Chocolate Week and Cornish Goings On
Just in case you hadn’t noticed, it’s National Chocolate Week this week and I wanted to pay homage to this wonderful food of the gods. This is a chocolate blog after all and it would be a pretty poor show not to take part in this celebratory week. Last year, I attended an excellent tea and chocolate tasting event on the Tregothnan Estate. The previous year I created my own chocolate event. However, what with one thing and another, I really didn’t have time to organise much this year – I had loads of cakes to plan for and bake for a start! Looking at the events calendar, there wasn’t a lot going on in Cornwall. But there were a couple of tea shops taking part and both sounded tempting.
Chocolate Week, now in it’s eighth year is sponsored mainly by Divine, a Fairtrade chocolate company which is 45% owned by it’s farmers. Launched in 1998, this was the UK’s first fair trade chocolate company and it has been going from strength to strength ever since. This week is all about indulgence, but indulgence in good quality and ethical chocolate cannot be a bad thing.
So to yesterday. I had a really busy but really enjoyable day and packed loads in, including a couple of chocolate week celebrations and far too much food. The morning was spent finishing off and decorating the cakes which had to be delivered by 12:00 – more on those in another post. Suffice it to say, I managed to get them completed and delivered in more or less good condition by 12:15.
We were now free to head off to our first chocolate destination, the Cowslip Cafe, a tearoom I was very pleased to discover. Set on a working farm together with a needlecraft workshop and shop selling all things material and quilted, it was a quiet location with lovely views across the valley to Launceston. The menu was interesting and the food good. Many of the vegetables used in the dishes were grown in an adjacent garden. We sat outside in the sunshine sheltered beneath a turf roof. The chocolate offerings of the day were A white chocolate cheesecake and a chocolate roulade. We had one of each to share – well what else could we do to support Chocolate Week? The white chocolate cheesecake was particularly good.
Feeling full, we headed off to our next chocolate destination which entailed a long drive through Cornwall’s picturesque (read tortuous) lane network to the wind blasted and furthest flung part of North Cornwall – Morwenstow. This hamlet is renowned as the home of the Reverend Hawker (1803-1875), an opium smoking eccentric whose activities included dressing up as a mermaid to encourage tourists to the area. He was by all accounts a bit of a case. He is, however, well known in church circles for introducing the Harvest Festival to Churches in 1843. We checked out the gothic rectory he had built, complete with church spire chimneys. He must have had some cash, because it was enormous. You can find out a bit more about his eccentric behavour over at Feast & Festivals.
We sat out in the autumnal sunshine again, this time at the Rectory Tearooms, an award winning establishment recognised by the Tea Guild. We could see why. The tea menu was not only present but was quite extensive – heavens to Hawker, it was even in the cake we ate. Yes, we managed to force down a piece of Divine Chocolate and Earl Grey Torte (we did share this one) and Divine it really was. CT partook of Orange Oolong and I supped White Monkey. This wonderful establishment is also set on a working farm, an organic one this time, so I was doubly pleased.
Our rapidly expanding girths were in need of trimming, so we set off in the late afternoon sunshine to walk the cliffs. The views were stunning, the North Coast is particularly dramatic in this area, although rather hard on the knees. We paid a brief visit to Hawker’s Hut, a small bothy set into the cliffs – perhaps this is where he smoked his opium, wrote poetry and watched the smuggling activities of his parishioners.
With the sun sinking fairly rapidly, we set off back to our first stop – the party was now in full swing involving plentiful supplies of food of all sorts (including chocolate cake), drink and Breton dancing.
The Rectory Tearooms, we were already aware of, but it’s thanks to Chocolate Week we’ve now found a new cafe well worth revisiting. And because of the special occasion we both mini 70% Divine dark chocolates to take home with us from both establishments. Today is the last day of Chocolate Week, so you still have a chance to take part. You can find out what’s going on around the country here. If you are in London you have Chocolate Unwrapped. I’m trying very hard not to feel too deprived down in this remote part of the country, although there are of course certain compensations!