All was revealed last week when I was invited to a 'Secret Garden' barbecue at Bildeston Crown and discovered the beautiful walled garden, tucked away at the back of the inn. You can book it exclusively for yourself and up to sixteen people for an al fresco meal. It has access through a gate from the car park or via the new very cosy lounge and Champagne bar (more about that another time). It's cook your own on the inset grills which run down the centre of the table, allowing you to barbecue delicious meats and vegetables yourself without having to move. Chef and owner Chris Lee is on hand to make sure no one goes hungry or burns anything they shouldn't. Ice buckets fill the gaps where there's no grill ensuring that the wine is as perfectly chilled as the guests. With delightful service from Hayley and the young, professional team at Bildeston Crown we enjoyed glasses of refreshing chilled rose and were delivered superb side salads, hot side dishes, dips and sauces to accompany the Red Poll steaks, homemade beef burgers, chicken kebabs and marinated pork. We cooked our meat on the grills, slowly grazing away well into the afternoon. If you fancy your own al fresco feast speak to Chris or Hayley who will tailor a menu for you. Prices start at £30 a head and I'll put my money on the cute little courtyard working well in the winter months too. Braziers, patio heaters, hot grills, vin chaud, raclette, Pierre-chaude and fondue ...just an idea.
- the inset grills, fired up and ready
- it was easy to reach the grills from our comfy chairs
- we cooked our own beef burgers
- just some of the hot side dishes
- drum roll .. as the food starts to arrive ... what will we be cooking?
- delicious side dishes kept on coming, including the Bildeston classic lobster Caesar salad
- thick cut Red Poll steaks were beautifully tender
- vegetable kebabs were delicious too
- chilled rose wine, ready and waiting
It was so tempting to have a lick of the plate and the juices left in the bottom of the bowl, once I had polished off the Isle of Wight tomato salad at The Northgate last week. The delicious hibiscus and sherry vinaigrette dressed tomatoes, topped with light, whipped cobnut cream and nasturtium pesto reminded me of a Spanish Gazpacho. And sitting outside on the lavender edged terrace, on what must be Bury's only central, outdoor, dining space added to the relaxed and laid back dining experience at this striking Victorian townhouse. I was invited to try the new menu and to tour the newly refurbed restaurant, cocktail bar and lounge ... all are quite stunning. There's a private dining room seating 14 (complete with giant framed cockatoos looking on). A brilliant and boldly decorated cocktail bar and a Chef's table where you can dine and watch the brigade at work. Head Chef Greig Young uses the best produce he can find, with the Taste of East Anglia menu (£45 a head) offering a selection of seasonal small plates, inspired by the local area and it's producers. And no I didn't only eat a salad, I ate bread made with Pakenham Mill flour, then a crisp and light Norfolk Dapple gougere, next came hand cut beef tartare with pickled mustard, broad beans and red endive, followed by a spiced East Anglian bhaji using local potatoes, and the finale of the savoury plates; fillet of plaice in a seaweed crust with a crisp lobster 'scampi' on a light hollandaise, lifted by slices of pickled cucumber. Greig chose to serve a whipped dark Tosier chocolate, creme de cacao ice cream on a saucy kombucha, caramel espresso as a pre-dessert and then for the main dessert - like I really needed two, roast white chocolate with hibiscus (think Caramac, but better) with roasted red fruit, raspberries and milk ice cream. As well as the superb food at The Northgate staff are also delightful, providing a professional, discreet yet friendly service under the expert guidance of Manager Michael Box.
- the homemade bread
- Norfolk Dapple gougeres
- Isle of Wight tomatoes, juicy with the hibiscus vinaigrette and you'd never believe that with the cobnut cream this is a vegan dish
- Hand cut beef tartare, pickled mustard, broad beans
- Bhajis made with local spud, crips and moreish, vegan too
- A huge lobster 'scampi' aloft the plaice fillet with pickled cucumber hollandaise
- Whipped Tosier chocolate with the slightly sour Kombucha espresso caramel and creme de cacao ice cream
- Caramac! Big shards on milk ice cream and roasted red fruits
- Affordable and interesting lunch menu, perfect for al fresco dining
- The cocktails are excellent too
- Smile! Head Chef Greig Young and Manager Michael Box
I made this for supper last night with a bag of swiss chard grown by my cousin Jo. Posting the pics on Instagram has obviously whetted a few appetites so here's the recipe. A savoury souffle is not as hard as it looks and can turn very economical ingredients into a luxurious dish. For a perfectly fluffy and towering souffle, remember no peeking while it's cooking. Put it in the oven (don't slam the door or you'll knock the air out) and patiently wait for the cooking time to elapse. Experiment by using different cheeses and swap spinach for mushrooms, cooked leeks, roasted peppers or anything else you fancy.
I just made this delicious squidgy lemon and lime curd shortbread. It's for pudding tonight but Scarlett and I can't stop ourselves, so maybe there'll be none left by then.
That's French for my birthday (part 2.) This time up North at Flint Vineyard in Earsham. Owner Ben Witchell took us on his two hour Winemaker's Tour which was bloomin' brilliant. If you want to learn how to make wine then this is as good as it gets on an English vineyard tour (and I've done a few.) Ben shared his story of giving up his day job in order to study Oenology and Viticulture at Plumpton College from where he travelled to Beaujolais to take up his first winemaking post. Hannah his wife has accompanied him on his journey and together they now run this cutting edge vineyard. The tour started at 10am with a welcome glass of Charmat Rose, the best time of the day for your tastebuds apparently. Ben walked and talked with us to the vineyard and then on to the winery, which was followed by a tutored tasting of their Silex Blanc, Bacchus and Pinot Noir. We stayed on for the 15 mile lunch (an additional £19.50) but worth every penny and included plates of Baron Bigod and St Jude cheeses, Marsh Pig charcuterie, Hempnall Village bakery bread and Eastgate Larder medlar jelly; all produced a corks pop away from the vineyard. Oh! ... and the lunch includes another glass of wine.
- the 15 mile lunch
- Charmat Rose welcome
- visit to the shop
- a winemakers tools
- one year old barrels
- lunch menu
That's French for 'my birthday party in France'. Bored with Brexit and looking for some entente cordiale I celebrated my 60th in France. One large Gite hired, fourteen of my bestest invited and several sacks of baguettes gorged. Castillonnes is a 20 minute drive from Bergerac airport and close to Maison Vari in Monbazillac who put on a great wine tasting. I even found a local Chef Marianne to come and cook us a fabulous birthday meal. Why did it all have to end?
- Our daily bread
- Village life
- Dreamy views across the vineyards
- Fields of hazelnut trees
- La Maison Vari
- Vineyards of Montbazillac
One of my go to recipes when I fancy a meat free meal which is wholesome and healthy. From my Second Chalice Recipe Book and copied into my online Recipe Book now.
Bury Wholefoods is a Bury St Edmunds-based organic food shop, established in 2018 by owner and health food fanatic Dawn Carrington. Bury Wholefoods has a regular market stall on Bury St Edmunds market on the 1st Saturday of every month. You'll find a range of organic wholefoods and also be encouraged to adopt a 'zero waste lifestyle' by taking your containers to refill. As well as wholefoods there's a zero waste product range and the opportunity to go plastic-free and help the fight for a sustainable environment. They sell a number of wholefoods that feature in our recipes here on SuffolkFoodie including buckwheat for our yummy chocolate, hazelnut and buckwheat brownies and quinoa for our tabbouleh salad. If you can't make it to the market or want to order online they have a very good website.
Fried aubergine ready for a Caponata salad as Lidl had aubergines for 49p each. Caponata originates from Sicily. Sicilians all have their own version of this slightly salt, piquant aubergine dish, with many variations depending on what vegetables are available. Fennel is very good in place of the celery. Serve hot or cold, but never straight from the fridge.
Whenever I see Paris Brest on a menu I'm reminded of Tony, my very eccentric head waiter who I worked with for many happy years at The Chalice Restaurant in Bury. I cooked, he was front of house. His first job when he arrived at work (usually late as he stopped to buy things on the side of the road, arriving in with eggs, flowers, vegetables and often a piece of furniture) was to check what was on the menu and then to hand write the copies. His handwriting was awful and his speciality was the deliberate misspelling of menu items hoping that I wouldn't find out before the end of service and allowing him to regale the customers with a verbal description of the desserts of the day. 30 years on I will never forget his squiggle, the r and i in Paris becoming an m. So dear followers, in honour of Tony I give you my recipe for Pams Brest.
Suffolk's newest watering hole, the Tap Room at Star Wing Brewery will open its doors for the first time on Saturday 4th May with a weekend of celebrations, including live music from Mick the Baker, who also has a bakery on site. The opening of the Tap Room coincides with Star Wing's hop farm expansion. The hop farm is now 15 times its original size with a further 5 acres ready for planting. The Tap Room will open every Wednesday and Thursday 9am to 5pm, Friday and Saturday 9am to 11pm and Sunday 12pm till 10pm. There'll be Star Wing's core range of six craft ales as well as locally sourced cider and gin and of course bread from Mick.