You don't need to be a gourmet, but no sensible foodie worth their fleur de sel (sea salt to the rest of us) would see the sense in allowing funding, or a lack of it, to stand in the way of a lip-smacking meal. Armed with that sort of logic and bland memories of British seafood, I take to the back roads of Cornwall on England's southwestern coast, home of some of the country's best eateries. It begins at the pretty resort town of St Ives in the lovely old harbour precinct with its small, clean, sandy beach where tots dip tiny toes in the water and squeal with delight, watched over by mums and dads sprawled across rented deck chairs in the 26-degrees Celsius summer sunshine. Others sip Cornish ale at the outdoor tables of the early 14th-century Sloop Inn, next door to the much younger Smock Shop that offers fishing and sailing smocks as well as nautical gifts and 'pirate bits', whatever they are. Down the road is the Cornish Bakehouse selling traditional 'award-winning' but rather greasy Cornish pasties filled with beef and smelly Stilton cheese - not quite gourmet fare but still delectable. You soon become adept at gunning the car around the scarily narrow, blind country lanes that pose as roads in rural England, squeaking between hedgerows and oncoming Range Rovers with all the newfound skill of a Michael Schumacher. The landscape grows even more attractive staying close to the spectacular coast, a scenic smorgasbord of small farming communities, seal colonies and cornfields that sweep up to 40-metre cliffs washed by crashing surf. Long sandy beaches, tiny secluded coves and wheeling, squealing seabirds are sights that appear again and again down the precipitous road that leads into Watergate Bay, just east of Newquay. Apart from a 3km-long sandy beach and a lovely beachfront Victorian mansion, now a luxury hotel, there isn't much else at Watergate Bay except one of Britain's most sought-after restaurants. Fifteen Cornwall (fifteencorn wall.co.uk) opened two years ago, the brainchild of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and one of four Fifteens he has created offering fine dining and the opportunity for disadvantaged youngsters to gain professional training. The others are in London, Melbourne and Amsterdam. The light, breezy restaurant - which boasts Britain's Prince William and actress Keira Knightley as fans and where a meal can cost HK$2,150 - is buzzing. On the menu posted outside, of five starters, St Enodoc asparagus wrapped in prosciutto di San Daniele, poached Clarence Court duck egg and parmigiano reggiano shoot to the top of the list. Pan fried, line-caught sea bass, warm salad of char-grilled fennel, Cornish earlies (new potatoes), sweet red onions, St Enodoc asparagus with Amalfi lemon dressing and loads of herbs, scream from the menu but that's all they do - apart from a first-in, first-served breakfast, bookings weeks in advance are a must, despite the sleepy surrounds. Down the coast in the dazzling old fishing village of Padstow, sunshine falls on the holy grail of Cornwall's foodie trail, Rick Stein's The Seafood Restaurant (rickstein.com). It also accepts reservations months in advance and apart from the restaurant, Stein also runs a bistro, delicatessen, patisserie and fish and chip shop in Padstow. The restaurant is bright, airy and casual with tables set around a large circular bar, the gleaming white walls adorned with modern art paintings. Stein was well established in Padstow long before his television fame and launched the movement to utilise fresh local ingredients that has been adopted by an increasing number of Cornish chefs to the delight of the county's producers. There is an egalitarian mix of diners: tourists, young business types cuddling mobile phones, elderly folk of excellent breeding and an affectionate young couple at the next table who have driven all the way from Penzance to celebrate her birthday. The mouth waters: wild sea trout from the River Towy, monkfish vindaloo, large grilled Padstow lobster, and fish and chips fried in dripping with mushy peas. The restaurant's newest offering is sashimi of local salmon, scallops, sea bass and mackerel with pickled ginger, shredded white radish, wasabi and Japanese wakame and red tosaka seaweeds. It's superbly fresh, worth every penny and melts in the mouth but what follows can only be described as a revelation: the char-grilled whole Dover sole with just sea salt, fresh lime and a light butter sauce is as exquisite as it is simple. Ignoring the staggering price that dead fish just cost, it is immediately filed away in the mental hard drive at the top of the folder tagged 'life experiences to flash before eyes on deathbed'.