TASTE SCILLY 2019 – THE HIGHLIGHTS
The Isles of Scilly may be just 28 miles from Land’s End, but on a sunny day, with their pristine sandy beaches and crystal clear turquoise waters, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in the tropics. A haven for lovers of nature and the great outdoors, the islands draw in visitors from all walks of life: bird-watchers, watersports enthusiasts, nature-lovers, families with children of all ages, sailors, and those simply wanting to “get away from it all”, seeking the peace and quiet which is so hard to find nowadays.
If you love food, for which the islands are becoming increasingly better known, then the Taste of Scilly Festival is the perfect time to explore the idyllic archipelago. Running from 1 to 30 September, the festival celebrates the islands’ fantastic produce, from ice cream and gin, to pasties and lobster.
We’ve put together our selection of the unmissable highlights of this year’s festival. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for practical information, such as how to get there, and where to stay.
LOW TIDE EXPERIENCE
The festival kicks off in style on Sunday 1 September with the incredible, and unique, Low Tide Experience. For around two hours, visitors can roll up their trouser legs to reach a sandbank between Tresco and Bryher (which is usually under five metres of water) for this ultra mini-food festival. Diners can enjoy bowls of locally harvested garlic mussels, seafood paella served straight from a beached fishing boat, Tresco salt beef, and Scilly mackerel baps, all washed down with gin cocktails and prosecco, and accompanied by live music.
12 noon to 2pm, Sunday 1 September, free to attend, food and drink available to purchase, cash only, apart from the Island Fish Stall which accepts card payments.
ISLAND HOPPING SUPPER SAFARI
A private boat charter will take twelve lucky diners to feast on a different island for each course of this special supper safari. Beginning with drinks at Star Castle on St Mary’s, the menu then features crab on Bryher, a main course of beef or lobster on Tresco, and pudding or cheese back on St Mary’s. A matching wine will be served with each course.
5.30pm to 10pm, Wednesday 18 September, £125pp, to book phone the Tourist Information Centre on 01720 620600.
POP-UP CRAB SHACK COOKERY SCHOOL AT THE HELL BAY HOTEL
The Crab Shack at the Hell Bay Hotel is collaborating with Truro School Cookery School to offer four exclusive seafood demos and three course meals across the weekend of 21 and 22 September. The mouthwatering menu is:
– Salakee duck canapé and Tarquin’s Hell Bay gin and tonic on arrival.
– Hillside Farm gazpacho with local crab.
– Whole ‘Island Fish’ lobster, served with sweet Bryher herb linguine.
– Veronica Farm coffee and clotted cream fudge trifle.
Guests will watch chef AJ Turner demo each of the three courses (recipe cards will be provided) before tucking into the meal.
Two sittings each day (11.30am and 5.30pm) on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 September. To book phone Hell Bay Hotel on 01720 422947.
SCILLY SPIRIT GIN SCHOOL
New for 2019 is a series of Distillery Tours and “Gin School” sessions at the brand new Scilly Spirit state-of-the-art distillery on St Mary’s. At “Gin School”, following a tour, participants can distill their own Scillonian gin, creating their desired blend from a choice of 60 botanicals.
Distillery tours run from 2pm to 4pm on Wednesdays and 3pm to 5pm on Fridays, and are priced at £15pp, which includes a delicious G&T. Gin School (11am to 2pm on Mondays and Fridays) is priced at £98pp, with a discount for couples who share their bottle of gin to take home. To book a place, call Art on 07771 667544 or visit scillyspirit.com.
MEET THE PRODUCERS
During September, there’ll be the chance to meet some of the islands’ passionate food producers, including Kylie and Dave, who run Salakee Farm on St Mary’s. Visitors can meet the free-range Salakee ducks and learn about the couple’s enterprising, sustainable market garden. On Bryher, visit Graham and Ruth Eggins, who will show you around their traditional working island farm, Hillside Farm.
For full details, times and prices, see here.
A MONTH OF MOUTHWATERING MEALS
Each day of the festival, there is a food-led event to enjoy, including: takeaway lobster from Island Fish on Bryher; beach barbecues at Karma St Martin’s; wood-fired pizzas at Veronica Farm on Bryher; lobster night at Longstone Café on St Mary’s; crab, mussels and scallops from the Crab Shack on Bryher; a seafood night at Fraggle Rock on Bryher; and a tasting menu at Juliet’s Garden on St Mary’s.
For a full programme of events, including times, prices and how to book, see here.
You can travel to Scilly from Cornwall and Devon by plane, helicopter and ferry – see www.islesofscilly-travel.co.uk. N.B. there is a 10% discount on all Scillonian fares and Skybus Land’s End flights during September 2019. This can only be applied on telephone bookings – use the code TASTE19 and phone 01736 334220. For accommodation suggestions, and other practical information about visiting the islands, see visitislesofscilly.com.