Sometimes we're invited to review products or places and you'll find these sponsored blog posts here. We don't take bribes, unless it's Veuve Clicquot, and if we don't like what we sample then we don't write about it ... so please, no more instant noodles through the letter box. Check out what else and where else we've been eating (for the past 10 years) on Our Blog.
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
I was invited by Lottie, PR for the Double Tree by Hilton in Cambridge City Centre to try dinner at The Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar and Grill. So I took up the offer. The meal passed the Suffolk Foodie quality control with flying colours. You see we get invited to eat out and review restaurants on a regular basis and we'll only write about anything that's very good. The hotel is at the end of Mill Lane in the city centre. It's a beautiful location next to the river and from the dining room you can watch the punts go by. Well, you can when it's not dark outside. Lottie told me that the restaurant opened in April 2014 and is branded by Marco Pierre White, with the brand team writing menus and ensuring that the Head Chef at the hotel meets the required standards. Its actually a very stylish restaurant with more than a nod to fine dining, not what I had expected of a steakhouse, bar and grill. Service was charming with the extremely friendly, but unobtrusive team of Marion, Claire and Evelin (pictured above) looking after us extremely well. I took Mr Suffolk Foodie ... he loves a steak. Steaks are on the a la carte menu and listed as 28 day dry aged native breed steaks. The usual classic cuts ... Fillet, Sirloin, Ribeye, T.Bone and Chateaubriand. There's a table d'hote menu too, so we ate from each menu, with a bit of wheeling and dealing done between us at the table. Table d'hote menu comes in at a keen £20 for two courses or £24 for three. From the TDH menu we chose a starter of smoked salmon, celeriac remoulade garnished with peashoots. Really simple but pretty presentation and a beautiful remoulade, which happens to be a favourite of mine. This one was good because it was very well seasoned and held its' own against the flavour of the smoked salmon. From the a la carte we chose the rillettes of duck with prunes d'Agen and toasted sourdough. Chunky prunes and soft, succulent duck meat, but don't tell MPW I had to use the salt and pepper mill as it was lacking. A little amuse bouche arrived; a palate cleanser of sharp lemon sorbet which was super and appreciated after the rich rillettes. Mr Suffolk Foodie chose the Ribeye (rare) with a side of Bearnaise Sauce for his main course. It was a very tender steak and served with triple cooked chips and a classic watercress, grilled tomato and onion ring garnish. My seafood risotto from the TDH was creamy and packed full of prawns, mussels and squid. Concasse tomatoes added some colour too. Actually, it was very enjoyable and I would eat it again right now. Cambridge burnt cream featured on both dessert menus. The burnt cream was orginally made within the walls of Trinity College, Cambridge in the 1600's and sometimes called a Trinity burnt cream. It's the predecessor of the French creme brulee. I ordered one and it arrived with a proper glassy and crunchy top and a thick ... really thick custard underneath. Other puddings included a New York cheesecake, sticky toffee pudding and a brownie but catching our eye was a Knickerbocker Glory. Layered fruits and icecream and a very classy one too. In fact it was pretty damn perfect with thick raspberry coulis,whole fruit,layers of vanilla icecream and whipped fresh cream on top. My brulee spoon wasn't long enough to get to the bottom of the glass and Mr Suffolk Foodie wouldn't let go of his sundae spoon. Dammit! I won't take him out again.
- House Salad, simple, but excellent dressing
- Pistachio, macadamia and coconut crisps were served at the end of the meal
- Cambridge burnt cream
- Gavi by the glass....mmm
- Knickerbocker Glory
- Seafood risotto with garlic bread
- Smoked salmon, celeriac remoulade, microcress
- Lemon sorbet
- Ribeye steak, bearnaise, triple cooked chips, onion rings, grilled tomato, watercress
- Table d'hote menu
- The lovely team
Check out the new Kitchen Club Masterclasses at The Suffolk Food Hall! I took part in a game masterclass last week which was enormous fun. As well as being informal and informative I made five new foodie friends. I am glad that I arrived hungry because we were served coffee and croissants while we listened to the enthusiastic Food Hall team telling us about the Broxstead Estate produce. The provenance of the ingredients supplied for the days cooking, and used on site is incredible, with as much as possible sourced from the farm. Mikey from the butchery gave a great demo on preparing a pheasant. De-boning, rolling and tying up ready for the oven.Then it was up to us to practice what we had learnt and to remove the breasts off our birds to make our own Pheasant Kievs. Head Chef Steve Robson was on hand throughout the day to talk through the recipes and share his expert knowledge and tips. We made our own garlic butter to stuff the Kievs and were also taught the technique to confit the legs of the pheasants and confit a beautifully carved (by ourselves) piece of potato. Steve kept us busy as we went on to prepare a Red Onion Tart Tatin. This was a carefully thought out menu, perfectly timed, because after two hours of chopping, rolling and stirring we got to take our finished dishes up to the restaurant and enjoy a leisurely lunch. Time to chat, ask Steve questions and swap notes with each other. There was far too much to eat in one sitting, so leftovers are boxed up to take home to enjoy later. More coffee, then back to the kitchen (which had been tidied in our absence) then on to work on our dessert recipe which was a Chocolate Fondant with Blackberry Compote. By the afternoon we were really getting in to it and enjoyed the challenge of spicing up our own blackberry compote and seeing who could get the perfect gooey middle to their pudding. Puddings were revealed at 3.30pm, with lots of oohs and aahhs, as we went back up to the restaurant to enjoy our astonishingly perfect puddings and more coffee. A great day out, with absolutely everything provided including a fact sheet, recipes and I hear a little gift to be added too! Masterclasses cost £75 per person with a very generous discount if you book all four in advance.
- The Masterclass team
- Mikey the butcher
- Duck fat for confit
- Pheasant legs ready to confit
- Making tarte tatin
- garlic butter
- Head Chef Steve
- Simmering confit potato
- Chocolate fondant from the oven
We had an invitation a couple of weeks ago to review Giraffe in Bury St Edmunds, our local town and full of chain restaurants. We've worked our way through the chains over the years and find them pretty soul-less with below average and uninspiring food, so we weren't exactly jumping up and down at the thought of dinner. But we nipped into town on the evening of the Christmas Fair, took a look around the town, enjoyed a mulled wine on Angel Hill and then wandered over to that ugly Parkway. Once inside though, Giraffe is a very pleasant place with a newly painted tropical themed decor.
The menu is appealing and includes Global Mains, Burgers, Small Plates and Salads, pretty much covering all that is on trend in the fast and casual dining market at the moment. We quizzed Kate, our server, to find out if the food was really made in-house. Yes it is, with fresh ingredients used and prepared on site. I'm not convinced by the chicken potsticker dumplings that I tried but perhaps these come in ready made? But the home-made lemonade was as good as I have had out anywhere, while Johny Cakes tried classic Mojito's (note the plural...) which had a generous measure of Havana Club and were made from fresh limes and mint - not a mix.
Miso Lime grilled salmon was perfectly moist and the Wasabi fried rice a good wholegrain base for the fish. The side of seasonal veg also ticked the healthy box and was served with a nice parsley oil rather than butter. No homemade desserts Kate admitted, but I ordered the apple and passion fruit crumble and she remembered that this was actually made in-house. I didn't want the accompanying ice cream so asked for fresh cream and as none was available a dish of mascarpone was offered instead.
We thought that we would be in and out of Giraffe in an hour or so but we had got really comfortable; we were well looked after and were enjoying the food and the drinks so ended up being the last to leave. Sorry!
We were invited to attend this lovely town's annual event this year as the official bloggers and spent the morning queueing to sample some of the best bangers this part of Suffolk has to offer. The only problem with inviting bloggers and tweeters is that you need a strong fast signal - and as we know Suffolk seems to have some of the worst in the country.
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.