Most people marvel at the percentage of their lives they spend sleeping. For Gordon Ramsay, it’s the incredible amount of time he spends sleeping on airplanes. (If he sleeps at all.)
His company operates nearly three-dozen restaurants around the world, from Bordeaux and Dubai to Sardinia and Singapore. And fans of his many, many hit TV shows span the globe, so he’s constantly trotting it.
You have to ask a marathon traveler like Ramsay: What’s the most magical place you’ve discovered that’s not a guidebook staple? He answers immediately: “Mine would be a place called Rock.”
The name does no justice to the green hills and unspoiled beaches of this coastal village near the southern tip of England, on the River Camel flowing in from the Celtic Sea. It’s a four-hour drive from where Ramsay grew up, but Rock has walloped countless more far-flung finds for his heart.
“Rock is in a microclimate on the west coast of Cornwall, and it’s this tiny little fishing village that is breathtaking,” said Ramsay, among the lucky homeowners right on the water. (Rock is said to be a haunt of wealthy weekenders and some of England’s royal family.) “At the end of the garden we go into the beach. The sand dunes are there, and we could be windsurfing one moment, swimming the next or literally sat there with an oyster knife at the end of the garden opening oysters. And when I go into these beds, I’ll go ’round at the end of the month and drop 100, 200 pounds into the oyster fishery and tell them what I’ve done.”
Visitors can wander the beach for a full mile, taking in views of pristine water. Sailing is the thing to do, though other boats are available for fishing, paddling, or just lazing in the sun.
Appetites built up in the surf are met with everything from authentic pasties to deviled whitebait at Blue Tomato, a ‘bowl of crisp little spicy fishes with aioli.’
Ramsay makes the trip across the river to Padstow and Rick Stein’s “complete foodie phenomenon.” Stein is to Padstow what Ramsay is to Las Vegas, with half-a-dozen outlets offering every kind of dining experience. With a sea full of ingredients right there, you know the cod curry is going to be transcendent.
At a restaurant of his own, Ramsay showcases sparkling wine made from grapes like the ones that grow in his Rock garden.
“The water is pure; it’s a microclimate, so those vineyards are incredible. And I was so blown away with the wine they’re producing that I took it to my restaurant in Bordeaux, and it caused an outcry — until they tasted it. And then it was like, ‘Ooh la la!’” he says with a laugh. “And so, from the Champagne to the oysters to the mussels to the sea bass, and then the lamb, I mean it’s all intertwined.”
Those who know Ramsay’s love for Rock have wondered if he’ll someday open a restaurant. “That’s the last thing I’m gonna do there, cause I’ve got this oasis on my doorstep.”