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.
It wasn’t hard to persuade me to swap a turkey meal for a delicious #fishmasdinner at Loch Fyne in Cambridge this week. I’m only sorry that I couldn’t try more of the menu. Trot on turkey, I'm eating more fish!
- soft crab pakora with raita ( I could eat all day)
- chilli and garlic prawns
- pollock served with mussels from the specials board
- seafood grill, the best way to try everything!
- treacle tart
- creme brulee
Here's a very tasty Christmas party menu for you instead of the usual soggy sprouts and insipid catering quality turkey. The Giggling Squid in Bury St Edmunds invited me to try their Christmas menu last week so I went on the opening 'locals night' of the massive annual Christmas Market and Fayre. Feeling all festive and with the town buzzing, the restaurant was full to the brim. I took Mr SuffolkFoodie who loves Thai food and we both ate off the Christmas Evening menu, which priced at £29.95 a head including a glass of Prosecco is great value. By the way, where is all this Prosecco coming from, apparently us Brits drink a third of all produced. I hope it's not going to run out.
- Bags of gold ...crispy spiced chicken parcels
- Prawn satay ... I could just eat the peanut sauce by itself
- Beef rib Massaman ... the highlight of the meal
- Exotic mushrooms ... garlicky and chilli hot
- Prosecco and muddled berry cheesecake
- Molten honeycomb semi-freddo
An invitation to review Giraffe in Bury St Edmunds solved my Wednesday night supper dilemma last week. It's in a part of town that I don't really go to, by the muliplex cinema. I prefer the Abbeygate Cinema with its' arty films and live streamed National Theatre performances. Anyway, I digress ... Giraffe was extremely quiet and to be honest a little chilly but Ben and Lauren who were serving kept it lively and upbeat and chatted to us, providing a great, without being overbearing, service. Well done to them, because it's hard when you are working in a quiet restaurant to keep some pace going. I'd taken Mr SuffolkFoodie so I thought that a steak would be inevitable; he always hones in on meat, being a South African. I actually think South African food will trend at some point soon, so was hoping that the menu might reflect this part of the world, especially with a name like Giraffe, but no Bunny Chow on this occasion. Mr SF chose a Chilli Beef Burrito, which he enjoyed. I had the Lamb Tagine which was a very generous portion and not shy with the meat. It arrived with some ceremony as the lid of the tagine was lifted, tah dah, revealing the dish scattered with tasty pistachios and pomegranate seeds. The blend of meat, spice and apricot was excellent, with a great depth of flavour and assured by Ben, had been made in house. For pudding, as I always enjoy something sharp and fruity, I went for the best option which was a white chocolate and passion fruit cheesecake. I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived with a fresh passion fruit drizzled across the top and not a smear of coulis in sight. A good meal, and definitely worth taking a look at if you want to take children out for a meal (kids eat free) or want a good breakfast before noon. I've been hearing good things about their £5 breakfast deal.
I'm loving the green chilli sauce that Buckshot sauces sent me. It's slightly astringent with lots of ginger and cumin and I am pouring it over everything! I can't eat a samosa without it. Maybe I am addicted. (We really liked the brown sauce too).
It's lovely to see a children's menu with mini portions from the main menu and not a breadcrumb, nugget or chip in sight. The Giggling Squid asked me to review their new children's menu which includes a selection of mild curries, finger food, noodles and rice dishes designed especially with "little people" in mind. I found a couple of little people (thank you Grace and Logan) and took them out for supper at the Bury St Edmunds branch. For £5.95 children get to choose two dishes each which come with free plain or sticky rice. Logan, who declared fussy eater status on arrival went for the Grilled Pork Skewers and Chicken Fried Rice, having first tucked into a bowl of the spicy prawn crackers. Grace with a more adventurous and self assured palate chose Spring Rolls and a Pad Thai with Prawns, which she declared as yummy. Sadly the roti pancakes were not available for pudding (an extra £2.00) but the icecream was, and arrived with some colourful slices of fresh fruit on the side. Portions are very generous, in fact possibly too large for smaller children, but parents can always help out!
- add prawn crackers for £2
- crayons and a colouring competition
- Grace chose Spring Rolls, Pad Thai Noodles with Prawns and Sticky Rice
- Logan chose Grilled Pork on Skewers, Chicken Fried Rice and Plain Rice
- add pudding for £2, ice cream comes with fresh fruit slices
- the restaurant
Why are all the decent pubs I've been to recently near Woodbridge? Last week I took Mr SuffolkFoodie to The Turks Head for a late Sunday lunch, as I'd been invited by Jemima the owner. Jemima was actually away on holiday, so I was sorry not to meet her. Still, I admire an owner who offers a review meal and shows such enormous confidence in the staff ... and the staff were brilliant, all quite clearly trained in their roles, and friendly, without hovering or being stifling. The Turks Head is a family and dog friendly gastropub with the Hasketon countryside providing some great local walks. (Handy PDF downloads for 11 guided walks are provided on the website). Even at 5pm, on an early April evening, the terrace was busy with families who looked as though they were stopping for mid walk refreshments. There's also a proper pentanque pitch, which has been added to my list of 'must investigate further, it could be fun' activities. The Sunday lunch is a set menu of 2 courses for £19 or 3 courses £24. I was hoping to try the Gressingham duck steamed dumplings which apparantly are a favourite of the regulars, but they had eaten them all, and so the replacement dish was an oriental duck salad with hoisin, which came garnished with wafer thin hot and piquant pickled ginger. A Caesar style, wild turbot salad had crunchy homemade croutons, whole anchovy fritters and with a very generous amount of wild turbot soldiers, a novel and very good take on the classic version. Spotted also on the menu was a foraged nettle soup which sounded tempting. The head chef, Mauri is a classically French trained chef who was born in India and has worked in many high profile establishments, the menu reflecting his eclectic range of cooking styles from around the globe. The highlight dish of our lunch undoubtedly being a local venison bhuna masala with rice, papad and raita. It is probably the best curry I've had between Southall and Leicester with powerful spicing providing the punch required of a great curry. Tender, pink roast sirloin of beef was topped by an impressive and very large Yorkshire pudding and was served with side dishes of tomatoey ratatouille, roasted carrots, celeriac and a cauliflower cheese. We finished with a banoffee pie (Birdy our delightful waitress telling us that the customers had petitioned when the pudding had been removed from the menu, so now reinstated) and Hamish Johnston selected British cheeses, which included a Perl Las, a Godminster organic Cheddar and Ellingham goats cheese. Behind the bar is a great range of local cask ales and my favourite Aspalls cyder and notably an excellent range of interesting soft drinks for the driver. There are three sittings for Sunday lunch starting at 12 midday with the last sitting at 5pm.
- Dogs are welcome
- Oriental duck salad with hoisin
- Caesar style wild turbot salad, croutons, anchovies
- Roast sirloin of Suffolk beef, Yorkshire oudding, red wine gravy with lovely seasonal vegetables
- Local venison bhuna masala, rice, papad, raita
- Banoffee pie, toffee sauce, caramelised banana
- British cheeses from Hamish Johnston
- Families are welcome
- the dining room
We were thrilled to receive this parcel in the post; a selection of cheeses from The Fine Cheese Co. Delighted also that we were sent a selection to review called Sisters in Cheese, a one off selection created especially with Mothers Day in mind - the three cheeses recognising women's roles as cheese-makers down the ages, and a tribute to today's 'dairymaids'. A very appropriate range in time for our own Mothers Day lunch where my three daughters thought that it meant a cheese each! We're all cheese lovers in my house and considering that all three daughters worked for me at some point waitressing in my restaurant where only English cheeses were served they've had to learn their stuff, so I didn't mind sharing.
The selection included a Sharpham Brie which is a raw, Jersey cow's milk cheese made in Devon on the Sharpham Estate. Rich, delicate and creamy with an unctuous texture. The cheesemaker is Debbie Mundford.
A baby Curworthy, a pasteurised cow's milk cheese dating back to the 17th century, and thought to be even older than Cheddar. Smooth, firm and mellow with a creamy flavour and made by Rachel Stevens.
Wigmore, a raw, Ewe's milk cheese with a gentle, delicate flavour and made in Berkshire by Anne Wigmore.
The Fine Cheese Co is based in Bath, with a branch also in London just around the corner from Harvey Nicks. If you are unable to visit then the online selections and cheese gifts are very tempting with a frequently changing cornucopia of cheeses to choose from. I even spotted our own Suffolk produced Baron Brigod. My parcel arrived in great shape, with ice pack keeping it cool and the cheese all in perfect shape. A handy caring for your cheese and cheese etiquette leaflet included too.
- well packaged including an ice pack to keep cool
- cheese and fridge etiquette
- unwrapped and bringing to room temperature
The rich yellow moon rising last night proved a good omen for our visit to The Unruly Pig. The Driver’s Drinks menu pleased Inspector X as did her Unruly Damson Spritz. I chose a large glass of the soft and very approachable Italian Barbera. The Unruly Pig has an interesting set menu, which changes often, but the piece de la resistance was on the regular menu that is changed monthly. I was leaning towards the Crispy Duck Egg with Parma Ham, Jerusalem Artichoke and Hazelnut starter when Brendan the congenial owner recommended a new addition: the Venison Tartare and Croquette with Beetroot, Apple and Blackberry. Beautifully seasoned venison tartare, with a delicate balance of tiny apple cubes, beetroot, blackberries, a lacy bread disc and a croquette of slow cooked venison haunch was the unrivalled star of the evening. Inspector X had the Ham Hock on Toast with Gorgonzola which although delicious was quite overshadowed by my venison. There is something to please even the pickiest diner on the Unruly Pig menu. Main courses chosen were Roasted Wood Pigeon Breasts with Pigeon and Black Pudding Pie (I could have eaten this little pie as a meal by itself) and Inspector X had Fillet of Hake with Saffron, Tomato and Haricot Bean Stew from the set menu. Brendan prides himself on his impressive appreciation of wines, including the Unruly Pig’s dessert wines, and we were delighted with his recommendations, a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc and a Cadillac (French) – although I still prefer my pronunciation. My Damson and Pistachio Bakewell Tart was delicious but would have been even better served warm. The ever sweet and generous Inspector X shared her Hazelnut Panna Cotta with Roasted Pears and Coffee Gel (set menu) which was the perfect end to a great evening’s dining. We were guests of The Unruly Pig but amazed by the value of the set menu (two courses £15, three courses £18) and the regular menu won't break the bank either. Hearing something of the drama of the fire in the restaurant we celebrated Brendan’s dedication in getting the restaurant up and running again so quickly. At first glance the décor is almost unassuming but as the evening goes on it clear everything has been thoughtfully put together – right down to the background music and glass jar filled with dog biscuits on the bar counter. Heartfelt thanks to Brendan and his team. If I lived closer to the Unruly Pig I would soon qualify for a diamond loyalty card.
- Fillet of Hake with Saffron, Tomato & Haricot Bean Stew, Wilted Gem Lettuce
- Roasted Wood Pigeon with Pigeon and Black Pudding Pie, Kale and Mushrooms
- Dog biscuits on the bar ... Pooches welcome
- Unruly Spritz ( homemade Damson cordial)
- Venison Tartare and Croquette with Beetroot, Apple and Blackberry
- Dinner by candlelight
- Set menu
- Damson and Pistachio Bakewell Tart
- Hazelnut Panna Cotta with Roasted Pear and Coffee Gel
As I was so well behaved at the opening night of Giggling Squid I was invited back to review dinner. I took Scarlett who has been to Thailand, travelling extensively and returning with tales of delicious food. Bury St Edmunds folk are always very good at supporting new restaurants and four weeks on from opening it was packed on a Thursday night. It got a big thumbs up from both of us both for food, service and atmosphere. We sat at the back of the restaurant by the bookshelves which are full of second hand books so between courses we got stuck in to a little reading...
- Caramelised Mango Cake £4.95
- Moo Ping £6.50
- Seafood Streetfood £7.50
- Mint and Lychee Sorbet £4.95
- Squid Gra Pao £14.50
- Tamarind Duck £14.50