With its rich agricultural heritage and vast coastline, Suffolk’s quality produce, artisan food producers, award-winning restaurants and picture-postcard landscapes makes the county a gastronomic hub and top destination for foodie breaks.
Why not time a visit around one of the UK’s top food and drink festivals? Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival returns from 27th September to 13th October 2013 and is the ideal way to get sampling some of the county’s finest produce. Since its beginnings in 2007, it has cemented Suffolk’s identity as a foodie hotspot, offering visitors a taste of the diversity and quality of its produce. The festival weekend at Snape Maltings attracts well-known chefs Daniel Clifford, Valentine Warner and Galton Blackiston to demonstrate their skills and share their recipes.
To continue the culinary inspiration, try the The White Lion Hotel in Aldeburgh. Head Chef Jason Shaw is passionate about creating food which reflects the great seasonal produce so readily available from both the coast and the countryside. Fish served in the restaurant is bought at fish shacks opposite the hotel, where fishermen sell their catch straight from the sea. Also as part of the Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival on 4th October it will be holding a Local Beer Dinner with three specially created courses each matched perfectly with a different Adnams beer.
In addition look out for the award-winning Aldeburgh Fish & Chip Shop, which is regarded as one of the best in the country. Fish is cooked while you wait and is best enjoyed sat on the seawall watching the waves breaking over the pebbles.
Just a short hop down the coast is Orford; a foodie shopping village that boasts an oysterage, butcher, smokehouse and fish shed. When in town don’t miss a visit to the Pump Street Bakery featuring award-winning bread to take away or served up with in their cafe. They are also now turning their hand to producing cocoa-rich delicacies and have a special chocolate room dedicated to melt-in-the-mouth-chocolate.
A famous and most established restaurant in Orford is The Butley Orford Oysterage, which is renowned for the quality of its seafood. Sample a dozen fresh oysters straight from the seabed or a local lobster washed down with some of their amazing wines.
Good food is at the heart of The Crown and Castle in Orford as the co-proprietor and executive chef Ruth Watson is an awarding-winning food writer. Its restaurant The Trinity has two AA rosettes and is one of the main draws for many of The Crown and Castle’s guests. At its heart is provenance and seasonal food, while the hotel itself offers airy and bright rooms.
The British Larder Suffolk is a little piece of foodie heaven created by two professional chefs, Madalene Bonvini-Hamel and Ross Pike, who are committed to using locally sourced produce with a passion for quality food. Starting out as a website for foodies, it is now a pub near Woodbridge which supports local producers. It gets its pork from Dingley Dell pigs just two miles down the road, Sutton Hoo chickens are reared five miles away and its High House Farm apples and Butley oysters travel less than ten miles to reach us. In short a real taste of Suffolk!
With a string of awards to its name, it’s well worth seeking out Pea Porridge in the back streets of Bury St Edmunds. Describing its food as rustic bistro, the restaurant uses seasonal ingredients presented with minimal fuss. In the summer expect to see lobster and fresh fish, and game in the winter months. The restaurant also uses some more unusual ingredients too such as pig cheeks and bone marrow.
Looking to improve cooking skills or love foraging? Food Safari organises tailor-made food experiences for the serious foodie. Specialising in field to fork gastronomic adventures, they organise tours behind the scenes at local producers such as Blythburgh Pork and Pinney’s of Orford. The more adventurous should try try one of its wild food workshops, foraging for ingredients in Rendlesham Forest and then cooking a feast with findings.
No foodie trip to Suffolk would be complete without a trip to Suffolk Food Hall near Ipswich. Originally created out of a desire amongst the local community to get access to the quality food produced and grown in the Suffolk region, the hall has a deli, fishmonger, artisan bakery, chocolatier and butcher. Browsing through all its foodie treats is likely to make even the most resistant visitor hungry, so why not stop for lunch at The Cookhouse restaurant with views over the beautiful river Orwell?