PUBLISHED: 16:57 16 August 2016 | UPDATED: 12:35 30 August 2017

A tasty plate of Rock mussels

A tasty plate of Rock mussels

Rock is famed for its array of shellfish that are served up in some of the world’s best restaurants - but if you want their mussels you will need to eat local

The azure waters of the Camel Estuary in Cornwall are home to highly sought-after succulent mussels farmed by Rock Shellfish. Plucked from ropes laid on the bed of the estuary, the sustainably-grown mussels are then purified for two days using natural sea water and ultra violet light.

So its hardly surprising that Mussels from Rock are the latest hero on head chef David William’s menu at St Moritz Hotel. Featured on his Celebrate the Seasons lunch - the mussels are always served up in his kitchen. Every day he will call through his order, then the team at Rock simply boxes them up and put them in the chiller van to drive the short distance from farm to the kitchen door.

I’m very fortunate here at St Moritz Hotel that Rock Shellfish mussels are not only geographically on my doorstep, but also indicative of what is great about Cornish produce. They are local, delicious, and sustainable,’ he says. All my London contemporaries use them, which is further evidence of their appeal and attraction. We are privileged that they are within walking distance and not a journey up the M4.

Mussel men Tim and Jerry Marshall run Rock Shellfish; the farm has been in the family for five generations. St Moritz Hotel is one of our original customers and we deliver approximately a tonne of mussels to the hotel every year,’ says Tim. This is the equivalent weight of two cars, so that’s a fairly hefty amount of local shellfish for diners to tuck into.’

Tim set up the mussel side of the family farm business in Porthilly 30 years ago. He wanted to work out a way to stay at home as he loved the farm and Cornwall so much. His family owned the foreshore at Porthilly, he was passionate about the sea and aquaculture so he was determined to make something work. The key to the quality of the ingredient is in the water. The seeds are sourced from up north but they grow best on the sea floor in Cornwall. Rock Shellfish lay them down and allow them to fatten for a year. Tim’s son Luke has now taken up the mantle and goes out on an eco- barge to harvest them.

Leaving fads and fanciful cookery to others, David Williams is keen to emphasise honest and natural cookery. With the best ingredients literally on the doorstep, he wants guests to savour the flavour of Cornwall whilst enjoying the stunning views.

The most significant determinant of quality with Rock Shellfish mussels is freshness; and they don’t get much fresher than these. Where other chefs might turn their noses up at varying sized and milkier looking mussels, instead of consistently yellow brightly coloured meat, David believes it’s not all about looks. He takes the taste test to ensure they are delicious.

Quality is paramount but ensuring the guests go away happy is David’s ultimate goal. For this reason David has developed his special weekly Celebrate the Seasons dish which aims to highlight an extremely local producer, making their on-season hero ingredient the star of the show.

And it seemed natural to begin the new menu with Rock Shellfish mussels at the beginning of the summer - and they continue to be popular. () ()

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