I’d heard great things about the Padstow Christmas Festival, but didn’t know what to expect!
I even featured it in my Cornish festive events blog post last month and mentioned I was keen to visit this year. As luck would have it, Sharp’s Brewery invited Alex and I to come along on the Saturday and see what it’s all about!
Staying nearby in Rock at the St. Moritz Hotel, we checked in around midday and were swiftly whisked off down the road to The Mariner’s (Nathan Outlaw’s restaurant that overlooks the estuary) for a 5 course beer and food tasting lunch.
With a mix of Sharp’s Brewery brands like ‘Chalky’s Bite’ and ‘Offshore Pilsner’, and other international beers, each course was expertly paired to give the best flavour combination. We had a delicious and warming artichoke soup to start, followed by fish cakes, then breaded hake, and pork chop, finishing with an incredible chocolate mousse with poached pear for dessert.
Now I’m not really a beer person; I wouldn’t normally order it when at the bar and I certainly had never considered pairing it with food as you would with wines, but this experience really opened my eyes!
The key is in the quantity – rather than an overwhelming amount served in a huge pint glass, for each meal the beer was poured in small amounts (obviously because this was a ‘tasting’, the amounts were smaller than you’d normally have anyway because otherwise you’d leave QUITE drunk) into wine glasses, and actually, I think if you ordered a beer with a meal and had just a wine glass amount, it wouldn’t be too overwhelming and would be an enjoyable way to match it!
The food was exquisite, and I definitely can’t wait to go back to The Mariner’s for an evening meal at some point. At the taster lunch we were in a group with other press, and happened to sit ourselves next to Abi from A Country Lady (equestrian fashion blog) and her partner Morv, who we ended up spending most of the day with too – it was so nice to meet a fellow Cornish blogger and we’ll definitely be staying in touch.
After our meal, we all headed on the little ferry boat across the estuary to get to the Padstow Christmas Festival. Amazingly, I’ve never actually been to Padstow! It was delightfully decorated with Christmas lights and plenty of buzz on this weekend, and I know it’s a very popular destination for tourists in Summer because of its quaint streets and boutique shops.
Once we arrived, Alex, Abi, Morv and I were led to the ‘secret beer bar’ – a 60 minute experience involved a fantastic beer sommelier, plenty of different beers to taste, more delicious treats and, let’s just say, a very ‘cosy’ atmosphere! I won’t say too much, but it was fantastic. If you hear about this at any other Sharp’s events, I’d definitely recommend it.
For the rest of the late afternoon/early evening, we explored the Christmas markets – bursting with amazing Cornish food and drink brands with plenty to taste along the way. We also got ourselves a seat in the chef demonstration marquee to watch top chef, Angela Hartnett, cook up some tasty recipes on stage. It was brilliant to watch, and there were many of these demos throughout the weekend to enjoy as well, including big names such as Rick Stein, Paul Ainsworth and Michael Caines.
For our evening entertainment, we headed aboard the Jubilee Queen; a 25 metre long event boat based in Padstow harbour, which regularly hosts boat trips throughout summer, as well as some of Cornwall’s most unique, intimate gigs and music events. On this particular Saturday, the Jubilee Queen played host to DJ, Huey Morgan, for one of Sharp’s Brewery’s famous Doombar sessions.
This was so much fun! I didn’t take any photos as, to be honest, we were too busy dancing the night away! With a fully stocked bar on board, and the best mix of disco, funk and retro tunes I’ve heard in ages, it was a super fun night and we could easily have spent more hours aboard as the boat sailed us around the estuary. There’s nothing quite like dancing on benches aboard a boat bobbing to-and-fro in a winter storm!
Alex and I have definitely come away with a newfound appreciation for beer. It’s amazing how the flavours work with different foods and how the foods effect the flavour of the beer afterwards too.
The Padstow Christmas market was also the perfect place for Sharp’s Brewery to celebrate the launch of their new cookbook, ‘Just Add Beer’ – you guessed it – a recipe book full of recipes that involve cooking with different beers as well as pairing recommendations. The recipes inside are all contributed by top chefs from Cornwall, and is full of beautiful imagery too. If you’d like to purchase a copy for £18.99, head to the Sharp’s Brewery online shop – you might even be able to grab one as a gift in time for Christmas!
* We were invited to come along to these events by Sharp’s Brewery, but all opinions are my own