Stay the Night: Stein's at Trevone Farm, Cornwall
The television chef's latest venture is a joint project that goes back to his early days. Sophie Lam checks in
It's almost unheard of to mention a certain fishing port on the River Camel estuary without the retort, "Oh Padstein!". Yes, it's true that Rick Stein now operates more than 50 bedrooms across seven properties in and around Padstow and has four restaurants and as many shops in a parish of just over 3,000 residents. His dominance is manifest on just about every corner, not just in the branding but the robust stream of tourists that pours into the town throughout the year.
However, his latest project signifies less of a tentacle-stretch than it might first appear. Stein's at Trevone Farm is a cluster of self-catering properties in a sleepy backwater a mile or so down the road from Padstow where Rick and his former wife Jill raised their children. When Stein launched his celebrated Seafood Restaurant almost 40 years ago, Trevone Farm supplied the milk. The dairy enterprise has since been scaled back, and the farm's owners, the Trenouths, have this year turned their attention to tourism. They invited the Steins to join their new venture by taking bookings for the four self-catering houses and masterminding the interior design.
The houses sit just off Trevone's main lane, about half a mile inland from the coast and are arranged in an arc that curls out towards fields and the sea. Jill Stein, who still lives in Trevone, wanted to create "somewhere to kick off your shoes and feel instantly relaxed" at the four properties (a fifth is retained for private use by the Trenouths), although the contemporary, holiday-village style architecture might not instantly induce you into a state of bucolic bliss.
Inside, Jill has created an easygoing New England-lite ambience, with lots of glass to maximise the views and materials that wear the transition of the seasons well – sisal, wicker, clotted-cream painted woodwork, slate and oak. A contemporary log burner heats up winter days, while an outdoor shower, all-weather beanbags and barbecue enhance the gardens in summer.
Downstairs living is open plan, with a vast, squishy sofa, 3D television and DVD player, free Wi-Fi, a library, big dining table and a high-spec kitchen. A sense of place has been created via strategically placed glass fishing floats, cushions embroidered with the names of local coastal hotspots, prints of British sea areas, model sailing boats and a sign reading "gone to the Seafood Restaurant". And, naturally, there's a supply of Rick Stein cookery books in the kitchen.
Out and About
Trevone Bay is a five-minute walk, and like most beaches on this coast, is surf-centric. If you don't have a board, stroll up to the headland and gawp down at the crater-like sink hole in the middle, where the ocean churns brutally below at high tide.
For a bracing walk, there are innumerable bays nearby, such as gentle, dune-backed Constantine and rock-pool rivuleted Booby's Bay.
You could happily spend several days in Padstow, eating your way around Rick's culinary empire, getting hands-on at his cookery school, or simply walking out along the Camel Estuary to the Doom Bar, the perilous sandbank which has wrecked many an incoming ship and which has given its name to the renowned bitter, brewed across the water in Rock (sharpsbrewery.co.uk).
On a clear day, hire bikes (01841 533533; padstowcyclehire.com; £14 per day) and follow the estuary inland on the 18-mile Camel Trail, which traces a disused railway line past inviting inns, woodland, a tea garden (01208 742291; cameltrailteagarden.co.uk) and an award-winning vineyard (01208 77959; camelvalley.com).
The Good Cornwall Guide (goodcornwallguide.co.uk) is an excellent source of information for seeking out lesser-known beaches, secret cafés, winter walks and local events, from pop-up restaurants to food festivals.
The Food and Drink
A welcome hamper of Stein-branded goodies, plus fridge essentials awaits your arrival, and there's a decent farm shop onsite for bolstering the larder.
To eat out, you'll have to head out of Trevone. The Cornish Arms (01841 520288; no bookings) is a mile or so west, in the village of St Merryn. This St Austell Brewery pub is run by Rick Stein and in spite of a sleek Jill Stein makeover, is still very much a locals' place, with a big table set aside for communal drinks alongside plenty of dining tables. Come for a pint of Proper Job IPA, or Stein's own bottled beers (brewed at Sharp's in Rock), then tuck into mussels and chips (£12.95) or a special from Rick's latest India series – Mr Singh's lamb and cardamom curry is highly recommended.
In Padstow, the Seafood Restaurant is a blow-out experience, but for a more affordable distillation, try St Petroc's Bistro, with seafood highlights including grilled scallops with pumpkin seeds, chilli and coriander (£8.95) and grilled hake with beer, bacon and savoy cabbage (£16.95).
Trevone Farm Cottages, Trevone, Padstow, Cornwall, PL28 8QN (01841 532700; rickstein.com). Three-night breaks from £405 for up to six guests, £750 per week. Well-behaved dogs welcome (£25 per dog flat fee).
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