We drove to the end of the earth and the food was good there
I’ll be honest, our time in Penzance didn’t start well. After a day of what felt like constant hedge-driving, we made it into Penzance, only to find the narrow, terrifying roads were no longer lined with moveable hedges, but immovable rock walls. Long story short, I lost my rag with a dickhead in a BMW honking me for being slow to navigate the entirely new, entirely confusing streets in a bid to find parking, and screamed at him.
This is a fact I reveal not out of pride but for context of how incredible a time we had in Penzance, that we left completely loving it after such a miserable start.
The night we got in, after several phone calls to restaurants around town searching for a table, we got in at one of the ones we’d most hoped to: the Cornish Barn. We’d come for the food, and the first night didn’t disappoint. Lia’s sweet potato gnocchi and my beer can chicken cured us of our ails.
The next morning, we wandered around our AirBNB host’s home and her allotment across the street, marveling at the view from our bedroom and her incredibly well-tended garden. The sunflowers, she told us, she’d grown herself.
We made our way from her place down onto the high street, a mere 5 minute’s walk, and found some breakfast at a small deli at the end. I had two delicious sausage rolls — one regular, one chorizo (or “chorit-zo” as they pronounce it in the UK) — and Lia had a cheese tart, hating and loving every bite. Food day 2 was off to a good start.
We went into shops as we walked toward the seaside, some of them truly beautifully designed and maintained. No.56 was the one that felt closest to the insane standards of the shop I’m fortunate to work at in Seattle, but it was a gorgeous space, filled with clothing, ceramics, and a brush for every occasion. We’d just come from the Exchange, an art gallery with a fantastic gift shop in the front. I’d just somehow convinced Lia to buy me a completely impractical but absolutely-must-have ceramic egg cup from a local studio, so naturally I went and bought two more pieces of fine tableware to bring back in hand luggage halfway around the world: a small dish and a milk pot. I don’t even use the milk pot. It was just too cute to leave behind.
When we got to the waterfront, we found the enormous saltwater lido we’d been aiming to see, the Jubilee Pool, was closed for the day for cleaning. Literally the one day in the summer it was scheduled to be closed. What luck.
It kind of worked out for the best though, because you could fully appreciate the Art Deco architecture without any ugly kids running around in levels of undress unbefitting of having their photograph captured by a strange man.
We walked along the waterfront, beginning our long journey by foot to Mousehole (pronounced “mozul” supposedly) a few miles along the coast. Lia saw her first bowls game along the way, and I saw a basketball court that looked more like it belonged in Bermuda than it did in Cornwall. The pavement dipped in and out but it could otherwise’ve been more treacherous. And it was so pretty at points.
Our route took us through Newlyn, a more industrial fishing town which supplies not only most of the area’s restaurants with their fish (Newlyn crab appeared on basically every menu in town) but also plenty of top notch spots in London and around the country. We’d be back later for our dinner.
Our destination within Mousehole was the Rockpool Cafe, a local institution on the edge of town overlooking — ya guessed it — a sizable man made rock pool, surrounded by myriad smaller natural ones.
The cafe was quaint and the food excellent. We sat outside on the benches, overlooking the sea (at least, Lia’s view) inhaling our Newlyn crab sandwiches, Cornish tea, millionaire shortbread, and lemonades. Yeah, it was a lot of food, and the millionaire shortbread may’ve just been me being a glutton, but damn it was so good.
We aided digestion by talking a stroll around town and the low tide wharf.
Then began our walk back to Penzance via Newlyn where we’d stop for another feast.
This time we was fancy, and got shell on shrimp, a newly crab salad, and a standout white fish with caper sauce, which arrived after the other things and therefore missed its photo opp. It was the best dish of the bunch though, as the shrimp were a bugger to de-shell and the newly crab was lost in the salad, and we were snobby having earlier had it in its purest form between two slices of bread while overlooking the sea.
I don’t think the waitress liked having her photo taken by me.
As we walked back our earlier route to find our bed, we noticed the tide had come back in most dramatically by its height on the Jubilee Pool’s wall. Waves don’t die.