MPs looking forward to deliciously dirty menu
For the first time ever, Cornish Early new potatoes have
made it to the UK's seat of power and are to be served
to MPs and their guests at Westminster as part of a special
The little spuds, which are only grown in the far west of
Cornwall, will be served up in one of Westminster's
more formal restaurants, the Members and Strangers Dining
Room, on Tuesday 6 June.
The event is taking place thanks to support from Andrew
George, Member of Parliament for the West Cornwall and Isles
of Scilly constituency of St Ives. He proposed the event to
help boost awareness and appreciation for this speciality
crop, which is only in season for around three weeks and kept
'deliciously dirty' until ready to cook.
"The Earlies are so tasty, I'm certain they'll
tickle members' taste buds," says Andrew
George MP, whose constituency covers the area where a majority
of Cornish Earlies are grown. "Food and farming
are such critical industries for the Cornish economy and the
Cornish Early crop is a true speciality that should be arousing
interest and passion way beyond our county border. I'm
hoping this event will help lift the crop's profile
and expand its market potential, as well as providing my colleagues
with a very tasty lunch.
"Don't be surprised if there's even
a market in the capital for the Cornish earth washed off these
potatoes," added Mr George. "It could
be much in demand for giving those Chelsea tractors that 'just
back from the weekend' look!"
Around 72kg of Cornish Early potatoes, enough to feed around
300 people, are to be delivered to Westminster where Head
Chef Lawrence Colmer will prepare them alongside Cornish monkfish
and asparagus on Tuesday 6 June.
As well as being served in the Members and Strangers Dining
Room, it's expected the Earlies will also be offered
in the Terrace Café, one of the busiest self-serve
restaurants in Westminster where MPs, staff and guests also
"This is quite a coup for us growers," says
Louise Reynolds, a Cornish Early grower from Gulval near Penzance.
"It's one of our best tasting crops ever this
season, so we're hoping it will go down well and we'll
be asked back again next year."
Traditionally the very first new potatoes to be harvested
in the UK, this year's Cornish Early crop has been delayed
due to the unusually cold and prolonged winter weather. They
are usually harvested from early April, but this year they
just started coming out of the ground in mid-May.
Distinguishing characteristics of Cornish Early potatoes
are the sweet taste, delicate dust-like skin and that it's
sold 'deliciously dirty' to protect its texture
until ready to cook. This year the potatoes are being sold
in most major supermarkets in Cornwall as well as independent
outlets, and chefs and shoppers are being encouraged to ask
for them by name.
The Cornish Early website at www.deliciouslydirty.co.uk
contains details on where the potatoes can be bought, as well
as recipe ideas, information on local growers and a downloadable
Since 2003 Penwith District Council and Taste of the West
Cornwall have been working with Cornish Early growers to develop
branding and a marketing campaign to raise the potato's
profile. The campaign involves 16 potato growers from Penwith
and West Cornwall. This year the growers expect to harvest
more than 500 acres of Cornish Early new potatoes, with an
average yield of seven tonnes per acre expected over the three
For more information please contact Veronica Newport at NPR
on 01363 866927 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the
Isles of Scilly has invested in Taste of the West and Organic
South West (Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly) through the
European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).
Anyone considering a new horticulture, food and
land based industries project is advised to speak with Martin
Butler at Government Office South West on 01752 635134 before
commencing development as there are now only limited funds
available due to the successful uptake of funding by the agricultural
sector in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
Penwith Business Centre, with support from Penwith District
Council and Taste of the West Cornwall, is driving the countywide
campaign to promote the Cornish Early new potato. The objective
is to create a demand for the potato amongst trade (restaurants
and hoteliers) and consumers, supporting the efforts of Penwith's
producers and demonstrating the potential of the market for
Taste of the West in Cornwall is a £5million Objective
One gateway project, funded by the European Agricultural Guidance
and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF), the Department for Food, Environment
and Rural Affairs (Defra) and private matched funding. It
is part of the Taste of the West regional food group. Taste
of the West's Cornwall project includes a trade development
programme, a marketing grant scheme and a capital grants scheme,
available to small and medium sized food businesses which
produce, sell or process foods in Cornwall and the Isles of
Scilly. For more information log on to www.cornwalltasteofthewest.co.uk.
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Objective One Partnership Office
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