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Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Britain's First Ever Brewers' Market

26 July, Snape Maltings, Suffolk

Applying the idea of a Farmers' Market to beers, Britain’s first Brewer's Market will bring together 12 of East Anglia's best microbrewers at Snape Maltings, near Aldeburgh on Sunday 26 July. The event revives Snape’s long connection with brewing over 30 years after the site ceased malting barley for beer.

The Brewers’ Market will feature twelve microbreweries each selling their bottled beer to take home as well as to enjoy there and then. There’ll be the opportunity to meet the brewers themselves, and to discuss with them what makes their beer special. Sustenance will be provided by Snape’s resident Metfield Bakery who will serve sausages and freshly baked pizzas.

For anyone who wants to learn more about different beer styles and how to match beer with food, the day will be made all the more special by tutored beer tastings led by beer guru, Mark Dorber of Beer Academy and proprietor of The Anchor at Walberswick.Snape Brewer's Market runs from 12 - 6pm on Sunday, July 26th
Snape Maltings, near Aldeburgh, Suffolk, IP17 1SR

Entry to the market is free. There is plenty of free parking available at Snape Maltings.

Tutored tastings with Mark Dorber will run at 12.00 and 3.00. Tickets cost £5 and should be booked in advance. Call Snape Maltings 01728 688303

Breweries will include:

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival Fringe - Call for events

26 September - 4 October, 2009

‘The most significant food festival in Britain’ Rose Prince, The Telegraph

I have been asked by the Directors of the Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival to coordinate the Festival Fringe and I'm looking for farms, farm shops, delis, butchers, bakers, pubs, cafes and restaurants to host events across East Suffolk as part of British Food Fortnight.

Please have a look at the information below and contact me if you have a suggestion or would like to host an event:

The Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival takes place this year from September 26 – October 4 for the fourth time. In 2007 we introduced a programme of events taking place on farms and in shops, pubs and restaurants across East Suffolk to highlight the diversity and quality of the area’s food and drink to both visitors and residents.

Would you host an event during this period to welcome the public to your farm, kitchen, shop, pub or cafe to learn more about your business and meet the people behind it? It’s a great way for you to reach a new audience and build loyalty with existing customers.

This year we aim to expand the programme of Fringe Events and increase the attendance at each event. This year we will run the Fringe event after the main Festival at Snape Maltings (Saturday 26 – Sunday 27 September) to coincide with British Food Fortnight. This will enable us to profile the Fringe Events at the Festival and to encourage more people to get involved.
In the past the Fringe Events programme has included:
  • Farm walks
  • Butchery demonstrations
  • Cookery demonstrations
  • Talks and debates
  • Behind‐the‐scenes tours
  • Meet the producers events at farms shops & delis
  • Festival menus at pubs, cafes and restaurants.

We’re looking for unique events that will give people a unique opportunity to find out more about local food. Why not consider teaming up with other organisations nearby, for example a farm walk followed by lunch in a local pub. We’re particularly keen to have some more events for children this year either after school or on either of the weekends.

If you would like more information please contact Polly Robinson, Festival Fringe Coordinator,
on 01728 621380 or 07966 475195 or email

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Stop Tesco - Halesworth - ACT NOW to protect local food

From Lady Caroline Cranbrook
As some of you may know, Tesco has applied for planning permission for a superstore in Halesworth, opposite the Co-op (Rainbow, which has recently spent £1m upgrading and wishes to enlarge its premises). Halesworth is a small market town, very much at ease with itself, and well-supplied with a variety of independent shops - two bakers, two butchers, two greengrocers, a deli, an organic shop, a wine merchant, fish shop, famous toy shop, excellent shoe shop, clothes shop, several stationers and booksellers, a small Spar, etc. In the surrounding area there are villages which still have one or more shops (eg Yoxford, Peasenhall, Stradbroke, Laxfield).

The area is known for the abundance, variety and quality of its independent food producers. These have developed and expanded because there are plenty of independent shops. It is these shops which are the seedbed and nursery for new and existing food producers. The effect of a superstore, such as the one proposed by Tesco, will be to drive these independent shops out of business. On the whole they are doing well, despite the economic downturn, but they operate on small margins and a Tesco superstore will have a devastating effect on them.

The local meat wholesaler, Bramfield Meats, supplies virtually all the local butchers, farm shops and farmers markets with meat (either indirectly by preparing local independent livestock farmers' meat for sale or directly by buying in local meat from the local abattoir). Bramfield Meats is very concerned about the effect Tesco will have on the butchers and farm shops and fears it will undermine their business. If this were to happen and Bramfield Meats were to close, it would be catastrophic for local livestock producers - and for the landscape which is grazed by sheep and cattle.

The Tesco proposal is for a superstore. It is far too large (22,500 sq ft). This is about a third bigger than the Somerfields/Waitrose supermarket in Saxmundham and in the wrong place. the population of Halesworth is ca. 5-6,000 (including children). Tesco is anticipating a throughput of about 7,000 shopping visits a week, so they anticipate attracting shoppers from the villages and market towns in the area. We know that the new Saxmundham Waitrose (on an existing site) has affected food shops in Aldeburgh, nearby farm shops and also the food shops in Saxmundham high street. In Beccles, where a large superstore opened a few years ago, shops next to Tesco are alright but those in the middle of the town are suffering. It is also in the wrong place and will bring traffic to a standstill on Halesworth 'ring road'.

If any of you have the time and value our unique local food economy, I urge you to write (NO EMAILS ALLOWED) to Waveney District Council with a letter of objection. I am attaching a leaflet (not prepared by me) which presents some of the arguments and gives details of the address for letters.
Letters must arrive at Waveney District Council by 18 June, should contain the Proposal Number DC/09/0455/FUL and should be addressed to
Planning Office
Waveney District Council
Town Hall, High Street
Lowestoft NR32 1HS.
best wishes and many thanks - we are told that letters really do count!


Please consider the following matters and, if any of them concern you, write a letter to Waveney District Council before 18 June.

1. Should planning strategy be overturned?
Tesco wants to put a store on the Dairy Farm site - south of Angel Link and west of Saxons Way – an area which Waveney District Council had designated for housing and a Community Centre on a well landscaped site - Do you think much needed housing and a Community Centre close to the centre of the town should be sacrificed?

2. Disfiguring the town with a conspicuous building
A store on the higher ground of the Dairy Farm site will inevitably be conspicuous and out of character - Are you happy to see Halesworth disfigured in this way?

3. Additional traffic congestion and pollution
A store on the Dairy Farm site would undoubtedly generate more traffic congestion and pollution on Saxons Way which already handles more than 1000 vehicles per hour at peak times - Does this worry you?

4. Added risk of flash floods
A large car park and extensive building will have a fast run-off of rain water in storms and will increase the risk of flash floods (Halesworth had serious floods in 1968 and again in 1993) – Are you aware of and concerned about this added risk?

5. Should Halesworth be allowed to die?
The experience of many other towns as small as Halesworth (much smaller than Beccles) where Tesco has built stores has been that, far from making the towns more lively, these stores have led to devastation of the town centres with many shops closing and with the inevitable breakdown of community spirit. If that happened to Halesworth, the effect would be irreversible - Do you wish the town to take such a risk?

6. Would the town really benefit?
The proposed store would bring new jobs, but many of these would be part-time and any benefit would have to be offset against the job losses due to shops being forced out of business and closing; this in turn would damage their local suppliers and also local services such as sign writers, stationers, electricians, carpenters, etc - Are you convinced that the town would benefit?

If you are concerned, write NOW - before it is too late to: The Planning Office, Waveney District Council, Town Hall, High Street, Lowestoft NR32 1HS

Quote the following reference DC/09/0455/FUL and copy your letter to the Chairman of the Development Control Committee - each letter counts! Letters may be left at the offices of WDC in London Road, Halesworth.

For further information on the campaigns to stop Tesco ruining small towns see

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Love Cooking - new TV idea

Thought this was a fun idea picked up during a conversation with a television producer earlier today. Check it out:

'Have you and your partner always wanted to start your own restaurant but never wanted to take the gamble?

Would your cooking ‘wow’ a room full of people?

Have you ever thought about setting up a restaurant in your home?

If so the BBC want to hear from you, we’re looking for couples to take part in a brand new series.

For more information email Michelle with your contact details and tell us why you’re the perfect couple for the job.'

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Event report: Wild Food Forage

How much food can be gathered for free and from the wild? Can common weeds be a substitute for regular shopping? What's safe to eat? And are any of these wild plants really worth eating?
These were were some of the questions answered during Sunday's foraging expeditition around Henham Park in Suffolk. Guided by Jacky Sutton-Adam, The Wild Foodie, a 20-strong group of intrepid foragers gathered for Food Safari's first wild food event. Foraging for wild food is by its very nature an unpredictable activity, affected by changing seasons and weather conditions but the rain held off and over the course of two hours and three sites we identified and tasted a multitude of plants.

We were guests of Henham's owner Hektor Rous who
kindly let us roam wild across private land. (Tip: when foraging always get the permission of the landowner). Our first spot close to Henham's luxury B&B The Stables yielded a range of wild plants some of which can found in my back garden!

  • Nettles - steam like spinach
  • Ground elder - use chopped as a herb

  • Ground ivy - makes a great restorative herb tea
  • Cleavers (aka 'Sticky Willie') - steam the stems like asparagus
  • Elderflowers - highly scented, use in cordials on in the panna cotta

  • Sea purslane - good in salads
  • Samphire - steam like asparagus
  • Fat hen - steam like spinach
  • Chickweed - use tender leaves raw in salads
  • Hop shoots - raw in salads or check out Sophie's tempura below

We then moved to a very different part of the estate on the beautiful River Blyth estuary. A walk along the shore revealed surprisingly succulent plants such Sea Purslane and my favourite of the day Samphire. This classic wild plant teams wonderfully with simply cooked fish and is typically available in July from fishmongers. There are some nice Samphire recipes here from Hugh Fearley-Whittingstall's Guardian food column. It's too early in the season to pick samphire but we collected plenty of Sea Purslane for lunch.

From the Henham estate we moved to the more domestic surroundings of The Anchor's allotment at Walberswick which provides a steady supply of veg to their kitchen and gathered salad ingredients including the wonderfully named fat hen and the ubiquitous chickweed.

The forage culminated with a memorable feast at The Anchor. All that foraging had made us hungry and it was fascinating to see how wild ingredients can be transformed into dishes in the hands of a professional chef. Sophie Dorber produced some amazing dishes featuring the wild plants we had gathered: samphire fritters made with gram (chickpea) flour, hop shoot tempura, a Moro-influenced carrot and ground elder salad, risotto made with a wild mushroom called Chicken of the Woods (on account of its juicy texture reminscent of chicken breast), flash-fried sea cabbage and a dreamy elderflower panna cotta. One thing that struck me was how some of the 'edgier' flavours of the raw plants were mellowed by cooking to become star ingredients

Mark Dorber served a range of beers to match the dishes starting with a thirst-quenching, elderflower scented real ale from Lowestoft's Green Jack brewery called Summer Dream and including a number of belgian gueze and lambic style beers made with wild yeasts.

By 4.30 everyone was feeling pretty sated and despite the unusually dry spring meaning we couldn't leave with basketfuls of produce, we did leave with some new skills and full stomachs! You really can eat wild!

We'll be running more Wild Food in a Day forays for mushrooms and other wild foods in the autumn. Please visit our web site for more information.

12 Ways to Eat 'Slow'

I'm a member of Slow Food UK and picked this up from their latest newsletter. It's a kind of '12 commandments' of eating well and although you could pick holes in some of these statements, they are a prompt to getting more out shopping, cooking and eating and lifting these activities above the level of chores.

1. Give yourself (some) pleasure.
Take the time to taste and pay attention to your senses: this is the best way to eat well.

2. Bring the seasons to the table.
Each season rediscover the pleasure of tastes you haven’t experienced for a year.

3. Think global, eat local.
Choose products from farmers and growers near to your home: you will help to strengthen the local economy and the links between people living in your area.

4. Eat something you have grown…
…and grow something you eat. This is the best way to get in touch with nature.

5. Meet farmers, growers, artisans and specialized sellers in person.
Buy products with a short chain (through farmer’s markets, purchasing groups) or from artisans (bakers, cured meat and cheese makers) or from specialized competent sellers.

6. Be Inquisitive.
When in a shop, restaurant, bar or supermarket, ask questions about product quality.

7. Choose products of animal origin with particular care.
When you eat meat, always choose grass pasture products (veal, lamb) or free range products (pork, poultry).

8. Vary your diet to defend agricultural biodiversity.
Try rare and unusual varieties of potatoes, cereals, fruit and vegetables.

9. Eat natural wholefoods, choose non-processed products.
Processed ready-to-eat foods contain many modified food products and fats of low nutritional value.

10. Cook!
This is the best way to save money and know exactly what you are eating. It is a daily pleasure you can give yourself and those you love.

11. Spend better, spend less.
Eating better does not necessarily mean spending more, don’t cut down on quality.

12. Become a taste explorer.
Educate children, friends and acquaintances about the true pleasure of eating.