Bang on the toast trend, we are excited about this new company called The Cheese Postie. For a £3.99 a week subscription, a DIY savoury or sweet toasted cheese sandwich will drop through your letterbox. The ready to assemble ingredients will include quality artisan bread (including gluten free) the filling and a toasting bag.
Yis' day on my visit to The Cookhouse at The Suffolk Food Hall for lunch, I had the chance to chat to owner Oliver Paul, who jointly runs the business with his cousin Robert. This is diversification on a hooge scale, with former cattle rearing units and silage clamps converted into a massive food hall, garden centre and cookhouse. There are commercial food production units complete with ice cream parlour and a large play area for kids with beautiful views across to the River Orwell. This is the kind of place you can wander for hours, with one area leading you into the next and something new round every corner. The provenance of this food doesn't get much better. Keeping it on the family farms with milk-fed pork, game, carrots, potatoes and onions coming from Broxtead while the Freston farm provides the Red Poll beef. The butcher in the food hall even sends the chicken carcasses to Steve Robson, the head chef (and our new Dish of the Day) to make stock. Nothing is wasted.
I ate a starter of lemon and herb hummus with flatbread and olives, chosen from the Summer Set Menu (2 courses £15.50/3courses £19.00 and hooly good value). Then I chose the Deben mussels which are from local supplier Simpers of Suffolk. Last time I tried their mussels I thought they were on the small size, but these were plump and succulent, although a bit hard going served with two thick doorsteps of bread and chips. There isn't a commercial deep fat fryer? They must be soft in the hid, I thought, but these homemade chips were great. I'm a fan of bite size desserts because you can pretend that you are aren't eating so much, so I pretended that I wasn't eating very much and chose 'A couple o' three'. A properly made mini apple and elderflower turnover, a slice of summer puddin' and - best on the plate - raspberry and balsamic sorbet. A roight old Suffolk feast.
Is there a better way to spend a lazy afternoon than sitting and enjoying a Luxury Afternoon Tea, overlooking Neptune Marina and from the comfort of the chic Salthouse Harbour Hotel? Myself and a carefully selected afternoon tea aficionado arrived to a warm welcome from Hollie. The champers arrived first - Dom Ruinart (from the oldest Champagne house in France) We chose English Breakfast from the selection of 10 loose-leaf teas and tucked straight into a good home made sausage roll; egg mayonnaise sandwiches that were well seasoned and freshly cut, cheese scones filled with cream cheese and tomatoes were the big boys on the block and an open smoked salmon sandwich was colourful and delicately topped with a frond of fresh dill. Up a layer on the vibrant bue and rather wobbly cake stand to the sweet section. Favourites here were the mini chocolate éclairs, light, bursting with fresh cream and drizzled with chocolate. Macarons were a delicate yellow and filled with a zingy lemon curd. A fruit tartlet not mentioned on the menu was colourful with sliced strawberries, raspberry and kiwi fruit on a crème patissiere. Oh the calories! Deep breath, a little rest, the teapot topped up.
The next round included the soft creamy cupcake - we were divided on opinion, I said a little boring, companion said light and deliciously vanilla flavoured. There was flapjack and a chocoholics delight of rich, dark chocolate mousse on a crunchy biscuit base. We still had the scones to go! Whilst having a breather we discussed whether the clotted cream or the jam should go on first. These were excellent freshly baked scones, served warm, soft crumb in the middle and crisp crust. We cut them in half and tried it the Cornish way - jam on top - and then the Devon way - cream on top. Either way the afternoon tea was excellent.
Old Speckled Hen is celebrating Easter this year by bringing its much loved ale to Suffolk in a characteristically cunning style, that's set to test the grey matter and get those bushy tails wagging. The UK's number one ale brand will be burying its Hunt for a Hen Travelling Bar in a secret location in Bury St Edmunds on Saturday 14th March, and rewarding those who find it with a free pint of its full, smooth flavoured ale, in exchange for a social post. The social hunt will be taking place across four secret locations in the UK throughout March and the Easter weekend with clues appearing online from March 9th. All those up for the "Aleventure" just need to follow @SpeckledHenry on Twitter and keep a beady eye out for his clues dropped with a dedicated #huntforahen hashtag. It's then up to you to crack the clues and head to the secret location to reap the reward.It won't be hard to miss. Free ale won't be all that's on offer;there will also be the opportunity for dedicated explorers to boost their trophy cabinet with the Old Speckled Hen "Hen Hunt" competition. There are lots of prizes on offer including free beer and even up to £1000 in cash. SuffolkFoodie also have some prizes to giveaway.
Being serious foodies we also recommend that you try baking this delicious ale infused chocolate cake.
Rich and Dark Old Speckled Hen Chocolate Cake
Delicious served with freshly whipped cream....
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 20-25 minutes
175g self-raising flour
¼ level tsp baking powder
1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
275g dark brown soft sugar
110g spreadable butter
2 large eggs, beaten
50g cocoa powder, sifted
200ml Old Speckled Hen
For the Icing:
200g butter, soften
400g icing sugar
2 tbsp Old Speckled Hen
50g dark chocolate, melted
Cocoa powder or grated chocolate to dust
Preheat the oven 180°C, fan oven 160°C, gas mark 4. Grease and line the base of 2 x 22cm round cake-tins, with non-stick baking parchment.
Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a freestanding mixer.
Add all the other ingredients, except the Old Speckled Hen. Either using an electric hand whisk or the freestanding mixer combine all the ingredients for about one minute until you have a smooth creamy consistency. Add the Old Speckled Hen a little at a time until thoroughly combined.
Divide the mixture between the two prepared tins and bake for about 30–35 minutes. The cakes are cooked when pressed lightly with your little finger and the center springs back.
Place on a cooling rack and leave to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the tin and cooling further on a cooling rack.
To make the icing: melt the chocolate in the microwave - 2-3 minutes on medium should do it - or in a bowl sitting over a pan of simmering water, and let cool slightly.
Beat the softened butter, gradually adding the icing sugar a spoonful at a time. Once all the icing sugar has been added, whisk the icing for about 5 minutes on a high speed with an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Add the Old Speckled Hen and mix thoroughly. Add the melted chocolate and beat until everything is glossy and smooth. Spread or pipe half the icing onto the bottom layer, top with the other cake, spreading the remaining icing on top.
Meet Bill Wolff-Evans (far left) son Harry (far right) Harry's cousin Ella (next to Harry) and team member Hannah from Rendlesham based deli-company Wolff-Evans and Sons.They have created a proper hand made scotch egg and sell them to Fortnum and Mason, the original creators of the portable snack in the 1730's. Bill told us his secret to the perfect scotch egg. A free range egg from Havensfield Eggs of Hoxne, with a soft set yolk and no "rattle" of the egg within the Dingley Dell pork sausage meat. Only lean pork shoulder and belly meat is used in the pork casing. Lucky for us "locals" they are also available in 40 East of Englnd Co-op stores in Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk. Look out for the Christmas special Cranberry and Turkey Scotch Egg.
It's a long drive for us but inspector x drove, so I had three glasses of cava and a sloe gin at this evening's launch event at The Plough, near the coast and only three miles from Woodbridge. There was generous hospitality from Ruth the landlady, introducing her new chef Jerome and the autumn menu to a group of foodie friends and supporters. We ate mini-burgers, toad in the hole, welsh rarebit and fish and chip canapes, followed by mini strawberry pavlovas and treacle tarts.
You could win one of two copies of Ceviche Peruvian Kitchen by Martin Morales who is celebrating his new book release with Britain's first ever pop-up restaurant tour, starting in Aldeburgh on July 1st. Of course, we will be there! We have two copies of the cookbook at suffolkfoodie hq and we will be giving them away via the blog and on twitter on July 4th, the date the book launches.
The challenging question for our blog readers is: When did the restaurant Ceviche Peruvian Kitchen open its' doors?
How to enter: Please send your answer via the comments button below - at the bottom of this blog - with a valid email address where we can contact you if you are a lucky winner.
For tweeters it's even easier - no question to answer, but you must be following @suffolkfoodie on Twitter. Don't include the answer via Twitter (derr...) but tweet the following sentence exactly: I’d love to win the Martin Morales Ceviche Cookbook #cevichepopuptour, and we will note your contribution and draw your name out of a hat on the day.
A few rules!
The deadline for entries is 18.00hrs GMT July 4th 2013.
The two winners will be selected from all valid entries from the blog and twitter
Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
The prize is the fab Ceviche Cookbook as shown above, and includes free delivery anywhere in the UK.
The prize cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
The winners will be notified by email or Twitter. If no response is received within 7 days of notification of winning, the prize will be forfeited and we'll keep it.