide Cesar Award ‘Cornish Hotel of the Year 2013’

2012
The Good Hotel Guide 2013

2012
The Good Hotel Guide 2012

2011
2011/12 AA Inspectors Choice 2 Red Star Hotel

2010
2010/11 AA Inspectors Choice 2 Red Star Hotel

2010
2009/10 AA Inspectors Choice 2 Red Star Hotel

2009
Good Food Guide and Good Hotel Guide Recommended

2009
2008/09 AA Inspectors Choice 2 Red Star Hotel

2009
2008/09 Cornwall Tourism Awards

2008
2008/09 South West Tourism Excellence Awards

2008
Good Food Guide and Good Hotel Guide Recommended

2008
Hardens Remy Restaurant Award

2008
2 AA Rosettes

2008
Alastair Sawday Recommended

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