With the end of April comes the wonderful celebration of Cornish food, courtesy of the Porthleven Food Festival, in west Cornwall. This was my first time at the Portleven Food Festival despite being a Cornish girl who considers herself a bit of a foodie. The Porthleven Food Festival runs from Friday to Sunday, and offers festivities centred around the best Cornish food and drink. Tickets are required for the evening fun and frolics but entry’s free in the day.
I arrived at about midday and parked in the festival car park for £5. If you prefer, there’s the option of park and ride in Helston by the boating lake. Some make a weekend of it, with camping also being an option.
There’s loads to see at Porthleven Food Festival with stalls, traders and delicious fare spread out alongside the harbour and in land. There’s the Chef’s Theatre where all the live cooking from Cornwall’s best chefs takes place. Outside of the Chef’s Theatre is the South West market, a marquee that houses many of the south west’s finest traders where you can taste and buy some delicious treats. Alongside the harbour, the Ship Yard and Moors Field you’ll find some of the best street food available including fresh seafood, gourmet burgers, greek offerings, Thai, and more. You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing something to eat. If it all becomes a bit overwhelming or you need to walk off all the food and beer, you can take a stroll down the harbour and watch the waves roll in while soaking up the sea air.
South West Market
When I go to a food festival, I mostly look forward to mooching around, seeing what local food traders have to offer, and tasting as much as I can. Porthleven Food festival didn’t disappoint. There was plenty of cheese, sausages and gin, alongside sweet treats like cupcakes and chocolate. I can vouch for the outstanding taste of the sausages from the Kernow Sausage Company (who I’ve since learnt are based near me, on the Roseland Peninsula). The Cornish Gouda Company also left a good impression. Who knew there were so many ways to flavour gouda cheese?
Ship Yard and Moors Field
In the Ship Yard, Moors Field, and alongside the harbour you’ll find the best street food available. If you’ve been to any of Cornwall’s summer festivals, some of the traders will be familiar to you. I remember some from the Port Eliot Festival a few years ago. The choice is something else. There’s everything you could want, and more. Despite being a devoted gourmet burger fan, the aim was to try something unusual. There were plenty of Thai options, and the goat curry appealed the most to eat on the day.
When I visit a food fest, I like to taste something new. I’m pleased to say it was mission accomplished at the Portleven food festival as I went home with two sirloin alpaca steaks from Moor View Alpacas. Needless to say, it was delicious and tender. I’m looking forward to the next one.
The Chef’s Theatre
Throughout the day at the Porthleven food festival, professional chefs give live cooking demos on stage, talking through their techniques and essentials for successful cooking. Anthony Worrall-Thompson opened the Chef’s Theatre. When I arrived Josh Eggleton from the Pony and Trap, was in full swing. Over the weekend the Chef’s Theatre was frequented by some highly regarded local chefs, such as Chris Eden and Ben Tunnicliffe.
Without the food festival, there’s no doubting Porthleven’s appeal. I took some time stroll around and stopped on the beach to do some sketching. I went a bit crazy with the coastal photography, nothing new there. As usual, I was taken in by the bright sea which continued to glisten under the dark clouds. There’s independent retailers to discover too, and several coffee haunts where you can wile away the time, looking out to sea.
Aside from the food and drink, there’s music throughout the day. Live bands entertained us food enthusiasts on the Lime Kiln stage. Other smaller groups and music troops burst into a song at different points along the harbour. There was quite a lot of hustle and excitement when St Ives Mermaid made an appearance on the slip, complete with tail. She enthralled and delighted the children who were lucky enough to see her. It seems dreams can come true at the Porthleven Food Festival.
Whether you’re a food lover or not, there’s no doubting the appeal of Porthleven Food Festival. The atmosphere alone is worth experiencing and I’m sure the evening celebrations are worth staying for. One thing’s for sure, you won’t go home hungry.
Where’s your favourite place to visit in Cornwall? Do you have a food festival you particularly enjoy?