If you go to England and miss this meal, you will have missed an epicurean delight. It was at the top on our list. Unfortunately, the first Sunday in Oxford we missed it because we didn't know it's a Sunday meal and not typically available during the week The following Saturday we met a cook on the bus and asked his opinion on the best restaurant in St. Ives for this unparalleled cuisine.
We knew that this burly hiker-type was a cook because during a conversation we had with him about roast beef and Yorkshire pudding he explained exactly how to make Yorkshire pudding. Imagine British accents:
"The secret," says the burly hiker-type, "is hot fat."
"Mmm, yes," murmured the woman across the aisle, "that's right."
"You get your fat to almost the point of smoking, pour in your batter, pop it in the oven and then—this is critical—you don't open the oven, no matter how much you're tempted, for ten minutes."
"That's right," said the woman, nodding her head. "You can't open the oven."
"Of course," added Burly, "you've got to have the right cooking tin."
"Mmmm," added the woman. "Older is better. These new modern ones don't hold up nearly so well."
The woman then offers that the Sheawhat is the best place in town for Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding."
"The Sheawhat?" I repeat. Some of the Cornish dialect I find hard to understand.
"Sheaf of Wheat" offered burly cook. "That's the best place," he agrees with the woman. "But you'd better have reservations."
That night we found the Sheaf of Wheat, got in without reservations, ate our Sunday carvery, drank copiously, and made reservations for the next day. The meal was available 12-3 and 6-8. We choose 6:00 so we'd have the day to hike.
Here's how to get your meal at The Sheaf of Wheat:
Bring your number card—ours says 2 as we are paying for two meals—up to the carving board where a huge chef in a spanking white apron cuts gigantic slices of either pork or beef (your choice) and piles tender slices sky-high on your plate. We then proceed to the buffet.
I whisper to the man in front of me. "Can we come back for more or should we take what we want now?"
"Take what you want now," he said, dumping a massive load of roasted potatoes on his plate. "I never heard of coming back for more, but you can fill your plate now."
By the time he went through the line there was not a centimeter of plate showing. We followed suit, us having hiked at Land's End in the rain you know, and then missing our bus from Penzance (in the rain) and now sitting here freezing cold and faced with the prospect of a long and huge climb (in the rain)to the Castle Tregenna, where we're staying.
Reader, I emptied my plate. Perhaps I should be embarrassed about eating so much? The truth is, we then had dessert: strawberry cheesecake for Bob and Crème brûlée for me. I could have eaten two more Crème brûlée, easily. They were small and dainty-like. My appetite was big and burly-like.