Monday, May 31, 2010

Norfolk Nibbles

I have fallen head over heels in love. He's dark, sleek and does exactly what I say at the press of a button. He's my new acquisition, my Sony a200 DSLR. All those DSLR lovers out there, I've jumped into your fabulous bootcamp and I can't come back, not when you know how good those food shots look. Still have so much to learn but it wasn't bad going first time. Well, I'll let you be the judge!

So me and my new beau (and my true BF!) went down to the Norfolk coast and villages over the second May Bank Holiday to breathe in some fresh sea air. Wide open beaches, and endless fields with shocks of mustard from rapeseed growth formed this lush landscape. Sweet cottages with summer blooms dotted on their frontages  and glimpses of tops of old churches came into view as we shot down those little country lanes.

With Norwich as the home of Colman's mustard, Silver Spoon's largest sugar refinery in Bury St. Edmunds and countless signs pointing to asparagus farms off the roads, there were some definite gastro gems to be found here. Here were the highlights.

Cromer Crab crusted Stonebass with Peashoots and Truffle Oil, at the Lavender House: It's so pleasing when all the map-reading and squinting at signs for some hidden country venue pays off. We were warmly treated by Richard Hughes, chef himself, to some very inventive dishes. My bass was fresh and perfectly cooked, and Cromer Crab crust gave it a savoury sea taste. Ending on those truffle notes is always good.

Rhubarb Puree, Crisp Sorbet and Rice Pudding, at the Lavender House: A stunning looking and tasting dessert. Rhubarb  puree was so tart, yet the crisp so sweet. Both cut through the rice pudding which was light and jelly-like. Everything came together with a lick of vanilla cream beneath.

Cookie's Crab Shop in Salthouse, near Holt: A destination restaurant and shop! The legend was true, we had to queue and wait for a table, and many a disappointed customer had to be turned away once it was a full house. Some loyal fans sat in their cars eating the fresh and generous portions of seafood. Needless to say, shellfish is the must-have here.

A Lobster platter with smoked mackerel, prawns, whelks and salad: plain awesome-ness, it was like tasting the sea. Served cool, yet filling, it was perfect on a summer's day.

The Saracen's Head, in Wolterton near Erpingham: buried down those little lanes, a beautifully kept house covered in vines was so worth the drive. Service was excellent and so personal, we felt we had properly experienced the Norfolk soul!

Pork Belly with Mustard Mash: this had to be my pick from here. Layers of fatty meat tore apart once I cut into it. On top soft and juicy meat, the crackling was as it's meant to be. If I had to be fussy, I'd have wanted more salty depth in the jus.

A fantastic rendezvous for the weekend, my new beau had a gala time capturing these moments. I think another trip over once we get this "blazing" summer underway must surely be planned. Norfolk is a true foodie region, with fabulous produce and passion in it's people to deliver it. 

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