North west of Cape Cornwall, the scene changes.  Relentless waves, walls of white-tipped water from deep in the Atlantic surge in and crash, breaking off rocks and creating a coast as irregular as a torn off bit of pie crust.  Here the cliffs are striated like streaky bacon with tin bearing lodes, and engine houses like chapels cling high above the restless sea. 

 

In this remote toe of the British Isles it is not easy to get a good dinner.  First you have to catch your food.  Perched high on an isolated crag, a peregrine chick,  lacking the cap and sideburns, the dark jacket and the striped waistcoat of its parents, patiently awaits its next lesson in aerial gastronomy.  Two dark shapes appear gliding fast and direct over the sea.  They bank and swoop around the rock, screaming urgently.  The youngster spreads its wings and floats into the abyss to join its tutors, and all three effortlessly ride the stiff Atlantic breeze to soar upwards, gaining height for the stoop.   The parents – five star flying aces – commence the tutorial with a heart-stopping display of skill and daring. With wings folded into delta configuration,  they dive to pick up speed then, screeching wildly, turn to each other and lock talons.  The youngster then joins in, stooping, locking talons, and breaking off, squealing with excitement too as the game of catch ‘high tea’ becomes ever more daring.

 

A mile inland at the village of Treen, stands The Gurnard’s Head, an ancient inn, large, four-square and painted ochre.  The owners, Charles and Edmund Inkin, are  gastronomic missionaries.  Building on their success at the Felin Fach Griffin Inn near Brecon, they have created a French ‘auberge’ in the wild west of Cornwall.  The décor is homely;  scrubbed tables, relaxing chairs, inspiring local artwork and rows of interesting books to browse while sipping your aperitif.  The space murmurs with the contented chatter of a pub while creating a repast that is both original and delicious.      

 

With the ocean just a mile away, seafood was an essential choice – salt and pepper squid cooked in a light batter with plenty of seasoning and garnished with aioli and rocket to start, followed by wild sea trout served in a sea vegetable broth. The latter was a masterpiece.  It resembled a rock pool.  A generous fillet of gently poached coral pink fish relaxed in a clear broth containing a single scallop, bronze ribbons of dulse, bright green tufts of sea lettuce, nuri and sprigs of marsh and rock samphire, gathered from the shoreline by local forager, Caroline Daley.  Linking the sea to the land were mini carrots, freshly podded peas and a delicate portion of potato.  To help mop up the broth was a basket freshly baked soda bread and fresh butter.  It was a meal to savour slowly, a lingering memory – the taste of the sea, the cool tug of the breeze and far off, the excited cries of the afternoon’s flying lesson.   

Advertisements