It was hard not to feel like a walrus being fed from a bucket.
After the drive from Mevagissey to Padstow we wandered around the streets to find the perfect place for lunch. The views during the drive were uplifting: a mix of lush hedgerows around narrow corners and wide countryside panoramas. Walking from the car into the town centre was a good way to stretch since the streets and paths were narrow and cobbled, which forced us to activate our lazy leg muscles and slowly take in the popular seaside town. Endless gift shops tried to woo us with brightly coloured merchandise and a large bakery looked very tempting, but we were there for one main goal: to eat Rick Stein’s food.
Hubby identified very closely with Rick Stein’s cooking style and influences, specifically Spanish and Indian flavours. He occasionally disagreed (“I wouldn’t use that masala with a potato dish”), but was very excited to experience the flavours for himself. It was the perfect birthday treat!
Deciding that the main restaurant fare was going to feel too heavy after the long drive, we opted for “Rick Stein’s Café”. The word “café” gave no hint as to the décor inside, but “Rick Stein’s Beach House Tea Room” probably didn’t fit on the sign. Perhaps it was the “café” in the name, or perhaps it was the light early colour scheme, relaxed vibe and older clientele, but neither of us expected the allocation of food that was presented to us.
I chose the calamari starter and cod curry main. I was confident I wouldn’t overeat since this was the café, not one of the restaurants, and at least half of my starter would find its way to hubby’s plate, joining his noodle starter and main of mussels. A specialty cocktail each meant that we were already a little too excited about trying a celebrity dish when a couple sat down one table away from us.
It was Rick Stein and his wife. He also ordered the fish curry. We knew then that they must be good!
Now, the problem with the mussels was that they were so plentiful! Any remaining lethargy that lingered from the journey was quickly erased by invigorating chili the mussels were now immersed in. big the quantity! It was mussel mountain! The dish it was served in would have fit a giant squid! Being mussels, and therefore having a shell to be removed, the waiters also placed an empty bowl on the table, even bigger than the first. Perhaps I exaggerated the size, but hubby’s side of the table looked like feeding time at Sea World. I felt the urge to put on a wet suit, throw the bucket-sized bowl’s contents directly into hubby’s mouth and then swim with the dolphins.
My side of the table shifted my thoughts from aquatics to the circus. I had never attempted to balance spinning plates, but I could relate to the sensation as I kept lifting my giant poppadum with one hand while trying to eat with the other. Even after I broke the poppadum in half I struggled to access my meal with knocking something over.
As a result, we ate very quietly – for us. The physical awkwardness of the dining experience made us want to laugh, but the proximity of the famous owner made it socially awkward as well, so we resorted to small talk and stifled giggles. Fortunately, Mr and Mrs Stein rose to leave, calling the chef to the table to thank him for preparing the curry perfectly.
Rick Stein’s food, in his café, personally approved by Rick Stein himself. What a birthday!
Pity we couldn’t actually finish all that food!