The effects of lockdown have torn through the food industry like a tornado. Food businesses forced to close, with many restaurants staying open for takeaway and every day another business re-opening to dip it's toe into the online-delivery-takeaway market. Suppliers normally serving the trade have had to diversify and react swiftly, some offering online orders and deliveries to the public. Pubs have become community shops. Corner shops have kept us supplied with the store cupboard basics. Store cupboards have determined the dishes we can cook to nourish ourselves and our families. While chefs live stream cookery demo's from their kitchens, the niche social media experts have had to guard their territory as the stay at home population bombard us with their own sourdough, banana bread and brownie recipes. Farm shops providing deliveries, micro breweries and wineries setting up drive thru's there never has been a more challenging time to source food. The crisis has provided an opportunity to drive innovation and now is the time for us to support the independent producers who are working so hard to stay afloat. However, it's also the time for the service industries to keep in touch with their clientele, monitor consumer behaviour and continue to innovate, so that when the race back to reality begins, they're revved up and in pole position. Here's a photo gallery of some of East Anglia's innovative businesses and suppliers that I have used and that are providing top quality service and produce . You'll find plenty more if you check the many social media streams regularly. For Bury St Edmunds folk David Stapleton has created a simple and free web app directory of businesses open.
- Brays Cottage pork pie. Send a pie for a pressie.
- Jolly Asparagus has found outlets for a crop which would generally go to the restaurant industry. Snap it up at Hillcrest Nursery Stanton and Woosters Bakery (main picture)
- Watch Justin from Pea Porridge Restaurant in Bury via Instagram. Masterclasses and the weekly 'clash' with a local Chef
- Slate provisions and deli can send you a selection of cheese in the post. My British selection which arrived last week.
- Flour a problem? I got a sack from Thomas Ridley at Rougham. No account required, log in on their website as a guest.
- Woosters Bakery. Online ordering and collection from Bardwell, Bury, Wyken market.
- Brewshed Brewery pop up at The Cadogan. Ingham. Order a mini keg or take your own container for filling.
- Baron Bigod to order online from Fen Farm Dairy. Bungay
- Beerhouse pop up. Social distancing and well organised.
- Brays Cottage Pork Pie - big family size to order online.
- Order a pizza from Lucy's at Fornham St Martin. Must be pre-ordered and a time slot will be allocated. Book early - it's popular
We're liking the wine on tap and the bagnums at Weino Bib in Dalston. Drink in or take away or in our case do both. The Tap Room and Deli also sells fresh, raw milk. Take your bottles and fill them up.
I couldn't stay in Cromer last night without trying out No 1 Fish and Chip Restaurant and takeaway, recently opened by Galton Blackiston ( you know; Morston Hall, Michelin Star, Celebrity Chef...) The restaurant is quite big and the takeaway shop is next door.
When you arrive you stand behind a sign which says "please wait to be seated" so I did. The waitress came over and said that she was not allowed to seat me - I thought she was joking, but she wasn't. So I had to wait for the lady in charge to finish taking an order before she showed me to a table.
I was hoping to try the house special - crab cakes - but they had sold out so I ordered plaice and chips and a portion of mushy pea fritters.The printed menu gives more space to the wines on offer than the savoury food but I was driving so had a ginger beer, there are some nice choices of soft drinks. The fish was very fresh - had lovely batter, light and crisp - and very good chips with a portion of homemade tartare sauce on the side. The pea fritters were also tasty and so hot I burnt my mouth eating them. They were served with a mint dip.
The service was a bit shaky from that wait at the start. A few things were forgotton and there were some interesting descriptions of the menu - olives in the tartare sauce.... I don't think so!