As land-locked Midlanders, my husband and I are always keen to escape to the coast. A recent jaunt took us to the Meadows campsite in the Pentewan Valley, just outside St Austell for a weekend of coastal walks, plenty of food, and some good old Cornish cider.
Child-free, dog-friendly, and recently featured in the Guardian in a list of 15 ‘pitch-perfect’ campsites, The Meadows was perfect for us. Even more perfect when they announced that on the Saturday night, we would be treated to a visit from a cocktail van, and pizza experts Kernow Forno. Pizzas? On a campsite?
Yes, indeed. All will become clear.
Kernow Forno is a mobile pizza-making mecca, taking a wood-fired oven to all sorts of events across Cornwall, Devon and Somerset. Husband and wife team Simon and Sarah Pryce (who in a previous life clocked up a joint 32 years with the RNLI) set up the business in what they describe on their website as a “you only live once” decision. They upped sticks, moved to Cornwall, and started their travelling wood-fired pizza oven business.
With a menu ranging from traditional margherita to more speciality toppings, and even dessert pizzas, they boast of using an authentic Italian dough recipe to get a thin, crispy base and pizzas that cook in less than two minutes in the 500-degree oven.
Eager to see their handiwork, we arrived back at the campsite from a long, lovely coastal walk to find the pizza-cooking well under way and fellow campers trotting back to their tents with their delicious-looking dinners.
In a confession that will indicate that these pizzas are really rather good, I have to admit that while we started of planning to order two between six of us (since we had a full barbecue dinner planned as well), but ended up buying four more after we’d tried them. The best-laid plans hey!
This pizza overload was due, in part, to the great offerings on the menu. As well as a simple but tasty margherita we couldn’t resist the meat feast, topped with sausage, Cornish salami, home-cooked ham and roast chicken. We also couldn’t walk away without trying the Cornish line-caught mackerel marinated in soy, horseradish and ginger, with red onion and chive. The mackerel was fresh and tasty, its flavour enhanced by the oriental marinade.
With all of the pizzas the dough was light, thin, and just the right level of crispy round the outside. Nowhere was its quality more obvious than in the form of irresistible garlic bread.
The smell alone was enough to make you nod your head helplessly when asked if you’d like one, while the taste was simply out of this world. I mean, who doesn’t love cooked garlic for starters? But mix with salty butter, all soaking into a light pizza base. A true winner.
Kernow Forno isn’t just about the quality of its food, much of which is a showcase of what the south west has to offer. This is theatre at work, and no doubt one of the reasons these guys are so popular at festivals and fetes. Simon rolls and tosses the bases while you watch, bringing an open-kitchen style to the whole affair, while you can peer into the wood-fired oven to see the roaring flames as you loiter with intent waiting for your pizza.
And the piece de resistance? They appear to have some control over the weather, at least at the Meadows anyway. As Kernow Forno arrived, so did the sun (something Simon assures me has happened before when they’ve staged one of their pop-up pizza nights), meaning we could bask in the heat, munching on our pizza and sipping on cocktails.
In an age where pop-ups and street food are all the rage, Kernow Forno are cashing in on a trend that looks unlikely to wane anytime soon. But they’re not just doing it, they’re doing it well, and stand out from the crowd. Bravo Simon and Sarah, that decision was certainly worth taking.
Ellen Branagh is a journalist who blogs about food rather well at www.eatwithellen.com <!–