Awards celebrate food and drink

RETAILERS and restaurants from around Suffolk have been recognised for their commitment to local produce and all-round excellence in the first EADT Suffolk Food & Drink Awards.

RETAILERS and restaurants from around Suffolk have been recognised for their commitment to local produce and all-round excellence in the first EADT Suffolk Food & Drink Awards.

The awards, run by EADT Suffolk magazine, the monthly sister publication of the East Anglian Daily Times, in partnership with Adnams, were presented yesterday during a lunchtime ceremony hosted by The West Wing at Ickworth, near Bury St Edmunds.

Guests were treated to Adnams champagne on arrival, followed by a lunch including fillet of beef, roasted with beet and potato rosti, topped with honeyed parsnips and guinea fowl, upon a sauce of white and dark truffles, served with a selection of potatoes and vegetables.

Dessert was a plated selection using fresh local fruits, cheeses and fair-trade chocolate, all prepared and presented by The West Wing chef, Dan Boniface, using exclusively locally sourced ingredients - in keeping with the theme of the event.

The presentation ceremony was compered by Suffolk chef and “foodie” Mark David, with awards being presented in four categories - Best Butcher, Best Grocer/Farm Produce/Delicatessen, Best Tea/Coffee Shop and Best Restaurant/Eating Pub.

Entrants were whittled down to a shortlist of five in each category, with a panel of judges then touring the county to visit the various establishments and sample their food before choosing three finalists for each award, which were then subject to a vote by members of the public.

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The Best Butcher award went to Swiss Farm Butchers, from Ashbocking, near Ipswich, which has been established for more than 30 years and offers a wide range of beef, pork and lamb cuts, marinated chicken breasts and more than 20 varieties of sausages and burgers, all made on the premises.

As a complementary service, Swiss Farm also sell its own chutneys and preserves and has an extensive deli-counter stocking around 70 fine cheeses, ham and the shop's own family recipe haggis.

Runners-up for the award were the Orford Butchers Shop, located in a traditional oak-beamed property close to Orford Castle, and Rolfes of Walsham, based at Walsham-le-Willows, near Bury St Edmunds.

The winner of the award for the Best Grocer/Farm Produce/Delicatessen was La Hogue Farm Shop, at Chippenham, near Newmarket, which offers huge selection of home grown and locally sourced fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh meats and game, local dairy products and a delicatessen counter with more than 80, predominantly British, cheeses.

La Hogue also has a commercial “farm kitchen” on the premises, with four full-time cooks and a full-time masterbaker, producing ready meals, cakes and pastries for sale within the shop.

Runners-up in this category were Leo's Deli, located on the London-bound platform at Ipswich railway station, and Emmett's of Peasenhall, near Framlingham.

The Best Tea/Coffee Shop award went to the Eat Anglia Café, located within the Eat Anglia shop in Earl Soham, near Framlingham, where customers can sit and relax on a sofa, perch at a breakfast bar or - during the summer months and Suffolk weather permitting - sit outside and enjoy the sunshine.

All of the produce served in the café is sourced directly from the shop, and of that around 70% is sourced locally.

The runners-up were Flying Fifteens, a traditional tea shop on Lowestoft's South Beach, which prides itself on its “no chips” approach, and the Wild Strawberry Café in Woodbridge, which also has a rigorous local sourcing policy.

Winner of the Best Restaurant/Eating Pub award was the Black Lion in Long Melford, a Georgian building overlooks the green which has been refurbished to combine the best in homely comforts with the finery of modern dining.

The Black Lion specialises in using seasonal and local ingredients and daily changing specials, and offers a choice of dining between formal and informal restaurants or the bar.

Runners-up in this category were the Red Rose Inn at Lindsey, near Hadleigh, and the Crown & Castle at Orford.