My first blog takes me to the very grand setting of Lanhydrock House to meet Melanie Claridge who is the Catering Manager at Lanhydrock. I have visited the house itself on a number of occasions and it really is a magic place.
There are two restaurants, both steeped in history. Within the main house, there is the The Servants’ Hall and The Housemaid’s Room where diners are served home cooked traditional food to their table. In the courtyard, The Stables offers a self-service option, with locally made sandwiches and homemade soups and cakes. As the name suggests, this is the original stable and they have kept so much of it in tact, it’s really impressive. You can still sit in the bays where the horses once stood, the flooring is original and the harness room lies upstairs. But I am here to see the ice cream! Two old wooden doors open out on to the courtyard and behind them lies a freezer-full of the good stuff.
How long have you worked here?
“I have worked for the National Trust for 10 years and I have been the Catering Manager here at Lanhydrock for 5 years. Before that, I came from a catering position at Heathrow which was just worlds apart really. I feel very lucky to work here.”
What’s the best part about your job?
“The staff, many of whom have been here for 10-25 years! Also, the volunteers without whom we wouldn’t be able to run the property, there are over 200 volunteers supporting us and we always need more. There’s just a really great morale, everybody knows each other and I have been made to feel really accepted.”
What do you think brings people back?
“I think the atmosphere, also the size of both the property and the estate means that there is so much to see that you can keep coming back and still see something different each time. I hope also the delicious food of course is a draw!!! ;-) We have a huge number of foreign visitors and they come to Cornwall expecting a genuine Cornish ice cream, made on a Cornish farm from Cornish cream and they are delighted when that is what we give them!”
How do you choose your suppliers?
“They have to be local firstly, their product has to be authentic and they have to be passionate about what they do. Service is really important too as around 200,000 people visit Lanhydrock each year and so we need good reliable service. Also, we don’t tend to chop and change suppliers so we have built up good long relationships over the years.”
What do you think makes a good ice cream?
People seem to react well to Callestick Farm Ice Cream for a number of reasons. They like the story behind it – the fact that it’s a genuinely small, local family business making artisan Cornish ice creams from their farm. Also, we try to change our selection of flavours around a bit so regulars can experiment with some of the more unusual flavours and each year Callestick Farm make a flavour especially for us – this year it was Cherries Jubilee for the big occasion! The ice creams do not contain artificial colours, but we do find that the naturally more vibrant coloured flavours have real ‘eye candy’ appeal.
Do you offer any special additions to your cones?
“Fudge fingers, flakes of course! Also, the children love our teddy bear cones.”
What’s your best-selling flavour?
“The classic Clotted Cream Vanilla.”
What is your favourite flavour?
“Lemon Curd – it’s really refreshing and zesty”
Who would you most like to chat to over a lemon curd cone?
“Queen Victoria. Apparently she ate very quickly and I would have to keep up as she didn’t wait for her fellow diners to finish, plates had to be cleared away as soon as she was done. I have lots of questions I’d like to ask her about the property.”
My Lanhydrock ice cream experience was wonderfully historic, served from the old stable block overlooked by the house and surrounded by gardens and parkland. The ice cream was presented really well in the freezer too, all beautifully clean and the ‘Keep Calm and Eat Ice Cream’ framed print on the wall was just fab. The ice cream itself was totally delicious, a very generous portion of ‘Clotted Cream & Blackcurrant’ served on a crispy traditional cone and topped off with a flake… and bingo my first ice cream blog is born and is definitely one not to forget.