• Watergate Bay, Canteen and all things Cornwall

    Whilst one of my employer’s, Lynwood & Co, has been opening their third restaurant, I have been quite absent and languishing at the Watergate Bay Hotel.  Now, I am not one to usually languish, or at least not languish for long, but I have languished long and very well, thank you very much, while I have been at the Watergate Bay Hotel.  Okay I had one day of not languishing yesterday, but more of that later.

    Up until today, the weather has been a little dreary so I have been spending most of my time within the four walls of the Watergate Bay Hotel.  I guess, not quite four walls, as I have been migrating between our rather luxurious bedroom, the Spa lounge and the Living Room i.e. the more casual eating place at the hotel.   Although we have ventured out to eat at the Beach Hut and Wax, both in Watergate Bay, after eating at the Living Room on day two of our stay, we decided that the food was surprisingly good for hotel food and have eaten here every evening since, bar last night.  More about the food later as it definitely deserves a mention.

    Other than eating, which I have done a lot of, I have been pampering myself.  Last time I wrote, I mentioned having a somewhat unsuccessful back, neck and shoulder massage.  Since then, I have had a very successful special manicure, a pedicure (my toenails are now adorned with coral gel nail varnish – all very summery) and a drench facial.  The treatments plus a concerted effort at drinking more water and less alcohol and choosing vegetable based meals have left me feeling a lot better than when I started my holiday.  I even treated myself to ‘The Green One’ smoothie in the Spa, a smoothie made from apple, spinach, cucumber, avocado, mint, grapes and lime.  I have always shied away from vegetable smoothies (favouring fruit ones instead), but my colleague, Charlotte, swears by them so I thought I would give one a go.  The result of all of this is that my skin, rather than looking like a parched desert or lizard skin, is looking more hydrated and human-like.  It certainly is not a miracle cure in anyway, just some progress has been made.

    You will be glad to hear that I haven’t just been languishing and over-indulging, I have been doing exercise along the way.  In addition to our workout on Sunday night, I have exercised everyday except yesterday.  On Monday, we did a cardio and weight session in the gym, followed by 20 lengths of the pool.  On Tuesday, I did my first yoga session followed by a 6 mile run after lunch.  As predicted, I was the most uncoordinated person at yoga, but the yoga-teacher was very good at praising people for what they achieved (not what they didn’t achieve), even me on the rare occasion I did something right.  I don’t think I will be rushing back, but it was a good experience.  On Wednesday we attempted an early-morning stand-up paddle board in the sea (all I will say about this experiment is that in our heads it seemed a lot easier), followed by 80 lengths of the pool in the evening.  I still need to get out today, but more about that later.

    I have also drafted quite a bit of my business plan and come up with some menu ideas.  I am still not entirely sure if I am on the right track, but lets just hope that my ideas are evolutionary and that my final idea resembles something which is fit enough to survive rather than the weakest link or something worthy of extinction.  Speaking of the weakest link, before my holiday and when I was working in the Coln Community Stores, I was doing some work on the computer in the back room, while keeping an eye on the shop, when I heard a loud holler, ‘Shop!’.   I made my way to the till, made my apologies for making the customer wait and then looked up at the customer.  It took a while for me to recognise the customer as she was wearing a baseball cap and dark glasses, but then it dawned on me that it was Anne Robinson.  Reflecting on the voice with which she called me to attend to her needs, it was the same tone as she would say, ‘you are the weakest link, goodbye’.

    On Monday or Tuesday, I can’t recall which (nor is it important, really), Jo came back from Otter Surfboards extolling the virtues of a place, called Canteen, where he had eaten lunch with his fellow surfboard makers.  I quick Google search later, I had found out about what looked like exciting sister eating places/adventures i.e. the Woodfired Canteen (‘a catering company that cooks over wood fire for people that share memories around tables’) and Canteen (‘Breakfast, coffee, lunch, cake – events as and when’).  Inspired by their website and Jo’s glowing review, I decided to get in touch with them to see whether I could work for them for a day to get an insight into what they did.  I was lucky to get a morning in the Canteen kitchen yesterday, followed by lunch at Canteen (a delicious meal of smoked sweet potato, chipotle butter, creme fraiche, mozzarella, rocket with a sprinkling of seeds, nuts etc.) and an afternoon at Otter Surfboards, waiting for Jo to complete his day of shaping his surfboard.

    Although I did a bit of veg prep for lunch service and the evening event, perhaps my ‘biggest’ contributions were helping make the tabbouleh (this was the basis for the meat menu item which was smoked harissa chicken, fresh tomato and preserved lemon tabbouleh, tahini and dukka and the flat breads.   I made the flatbread dough (which thank goodness rose), portioned it, rolled it and then painstakingly cooked them over an open fire – all 36-40 of them, which I had to cook four at a time.  With one casualty (one of the nicest flat breads falling between the grill into the embers below), windswept hair (I knew I should have worn my headband) and my newly washed hair smelling of BBQ, I proudly presented my offering of freshly made flat breads to the Head Chef, which were thank goodness good enough for lunch service.  As you will see from the photo, they are quite char-grilled.  More than I would have liked, but as I was instructed to do.  What I should mention about Canteen is that its lunch service consists of two dishes (created daily depending on ingredients, chef’s inspiration and adaptability), a vegetarian dish which can become vegan and a meat dish.  One of the elements being wood-fired.  A simple idea, but it seems to work according to the write-ups in Olive Magazine, Cornwall Living etc. and the presence of the Woodfired Canteen at festivals like Feastival and Wilderness.

    Oh, yes, I mentioned earlier that the food at the Living Space deserved a mention.  I just want to point out that this is not an afterthought but rather saving the best to last (okay, the Canteen experience was sort of best as well).  At the risk of making you drool, here are some of the meals we ate at the Watergate Bay Hotel:

    • Salt and pepper squid: Japanese seven spice and wasabi mayo
    • Moroccon halloumi salad: roasted vegetables with almond duqqa, dates, crispy chickpeas with tahini and turmeric dressing
    • Beetroot, portobello mushroom and blue cheese falafel burger: Da Bara oregano ciabbatta, roasted portobello mushrooms, beetroot falafel and blue cheese with cashew aioli and fries
    • Fishcakes: hand rolled haddock, white fish and salmon fishcakes served on Romesco sauce with peppery rocket
    • Veggie pastrami ciabatta: sweet potato pastrami, Rajas salsa and sour cream on a Da Bara oregano and onion ciabatta

    I absolutely loved all the dishes, but was particularly intrigued by the veggie pastrami and Rajas salsa.  No sooner had I finished my meal, I started Googling sweet potato pastrami and am now armed with recipes for both which I will try at home.

  • “Change is inevitable, progress is optional”

    I feel like I haven’t done much but yet have been very busy.  Three weeks with one day off, means that I have started my holiday in Cornwall very tired indeed.  This was evidenced by the fact that I slept on and off the whole way down from Swindon to Watergate Bay yesterday, with the exception of lunch and a comfort stop.  As if this was not enough sleep, I fell asleep again around 9/9.30 pm last night and slept through to 6ish this morning.  Possibly the early night was aided by the fact that after we arrived yesterday afternoon, we decided to do a beach workout before we went to dinner at the Beach Hut.  After bear crawls, duck walks, hero carries, wheelbarrows, walking lunges, push ups, burpees, squats, handstand dips and planks, we were decidedly knackered and a little sore when we went to dinner.  Being anaesthetised by a glass of wine was the final trick in sleep induction.

    I wish I could say that I am feeling refreshed this morning, but as I write this post in the relaxing spa lounge of the Watergate Bay Hotel, overlooking the beach, I feel that my eyelids are already getting heavy.  I feel that my massage at 11.10 am this morning may send me over the edge again into deep slumber.  So with that thought in mind, I had better get some writing done before I fall asleep.

    In terms of the reference to progress in the title of my blog, perhaps the biggest developments since last time I wrote is that I finished getting to grip with the Safer Food, Better Business document and I had my meeting with the environmental health officer.  She was happy with everything and I should be receiving a copy of her report shortly.  Our landlord has also approved me operating a business out of our rental property subject to getting the correct insurance in place.  In his words, he wants us ‘to be happy in No. 13’.  We are very grateful for his support as running a business from home is contrary to our tenancy agreement.

    My next step is to iron out my business model (still not sure exactly what I want to do or how I want to do it).  My ‘job’ is to complete this while I am on holiday this week.  It may sound a bit backwards to have set up my ‘business’ (and I say that loosely) before I know what I am doing, but I wanted to register my business so that I could bake/cook for people from home if I was requested to do so.   I guess it was also spurred on by cooking pizzas for the Coln St Aldwyns fete in September.  I want everything in place by then.

    With reference to change in the title of my blog, the only other thing I have really done since last I wrote is that I have been tinkering with the apple and rhubarb, vegan loaf that I originally made for Lynwood & Co at the Head Chef’s request.  My first attempt replaced the apple and rhubarb with nectarines and raspberries.  My second attempt used peaches instead of nectarines.  I tried the nectarine and raspberry version as I experimented with this at home, but the peach and raspberry version was too warm when I left work on Wednesday.  I did ask the owner’s wife to try the nectarine and raspberry version and she gave it the thumbs up.  I am still waiting to hear whether the Head Chef liked it or whether he tweaked it again.  He did like my Instagram post of it, which might have been his thumbs up.  I will post this variation of my vegan cake under recipes in case anyone wants to try it.

    On this note, I am going to end this post as my massage is fast approaching and I need to get ready to relax.

    Well my massage is over and according to the therapist, I did not, but need to relax more.  Without being rude, ‘tell me something I don’t already know’.  Despite not relaxing (someone, please teach me how), I think it was still time well spent.  Although I requested more pressure as I knew the instant the therapist began to massage me that I my back had more knots than a boating knot guide, the pressure was a bit too intense at times which made it difficult to relax.  She did suggest that I advise her if the pressure was too firm but I didn’t have the heart to tell her as it was me who asked her to increase the pressure in the first place.

    Oh, I just remembered that I also made a delicious carrot cake loaf with excess carrots which we ordered for the Coln Community Stores.  Okay, it was Jo but I asked him to order them at the end of a busy shift which he was helping me with on the recent Bank Holiday Monday.   Apparently he asked the supplier for the usual amount and they sent 3 kg rather than 1 kg.  I suppose all’s well that ends well as we got a carrot cake out of the excess, which was enjoyed by my colleagues at the Coln Community Stores.  Jo unfortunately missed out as I was putting the finishing touches to the cake when he walked out of the house for one of his business trips.