Food for thought

Award Success for Strong Adolfos

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Strong Adolfos cafe recently won the south west’s prestigious Food Reader Awards. We caught up with John Friström Eldridge who with his wife Mathilda are the team behind the popular roadside cafe.

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Strong Adolfo’s, a trendy roadside café where great food is served alongside lashings of surf and motorcycle culture. The menu is a mix of classic café food with more adventurous specials inspired by dishes from all around the world and the mouth-watering cakes are legendary.

John, congratulations on winning your recent award, has the journey been a smooth ride or was it harder than you thought?

It’s definitely been a lot more intensive than we expected due to the fact that we have been open 7 days a since week 2. There have been highs and lows but all of them worth it. We’ve grown a lot as a business and also as business owners.

What’s been the best thing at Strong Adolfos?

There is no one best thing and perhaps we will be a little bias anyway. We think perhaps the variety of food and also there is nearly always something new on the menu on a daily basis.

What would you put your success down to?

I think I would say that it is down to sticking to what we believe in and creating a place that we would be stoked to discover and visit as a customer.

What do you think about the Cornish food scene in Cornwall these days?

The food scene in Cornwall is great, it has been strong for a long time but it seems over the last few years it really has gone from strength to strength and also become more diverse with new and exciting places opening up. We love it when we have the chance to go and explore what is going on here and find new places to go out.

How has it changed from when you were growing up here?

My passion for food and drink has blossomed over the last 5-6 years and prior to that I wasn’t really noticing too much what was going on. Although my dad and stepmother briefly owned and ran Pizzas at Rojanos in Padstow when I was around 12, so I did see a little of the behind the scenes back then. There has definitely been a change over the last 30 years but there would be anywhere I guess. I think the biggest change happening now is culturally, with inspiration coming from the big cities and travel, especially as a new generation of coffee and food lovers are settling down and opening their own places.

Most importantly do you still get time to surf?

Oh yes, not as much as I used to but yeah I still get my fair share. Although as I get older the burning desire to just get in there when its average is not so strong. I kind of save it for the good days now.

Find Strong Adolfos at Hawksfield’s new cultural hub on the Atlantic Highway (the A39) just outside of Wadebridge, where you can tuck into artisan food, browse local art and get your hands on retro and vintage design. You can find Mathilda’s recipe for her luscious Raspberry and Meringue Cake in the Saltwater Kitchen Cookbook.

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A Great Review

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“Inspirational” was how Martin Desp described the Saltwater Kitchen Cookbook. We were stoked with his review in this weekend’s Western Morning News as, “a book heralding a new age of food and drink west of the Tamar.”

Martin describes the once ubiquitous “cheap-fat-fryer” food scene of Cornwall’s past and the rapid change it’s undergone in the past decade. And evidence of the change from this ‘money-grabbing philosophy’ of yesteryear is the Saltwater Kitchen Cookbook, “it’s nothing short of inspirational”. Nowadays instead of fat-fryers, there’s “cookery schools with attitude, pub cooks who go the extra shoreline mile, wood-fired pizza purveyors working out of old vans, and street-food chefs inspired by their Far East travels.”

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This is what we wanted to capture in the Saltwater Kitchen Cookbook, the passion of the exciting food scene and people doing amazing things in Cornwall., “The theme here seems to be imagination and flare married firmly to Cornish ingredients” which doesn’t mean celebrated chefs in hotels and restaurants but a “new breed of foodie-folk who have chosen Cornwall as their home for the lifestyle the place offers”.  And our lifestyles are linked inevitably to the sea and for everyone who is in the book or who worked on the book, it’s the common connection which ties everything together.

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Martin said the recipes were “inspirational” – great praise indeed for everyone in the book! And he picked a couple which grabbed his attention, Confit Rabbit Legs with buttered sea greens and peppered blackberry sauce by Thom Hunt and Matt Vernon at 7th Rise on the River Fal and Harissa Smoked Pheasant with Pork Belly by Scott Eggleton at Wood Fired Food in Mawgan Porth.

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Meet: Nola From No. 4

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Above: Adam and Nola at the door of No. 4. Photo: Kirstin Prisk
Nola Kinna runs No.4 located in the heart of Aggie’s tight knit surfing community with her partner Adam Vasey. The restaurant has attracted a huge following so it seemed right to find out more about the face behind the success story.
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Above: The sign over the door of No. 4. Photo: Nola Kinna
Nola, what inspired you to set up No.4?
We had been thinking about setting up a restaurant for sometime. When the Aggie surf shop became available for lease it seemed like the perfect place, so we moved home from London and cracked on.
Describe your average day?
We get up about 7:30/8am, quick shower and cuppa then Adam goes down to No.4 prepping from about 8:30am. Our menu takes a lot of work so there’s always something boiling away on the stove or in the oven. I sort the laundry from the night before and join him down here about 9:30. If we’re doing lunch that day we’ll prep together for a few hours, set up for lunch. We try to get half an hour to sit down and think about new dishes but that’s fairly rare! Marky (our other chef) gets in about 3pm and the rest of the gang at 5:30pm. I’ll try and get an hour in the office to sort through invoices, answer emails etc – then home to get changed for the evening. Service kicks off at 7pm so by 6:30 we’re all set up and ready to go. We generally finish here about 12am – home, quick bite to eat and glass of wine and whatever series we’re watching to wind down, then bed about 1:30/2am – start again tomorrow.
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Above: Inside No. 4. Photo: Nola Kinna
What’s your favourite thing to cook at home?
Something easy! Proper roast chicken and new potato salad, or ‘leftovers’ risotto. Last week I made sweetbread, asparagus & wild garlic risotto!
What inspires you about living in Cornwall?
Everything! We both grew up here so it’s easy to take the Cornish way of life a little for granted – but we also spent 8 years living in London so when you’re away for that long I think you appreciate it all the more. We’re so lucky with the produce that grows around us all year round – the fish we get comes straight from the sea, there’s very few food miles here!
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 Above: Straight from the sea to the kitchen at No. 4. Photo: Nola Kinna
Which your favourite season?
Autumn because Spring and Summer are exciting in terms of what you start to get growing but by September you get everything you’ve been waiting for. I love the calm September brings as well after a manic summer, the air smells different.
What’s on the up food wise?
People are far more aware now of where their food comes from, and how it got to their plate. We try and get our produce from suppliers with as few steps from the ingredient as possible. For example, our pork comes from Primrose Herd, from their pigs, on their land.
Who would be on your dinner party wish list?
Keith Floyd, Anthony Bourdain, Fred & Joe from Joe Beef, Fergus & Margot Henderson, Josh Holme & David Bowie.
And the motto you try to live by?
In the words of David from Joe Beef, “Art goes in your eye – food goes in your mouth.”
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Above: The glorious Cornish countryside. Photo: Nola Kinna