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Fruits de mer

Celebrating at a boutique festival that combines music and merriment with an intoxicating culinary line up.

Words by Hannah Tapping

With a plethora of festivals taking place across the Duchy during spring and summer, it can be a daunting prospect knowing which to choose. For some their history lies in Cornwall’s surf culture; others are embedded deep in maritime traditions; but for one, whose coastal location overlooking the Camel Estuary and Padstow is breathtaking, it is the oyster that takes centre stage. Now in its 12th year, Rock Oyster Festival makes the grounds of the 17th century Dinham House its home and has grown in size, stature and splendour to become a go-to event on the Cornish festival calendar.

Eagerly anticipated, this year’s festival was curated by one of Padstow’s culinary sons, Jack Stein, who brought together an A-list line-up of friends to celebrate food in Cornwall. From beyond the Tamar, Gizzi Erskine and Rosemary Shrager brought their unique culinary flair to the demonstration stage. Homegrown signature dishes came from Emily Scott, of Emily Scott Food at Watergate Bay; Gidleigh Park’s Chris Eden, the first Cornish-born chef to hold a Michelin star in their home county; Adam Handling, Head Chef and owner of Ugly Butterfly at Carbis Bay; and Ross Geach from Padstow Kitchen Garden who hosted the Mussel Beach barbeque feasts throughout the weekend.

The site was a heady mix of sights, smells and tastes with the daily beach barbeque sending up enticing smoke signals. Pre-bookable masterclasses saw foodie fans learn from their chef heroes, whether that be baking bread, foraging or fish preparation. For those who preferred a more mindful moment, a gentle SUP, sea kayak, aerial yoga or a visit to the Spa Morvoren – new for this year and offering delights such as hot tub sessions or an Olla Hiki Sauna – were on offer to gently ground the body and mind. Pop-ups took care of grumbling tummies and, with plenty of room to roam on the magnificent site, the air was laid-back. The festival boasted an enviable soundtrack from internationally acclaimed headliners Laura Mvula, Happy Mondays, and Passenger as well as the gentler tones of sea shanties and local musicians serenading those who wended their way through a festival for the senses.

Above | Jon Rowley

Top left/right | Ania Shrimpton

Bottom left | Ania Shrimpton

Bottom right | James Ram

Top left | Caitlin Mogridge

Top right | Caitlin Mogridge

Bottom right | Caitlin Mogridge

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