What food and events say August to me

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The anniversary of starting this blog always passes me by, as June must always be a bit hectic. It’s hard to think that it’s been four years (and a bit) now, which is a lot of food and gifts later, but still so much to try!

 

Chips with everything - because even food lovers are allowed to love chips

 

What has this day offered up before then, as there have been other entries on this day historically in the life of the blog. In its first year, it was all about chips. Good chips to celebrate the anniversary of the first deep fried chip courtesy of one George Crumm. There’s still no deep fryer in this house, although there was, for a while. I didn’t argue about that one leaving.

In 2010, it was wild weekends occupying my mind, in particular a weekend at the Really Wild Food & Countryside Festival. It still appears to be going 4 years later, but in 2014 will be in May. From foraging walks to cooking demos with plenty of food shopping possibilities, it still sounds like a great festival, especially as St Davids is so beautiful. It also has lovely B&Bs and hotels. Places that have proper beds and running water.

 

What I'm Afraid It'll Feel Like! - how does it feel to camp as a food lover

 

Which leads me to 2011, when I was having a panic about camping having booked to go to Harvest at Jimmy’s. Brilliant festival, still loathe camping. Puts me off doing other festivals until I can afford a caravan! There was no rerun last year, on the basis of it being the year of the Olympics, but then it doesn’t seem to be happening this year either. Shame, it was great. I think the Big Feastival is sort of a revamp (given there were two Harvests with one being at Alex James’ place) though this is a Jamie Oliver thing. Who stalked me all weekend at Jimmy’s, every corner I went round, there he was.

 

Cookies for some of the freshest seafood on the North Norfolk coast

 

Then last year I didn’t write on this day. My excuse was I was far too busy enjoying myself in North Norfolk. Which according to yesterday’s Telegraph is now the summer home of the “literati”. I’m not sure they meant me and my blog.

Enough of the nostalgia, onwards and upwards! New foods, new gifts, new recipes, new events, new places to eat, all waiting to be discovered. Can’t wait!

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Why I like Norfolk more than Devon

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You may have gathered from the radio silence that I’ve been away, with the family decamping to Norfolk for a week by the sea. We used to go to Devon, but I’ve got to like Norfolk better and these are some of my reasons:

 

Does it get better than fish and chips on the beach in the sunshine?

 

1. By the time we would have got to Devon, I was already having fish and chips on the beach. With a chilled glass of wine. Perfect!

 

MGG helping people get their hands on the very best pork pies ever: Brays Cottage every time for us

 

2. I’m no longer that bothered about a pasty, Cornish or otherwise. But I am very fond of a Bray’s Cottage pork pie. So does MGG, and helping out for a short time on Sarah’s stand at the Honey Fair was one of her holiday highlights.

 

Cookies: for incredibly fresh seafood, and great views to eat it by

 

3. I like the slight eccentricity of Norfolk, and I love that places like Cookies exist. Grab a decent bottle of wine on your way across, then hope to grab a table for some of the freshest seafood around. Might be inside, might be in a shed, in a gazebo, or outside. Luck of the draw! Reminds me Alf Rescos, which got a little too busy. And I kept getting stalked by Kevin McCloud.

 

The Beach Cafe at Wells Next the Sea

 

4. Even though the Norfolk coast road is hardly fast, it seemed better than the coast road out to Slapton or Blackpool Sands. And finding the Beach Cafe at the beach in Wells happily replaced the Rocket Cafe. Not to mention that the kite flying was pretty good after a bacon sandwich.

5. Whilst Dartmouth has a huge number of restaurants, Sheringham is a much smaller place, and yet we could have chosen from Nepalese, Thai or Austrian. Full marks for variety!

6. Even with the influx of Boden wearing Londoners to the county, it still seems substantially cheaper than Devon.

7. One final thing it most definitely has in it’s favour: my ex-father-in-law lives in Devon. And Norfolk is even further away than here. Which definitely gives it top marks in my book.

 

So much left to explore, so much great food. So hoping to get back there soon.

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Fabulous food? Normal for Norfolk

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Fabulous food, close to your bed!

 

As MGG has been at Brownie camp, I took the opportunity to escape for a night away, and have had a fantastic night at The Crown Inn at East Rudham. It appears I did very little from the time I arrived except eat and drink, unless you count a long walk on Brancaster beach. Which I do, as a way to feel less guilty about the amount of great stuff I’ve tried.

The Crown Inn belongs to the The Flying Kiwi Inns group, and I would gladly stay at any of their places. Comfy, friendly, attention to the important details and very laidback. And a great focus on local food, really well cooked. It felt busy but efficient for service last night, and the menu gave some great choices to make. There was the smoked haddock and gruyere tart with a perfectly poached egg, and then the chicken won tons, mainly to see if all the menu was homemade. And if these weren’t, they were from a very good supplier, incredibly tasty with fresh herby seasoning, and a sweet chilli sauce with a bit of a kick.

 

Woo hoo for the won tons

 

First night was about the steak, because I’d been talking about the Lads That Lunch evening with owner Chris Coubrough on the Science of Steak. I took it to mean that they would understand what made a great steak, and how to cook it properly. And given that medium rare really meant medium rare then I think it’s safe to say they do! And I still don’t know how I made my way through the pile of very hand cut chips, but they were delicious.

Night two I went for sea bass with chickpeas, chorizo, roasted pepper and a cod beignet. Not mad on beignets, bit cheffy for me, but it added a great bit of crunch to the dish’s varied, but complementary, flavours. Tasty dish and not so heavy that I couldn’t make my way back to the dessert menu.

I tried a chocolate option, and a gooseberry fool. Beautifully served in a kilner jar, this was probably twice the size it needed to be, but was a great combination of sharpness and sweetness, bit more texture from some amaretti biscuits crunched on the top and a buttery piece of shortbread to top things off. Divine.

 

No fool for ordering this dessert

 

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A 5 minute walk round the green to convince myself I’d walked off dinner, and then up the stairs to bed. Room 6 is small and perfectly formed, with interesting angles. Whoever has the uphill side of the bed shouldn’t roll over too quick as it could be disastrous for the one on the lower side! Divinely comfy bed though, so I don’t expect you to toss and turn much all night. If you’re country bumpkins like me you may find the road noisy, but I imagine most people will hardly notice it.

Breakfast was a proper English, with decent bacon, proper sausage and even a very respectable black pudding. Very relaxed feeling, as there are only the 6 rooms so breakfast is never going to be a mass stampede. I was asking where they would recommend I went to buy a crab. Firstly, A M Frary in Wells Next The Sea, was their recommendation and where all of theirs comes from. But as the kitchen had a couple going spare I bought one all ready to go, packed in ice for the trip home.

So I had the crab, we just needed bread. And the Village Deli at Thornham provided not only great bread, but a decent latte and two Bray’s Cottage pork pies, which are as amazing as everyone has said. Considering my afternoon tea companions are all Mrs King’s fans, these disappeared very quickly, with no complaints about a non Melton Mowbray pork pie being served up.

It was a very quick breeze through, but certainly wetted my appetite for all the many attractions, flavours and tastes that Norfolk has to offer, so I am sure I will be going back sometime soon. I would very happily stay at The Crown Inn again, or The Crown Hotel or the latest from this group, The Ship at Brancaster. Anywhere that puts me that close to great food and a comfy bed is my idea of heaven!

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