Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Supper # 36 - Margots, Padstow, Cornwall

I sidled over to Padstow the next day. Rain loomed in the clouds and hibernation winked at me. My Padstonian host, Adrian, of Margots had gone to so much effort for my visit, including a carpark pitch at the austere looking Metropole Hotel, but when the weather's crap there is so little point in getting all set up and then WAITING. I actually don't mind it sometimes - there I am in Jimmy's cosy interior, surrounded by neon and flashing lights and I have to stay put, which means I can get down to admin, accounts and other such sufferers of aside pushing.

When I arrived it looked bleak. Adrian turned up with his family and seemed disappointed at my not being there earlier. I tried to explain the hopelessness of the situation and think an ice cream thrust gently towards him may have atoned things slightly.

We go our separate ways - him to prep the evening at the restaurant and me to mooch about town. 'Padstein' they call it and it's not hard to see why. The man is everywhere - under every (Pet)roc, up every street, down on the seafront - the local hero lofted high over this town, besieged by people wanting a piece of the fish pie. I pop into the Rick Stein deli and am aghast at what I discover. Charging £5.10 for a box of cereal that normally costs £2.99 in a supermarket is just not cricket. I turn on my heel and head of, horrified.

THE SET UP: Adrian has us booked in for a late table at the bistro. It will be only the fourth time in twelve years that he's sat down at the end of the night and eaten dinner here. He's Welsh via Northants and a 'non-foodie' - as he tells me, "I do what I do and I do it well". No funny business just good old fashioned reliable favourites. So I find goats cheese crostini, mushroom and chorizo risotto, scallops with bacon - and a small selection of other well chosen dishes. The place is booked up for months in advance and there is outcry should Adrian ever try to remove any of the Margots staples.

WHO CAME: Adrian and me.

WHAT WE ATE: We both go for the scallops with crispy bacon lardons, asparagus and caperberries. The scallops are juicy, firm little sea pillows. The serving is large. By the time my main of Bream turns up I see that trouble may be afoot and take an extra large swig of the Spy Valley sauvignon to help with the process. The Bream arrives atop a 'crab butter' - a yellow, chive studded sauce full of white crab meat. This is also huge and by the time I've put it away I'm beginning to feel a bit Creosote-esque.

DINER TABLE TOPICS: Adrian's mad, bad and dangerous past. Food. But Adrian doesn't want to talk about food - he wants to get down to more personal mechanics so I tell him about my past. I realise once again that I much prefer asking the questions. Whether this is a control thing or a privacy thing I'm not sure. We drink on; me the wine, him the Cornish bottled water. I hear about the horrors of the second-homers round here and how most locals and newcomers are priced out of the market. Twenty clothes shops in Padstow and nowhere to pick up your kids' school uniform. No butcher, no greengrocer, no video shop. It would drive me loopy. Adrian is good company and it's nice to see the relaxed interplay between him and his staff.

THE PUD: Much as I'm always tempted by a sticky toffee pudding, my devilish girth dictates a lighter option: saffron jelly with a poached saffron pear and clotted cream. It turns up cheery and glistening; the sunniest of sights for the summer solstice.

MY BED FOR THE NIGHT: So we lock up the restaurant, clamber the hill to the car and speed over to Adrian's house. His daughter, Becky, has given up her bed for the night...or should that be half the night? We're expected back in Padstow for sunrise and a beach party to celebrate the midsummer. Alarm set for 4.30am.

1 comment:

David Hall said...

Loving the adventures Petra! Hope the new laptop is doing you good.

Speak soon
Dave x