The time of year came again when the Drews got together and this year descended on Norfolk. Primarily we were there to celebrate James’ cousins’ wedding in Hockering but we thought it was a good opportunity for a break away whilst we were there. I have to congratulate and thank the new Mr and Mrs Buckley on their marriage and also for a wonderful day. It was a lovely garden party, quintessential English theme. The marquee was complete with bunting, wild flowers in glass jars, tea and coffee served in mismatch china and lanterns that covered the ceiling. The food was excellent too which was a bonus. There was no set 3 course meal, but instead our tables with graced with large sharing platters- antipasti meats, a gorgeous fig and mozzarella salad, salmon, potatoes, roasted and stuffed peppers and aubergines, it was delicious and the sharing nature around the table made it all less formal which was very refreshing. After the speeches, a trio of desserts came out on vintage style cake stands. We had brownies, particularly moreish lemon possets with lavender shortbread hearts and meringue nests to get stuck in to. Unfortunately I think I had one orange juice too many and didn’t take many photos of the food, though I do have one of the wedding cake or ‘naked cake’ as they are referred to which I absolutely love and it was very scrummy and served with a cream and berry ‘eton mess’ sans le meringue accompaniment.
After the wedding, we pottered around Norfolk and I have compiled a few foodie highlights for your perusal:
Back to the Garden Farmshop, Holt
On route to finding our holiday cottage, James and I stumbled across this fantastic farm shop where we stocked up on some local produce. Their delis looked excellent and we were very impressed with the meat. We bought some very meaty sausages and some of the best bacon I have ever tasted from here- smoked, thick cut and streaky, it had a gorgeous caramelised flavour when crispy and was just the ticket after the wedding the night before. If you are ever passing, make a pit-stop here and have a browse round. There is also a restaurant too.
The Gunton Arms, Thorpe Market
A gem of a find and really quite a unique place where I think actually you could spend a whole day. As you drive up the track to where the Gunton Arms is, you almost feel as if you have taken a wrong turn and should really be wearing wellies and not heels as you’d think you should be going for a walk. Hidden behind the trees which mask the car park, suddenly you come into a huge clearing with deer park land as far as the eye can see. Inside the pub was a contemporary and quirky, yet traditional scene with some really interesting art work dotted everywhere – you could spend a very long time in the loo just looking at all the artwork in there, but it is no surprise really as the owner of the place is an art dealer.
James’ mum loved it and I have to credit her for some of the food photography and pictures of the artwork she took above.
The food was excellent, as was the very service and the very knowledgeable waitress. The Gunton Arms pride themselves on using local, seasonal produce and have an ever-changing specials board to reflect this. They have their own venison and their seafood is caught by local fishermen. Making the most of the home of crab- I had dressed Cromer crab to start. Their speciality is their ‘Elk Room Fire’ cooked meats. Three of us had lamb from their specials board with artichokes, goosefat roast potatoes and lovage (we actually noticed a lot of place in Norfolk using lovage), James had a Sirloin steak (which was one of the best he has ever had he tells me) and Rob had Beef Brisket. Rob and I decided to share some desserts- Buttermilk pudding with raspberry (basically a panna cotta made with buttermilk) and Pistachio Parfait with griotte cherries. Our favourite by far was the pistachio parfait. The creamy and delicate flavour of the pistachio parfait worked really well with the slightly sour cherry jus, though we thought the soaked cherries were quite overly boozy which slightly over-powered the subtle pistachio flavour.
The end of the evening was particularly magical as a herd of deer appeared outside in the grounds, basking in the setting sun’s light.
Darn good fish a chips, a solid 4.5/5. Grey’s Traditional Fish and Chips.
We stopped for lunch at Frank’s Bar in Norwich, which James’ brother Rob found for us. It was a place that I would describe as ‘trendy’ and there seemed to be students in there all day, laptops set in front if them, treating themselves from breakfast right through until dinner whilst flicking through lots of lecture notes and probably rounding the day off with a cocktail. We were having an early lunch really as Rob had to get a train back home so we had a mixture of bacon and maple syrup pancakes, avocado toast, gazpacho and anchovy soldiers with poached eggs. My tomato, chilli and coriander gazpacho was served with homemade Ras-el-Hanout tortilla chips which worked really well with the gazpacho as it was almost like having a salsa to cool the spice of the chips.
We had a lovely lunch here in Wells after a morning of exploring all the little shops in the high street, it was especially good for books. Clare and I were keen to try the kedgeree arancini served with chopped curried eggs and mango chutney. I thought the twist of both combinations worked well though there was far too much mango chutney and it was quite strong really so didn’t really add much to the plate. We also shared an orange and beetroot salad.
In the afternoon we stopped for an ice cream/coffee break. I think this place was called the Wells Ice Cream Company. But they did an extremely tempting rainbow of flavours, piled high with extra goodies on top. Being a sucker for trifle, I opted for trifle flavoured ice cream, complete with lady fingers and I have to day it was the best ice cream we had in the whole week.
Our holiday cottage was is Roughton, about a 5-10 minute drive from Cromer so it was compulsory that we had some Cromer crab whilst we were there. When we stayed at home one evening James cooked us a delicious crab spaghetti with fresh crab (which we purchased in Cromer from a very good and reasonably priced fish mongers), chilli, garlic, lemon and fresh coriander, simply tossed in olive oil, divine!