Beach foodie: Trebarwith Strand
There’s something for everyone at Trebarwith Strand on Cornwall’s north coast – sand, sea, rocks, caves – CAVES! and nature’s bounty by the bucket load. Well know by dog walkers, kite runners, cave dweller and mussel hunters, we were in for a treat – though the approach to the beach is not for the faint-hearted (or those with dodgy ankles).
We weren’t expecting anything to be open (what with it being February), so stalwart beach gypsies that we are dragged along our trusty portable butane cooker and the basics to make a delish moules snack.
The youngest muddy is happy digging (I’m sure he was a puppy in a previous life) and the oldest climbing rocks, so while they did that,
and I did this: mr MC did this:
We knew we were safe picking mussels here because Trebarwith beach is clean, but always remember that mussels are filter feeders, so if there’s a sewage outlet near by…(you can guess the rest).
I’m no Delia – my rayburn burns everything, and I’m not a great fan of bivalves (oysters aside), but these were a-mazing. Here’s our made-up-as-we-went-along recipe for success
- About 40 foraged mussels
- 1 shallot
- 3 garlic clove (I bet we stank!)
- 2 chillies
- a small pack of pancetta
- a bottle of cider
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- A great big dollop of butter
- Salt and pepper
After collecting our victims,we soaked them in seawater (appropriating little muddy’s bucket) for an hour or so first to get rid of any sand and dirt then scrapped off most of the barnacles, and (I hate this bit) pulls off their ‘beards’ *shudders*.
The boys melted the butter in our battered beach frying pan over a medium heat. Next they added the shallot, pancetta, chilli and garlic then the mussels, cider and mustard.
We left them to to simmer for about 10 minutes, then, watched for them start to open. Voila! Served with crusty french bread this was so simple and delish. Then we fought over who had the most and how it was really unfair that the small people got the least even though they did most of the cooking.
Here’s some other things you should bear in mind:
The old adage ‘only collect mussels when there is an ‘r’ in the month’ (ie not May – August) is not just an old wives’ tale. It’s good for the mussels – giving them a chance to breed in the warmer months – and for us, since toxic algal blooms and bacteria are highest in summer (and mussels are what they eat).
Don’t collect mussels after heavy rainfall, as run off can leach toxins from the land and cause them to run into the sea.
If you’re pregnant, avoid eating mussels – as with all other shellfish (boo)
To ensure the population is sustainable, chose mussels over an inch and a half in size. But don’t go for huge ones, as a smaller ones can sometimes be much tastier.
Remember, you’re sharing nature’s bounty with wildlife too, so don’t take all of it, and take care not to dislodge or damage other species.
In season, I’ll bet this places is heaving. There’s a pub (The Port William) which was open (I’ll pop in for a g & t next time), and cafe (The Strand – not open) which I’ve heard does amazing crab. I also had a goggle through the window here, but this was sadly closed:
On the list for next time.
Trebarwith Strand, Tintagel PL34 0HB