I want to offer a huge thanks to Ryan and the Cornish Pasty Co. for welcoming Steve & I into their wonderfully unique restaurant. Ryan, his Chef and the entire team provided us not only with a delightful meal, that was completely complimentary, but a wonderful evening too! Though the meal was in exchange for a review, my feedback is my honest opinion of the food and the experience.
Until recently, it was only when I caught Depeche Mode’s version of Route 66 on the radio that I gave much thought to Flagstaff, Arizona. But this was a location that my husband Steve really wanted to visit on our cross country roadtrip. Since he was going to be spending 10 days in Northern Michigan with my family, I figured the least I could do was agree to this detour through Arizona!
Flagstaff is the home to Northern Arizona University. Its historic Downtown is busy & has a cool energy that I often find in small college cities. Loving Depeche Mode and their version of Route 66, it felt special spending a couple nights in one of the cities mentioned! Also known as the Main Street of America, Route 66 was established in 1926 and became one of the most famous roads in the U.S. Flagstaff happens to be located in the world’s largest ponderosa pine forest which makes the drive from Flagstaff to Sedona one of the most breathtaking I’ve ever seen. Another fun little fact is that about 100 trains pass through the city every single day! Living in Napa, I was used to the Wine Train heading up and down Valley a couple times a day but I did not realize how much freight is actually shipped by trains across the U.S.
Though there were several restaurants in Flagstaff that are worth mentioning, that will have to be another post. The Cornish Pasty Co. was such a delightfully delicious surprise, this article needs to be all about them!
Some believe the pasty could have arrived in the U.K. as early as the 8th Century when the Vikings invaded the British Isles. And by the 13th Century, it is a documented part of the British diet being devoured by the rich and famous ie Upper Class & Royalty. This delicious savory pastry then became a perfect all-in-one meal for the miners of Cornwall, England. Traditionally these hardy pasties were filled with beef, potato, rutabaga and onion with a thick savory gravy. They not only offered sustenance for the long day ahead, the crust also served as a means of holding the pasty without contaminating the meal. Regardless of the history of the first pasty, this meal in a crust found its way to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in the 1800s as Cornish miners began making their way to the U.S. in hopes of finding their fortunes. It wasn’t long before pasties become a big part of the culture of the U.P. Whenever our school had a fundraiser, it wasn’t candy bars or magazine subscriptions that we sold. It was pasties lovingly baked by local women. When my husband told me there was a spot in Flagstaff that sold only pasties, I couldn’t believe there was a whole restaurant dedicated to these crusty morsels! It has long been a piece of my history but I have met very few people outside of Northern Michigan who have ever even heard of this cuisine let alone eaten it!
My introduction to the Cornish Pasty Co. was just how I hoped it would be. When I walked in I felt right at home. It was incredible how their decor reminded me of so many bars in the U.P. With dim lighting; dark, heavy furniture; a huge welcoming bar and pool tables lit up by Schlitz beer light fixtures hanging above, it all brought me back home.
Though the vegan pasties are not listed individually on the menu, they do offer a rotation of at least 4 varieties daily. Since the restaurant’s GM, Ryan Hays, knew we were coming, he had the Chef prepare one of each for us! First, let me explain. There is no possible way we could have eaten 4 pasties. They are HUGE. The Chef made four mini-versions of their vegan pasties so we could enjoy trying all of them.
We started out first with one of their rotating vegan soups – this was an enjoyable cabbage vegetable soup that tastes like it came out of grandma’s kitchen. They paired it with their thick, luscious house made bread. Fresh baked joy!
Our first pasty was the time honored & traditional Oggie. The vegan version contained portabello mushrooms, potato, onion and swede. What wasn’t traditional to this Yooper was the amazing HP sauce they served along with it. This brown sauce is a tomato base blended with malt vinegar, sugar & dates, spices and tamarind. It is named after London’s House of Parliament and has become an icon of British culture. Dating back to 1899, it is one of the most popular sauces in the U.K. Once you taste it, you will understand why. It is unbelievably good! If you are new to pasties,The Oggie is a perfect introduction to this hand held meal.
Next, we dug into The Greek. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! A blend of spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, artichokes and garlic drizzled with tahini sauce made this my favorite savory pasty of the evening. It was absolutely scrumptious! Even though I knew I had 2 more pasties on the way, I could not stop eating this one!
The Spicy Cauliflower is for those of you who love a little heat with your meal. Spicy is not usually how I roll but Steve loved it! The tasty combo of cauliflower, roasted corn, black beans, hatch chilies and pico de gallo will satisfy anyone looking for Mexican food baked into a pastry.
And then they brought out pasty number 4…dessert! This simple blend of peanut butter, jam and banana was absolutely divine! I LOVE dessert and would never have dreamed that these simple ingredients could taste so heavenly. Whatever savory pasty you decide to order, be certain that you finish your meal with this one!
The Cornish Pasty Co. is located in Flagstaff’s Southside District. Just south of the railroad tracks that divide the Southside from downtown Flagstaff, this is the cities oldest and most eclectic neighborhood. Once known for its diversity, it is now booming with taverns, cafes, coffee shops and breweries. Steve and I loved wandering around Southside – I liked it so much I wondered aloud why I had never lived in this friendly mountain town! I hope you enjoy Flagstaff with its friendly folks, delicious vegan food, high altitude hiking and picturesque views as much as we did.
So let’s explore the world together and as always…eat, drink & be vegan!