Introducing two very special ladies, Rastella and Bertha.
In our Summer 2016 issue of Relish we introduce you to the source of some of Rastella’s favourite flavour combinations.
Sitting proudly in the centre of the kitchen and kicking out heat like a November bonfire, Bertha is powered by sustainably produced Tregothnan charcoal, she’s no stranger to chef patron Hylton Espey, who grew up cooking on wood and charcoal in South Africa and was drawn to Falmouth by the scenery, the surf and the rare opportunity to cook with Bertha.
“She gets up to about 300 degrees, so we rotate everything in there so it cooks really evenly,” he explains. “The smoky barbecue taste comes from the fat molecules reacting with the coals and turning into flavourful carbonyls and phenols. Customers have been really impressed with the smoked dishes. But it’s the wild items like the duck pastrami and salmon that people really love. If you have something cooked in Bertha you can taste it.”
It’s not just Hylton’s opinion, either. Top food critics Jay Raynor and Giles Coren have waxed lyrical about Bertha’s delights in restaurants elsewhere. “Out of her belly come things of real beauty,” says the Huffington Post, too.
But behind all great dishes are great ingredients. And Falmouth has no end of fresh ingredients ready to be turned into fresh ideas.
“What grows together, goes together”
This classic expression has inspired dishes all over the world. From summer crumbles made with fresh strawberries and rhubarb, to Spanish serrano ham paired with fino sherry. But in Rastella’s kitchen, it’s all about putting a twist on an old classic.
Hylton is a dab hand at combining freshly discovered local flavours in imaginative ways. So as well as working closely with producers on the Manor’s doorstep, he’s also a seasoned forager – especially if it means getting out on the ocean. “I’ve got a couple of crab pots down near Gylly beach,” he tells us, “so I love taking the paddle board out to see what I’ve caught.” This sense of adventure is at the heart of Rastella, and has shaped an evolving range of signature dishes. We could go on – but your best bet is to come and be dazzled by her yourself.