Well it's December and I haven't been anywhere nice for the last week, in fact I haven't been anywhere - nice or not. I was thinking about making mince pies and looked up Delia's recipe but decided not to buy all the ingredients just for a few, as I know it will be me that eats them all. I haven't bought any because first of all I won't like them as much as home made and secondly, if you want Christmas to start the week before and end the week after, there is something really exciting about waiting to eat that first mince pie and my mum makes the best. So, fed up with cooking and no children around this evening to make it too expensive I secretly bought Woolpit fish (plaice) and chips and they were really really nice.
Went to Savannah Jerk in London because Lenny Henry mentioned it on F Word but although it was nice can cook this as well at home. So yesterday invited a friend round for Caribbean Christmas dinner and we had ackee and salt fish, deer meat, rice and peas, banana fritters, johnny cakes and jerk chicken.
Come back from a sunny and freezing Sunday morning walk around the village (according to the village sign it was first settled by Goths although we didn't see any today) and although the pub looks dead from the outside, it's busy inside with a warm fire and serving food until 4pm...hooray! There's a warm welcome for us in our wellies and several families with children eating lunch. They can't do me a mulled wine (red wine + spices + sugar + microwave?) so have cider instead. Their seasonally-limited menu of food tastes better than described on the board which is always a bonus - but don't fancy curry or chili so chose a burger from depressing childrens menu of burger and chips or sausage and beans (and chips). After filling it with salad from my sisters curry plate it was ok but hoping next time for oxtail stews, shepherds pies, casseroles... and in the summer a barbecue under that huge oak tree.
Tasted my sloe gin over Christmas - very nice.
Some people have asked why I don't put bad reviews on here? Because there are too many restaurants serving ordinary or worse food - that's why. I could write something about mediocre food every day - the tiny overcooked overpriced portion of sea bass I had at a Bury hotel, or disgusting local Chinese takeaway or cheese on toast made with sliced white bread topped with a plastic wrapped cheese slice and melted in the microwave - I've had all of these. But I want to celebrate good food and hope that sooner or later you will tell me where it is. If you're not on here it's because I haven't been there or I have, and it isn't any good.
Last minute after parents evening and as a reward to myself for my skill at getting my son to choose the right A levels, we go to Bury for a takeaway and end up eating at the Noodle Bar again. Always busy in here, but this is really fast food - within minutes we had prawn toasts and deep fried squid - piping hot, freshly cooked and delicious with plenty of chili and garlic.
All you vegetarians and vegans - fed up with the unimaginative offerings in most restaurants and pubs? I had a really nice lunch here at this completely vegetarian pub a few miles out of Needham Market. What a treat! No meat!
Seven starters, eight mains, seven puds - plus a specials board. And you can get takeaways and freezer meals too.
Here it is - my brunch from yesterday at that little cafe in Elmswell -where Goodfellows butchers used to be next to Mace. Is it called Bumbles? I met my sister for a coffee. They do good cappucino and my flat white (I have to tell them what to do - no one in Suffolk knows what that is yet ...) was good too. I had this Welsh Rarebit which tasted much nicer than the picture looks, because the Worcester sauce has made it go a bit brown. My other sister once told me a fab recipe for Welsh Rarebit - grated cheddar and a large spoonful of mayo - under the grill. Browns and bubbles up really nicely. I think they do hot lunches here too because a very friendly couple were having casserole and mashed potatoes at another table. Now I see the picture it reminds me - I wish they would get rid of that horrible plastic Christmas table cloth!
Granny wanted to go out to lunch so we persuaded her that The Angel would be a good place to go. Had the good value set menu £12.50 for two courses/£15.50 for three. Avoided 'Soup of the Moment' - best starter was crispy bacon & chicken livers on toast. Main courses - nice thyme crusted chicken and partridge pie, and roast pork belly. We tried all four puds because we couldn't decide which ones to have. Even better value because she paid!
Back to this great restaurant - more expensive now - but where else can you get hare in Suffolk? We should be happy to pay more for good local seasonal food, and this is a new taste for me. The week before I got my son to skin and clean two rabbits after school (We went to see The Road - it's good to know how to fend for yourself...) I cooked them with red wine, bacon, leeks... it's satisfying to eat virtually for free and teach your children how to do it.
For years I have been trying to establish the name for the coffee I like - strong espresso with hot milk, no froth and not too big. It's not a capuccino or a latte or even a machiata... at the Earls Court restaurant show they said it was a 'Bloody Akward'. But then I heard about Flat Whites and today I tried my first one in BSE! It's at Costa and costs £2.25 - more than any of the others on sale. I asked the server why? She told me it requires 3 shots of coffee and a special technique to pour it so it's ultra smooth; not because it is the newest thing on the market. Mine was delicious - but still too milky and far too big.
Edis of Ely make the best takeaway food snacks in their butchers in St Johns Street. I have mentioned them before - their still warm scotch eggs and at least three types of pasties and sausage rolls. I bought a Tin Miners for £1.35 - minced lamb, carrots and onions, perfectly seasoned, with pastry shiny with beaten egg, oozing a bit of gravy but still crisp. And I was the youngest customer in the shop !
This is an expensive farm shop, but I can't fault the food in their cafe. Lunch goes on until 4.00pm, perfect for those of us who only decide we want to go for a walk at 1pm. We look at the llamas for a few minutes to justify eating, then a table becomes available and I can only put it on the blog if I have tasted the food. We had Stowlangtoft lamb brochette (on a stick) with a lovely aubergine side, yoghurt sauce and rocket salad. A salmon fish cake with (not very sweet but very hot) sweet chili sauce, maybe they bought the wrong one... a side order of very hot and crisp french fries and a selection of three British cheeses - Keens Cheddar, Oxford Blue and Gold Medal something, that I made them swear to remember the name but they have already forgotten. All three were as delicious a cheese as you are ever going to find anywhere and served at the perfect temperature. Then puddings - white chocolate bread and butter pudding which sounds revolting but was actually much nicer than it sounds, rhubarb mousse because I haven't had any rhubarb yet, fab pink and very sweet, but on a suspect too-white (shop?) meringue basket, and carrot cake which I don't like in any shape or form but still managed to taste.
Oh the joy of eating late when you want to ! And it was lovely food; no obese oversize portions and a menu that you are never going to see in your average pub Sunday lunch. It was £15.00 each including soft drinks. Not bad for everything sourced within five miles of the kitchen - or so they say...?!
The first one of the year... The sun was out, felt like something summery to eat so made chicken and spare ribs in the oven and finished them off outside. Served with rice and peas, sweet potato salsa and rum punch. Then it rained.