A taste of Rock
PUBLISHED: 10:00 15 October 2013 | UPDATED: 12:53 23 October 2013
© Robert Harding World Imagery / Alamy
Britain's St Tropez, the Kensington of Cornwall or a foodie mecca? Whatever its attractions, the village of Rock has plenty to offer its visitors and locals alike
Food, shopping, sailing or lazing on the shores of the Camel Estuary looking over at Padstow…Rock has become one of Cornwall’s star attractions – with second home owners and trendy holiday makers heading there to enjoy some culture and some of the best food the county has to offer.
It would be impossible to mention this little gem without thinking about food. It sits a stone’s throw from the bustling foodie town of Padstow – home to Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant and Paul Ainsworth at No 6. But two-Michelin starred Nathan Outlaw – who has made St Enodoc Hotel his home completes the trinity of celebrity chefs.
For culture head to St Enodoc Church which is the last resting place of poet laureate Sir John Betjemen. St Enodoc sits a mile north of Rock and was once almost buried by the sand – legend has it someone stubbed their toe on the tip of the spire and the church was rediscovered and subsequently uncovered.
The St Endoc Hotel dominates the village which swells in number during the holiday season.
And if you are looking for a way to work off all the lovely food, head for the sand dunes known as ‘Rock Dunes’ to the west of the village on the banks of the River Camel, which are designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest for their flora and geology.
The original name recorded in 1303 was Penmayn, Cornish for the end or head of stones. An alternative, Blaketorre, Black Tor, is found in 1337. This had become Black Rock by the 18th century and was subsequently shortened to Rock. The name of the ferry that operates between Rock and Padstow recalls the old place name, Black Tor.
Nathan began his Cornish career under neighbouring chef Rick Stein at his Seafood Restaurant and went on to work at the Black Pig in Rock where he earned his first Michelin star. Outlaws opened at The Enodoc Hotel in 2009, two years after he had opened his first eponymous restaurant in Fowey. He has also now opened Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen in Port Isaac.
Despite his regular TV appearances, Nathan is very much a part of Cornwall’s food and drink world - he can be found taking part in a host of local foodie events – such as September’s Cornwall Food and Drink Festival in Truro - where he has never missed a year – and he nurtures talented young chefs at Cornwall College‘s Academy Nathan Outlaw.
He is also currently involved in a competition – alongside Rick Stein and Paul Ainsworth to find the South West’s culinary stars with a competition for chefs under 30. The winner will enjoy three days training with the three chefs.
Nathan says: “Part of my reason for wanting to be associated with this competition is to have an opportunity to showcase some of the wealth of talented young chefs that we have coming up through the ranks in the South West.
“Their innovation, enthusiasm and knowledge are something that we should be proud of and certainly bodes well for the future of gastronomy in the area.”
Entrants were shortlisted from recipes and have been invited to cook their dish, plus a mystery recipe selected by the judging panel in November with the final held in December before the Padstow Christmas Festival.
The summer months are dominated by the Rock Oyster Festival – a midsummer weekend of food, drink, music, family activities and live entertainment all set up to celebrate the nearby Rock Oyster Farm.
If you’ve never been, this fantastic pearl in the festival calendar is an incredible weekend. This year there was glamping and camping available, and two days filled with an incredible array of entertainments – from food and chef demonstrations, to a mini beer festival, and some incredible kids entertainment – all in the glorious setting of the grounds of 17th century Dinham House overlooking the Camel Estuary. Dates are yet to be confirmed for 2014, but pencil your diary 20-22 June.
But if that all feels like a long time to wait to try Rock’s famous oysters – head for No 1 Rock Road – one of our previous top picks from the Truly Cornish Café Trail (download the full map at choosecornish.co.uk). Boasting spectacular views across the Camel Estuary to Padstow, the menu is equally stunning. Expect locally-sourced seafoods such as Camel Estuary mussels and, of course, oysters. n