“Back to the Garden” – a review

Just over a mile from the centre of Holt you’ll find the delightful “Back to the Garden” comprising a shop, deli counter, butcher and a restaurant. Much of the food sold here is reared or grown on the Astley Estate farm, including Angus-sired beef, venison, lamb, chicken, geese and turkeys. Rare breed, outdoor-reared pork is locally sourced to guarantee high welfare standards and provenance.

Sausages

A range of organic vegetables from cavolo nero to rainbow chard, butternut squash and glorious carrots is grown on the farm and picked often to ensure the produce tastes its best.

2013-05-18 09.06.15

Too tired to cook? As well as a selection of cheeses, salami and other cold meats, at the deli counter you can choose from an eye-catching array of food prepared in the kitchen including pies, flans, hearty salads plus traybakes, cakes and other dessert goodies. The shop also sells artisan breads, locally produced pickles, chutneys, oils, organic dairy products, chocolate, and so much more – including locally produced alcoholic drinks, cordials and mixers. It really is a haven for any discerning food lover.

DSC_0036

The restaurant serves breakfast, brunch and lunch every day (7 days a week!) using as much Estate produce as possible. In good weather there is the option to sit and enjoy your meal in the beautifully maintained garden. On the last Friday of the month during the high season, Back to the Garden holds music evenings – with food – to highlight the talents of local bands and the regular Friday “Fish & Chips” evenings are very popular. The venue is also available for private hire in the evenings. In high season from Easter onwards, making a reservation in the restaurant is recommended.

GardenBTTG image

 

NB – there is a charging point for electric vehicles.

 

Address:       Back to the Garden, Fakenham Road, Letheringsett, Holt, Norfolk, NR25 7JJ

Telephone:    01263 715 996

Twitter:         @back_togarden

 

This review reflects my honest opinion about Back to the Garden. I did not receive any payment or other inducements for it. This review was previously published on the Great Food Club website – http://www.greatfoodclub.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

A (Gypsy) Tart with a Heart!

I grew up in the 1960’s and 1970s, not years that are particularly renowned for exciting developments in the food world although some people may have fond memories of Vesta chow me in, Fray Benton pies and hostess trolleys . Celebrity chefs at the time included Fanny Cradock and “The Galloping Gourmet” with Delia Smith and Mary Berry nipping closely at their heels.

My main food memories of that time are connected to school dinners, something most of us have experienced at some point in our lives and have mixed feelings about. Apart from the lingering odour of stewed cabbage, I mostly remember the puddings: semolina (often lumpy) with a blob of bright red jam in the middle, pink wobbly blancmange, lemon meringue pie, baked Alaska. I should add that I went to boarding school when I was young and so I had school meals at weekends too!

My all-time favourite school dessert (apart from chocolate rice krispie cakes) was called Gypsy Tart and I’ve been surprised to find out that many people have never heard of it. This is probably explained by the fact that it originates from the county of Kent where I grew up but it’s a little disappointing that its fame hasn’t spread further. Gypsy Tart is very sweet as it’s made with evaporated milk and muscovado sugar whipped up and poured into a pastry case. It has the advantage of being very quick to make (especially if you use a pre-made pastry case) and also cheap. The filling firms up as it cooks and the tart has a creamy, almost butterscotch-like flavour which instantly transports me back to my childhood and the memory of the one school dessert that I actually liked!

You can make one large Gypsy Tart in a standard flan tin which can be cut into elegant slices or make smaller individual tarts – see the photograph. I appreciate that not everybody likes making pastry or has the confidence to do so, therefore there is no great shame in using pre-made pastry cases from the supermarket. So, I give you a quick and easy to make, cost-effective and apparently ‘retro’ dessert with only three ingredients. How easy is that?

Gypsy Tart on plate

 

RECIPE

Pre-made pastry case – 1 large or 6 small

400 mls evaporated milk

330g muscovado sugar

 

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C / gas mark 3 and place the pastry case(s) on a baking tray.

Whisk the evaporated milk and muscovado sugar together for at least 15 minutes on a fast speed. This will dissolve the grainy sugar and result in a light, creamy tart filling.

Pour the milk mixture into the pre-baked pastry case(s) and cook for 10 – 15 minutes until the filling has risen and the surface is ‘tacky’. It may require longer if you make the larger tart.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool and set before serving. You can decorate the top with grated or melted chocolate if you like. The tart goes well with a dollop of vanilla ice cream or fresh double cream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Camellia Cottage – a delightful vintage tea room in Sheringham

If you’re looking for somewhere to eat that offers vintage style and charm and a relaxing environment, you’ll find it at Camellia Cottage which is located in the heart of Sheringham, a busy seaside town on the North Norfolk coast. The interior of the tearoom is painted in delicate pastel hues and complemented with vases of beautiful fresh flowers. The interior is quite small although there are more tables upstairs and the courtyard at the front of the premises plus the garden at the back allow for more seating when the weather permits.

7fc02416816c959e8cbeb55f2a676b08

Customers can enjoy breakfast or brunch until 12 noon and light lunches, afternoon or cream tea between noon and 4pm. Food choices include: several cooked breakfast options including American style pancakes; homemade soup with crusty bread; sandwiches or toasted ciabatta served with salad and coleslaw; and a generous selection of homemade cakes and bakes. 24 hours’ notice is required for afternoon tea which I have to say is exceptionally good. Gluten free alternatives to some dishes are available. The tearoom offers a good selection of drinks too: over 15 different varieties of Teapigs tea; their own blend of freshly ground coffee; hot chocolate; milkshakes; iced tea and coffee and various cold drinks. The food and drink is served on delightful vintage china so even if you’ve just popped in for tea and cake, you feel like it’s a special occasion.

With staff who are always cheerful and friendly and such excellent food on offer, you’ll want to return to Camellia Cottage – probably more than once!

 

Address: 1 Station Road, Sheringham, Norfolk, NR26 8RE

Telephone: 01263 824 984

Website: www.camelliacottagesheringham.com

 

 

 

The Sitting Room – Retro Charm in Sheringham, Norfolk

Situated just off Sheringham High Street, The Sitting Room is a café serving coffee, tea, breakfasts, lunches and afternoon teas to local residents and tourists alike. The cafe shares its premises with the Westcliffe Art Gallery and browsing is actively encouraged.

Breakfast at The Sitting Room is a delightfully robust continental breakfast comprising a choice of pastries or toast with an impressive selection of marmalades, curds and jams, fresh fruit, continental cured meats and cheese. Each table has its own toaster so you can toast your bread exactly how you like it.

For people who prefer a light lunch, there is a choice of original house salads which may include the “Super Salad” with avocado and pomegranate or the “Italian”, with Parma ham, rocket and olives or you can create your own from an impressive array of ingredients. Those who like a heartier lunch can choose items including locally made quiches, savoury muffins, soups, hot sausage rolls, sandwiches and rolls.

The afternoon tea served on delicate mismatched vintage china is done exceptionally well: delicious cakes – including gluten-free choices – and patisserie such as millefeuilles, raspberry and white chocolate tart or macarons. You have to pre-book afternoon tea but this allows you to request a personalised experience according to taste.

There are various drinks to choose from including coffee, teas from the Nelson & Norfolk Tea Company, hot chocolate made with real – not powdered – milk, dark or plain chocolate.

On Friday evenings, The Sitting Room is open until 9pm where alongside the standard menu, customers can enjoy cheese or Mediterranean cured meat boards, dips, olives and artisan bread washed down with a glass or two of wine.

The owners Paul and Kristian and their staff are attentive without being intrusive, the food is of a high standard and the little touches and ambience at The Sitting Room will make you want to return very soon.

 

 

Address:       4 Augusta Street, Sheringham, Norfolk, NR26 8LA

Telephone:   01263 821 344

Facebook:     http://www.facebook.com/thesittingroomsheringham

 

A Review – Henry’s Coffee & Tea Store, Cromer

Henrys Coffee Shop image

 

With a solid background in the hospitality industry where they designed and set up coffee shops, restaurants and hotels for other people, when Philip and Caroline Search opened Henry’s Coffee and Tea Store in Cromer in March 2016 it was bound to be a success.

Henry’s is open from 8am to 8pm seven days a week so you can call in for breakfast, a light lunch or an evening snack. Where possible, the food items are made in-house e.g. scones (the cheese ones are divine!),  cakes, pasties, quiches, sandwiches soups and stews (including many glute-free options) but at Henry’s you can also find local produce such as Brays Pork Pies, Candi’s Chutney, Gnaw chocolate and Ronaldo’s ice cream.

Customers enjoy “Henry’s Blend” coffee, created by Philip himself to taste really smooth with or without milk. Coming soon is “Henry’s Black” for people who appreciate a darker and richer blend. There is of course a choice of decaffeinated coffee, cappuccinos, lattes, macchiatos and flat whites so the most dedicated coffee lover will always find something to appreciate.

Tea drinkers are also very well catered for with a range of 34 different hand-crafted teas from local producer the “Nelson & Norfolk Tea Company”. Customers can sample the light and fragrant “Trafalgar Blend” which is enhanced with subtle hints of citrus and smokiness, “Norfolk Earl Grey” and “Chai Spiced Tea” to name but three. When your pot of tea arrives, it’s accompanied by a little timer so it infuses for 3 minutes to ensure the best flavour possible.

In May 2017, Henry’s won Cromer’s “Best Crab Sandwich” award at the annual Crab and Lobster Festival. I couldn’t possibly reveal the “secret” ingredients but will say that if you are visiting Cromer, don’t leave without trying one!

Whether you are meeting friends, working on your laptop or simply watching the world go by, Henry’s provides a comfortable, relaxing environment with outstanding food and drink options.

 

Address: 2 Church Street, Cromer, Norfolk, NR27 9ER

Facebook: www.facebook.com/HenrysCoffeeandTeaStore

Twitter: @Henrys4Coffee

A Brief History Of The Perfect Pork Pie

If you live in Norfolk, when anyone mentions pork pies you know they’re likely to be talking about those made by Bray’s Cottage. In 2017, Bray’s celebrates 10 years of trading and so it was an ideal time for me to meet the founder and owner Sarah Pettegree and chat to her about the porky deliciousness of her pies and sausage rolls and also find out a little more about the woman behind the brand.

After a degree at the University of East Anglia, Sarah found employment as a civil servant at the Ministry of Agriculture, working as a humble clerical assistant because “I needed a job”. The job didn’t pay particularly well and there were no career prospects but luckily Sarah later passed a Civil Service promotion board and was offered a role at HMSO (Her Majesty’s Stationery Office) which surprised her seeing as she wasn’t very good at maths: a management accounting job! There was no other offer on the horizon and so Sarah bit the bullet, learned to do the job well and eventually became a qualified Chartered Accountant.

When HMSO was privatised in 1996, Sarah was made redundant and worked in various contract positions for organisations such as Norwich Union and CITB. Thanks to experience gained in her previous job, she was able to train managers on various in-house business management systems. While this meant she was moving away from accountancy, it was also giving her an opportunity to learn how people ran their businesses. At the same time, the television programme “Dragons’ Den” was in its early days and Sarah was interested to watch the start-up process surrounding new business and whether they succeeded or failed.

Sarah had always felt the pull of the countryside and once she realised she no longer wanted to work in Norwich or London, she moved to the Norfolk countryside in 2001 and took time to think about what sort of business would be sustainable. One of her early ideas was to do something using her arty skills – Sarah had studied painting and sculpture at the Open College of Arts – but realised although it would be enjoyable, she would be unlikely to earn a living from it.

Then she thought of something food-related. A friend had a couple of saddleback pigs and the idea of making pork pies was born. Sarah felt that the traditional pork pies that were generally available in supermarkets or even butchers’ shops were all quite “samey”, with no unusual or interesting flavour combinations available.

Sarah’s pies took off and her initial sales – via a website with a mail order facility -resulted in an article being written by the Food Editor of The Sunday Times. Sarah’s first big customer was “The Green Grocer” in Norwich and in 2006, they told Sarah that her pies were their best-selling product (after potatoes). They are still a valued customer today.

 

Here’s Sarah at one of the many Norfolk foodie events she attends – doing what she does best!

 

These days, you can buy Bray’s Cottage “Pies by Post” via the website otherwise you’ll find them only at independent retailers and pubs. During any given week, Brays could be making between 1,000 and 3,000 pork pies and there are seasonal spikes at times like Christmas and Valentine’s Day. You can even buy a pork pie “wedding cake”. A small range of sausage rolls was added to the Brays repertoire when one of Sarah’s retailers mentioned that the ones available elsewhere weren’t particularly good. There are now two sizes of Brays sausage rolls and two flavours: plain and with onion marmalade. Interestingly, the onion marmalade pork pie is Sarah’s best seller. Having tasted it, I can see why!

 

 

Apart from Sarah and her partner Derek (who gave up his music career a few years ago to help with the business), there are 8 members of staff at Brays who are the “bakers and makers” of the pies and sausage rolls. Derek mostly deals with administration, book-keeping and the local deliveries although Sarah pointed out that he can also bake! Sarah now focuses on growing the business, marketing, PR and maintaining a lively presence on social media.

I asked her if there had been any low points in her pork pie career and she said the early days of setting up a small business are very challenging. You have to work really hard and it takes over your life. Now, 10 years on, Sarah said it’s more manageable now there are people to whom she can delegate and she has time to appreciate the rewards: working in a great environment, supplying a product that people love and also having fun along the way.

I asked what the future holds for the Bray’s Cottage brand and Sarah said “more of the same”. She wants to grow the mail order side of the business and link up with more Norfolk and UK wide retailers. At the moment, some of the places in Norfolk where you can buy Brays pork pies are Picnic Fayre in Cley, Back to the Garden in Letheringsett, Walsingham Farm Shop, Henry’s Coffee Store in Cromer and Blakeney Deli.

There are other stockists of Bray’s further afield too e.g. London, the Midlands, Wales and the North of England. A full list of stockists is on the website.

You can find Sarah at Creake Abbey Farmers’ Market on the first Saturday of every month (during the season) and at bigger local Norfolk events including the Aylsham Show and the North Norfolk Food Festival.

And if you want to learn how to make outstanding pork pies yourself, Sarah runs classes in Norwich. Details are on the website but spaces sell out fast.

 

 

Sarah said her life now is so different from when she used to be an accountant and she thrives on the positive comments she receives about Brays’ products. “After all”, she said, “nobody ever told me I’d produced the best spreadsheet they’d ever seen”!

 

http://www.perfectpie.co.uk

 

This article originally appeared on the Norfolk Places website.

A review of Creake Abbey Farmers’ Market, Norfolk

We’ve recently moved to North Norfolk from south London where every month in our small town a ‘Farmers’ Market’ took place, or rather, what a non-country town would class as one anyway. There were usually about 15 stalls and while you could buy cheese, some meat and fish, vegetables and cakes, most of the stallholders were not local and the goods weren’t particularly exciting. The Council wouldn’t allow two stalls to sell similar wares so you didn’t have the option of trying a variety of foodie things from different suppliers which I found a little disappointing.

So when I saw that Creake Abbey in North Creake, Norfolk, holds a monthly Farmers’ Market with over 50 – yes, fifty – food producers in attendance, I simply had to go and have a look. From where I live, this meant a 70 mile round trip but for a morning out where I could indulge my curiosity for all things food-related, it would be worth it. As luck would have it, it was a fine day and the drive there was easy. The traffic in Norfolk is nothing like it was near Croydon!

When I arrived at Creake Abbey on Saturday 7th May, I really didn’t know where to begin browsing as there are some permanent shops on the site, a café, a food hall as well as the various stalls run by the local producers. I felt like a kid in a sweet shop – slightly overwhelmed by the scale of it all but desperate to see as much as I could.

To sum it up and as detailed on the flyers for the market, you could buy: the finest meat and vegetables, pies, pastries, puddings and tartes, fresh juices, cordials, breads and ‘morning goods’, dairy produce, cheese, plants, herbs, beer, chocolate, fudge and more. Many of the stallholders provided tasting samples which is a great idea although my Slimming World leader may have been slightly aghast at the amount of things I had to try!

I can’t list here all the wonderful produce I saw although I’ll give a shout out to the companies whose goods I purchased on the day.

Here is the lovely Candi from “Candi’s Chutney”.

FullSizeRender (12) - Copy

I love a good chutney or pickle and Candi has come up with some sublime flavours. I had to sample several (ahem) but went away clutching jars of Parsnip & Chilli, Norfolk Nobbly (yes, really!) and a seasonal asparagus chutney. For me, a plus point is that Candi doesn’t fill most of her chutneys with lots of dried fruit as I really don’t like sultanas and raisins. Apparently a new flavour is under development and I’ve been told gin will be involved. Now that is one to watch out for! Candi’s website is: www.candischutney.vpweb.co.uk

I was delighted to find that the Fruit Pig Company sold their own version of an elusive sausage that I’d been hankering after for a while and so I nabbed one of the last packs of ‘merguez’. This is traditionally a red spicy mutton or beef based fresh sausage flavoured with cumin, chilli pepper and other spices and originated from Arab / North African cuisine. I first tasted it when I lived in Paris years ago but sadly you don’t see it much in the UK although you can find it at specialist or ethnic butchers. You can order your porky goodies online including some posh black pudding: www.fruitpigcompany.com

Here is the very friendly, smiley chap I bought the merguez from:

FullSizeRender (13) - Copy

 

I met Sarah who produces the most divine “Bray’s Cottage Pork Pies” and I simply had to buy a seasonal special which was pork and wild garlic. I took this home and shared it with my husband – he was a happy man! Both he and I recall the awful mass produced pork pies we used to be given in packed lunches when we went on school trips in the 1970s. Thank goodness there are people like Sarah who have elevated the humble pork pie to superstar status. The ingredients are simple but high quality: North Norfolk outdoor reared pork, a secret blend of herbs and spices and a hot water crust pastry plus other ingredients depending on the season. There is no jelly in the pies so what you taste is pure porky, herby goodness. The website is: http://www.perfectpie.co.uk

I know from personal experience that you can buy Bray’s Cottage pies in places like ‘Back to the Garden’ in Letheringsett, ‘Bakers and Larners’ in Holt and ‘Picnic Fayre’ in Cley but of course the pies are to be found elsewhere too. Here’s Sarah on the stall, which I have to say was looking extremely ‘sold out’ by the time I got there.

FullSizeRender (14) - Copy

 

Finally, I didn’t just buy things I could eat – I also found a lovely tea supplier called “Nelson & Norfolk Tea Co” run by Mark Richmond who is based in North Walsham. I purchased a couple of his fruity, caffeine free blends which smelled absolutely wonderful. Mark has over 20 years’ experience in the tea business and his range includes the very popular ‘Norfolk Tea’ (an all-day blend of black teas), ‘Norfolk Earl Grey’, chocolate tea, fruity teas and green teas.

Mark’s website is: www.nelsonandnorfolktea.co.uk

This was the tea stall on the day I visited:

FullSizeRender (11) - Copy

 

I chatted with lots of other producers – including ‘Ollands Farm Foods’, ‘Chilli Fundamentals’ and ‘Hands On Preserves’ – but sadly my spending money on the day was limited otherwise I would have bought more goodies. There’s always next time though as the Farmers’ Market is held on the first Saturday of every month (except January). If you are free on Saturday 4th June 2016, I recommend you go along as Creake Abbey definitely holds one of the best Farmers’ Markets that I’ve seen.

The website with all the details is: www.creakeabbey.co.uk

 

 

Disclaimer: I was not asked to write about Creake Abbey Farmers’ Market and the above article represents my impressions on the day. I was not given any freebies or incentivised in any other way in return for a favourable review.