Our Favourite Cornish Food

- December 18, 2019 -

An army marches on its stomach, right? Well, so do all walkers, and there’s nothing like some hearty Cornish food on a good old coastal stank (walk). Here are a few of our favourite local foods, guaranteed to boost your energy levels during your Cornish walking holiday.


The Pasty

We’ll start with the most famous: the iconic pasty. It wouldn’t be a trip to Cornwall without sampling our delicious (and practical) national dish.


Pasties come with all sorts of fillings these days. Some say that that’s unnatural and simply not proper; but, it’s actually in the spirit of the thrifty miner’s wife, who’d use whatever she had in to make her husband’s crowst (mid-day snack). However, the classic, can’t-be-beaten recipe is beef (ideally skirt), swede, potatoes and onions, with a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

philps pasty close up

Our Marazion to Lizard walk not only takes in some of Cornwall’s most beautiful scenery, but it finishes near Ann’s Pasties. These are just brilliant, simple as that. If you fancy trying a hand at baking your own, Ann has a straightforward and delicious pasty recipe on her website.


Tip: how to eat your pasty like a local. Ask for a “medium steak”, not a “medium steak pasty”. Eat it end-to-end out of the bag. and never leave the crust. It’s the best bit.

The Cornish Cream Tea

Again, this a must-eat during your Cornish holiday. Two plain scones, sliced and lathered generously with strawberry jam, finished off with a dollop of clotted cream and served with tea (or coffee. Or Prosecco. We’re not fussy about this bit.)


We won’t bore you with the endless debate of “jam or cream first”, because it’s obviously jam. The Ritz and the Bake Off team agree. Case closed.

cream tea on a plate

If you’re feeling really peckish, you can upgrade to “cakey tea”. Take the cream tea, add a bit of Thunder & Lightning (treacle instead of jam), a slab of yeast cake and some saffron buns.


Finish your St Just to Penzance walk with a diversion to the café at Trengwainton Gardens near Penzance (Feb-Oct). As well as the classic cream tea, they offer a savoury version with cheese scones and chutney.


Fancy baking your own? BBC Good Food has a nice recipe (and they get the jam thing the right).


Saffron Buns

We’ve mentioned these as part of the cakey tea; but what exactly is a saffron bun? It’s a yeast bun, flavoured with saffron and with plenty of currants. The distinctive, medicine-cupboard flavour of saffron adds depth (and colour) to the buns.


It’s said that in ancient times, Phoenician traders exchanged saffron for tin in Cornwall’s old harbours, bringing this exotic ingredient to Cornish kitchens.


They are a popular treat at Easter, traditionally eaten on the Good Friday walk. Pick up a batch of saffron buns (available from all good Rowe’s bakeries), and put them in your back pack before hitting the South West Coast Path.


If you want to make your own pack-up, here’s a recipe from Tin & Thyme.

Stargazy Pie

Stargazy, or stargazey, or starrygazy, pie is more of a legendary dish than a regular meal. It’s an eye-catching pie, with pilchard heads poking up through the buttery shortcrust, gazing at the stars.


The story behind this unusual dish is the tale of Tom Bawcock, a fisherman from Mousehole in West Cornwall. Many moons ago (exact amount of moons: uncertain), unusually bad December weather led to this then-remote village being cut off from supplies. Tom set to sea in a raging storm to bring back a catch for his starving neighbours. Against the odds, Tom returned safely (with his cat, according to the popular story), his boat brimming with fish.

Some of Tom’s catch was made into this famous celebratory pie, which is served every year on Tow Bawcock’s Eve (23 December) in Mousehole’s Ship Inn. The fish inside the pie is in a creamy sauce, and can vary between recipes: but there always, always has to be those peeping pilchards (aka sardines).


You’ll visit the home of the stargazy story at the end of our St Ives to Mousehole walk. Not here in December? You can make your own stargazy pie from Table of Delight’s lovely recipe.


Barbecued Mackerel

And from December to a summer treat. On an early summer evening, Cornwall’s beaches smell of barbecued mackerel. It is the simplest and most delicious meal, and to us, one of the most evocative scents of Cornwall.


Most Cornish mackerel is caught by the handline method in small, offshore boats. It’s a good, sustainable choice of fish, and with all that Omega3, extremely good for you. You can find out more about this beautiful, striped fish from Cornwall Good Seafood Guide.

mackerel on a bbq

Mackerel are easy to prepare (the poor things have the perfect shape to gut and fillet), and don’t even need scaling. Slice along its belly to get to its guts, remove them, then rinse the inside. Then its simply a case of heating up the barbie while you rub olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper on the fish. Grill until the skin’s crispy, then serve flaked in a bun (ideally Baker Tom’s bread).


You can pick up your mackerel in Newlyn – a treat on your St Ives to Marazion walk. Or, head to Newlyn, Penzance or St Ives’ restaurants, all of which will have plenty of mackerel on the menu in season.


Hungry yet? With all the fresh air and exercise you’ll get on your Cornish walking holiday, you’ll be able to down this lot, and more, washed down with a pint of Betty Stoggs.


Contact us to find out more about our West Cornwall walking tours, and we’re always more than happy to recommend local pit-stops…

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