I probably shouldn’t admit this, but, the thing is, I’m not a massive pasty fan. There you go, there it is. Let’s just hope the pasty police don’t catch up with me…
Don’t get me wrong, I do eat them. Now and then. But I just don’t get off, gastronomically speaking, on lots of (usually) very salty potato and sweede, dipped in gravy and wrapped in thick pastry. If you’re lucky there might be one or two pieces of beef skirt in there too.
And I know, I know, the pasty circuit in this fine county is as diverse as it is wide, and everyone has their own firm favourites that they’re keen to laud at great length. Although it all comes down to taste and I remember eating a ‘supposed’ winner on the Cornish pasty scene that left my mouth tasting as though I’d licked a rugby players armpit. Which is why after eventually wrapping my chops around an Ann’s Pasty it was a relief that they lived up to expectations.
For almost a year – I kid you not – I kept hearing the whispering about Ann’s Pasties, most of the time it was in hushed terms, usually in a quiet corner or under the breath. Like a well guarded secret. It was like everyone knew about Ann’s Pasties but no-one shouted out loud about them. And I couldn’t understand why. Perhaps the issue was about getting your hands on one, things are starting to change but they’re not readily available on the high street. They’re made by hand at the Pasty Barn in Helston and sold here, at the shop on the Lizard and a few choice retailers. And when you do find them out and about in Cornwall you need to get in fast to bag yourself one, because as soon as the whisper gets out they’ll be gone.
When I did get my hands on one I seized the moment and bought two – one traditional steak and one cheese and onion. Both are encased in short, rustic pastry. The steak was stuffed full of quality meat with beautiful seasoning and just enough sweede to compliment rather than quash the mix. The cheese and onion was an explosion of cheedery goodness.
The story behind Ann’s Pasties is great,
“I learned to make pasties in an emergency, I was summoned by my mother, Hettie Merrick, a professional pasty-maker, to a Breton agricultural fair, where demand was dramatically and unexpectedly outstripping supply at a stall mother had set up. At the end of a day of pasty-making, I could crimp them as fast as my mother, which was the perfect confidence boost and eye opener into the fact that there was a business to be had producing a good Cornish pasty.
Soon afterwards I began making pasties for my neighbours, who’d bring gifts of fresh fish they’d caught or vegetables they’d grown, and who treated my living room like a waiting room, sitting around gossiping over cups of tea if the pasties hadn’t come out of the oven yet.”
Ann and her mother went on to launch a stall at Helston Market, open a shop in Porthleven and eventually set up shop on the Lizard, and the rest, as they say, is history.
I got my Ann’s Pasty from Picnic in Falmouth – a great little cafe, which is very dog friendly to boot!
Find out more here: http://www.annspasties.co.uk/