Forever Cornwall’s online pasty guide!

Cornish Pasties

When you visit Cornwall, whatever the weather and whenever you come, there are two things you will almost certainly do. Go to a beach — and eat a pasty. Now, just as there is good and bad disco music, good and bad haircuts, and good and bad karma — there are good and bad pasties. And to save you the time, trouble and unnecessary calorific intake of testing out all of the types you come across, we thought we’d give you some pointers. Following are our current top ten… but first the basics…

A Proper Pasty has to be made by hand. The reason is that the ingredients have to be carefully layered for the flavours to integrate successfully. Specifically, the meat has to be on top so that the meat juices flow down through the veg ingredients during the cooking process. ‘Mother’ would very likely have put a knob of butter on top of the meat for added flavour (and cholesterol). On top of the meat, some seasoning obviously… Below the meat, there must be onion, followed by turnip which should be sliced, not diced so that it cooks in time with the potato which is on the bottom. See the logic? each flavour will flow through the next. Make it in a factory mixer and the effect is utterly lost — like trying to make a layer cake without the layers. It follows that if a pasty is hand made it will be hand ‘crimped’ too.

Incidentally, the classic beef for a pasty is either ‘chuck steak’ or ‘skirt’. I have to be honest and say I have no idea what skirt is… please do tell if you know.

‘These days’ you will find pasties with all sorts of ingredients. This is by no means a modern idea, as ‘originally’ pasties might have had all sorts of things in them… depending on what was in season, personal preference and so on. And while we are talking history, pasties aren’t actually that old — the thing we recognise as the Cornish pasty today is probably a Victorian invention.

There are various cute stories about pasties, one of the most prevalent is that miners with their mucky hands would hold on to the crimped edge as if it were a handle, and then discard it (also to pacify the Knockers who may otherwise have jinxed the mine). Personally, we’re more than a little sceptical about this. Don’t know about you, but we reckon the crusty crimped edge is the best bit, and if we were hungry miners we’d want the calories and the treat enough to simply give our hands a wipe first and then eat the lot.

Finally, staying with history, the etymology of the word ‘pasty’ goes back to old French and thence Latin. The same root word as pastry, pasta, patty, pate, patas etcetera. Now, for that highly subjective list! (… which focuses unashamedly on West Cornwall).

1. Trevaskis farm shop pasty in the restaurant — at quiet times of year they may let you have one to take away, worth the ask.

2. Ann’s originated in The Lizard village but has since spread to Porthleven, Mullion, Helston and The Cornish Food Box in Truro.

3. Horse and Jockey in Helston (by The Bell public house in Meneage Street).

4. Gear Farm near The Helford. Pre-order at this farm shop for wonderful local pasties.

5. Philps in Hayle or Praze-an-Beeble — a big maker but absolutely the real deal… join the queue in the summer and eat on Hayle quay.

6. Rowe’s — made in Penryn and about the biggest chain in the area with ubiquitous yellow shops. Very good nonetheless.

7. In the cafe at Geevor Tin Mine — not sure who makes them but they are just ace.

8. Barnicutt Bakery in Pool — a big deal in East Cornwall and branching out to the west!

9. The Village Butchers in Mylor Bridge — it’s traditional in Cornwall for butchers to make pasties for obvious reasons.

10. Choaks in Falmouth (at the top of ‘the Moor’) — see them being made in the shop.