I don’t get homesick very often. It’s been 13 years since I left England, and I miss very little except Cornwall and crumpets. But every now and then, I see scones on a menu and I feel a nostalgic pang. Not that English people actually eat scones – or indeed afternoon tea full stop – very often. It’s more the idea that’s evoked by them that feels somehow familiar. The deeply ingrained memory of Cornish clotted cream (spread first, of course) followed by gooey fruit jam on still-warm, buttery, crumbly dough – a treat after a day on a windswept British beach.
First things first: I didn’t order the Sunday roast. I couldn’t. No roast lunch can ever live up to my Dad’s version – just as no mass-produced roast meal can ever live up to anyone’s own family tradition. But I saw several plates come out of the kitchen – and if you’re not British, feel free to try it as it looked good. (If you are British, I urge caution – you know your mum/dad/grandma/uncle does the only roast worth eating.)
Instead, I got the lamb pie with peas and mint. The pastry was short and crumbly, the flavour of the filling bold and savoury. But in general I found it a little over salted, and it came rather curiously with an entire jar of English mustard. I’m still unclear what I was supposed to do with that… My dining companions also liked their pies, but I heard mixed reports about the breakfast egg dishes – I think they’ll warrant a second visit.
Most importantly, though, what were the scones like? Warm, buttery and crumbly – as they should be. The jams were all homemade, and included interesting flavours like pumpkin and cardamom, or blackcurrant with thyme. They were excellent, but I missed a traditional raspberry or strawberry jam for the purists. The clotted cream was certainly clotted, but didn’t have that satisfying crust that’s the mark of true Cornish (or Devonshire) cream. Still, it all hit the spot.
And since it’s only about a kilometre down the road from where I live, it’s the closest taste of home I’m likely to get anytime soon…