Good luck to cheese and provisions specialist Slate in Aldeburgh who have been shortlisted for Best Specialist Cheese Shop in the Guild of Fine Food's annual Shop of the Year awards. Two more rounds of judging to go including the dreaded mystery shopper. Results will be announced on 20th September.
Choux pastry desserts remain in vogue. Keep an eye out for striking and colourful eclairs, Paris Brest (a ring of choux pastry filled with a hazelnut and almond praline cream) and Religieuse (one small choux bun balanced on a larger choux bun, filled with a chocolate or mocha creme patissiere). You can order a Royal Wedding eclair from the 3 Michelin Starred chef Joakim Prat, artiste patissier at Maitre Choux. Or make your own, these are my banoffee filled salted caramel mini eclairs.
Now's the time that the new seasons lamb is at it's best, the sweet, succulent new lamb being perfect roast with a little garlic. Mind you, much of the lamb sold at this time of year will be lamb that was born in the spring of last year. In the trade it's known as hogget and is usually still very tender and full of flavour. Here's my recipe for a satisfying Moroccan Spiced Lamb casserole. Delicately spiced, you can modify the vegetables to suit your tastes or store cupboard. Fresh fennel which is really at its prime at the moment works particularly well. Ras el Hanout spice is a complex mix of spices which includes cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, ginger and often rosebuds and lavender. It is readily available on the spice shelf of most big supermarkets. The meat you choose can be shoulder or leg of lamb. Cooked on the bone is best but if you prefer to use diced meat then just shorten the cooking time a little. The lovely saffron infused ‘gravy’ is not thickened but if you like a thicker sauce coat the meat in flour before frying. If you make the stew the day before and store in the fridge then you can remove any fat that has set on the top. No lamb? Then try the recipe with chicken which works remarkably well.
The food is always very good at The Giggling Squid and it's a particular favourite of Mr SuffolkFoodie who loves a massaman curry. An invitation to try the new summer cocktails and menu last week took no hesitation to accept, so we headed off for supper. Our local branch of the Thai restaurant is Bury St Edmunds, which always seems quite lively and buzzy in the evenings, in fact we both sat by the window and reminded ourselves of how charming the town is on an early summer evening. Cocktails are made with Fever Tree mixers, so high quality and great tasting for a start. I tried a 'Thai Coconut' made with gin and coconut flavoured rum, mixed with ginger ale and fresh lime. Sunshine in a glass! Mr SF enjoyed the strawberry, mint and lime 'Strawberry Cooler,' no alcohol in this one and gets a big tick in the drinks for drivers box. Only gripe is the plastic straws. Food lived up to expectation especially my refreshing starter of Lime and Chilli beef, which was thinly sliced rare, roast beef with a zingy and powerful chilli lime dressing. I'm going to try making this one at home. Thai chicken wings seemed a bit of a safe bet for Mr SF, but actually they were far superior than many and very well seasoned with lots of garlic and fresh coriander. Keang Pa was my choice for main course. The prawn tropical jungle curry was refeshing and again, very spicy with a clear and light broth, rather than the usual coconut milk associated with Thai curries. It was very fragrant with a strong punch of aniseed from the Thai basil and rather tasty pickled peppercorns, which took me by surprise. Beef appealed to Mr SF and an enormous bowl of Beef Rib with Coconut Sauce and a generous quantity of oyster mushrooms arrived for his main course, just a little too creamy for me though. A side of noodles and coconut rice were shared. We also shared a dessert of Caramelised Mango Cake, which although light lacked any real mango flavour and in hindsight we should have remembered that the ice creams and sorbets are always better here. The wine I ordered by the glass was new to the list. Le Secret, Saint Pierre Cotes de Provence Rose, which whilst having a lovely peachy and slightly spicy, strawberry fruit flavour maintained a decent amount of acidity going very well with my curry. Pranee Laurillard, the co-founder of the Giggling Squid is shortlisted for Restaurateur of the Year Award at the 2018 Cateys, one of the most prestigious awards in UK hospitality. Suffolk Foodie wishes her the best of luck!
- Lime and Chilli Beef
- Thai chicken wings
- Keang Pa, Beef Rib and Coconut Sauce, Noodles and Coconut Rice
- Caramelised mango cake
Recognising the very best in food and drink in Suffolk, the winners of the Eat Suffolk Food and Drink Awards were revealed at last night's gala ceremony. Such talent out there, such overwhelming support for each other. There truly is a close knit foodie community in Suffolk. It was an honour to be asked to judge.
Head Chef Stuart Drane, formerly of Aurora in Ipswich and more recently Chef Lecturer at Suffolk New College, has taken up the reigns at the Suffolk Food Hall, heading up the brigade in the Cookhouse. I was invited to try the new Spring menu and after a heatwave weekend, the day I went was freezing cold and wet. So I was quite happy to see a slow cooked featherblade beef with roasted root vegetables and roast potatoes on the daily specials and ordered that for my lunch, preceeded by three very crispy and tasty fishcakes with homemade tartare sauce. The new slightly shorter Spring menu offers a very good element of mix and match menu items, and had it been warmer I would have easily been tempted by the Suffolk Gold Rarebit with a side salad. As I took Mr SuffolkFoodie I got to dip into his roasted tomato soup which had dollops of mascarpone, grated Parmesan and olive oil dotted across the surface, and also tried his Shepherds pie, which was rather delicious as it was made from slow cooked shoulder of lamb rather than the traditional minced lamb. Portions are very generous, and being conscious of the amount of food I've eaten recently judging for the Suffolk Food and Drink Awards, decided that sharing a dessert would be the healthy option. I saw some fantastic ice cream sundaes being delivered to other tables, but couldn't resist the sound of the vanilla cheesecake with burnt orange caramel and orange sorbet. The sorbet packed a punch of flavour against the creamy cheesecake and the contrasting burnt caramel flavours and was easily big enough to share. The garden centre and farm shop proved to be a good chance to walk off some of the lunch, but as always, with the next meal in mind I managed to leave with a whole oxtail to cook for the weekend. And that was delicious too!
- roasted tomato soup with mascarpone, Parmesan and olive oil
- crispy fishcakes with tartare sauce
- slow cooked featherblade with roasted root vegetables and roast potatoes
- lamb shoulder shepherd's pie
- vanilla cheesecake with burnt orange caramel and orange sorbet
Zumba Josie celebrated 7 years of fitness and fun by having a party and a great Zumba Bake Off at Norton Village Hall. I hadn't quite expected the level of competition when I was asked to judge. Here's the winner! Chocolate Heaven. A tower of chocolate sponge with layers of buttercream, mountains of chocolate and a secret stash of smarties in the middle. Made by mother and daughter team Sue and Grace.
- runner up - Black Forest Gateau
- more cakes!
- runner up - Fruit Mousse Tower
- winner - Chocolate Heaven
- runner up - Zumba cake
Appearing on menus at a fast pace, pineapples are set to outsell avocados as the latest fruit trend sets in. Dehydrate it, ferment it, crush it, or colada cake it like me.
Pizza Rosso has certainly put some life into The Railway Tavern in Elmswell. Friday night's only, grab yourself a lovely thin and crispy stone baked pizza from the food truck in the car park (from about 5pm to 8.30pm). Order your pizza, pop into the pub and have a pint while you wait for a text to tell you the pizza's ready. We ordered the Carne with salami, spicy beef and prosciutto and the special Code di Gambero with cray fish tails, jalapeno, sweetcorn and cajun seasoning. The smoked chipotle chilli dip was so fiery that it called for another pint of Aspall's. Lovely service from the owner and his mum, plus a pudding of the day too. Note that The Tavern, as the locals call it, only takes cash and despite it being run down has a dart board, a pool table and a friendly landlord. Unlike Elmswell Fox who has a grumpy landlord, I mean who shouts at customers for walking through a door in the wrong direction? Pizza Rosso is in Woolpit on a Monday, Stanton on Tuesday, Bacton on Wednesday and Thurston on Thursdays.
- Code di Gambero with crayfish tails, jalapeno, sweetcorn and cajun seasoning
- Carne with salami, spicy beef and prosciutto ham
- open from 5.30pm until about 8.30pm
Late February and into March saw my annual holiday to the sunshine of the Caribbean, a trip to see Claire (fellow SuffolkFoodie) in Barbuda. For those that don't know, Barbuda was wiped out by Hurricane Irma on September 9th. The island was devasted and 6 months on still is. No electricty and running water makes life difficult enough, but for those still living in tents or without a roof over their head, life must be miserable. Food and general supplies are desperately short, so first stop after arriving in Antigua was shopping and buying supplies to send on the cargo boat. Three days in Antigua provided enough time for some sight seeing and to eat some street food which is available on nearly every corner. Also this fantastic island breakfast at our Airbnb. In Barbuda we cooked for ourselves using the supplies that we'd sent ahead. There is little else to buy unless you find a fisherman or hunter with a good catch. We found Bernie who had just been out in his boat and supplied a 10lb red snapper to cook over the fire. We also successfully dived for conchs which were so tough to remove from the shell that we had to take we them to Bernie to release. Limited ingredients, only a generator for power keeps you on your toes when deciding what to cook. But our conch escabeche would give any top restaurant a run for it's money.
- Bernie's was so happy to have caught some fish
- Antigua street food menu
- loading our cargo in Antigua for Barbuda
- Curry chicken patties from a food stall in Antigua
- Conch's out of the shell
- Conch escabeche
- Dumplings cooked to order in Antigua
- Barbuda red snapper grill
- Antigua kitchen
I have just discovered the perfect little 30g bar of chocolate. Made with certified organic cacao sweetened with coconut blossom sugar, it feels good for me. Better still, 3% of the Bedfordshire based company profits go to UNICEF. My favourites are this 70% Raw Peruvian Chocolate with Pomegranate and the 100% Raw Peruvian Cacao Bar with Mulberry. Find some for your Valentine.
If dining in is the new dining out then The Spice Pioneer subscription box will be a great success. Members receive a spice box each month in the post which includes a menu plan and recipes. Enough to impress your friends and create a dinner party for four people. There's a postcard from the place that inspired the menu (each month is a surprise and travels the culinary world) and a link to a music playlist to set the scene while you are cooking and dining. The spices are provided for a starter, main course and side dish or a dessert. I've been sent the aromatic Moroccan box and the spicy Sri Lankan box to try, both with easy to follow and inspiring recipes. The quality of the spices is really very good, and for those of you out there unlikely to have a store cupboard with the selection required to cook amazing curries and spicy dishes, then this is the answer. You do need to go and buy the main ingredients but the shopping list is concise and easy to snap on your phone camera. Nothing complicated to search for with all the Moroccan box ingredients found in Lidl and the Sri Lankan ingredients all from Asda.
- Chicken tagine with apricots ginger and ras el hanout from Morocco
- Orange and date salad with preserved lemon and pomegranate molasses from Morocco
- Spicy green beans and black mustard seed from Sri Lanka
- Sri Lankan monkfish curry
- Beetroot curry - really very good and I would never have thought of making this before
- The spice box and ingredients purchased actually fed 6 of us.
No drizzles or blobs but gutsy, generous dishes; powerful yet simple flavours; a superbly written menu including offbeat ingredients and natural, biodynamic wines. That you won't find anywhere else in East Anglia. Pea Porridge - It's tough to decide what to eat!
- Bertha grilled sardines, salmoriglio, grilled lime
- Blythburgh pork belly 'Petit Sale aux lentilles', soft polenta, crispy pigs ears
- Tarte tatin, vanilla ice cream
Food redistribution charity FareShare East Anglia officially launched in Ipswich today with the aim of supplying hundreds of local charities with good food that will otherwise go to waste. FareShare is the UK’s largest food redistribution charity tackling food waste and food poverty by redistributing in date, good quality food from the food and drink industry. The food is redistributed to frontline charities and community groups that support vulnerable people, including homeless shelters, children’s breakfast clubs, and domestic violence refuges. These organisations transform the food into nutritious meals, which they provide alongside life-changing support. The FareShare East Anglia Regional Centre was made possible through a £500,000 donation by the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation as part of its ‘Fill Your Tank’ programme. So how can you help? If you are an East Anglian charity or community group interested in becoming a food member to access good quality in-date food, visit http://fareshare.org.uk/fareshare-centres/east-anglia/. If you would like to become a local 'food hero' and are free to volunteer a few hours a week to drive surplus food to local charities and groups, visit http://fareshare.org.uk/get-involved/volunteering/apply-to-volunteer-east-anglia/