Raymond Blanc’s face grins out from the black and white photo on the wall.

Clad in a white jacket, the famous Frenchman poses with a group of chefs he has trained. Towards the back I spot a familiar face – Stewart Eddy, the owner of the pub I’m standing in and the man who’s just cooked my amazing dinner.

I’m at the Victoria Inn, a gem of a gastropub tucked away in the pretty village of Perranuthnoe in west Cornwall.

Twenty years ago you’d probably have been laughed out of this historic inn for suggesting a Michelin star award-winning chef might one day run it. But although it’s mid-week, the pub’s packed, and word’s spreading fast.

Cornwall has been going through a foodie revolution in recent years, with TV chef royalty such as Rick Stein and Jamie Oliver putting the area well and truly on the culinary map.

And so here I find myself on a chilly Tuesday, tucking into Cornish duck liver and port pâté with pickled spiced pear. And that’s just for starters.

But Cornwall isn’t just a foodie heaven, this beautiful part of the UK is ideal for a “staycation” out of season.

Visit in summer and you’ll find sun, sand and surf.

And crowds.

But make the trip in autumn or winter and you’ll experience the real Cornwall and see it in all its glory.

Think empty sandy beaches, quiet roads, deserted coastal walks and no queues for ice cream.

And the accommodation isn’t too shabby either. The stylish Sail Lofts in St Ives show just how far the world of self-catering has come.

When we arrive at our boutique apartment we’re greeted with trendy artwork, beamed ceilings and the ingredients for a Cornish cream tea on the kitchen table – complete with clotted cream in the fridge.

St Ives is an artists’ paradise and home to Tate St Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden.

It also has amazing sea views – nab a window seat at the cosy Porthgwidden Café and you might eat lunch in front of a dazzling display of dolphins playing in the surf.

Meanwhile, there’s plenty to explore elsewhere, whatever the season.

The fairytale fort of St Michael’s Mount stands proudly on its own island near the town of Marazion. It’s a short boat ride across to explore its myth and legend – then back again on foot once the tide has turned.

If you prefer holidaying on dry land, head to the National Seal Sanctuary to meet the resident grey seals, penguins and sea lions, or the Eden Project for steamy jungles in the indoor rainforest.

Or get out in the open to walk the expanses of Bodmin Moor and the dramatic windswept Lizard Peninsula.

If you’re feeling energetic, hire bikes in Padstow and cycle the scenic Camel Trail. The bikes are conveniently located near the quay, so after working up an appetite with a day’s cycling, simply follow your nose to find yet more Cornish fayre.

Posh fish and chips from Rick Stein’s takeaway – and no queue.

* The Sail Lofts, Porthmeor Road, St Ives, call 01736 799175 or visit www.thesail lofts.co.uk. Suitable for couples and families, apartments sleep between two and eight people. Weekly prices start at £299.

* The Victoria Inn (01736 710309 or www.victoriainn-penzance.co.uk)

* Porthgwidden Café (01736 796791 or www.porthgwidden cafe.co.uk)

* Rick Stein’s Fish and Chips (01841 532700 or www.rick stein.com)

* Eden Project (01726 811911 or www.edenproject.com)

* The National Seal Sanctuary (0871 4232110 or www.seal sanctuary.co.uk)

* Padstow Cycle Hire (01841 533533 or www.padstowcycle hire.com)

* St Michael’s Mount (01736 710507 or www.stmichaels mount.co.uk)

* Tate St Ives and Barbara Hepworth Museum & Sculpture Garden (01736 796226 or www.tate.org.uk/stives)