“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Gunton Arms – A Review

A traditional pub with rooms located in a stunning deer park in the glorious North Norfolk countryside

Formerly a country house hotel and shooting lodge where King Edward VII (when Prince of Wales) enjoyed liaisons with his mistress Lillie Langtry in the late 1800s, the Gunton Arms was converted into a pub with 12 bedrooms and opened its doors in October 2011. The Gunton Arms is owned by the London art dealer Ivor Braka in partnership with Stuart and Simone Tattersall, who both used to work for the celebrated chef Mark Hix. Art lovers will appreciate the extensive display of original works by artists including Tracey Emin, Damien Hurst and Lucien Freud.

Head chef Stuart sources local ingredients and seasonal produce, enthusiastically cooking venison (from the deer park), beef and pork over a large open fire in the Elk Room (look out for the huge antlers over the fireplace). These hearty slabs of meat are served with goose fat roast potatoes, Bramley apple, Béarnaise sauce or rowanberry jelly.

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As well as bar snacks and sandwiches, the dishes on the main menu include ingredients such as Weybourne crab, Blythburgh pork, Gunton venison sausages and local Binham Blue cheese. Desserts are reassuringly indulgent: rice pudding with crab-apple jelly, Victoria plum and almond tart or “a shot” of sloe gin jelly. A private dining room is available for parties of up to 12 people and affords a quieter and more private environment for birthdays, anniversaries and other celebrations.

 

The Gunton Arms, Cromer Road, Thorpe Market, Norfolk, NR11 8TZ

Telephone: 01263 832 010

Website: theguntonarms.co.uk

Facebook: www.facebook.com/theguntonarms

Twitter: @TheGuntonArms_

 

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.

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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

 

 

 

Norfolk’s “Liquid Gold” – A Review Of Crush Foods’ Rapeseed Oil

Continuing my series of articles on independent Norfolk food producers, I headed for a pot of liquid gold that’s found in a quiet corner of North Norfolk.

As a keen cook I was delighted to find a culinary oil that offers a healthier option than many on the market as well as a range of innovative associated products, look no further than North Norfolk based Crush Foods.

Operating since 2010, the company uses only Norfolk grown oil seed rape in its products as it firmly believes in the importance of supporting local growers. Crush Foods’ rapeseed oil is unrefined due to being cold-pressed mechanically on-site. It’s then triple-filtered which makes it extra light and a crystal clear golden yellow colour. All Crush products are produced in Salle, Norfolk by a small, dedicated team of people who ensure that high standards are always met. Rapeseed oil contains half the saturated fat of extra virgin olive oil and is high in Omegas 3, 6 and 9 which are essential for healthy bones and joints, brain function, heart health and balanced cholesterol.

As well as the original cold-pressed rapeseed oil, Crush now offers a range of infused oils including smoked chipotle chilli, garlic and “feisty” chilli as well as an incredibly flavoursome lemongrass, garlic, ginger & chilli stir fry oil. Dressings and sauces were added to the product list and currently include a tangy honey and mustard sauce, a zingy lemon dressing and a honey and balsamic dipping oil. Crush has also developed an exceptional selection of granola cereals: who wouldn’t be tempted by a breakfast consisting of honey, apple and cranberry or chocolate and hazelnut granola, to mention just two flavours? From March 2017 the entire granola range became gluten-free to make it accessible to a wider customer base. Earlier, in February 2017, Crush unveiled its egg-free (and vegan friendly) mayonnaise and there are currently two flavours available: garlic and chipotle.

Crush Foods retails in many farm shops, delis and other independent retailers across East Anglia and selected sellers in London and Kent. You can also order the products online via the website: http://www.crush-foods.com

 

The Beechwood Hotel, Norfolk – A Review

 

 

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The Beechwood Hotel is an attractive country house hotel located on the edge of the market town of North Walsham. The award-winning, fine-dining restaurant seats up to 60 people and offers breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner to residents and non-residents alike. The hotel has an interesting history: from the 1930s to the mid 1960s it was a private house owned by two doctors who were close friends of the crime writer Agatha Christie. Indeed, she spent a lot of time there and used to disappear off to the summerhouse in the garden where she spent time writing. There is various memorabilia and photographs in the hotel available for guests to look at. The crime-writing connection has inspired the owners to put on successful “murder mystery” evenings which offer a delicious three course evening meal while the intrepid diners try to work out “whodunit”.

 

Chef Steven Norgate is passionate about local Norfolk produce and sources most ingredients for his innovative modern British menu from within ten miles of the hotel, such as Morston mussels, Cromer crabs, Sheringham lobsters and outstanding 21 day aged beef that melts in the mouth.

 

The dinner menu could include a starter such as Tavern Tasty ham hock terrine, pea puree, tomato chutney, sourdough crisps, capers, rocket and a mustard dressing followed by Bunwell Estate venison and local, seasonal vegetables. And to round off an excellent meal, I highly recommend the sticky toffee pudding when available or the “trio of Belgian chocolate” dessert.

 

There is always a vegetarian option on the menu too, for example a rosti potato pancake filled with goat’s curd, wild mushrooms, cauliflower puree and onion marmalade served with apple and rocket salad.

 

Whether you go to the Beechwood Hotel for lunch, afternoon tea, dinner or a “special occasion” meal, you won’t be disappointed. With polite and attentive staff, elegant surroundings and food by one of the best chefs in the area, the Beechwood Hotel is most definitely one of the gems in Norfolk’s crown!

 

 

www.beechwood-hotel.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traditional English Puddings: hot, sticky & delicious

image2 - Copy (33)Is there anyone who doesn’t like a pudding? I’m talking about those sweet, hot, steaming desserts that are so comforting yet feel ever so slightly indulgent. Having spotted a gap in the market for high quality, handmade and quintessentially English puddings, after 18 months of research and recipe development Kate Lyons and her husband Max started their company “pudd’Eng” in 2016.

The current range consists of six puddings: marmalade; sticky toffee; syrup; chocolate & ale; treacle & walnut and spotted dick. Despite being a comparatively young business, the company has already won an award: the chocolate & ale pudding – made with Valrhona chocolate and ale from the Norfolk based Why Not Brewery – won the “Sweet Bakes” category in the 2016 Great British Food Awards. There are three sizes available: half-pint, pint and two pint and there are no artificial preservatives in the puddings.

The flavours are exceptionally good, for example, a hint of Earl Grey tea and lemon in the spotted dick; English whisky in the treacle and walnut pudding and a touch of ginger in the sticky toffee pudding which is topped with a velvety butterscotch sauce. When you’re ready to eat your chosen pudding, it can be steamed or if you really can’t wait, it can be popped in a microwave.

The pudd’Eng range is sold at selected retail outlets in Norfolk (and Suffolk) including: Walsingham Farm Shop, Back to the Garden in Letheringsett and City Farm Shop in Norwich. Kate will also be attending events such as The Royal Norfolk Show, The Aylsham Show and The North Norfolk Food Festival. However, if you live further afield the puddings are now available by mail order via the website and there are plans to develop partnerships with retailers in other parts of the UK. If you want to stock up, the puddings can be frozen and eaten at a later date – if you can wait that long!

www.puddeng.com

Twitter: @eatpuddeng

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

 

 

 

 

Oodles of Healthy Noodles

One of the great things about writing a food blog is having the opportunity to review new products, kitchen equipment or food. I was recently asked to try “Mr Lee’s Noodles” which are marketed as “Gourmet Oriental Noodles in a Cup”. They are gluten-free, and contain freeze-dried ingredients which retain flavours better once reconstituted  – as opposed to dehydrated – with “absolutely no nasties”. And there’s more – they’re low in salt, low in sugar, low in saturated fats and low in calories. All well and good but would they also be low in taste?

I was keen to put them to the test as I’m always on the lookout for healthy options for food on the go but first I thought I’d better see what the competition was like so I trotted along to the supermarket to see what I could find. It seemed that a popular and not too expensive variety was “Pot Noodle” and there are apparently at least a dozen different flavours to choose from. I selected the Chicken & Mushroom – here it is:

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And here’s the nutritional information on the back of the pot:

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It’s disappointing for someone who’s trying to eat more healthily to see palm fat and monosodium glutamate in a list of ingredients and what exactly do things like potassium carbonate and disodium inosinate add to these noodles? If I don’t know what it is, I’m certainly not going to eat it.

So onto the noodles provided by the team at Mr Lee’s.

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I spent a week trying out the six available flavours (noodles almost every day!) and you can see below what I thought of them. It’s worth bearing in mind that I’ve never tasted any other brand of instant cup noodle (I only photographed the chicken and mushroom Pot Noodle – it then went back on the supermarket shelf because the ingredients really put me off) so I couldn’t do a direct taste comparison with other noodles on the market. I took photos of the nutritional information panels of each Mr Lee’s flavour and there are indeed no “nasties” such as monosodium glutamate or palm fat. I’ve also calculated – for any Slimming World members who may be reading this review – the amount of Syns per pot and Mr Lee’s Noodles are reassuringly low Syn.

As I’m a bit of a chilli wimp, I thought I’d start with a flavour that was classed as ‘mild’ ( one chilli rating) – Hong Kong Street Beef. Mr Lee’s consist of rice noodles which I find are a lighter option than wheat noodles.

Here’s the nutritional panel:

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Here’s what they looked like when I’d made them up:

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You can see the decent sized pieces of beef (which actually tasted of beef and not some indeterminate meaty substance) , broccoli and red pepper and the noodles softened very well but weren’t soggy. There was more than a subtle hint of chilli – I’d say 5/10 in the heat stakes – and the flavours of ginger and five spice were evident in the light, savoury sauce. The sauce had a clean, fresh taste and wasn’t over salty. Slimming World Syn value – 2 Syns per pot

Next I tried the Shaolin Monk Vegetable noodles.

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This flavour is suitable for vegetarians but not vegans as it contains honey. This flavour has no chilli rating. It had a good selection of vegetable pieces with cauliflower, green beans, red pepper and sweetcorn being particularly evident.

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Although five spice, garlic granules and yeast extract were listed as ingredients, they didn’t come through that well. Overall, this pot was quite bland and while not unpleasant, it was a little disappointing as I thought the variety of vegetables – including usually more robust porcini mushrooms – would add more flavour. Perhaps a little chilli would have livened it up. Slimming World Syn value – 1 ½ per pot

Next came the Warrior Fighting Shrimp flavour.

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Now this flavour was rated “3 chillis” so I was prepared for quite a whack of heat.

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What came through very strongly at first was the five spice and the fish sauce and the hit from the chilli came soon after and numbed my taste buds somewhat – so much so that I couldn’t really distinguish any other flavours. The prawns were quite plump and you could see spring onion and seaweed flakes but for me, the chilli overwhelmed them. I think a “medium / two chilli rating” would have allowed the other elements to shine a little more. I found the chilli levels in this pot a little too challenging – perhaps a 9/10 heat factor – and would recommend having a large glass of water nearby. Due to the amount of chilli in this and the very fishy taste (as opposed to a more delicate seafood flavour), this was my least favourite of the noodles I tried and I didn’t finish the pot. Slimming World Syn value – 1 ½ per pot

The first of two chicken varieties I tried was the Tail Chi Chicken.

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Once made up, this pot had quite a strong smell of chicken (not artificial) and the pieces of meat were clearly visible along with sweetcorn and green beans.

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There was a noticeable hint of ginger which balanced the overall flavour and it reminded me – in a good way – of chicken and sweetcorn soup that I used to eat in Chinese restaurants, back in the day. This had no chilli in it but there was a gentle warmth from the ginger and plenty of flavour without it. Slimming World Syn value – 2 per pot

Next I chose the Dragon Fire Mushroom pot.

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This had a rating of three chillis like the Warrior Fighting Shrimps and so I prepared myself with a glass of water and an electric fan – just in case. (Actually, I’m joking about the fan!) Reassuringly there were a lot of mushrooms in this pot along with red pepper pieces.

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When made up, the vegetables looked very substantial and the mushrooms weren’t slimy once reconstituted. The liquid was very well absorbed so it was less “soupy” than the other varieties I tried. This pot had a mild savoury taste with a hint of wild garlic and surprisingly, given the three chilli rating, wasn’t as hot as I’d anticipated. I’d say it had an 8/10 chilli factor and as a result I managed to finish all of it. Slimming World Syn value – 1 ½ per pot.

The final pot of Mr Lee’s Noodles was Penang Chicken Curry Laksa which had a two chilli rating so I expected a manageable medium heat.

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When prepared, this pot had a good mix of chicken pieces, cauliflower and red pepper.

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The ingredients included coconut cream but I couldn’t really taste is as the predominant flavour was curry powder – which was fine but I’d hoped the coconut would have had more of a presence. I’d give the heat from the chilli a 6/10 rating. I felt this pot had a good ‘clean’ flavour and the curry taste didn’t linger on my tongue afterwards. Slimming World Syn value – 2 per pot

 

Having sampled all six varieties of Mr Lee’s Noodles, I would recommend them for occasions when you have to grab lunch on the go. Of course, I’ve given my honest opinion on each of the flavours based on what I like and the fact that I can’t eat food with too much chilli.

Mr Lee’s Noodles would be a good cupboard standby for times when you can’t always cook from scratch e.g. when you’re at work as all you need is a kettle. All varieties are gluten-free and some flavours are suitable for vegetarians.

Slimming World members – Mr Lee’s Noodles are only 1 ½ or 2 Syns per pot whereas standard pot noodles (any brand) are at least 5 Syns – and may contain several unhealthy ingredients and fillers too. As far as ‘fast food’ goes, Mr Lee’s Noodles are a healthy option that you can easily incorporate into the food optimising lifestyle.

 

Mr Lee’s Noodles (and there is a real Mr Lee behind them) are not currently available in supermarkets but you can buy them online at: www.mrleesnoodles.com.

 

 

Disclaimer: I was sent a box of Mr Lee’s Noodles in return for an honest review. The above reflects my genuine opinion of the product.