Whether you approve or not the Wetherspoons Brand is making its' mark here in Suffolk. The controversial new one due to open in the beautiful Corn Exchange in Bury and the Willow Tree, just opened in Stowmarket, specialise in budget food and drinks at remarkably low prices. I went to see for myself how Stow was getting on. It was packed on a Friday lunchtime - families with babies in pushchairs, office workers and lone drinkers. My daughter went to the bar and ordered two cokes. A male customer stopped her and asked if if she was on her lunch break, pulled a hip flask of rum from his pocket and offered her a shot in her coke!
I tried the Sweet Chilli Noodles. Described on the menu as egg noodles tossed in a sweet chilli sauce with red peppers, spring onion, choy sum, bamboo shoots and carrots. £3.30 for 356 calories. What arrived was something called Yuk Yuk Yuk so I saved those calories for another day.
See the eye of the home cured salt beef ? It didn't quite get all the cure it should. My father, who has cured many a joint of beef himself says it shows that it has not been oversalted. It was delicious and provided many tasty sandwiches after the party. Can't help thinking that it was looking at me...
Look at this for a cheese scone, it's colossal. It came from the new bakery and deli in St Johns Street, Bury St Edmunds. The bread looked very good and the cheeses represent East Anglia very well. The deli is called Gastrono-me. The only website link that I could find is via twitter on http://www.vanilla-bakery.co.uk/ - but here they are on facebook.
It takes about 10 days to cure a decent bit of salt beef. Curing salts and spices can be sourced from sausagemaking.org who have an online shop. Add a few juniper berries, cloves and bay leaves for even more flavour. The silverside came for F.L Edge, a great butchers shop in East Harling. Ok, it is in Norfolk, but only just. This piece will be ready for my daughters 21st birthday party on Dec 17th.
La Hogue Farm was on my route on Thursday so I called in to take a look. I didn't have time to try the cafe which looked really inviting and had an interesting menu. Has anybody been? I came away with an excellent pork pie and a lemon and ginger loaf, both of which were very good value. this is much more than just a cafe and deli - take a look for yourself - a great stop off the A11 close to both Newmarket and Mildenhall.
Oh dear, suffolkfoodie has gone to London, Veggieplot has been publishing books and InspectorX has been on the road, visiting hotels. Nobody left to explore Suffolk! InspectorX did manage a family outing to the Bury St Edmunds Christmas market today. The lack of artisan foodie producers was dissappointing. They were probably at the far better Craft Markets at Blackthorpe Barns. We did eat a good Suffolk Ham and Cheese Crepe ( £5!) a funnel cake ( £3.50) two cups of mulled wine, weak and warm for (£7) The best thing we ate were the two Tin Miners Pasties (£2.75) from Edis of Ely in St Johns Street on the way home, and they have been on here lots of times before.
On the specials board at Baileys2 in Bury St Edmunds yesterday, a homemade sundried tomato scotch egg. It was deliciously fresh with a nicely soft yolk. The caramelised onion jam was rather tasty too. Baileys2 have just won the Suffolk magazine award for best Tea and Coffee Shop in Suffolk. Well done!
Well, at last we managed to get a table at The Dark Horse. We were going to have an aperitif in the bar area but my moth phobic daughter would not sit next to the display of moths and butterflies in the glass case, so we headed straight for the table instead. The menu includes many restaurant classics and I tried the scallops with pea puree which were very good. The vegetarian main course was a cabbage roulade stuffed with goats cheese and butternut squash. It was also good, but we all agreed that the starters were better than the main courses. The house wine is an aquired taste but the mint tea arrives made with fresh mint which deserves a mention. Well worth a visit if you can find it.
Great to see the slightly hippy, bohemian Rainbow Cafe in Cambridge is still going strong. It was one of East Anglia's first vegetarian restaurants and opened in the 1980's. Lunch yesterday was Gado Gado ( the picture does not really do it justice) resh seasonal vegetables stir fried and served Indonesian style with turmeric brown rice and side dishes of peanut sauce, plum sauce and tamari added an extra punch of flavour. What a fantastic menu of interesting vegetarian world food. I fancy the Vegan Artichoke Parcel next time.