With a bit of a reputation as the foodie Mecca of Cornwall’s wild west, you could argue that St Ives hardly needs a festival to showcase its culinary prowess. After all, with so many excellent restaurants tucked into the tangle of harbour-side streets, you don’t have to look far to find good food. However, the St Ives Food & Drink Festival, held this year on 21–27 May, is now a firm fixture on the town’s calendar – and a reminder that it’s no longer just the art scene that visitors come to celebrate here. Good food has become synonymous with St Ives, and the festival offers ample opportunity to eat your heart out whilst also taking in the stunning coastal scenery.
It's not just a marquee by the sea (although there’s one of these too), but in fact lays on events throughout the week in some of the best restaurants across town. To give you a taster, there’s Champagne and Helford oysters at the Porthminster Café, a strictly local menu served at the Queens Hotel, coffee and cocktail classes run by a national champ at the Hub and a cheese tasting at The Digey Food Room. There’s also coastal foraging, guided food tours and fishing trips followed by seafood cookery classes. The line-up’s at its fattest over the weekend, kicking off with gin tasting and a BBQ at the Garrack Hotel on Friday night, a local food market on West Pier, chef demos, kids pasta-making classes and sandcastle competitions.
As something of a gastronome lucky enough to live this far west, I won’t be missing the festival on any count. But if you can’t down tools and head here in time for all this gluttony, don’t despair: St Ives is a great foodie destination at any time of year. I love dining out at the Black Rock in autumn, when chef David Symons has been busy foraging for wild mushrooms and blackberries. Or there's nothing better than hunkering down in the cosy Porthgwidden Beach Café on a blustery winter’s day over a bowl of seafood chowder, watching wave-spray crash off the rocky perch of Godrevy Lighthouse. Oh, and I’ll be the one chomping through another Blas Burger by the beach once the weekend revellers have gone home. For more information, times and ticket sales see the festival website.