Pop-up venues have taken the country and indeed the county by storm and so popular is the phenomenon that some venues have even become permanent fixtures. Temporary restaurants offer a little frisson of excitement for those-in-the-know, as well as fantastic value for money, some great food and the opportunity to chat and meet with a group of like-minded food lovers.
The idea of turning Relish into an occasional pop-up, has long been on the cards: decent dining options in Wadebridge are limited and owner Hugo Hercod, with considerable experience in the food and drink industry in Cornwall, was “being nagged” by locals to hold an evening event.
Hugo (also 2008 UK barista champ = AMAZING coffee) combined culinary expertise last Tuesday with chef Tom Scade from Tides Restaurant Rock and David McWilliam from binTwo Padstow to form the ultimate dream team and stage the very first Relish pop-up event
Tom was one of the first Cornish chefs I ever reviewed and I am still as excited about his cooking now as I was then. “The dinner is basically 100% Cornish,” he is delighted to tell me, “it’s just the black pepper and the truffle that don’t come from Cornwall.” Cornwall is in the habit of producing some exceptional chefs and Tom is certainly one to watch: three and a half years at The Ritz and a genuine commitment to local Cornish produce has resulted in an earthy yet glamorous style of cooking.
David McWilliam, wine merchant and house music aficionado in flip-flops runs BinTwo Padstow with a similar down-to-earth but highly professional manner (also responsible for my pounding headache after reviewing BinTwo last summer but which transformed by understanding of wine).
The evening kicked off with strips of airy pork crackling alongside radishes, salt and bread on a wooden sharing board which was followed by a very generous portion of pressed chicken terrine, charred leeks, homemade salad cream and a creamy button of summer truffle. This was gourmet picnic food for grown-ups, evoking all the tastes and textures of summer without the rug and the wet grass.
The fish course was Cornish mackerel, Nathan Outlaw’s Great British Menu signature dish, which he defended on TV for its very simplicity and taste. Served with refreshing cucumber chunks, Deli Farm coppa and Porthilly oysters deep fried, it was a true Cornish homage to sustainable ocean fare. After surf, came the turf: hay roasted beef: blackened rounds of blade beef, wrapped and roasted in hay. The result was a fleeting taste of summer bonfires, followed by rich succulent beef notes.
Just as we were convinced we could eat no more, dessert arrived. It was a canvas to summer – delicate, artistic and exquisite. Cornish strawberries were interspersed with chunks of elderflower jelly and a sprinkling of actual elderflowers around a central creamy scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream. Accompanying each was a coffee mug of meringue batons, with sprinkles of black pepper.
Tom had captured the very essence of summer throughout the evening, evoking memories of picnics, campfires and barn dances, long summer evenings and nights under canvas (without the rain). Food and taste combinations were subtle, intelligent and complex: meringue with black pepper was a first, as was the hay smoked beef.
Just as Tom’s food challenged and developed palates, so David’s wines were a constant talking point. The subtle bubbles of the Cremant d’Alsace as an aperitif challenged the obligatory summer glass of Prosecco or champagne and the Malvasia Frizzante with dessert was in itself a liquid dessert of summer berries. Accompanying the cheese board was a Macon Charnay, Les Perserons 2007, which actually echoed the taste of the cheese; David confesses to having “long been a fan of rich, dry, white wine with cheese” – and explained the surprising taste of the wine: “This unusually rich Macon had lots of malolactic character: as part of the winemaking, malic acid (as in an apple) is changed to lactic acid (as in milk) and this creates a creamy character in the wine.”
Hugo’s sumptuous cheese selection was, at this final full stage, a little neglected but followed by some of the best coffee you can get in Cornwall. He treated us to a Goldminster Vintage Reserve Cheddar, Colston Bassett and a rich and ripe Brie de Meaux.
Pop-up venues are a lot of fun and great value for money (this was just £35 a head with various wine options on top) but you have to be quick to get both your ticket and find out when the next one is happening. For more details on upcoming events contact Hugo at Relish.