Bringing together the best seasonal ingredients from across Cornwall, Michael Caines believes in the beauty of supporting the county’s growers, farmers and fishermen.
Words by Hannah Tapping
Renowned far beyond the reaches of the south west for his incredible take on food, Michael Caines is a name that rings true for mindful food with flavour. With restaurant buildings carefully chosen for their unique locations, the Caines ethos is about making the most of the season’s best ingredients from south west-based suppliers and utilising the creativity of the head chefs at each to bring together simple, yet delicious dishes.
“Working seasonally and south west-based,” explains Michael, “allows us to draw from an exceptional selection of produce and ingredients. For example, we champion sustainable fishing practices. By not over fishing or fishing out of season, stocks are maintained, with the result that we are able to source incredible local seafood for our dishes. We also like to champion local meat breeds, such as Ruby Red cattle which is indigenous to Devon and a slow rearing breed. By purchasing local and supporting south-west growers, farmers and fishermen we are in turn investing in our local communities. This respect for the changing seasons translates to a beautiful variety to our menus throughout the year.”
For Michael, creating long-lasting relationships with local producers ensures not only quality ingredients but a continued respect for the environment as well as the support of local economies: “Working together with my head chefs to create great tasting food, our inspiration is essentially driven by the seasons and what’s available from nature’s ever-changing larder.” Translating this ethos to the table, Michael’s Cornish restaurants offer classic British cuisine with a Mediterranean influence.
The Cove nestles at the back of Maenporth Beach near Falmouth. With its elevated position, the views across the ocean take your breath away. Looking down on this tucked-away, white-sand bay you could be forgiven for thinking you were on the French Riviera, such is its charm. This is a laid-back, beachside eatery during the day, serving family favourites and light bites. Whether you’re returning from a cliff-top family stroll – The Cove welcomes dogs and children with open arms – or you’re coming off the beach with sun-kissed skin and sandy toes, appetites are sated and thirsts quenched.
When the sun shines, the sun terrace or ‘Glass House’ allow for effortless al-fresco dining. Good food is enjoyed to the murmur of happy chatter. As day turns to night, The Cove dons a more sophisticated cloak with two and three-course fixed-price options, as well as a signature, seven-course tasting menu. Match this with a wine flight and, as the lights twinkle over the sea, the experience is nothing short of magical.
Head further south to the harbour town of Porthleven, and you’ll find the aptly named Harbourside Refuge. Built in 1893, and once a china clay store at the heart of Porthleven’s historic export industry, this venerable quayside building has a toes-in-the-water position on the harbour edge. This is a town worthy of exploration; its winding streets lined with boutique shops invite gentle browsing. On sunny days, when the sea sparkles and the gulls wheel overhead under deep blue skies, explore the South West Coast Path to either side of the harbour to enjoy endless views to the Lizard or Mounts Bay. Having worked up an appetite, step inside The Harbourside Refuge and you will be greeted by vaulted ceilings and an impressive galleried dining area. Combined with seasonal menus, this makes for a unique culinary experience.
This safe haven of food and drink, whether enjoyed in the historic building or outside on the sunny terrace as you watch the boats bob in the harbour, offers informal dining with the warmest of welcomes. Sink into one of the sofas with a glass of something chilled as you look over the menu. As with The Cove, there’s a range of dining options; informal, set and signature. Seafood always features, as does local meat, accompanied by the freshest, local seasonal vegetables simply served and full of flavour.
Caine’s brace of Cornish restaurants are synoymous with Cornwall’s vibrant dining scene, serving exceptional food and drink in enviable locations.
Crab ravioli with lemongrass and ginger sauce
For the crab ravioli mousse:
250g white crab meat
80g brown crab meat
10g ginger, diced finely and blanched three times
50ml double cream
1 egg yolk
Salt and pepper
For the saffron ravioli pate:
250g plain flour
3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 packet of saffron
For the coriander oil:
10g fresh coriander
100g olive oil
For the lemongrass and ginger sauce:
250g crab carcasses
50g fresh lemongrass
75g brown crab meat
25g fresh ginger
5g whole coriander seeds
5g whole white peppercorns
75g unsalted butter
250ml fish stock
To finish sauce:
300g unsalted butter
Pinch of ground white pepper
5ml lemon juice
Crab ravioli mousse:
Place the scallops, egg yolk, cream and brown crab meat in a blender until mixed into a fine mousse. Remove from the blender and place into a bowl over some ice. Add the diced ginger and white crabmeat. Season with salt and pepper and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Add a few drops of lemon juice. Test mousse for texture and adjust seasoning is required.
Saffron ravioli pate:
Place the water into a pan and add the saffron powder, bring to the boil and then leave to cool.
Mix together the egg and egg yolk. Place into a food processor and sieve in the flour with the salt. Turn on and add slowly the water until the correct texture. The amount of liquid taken by the flour will vary so be careful not to make the mix it too dry or wet. Should be a firm texture, similar to putty. Remove from the food processor, bring together by hand and wrap in cling film before leaving to rest for 30 minutes. Rollout with a rolling pin or pasta machine.
Add the coriander to the oil and gently heat the oil to 80°c degrees, and place into a jug blender. Blend and pass through a damp piece of muslin or a fine sieve.
Lemongrass and ginger sauce:
In a stainless-steel pan sweat the shallots, ginger and lemongrass in the butter for 5 minutes. Add the peppercorns and coriander seeds and sweat for another 2 minutes. Add the brown crabmeat and crab carcasses and sweat for 5 minutes. Add the fish stock and bring to the boil then simmer for 20 minutes. Pass through a fine sieve.
Take the sauce and add the butter, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Whisk together
Split the crab mousse into 4 equal portions and round into a dome shape using the back of a spoon. Cut the basil ravioli pate into 8 equal sized squares (4x4 inches). Place the crab mousse centrally into one square and place a second sheet on top. Using lightly dusted thumbs follow the curvature of the mousse and pat down the edges to seal the edges together. Cook in hot water (80-85 degrees) for 8 minutes. Place in a bowl and pour the sauce over the top.