• 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.