Suffolk: Curious cooking in the curious county

The Angel Hotel in Bury currently has beetroot ice-cream on the menu amongst other unusual dishes. C

The Angel Hotel in Bury currently has beetroot ice-cream on the menu amongst other unusual dishes. Chefs, Susan Hanser and James Carn-Pryor. - Credit: Archant

VEGETABLES masquerading as puddings, chocolate disguised as soup, and brains served up for starters are just some of the curious creations that are helping to put Suffolk on the gastronomic map.

Tuddenham Mill has parsnip cake on the menu. Head Chef Paul Foster is pictured.

Tuddenham Mill has parsnip cake on the menu. Head Chef Paul Foster is pictured. - Credit: Archant

Tourism bosses say people are now flocking to the county to experience restaurants and produce, with one leading food magazine naming Tuddenham Mill in west Suffolk on its annual ‘cool’ list.

Paul Foster, head chef at the Newmarket hotel, said the savoury chestnut, salted caramel and artichoke dessert he served over winter – highlighted by Olive magazine as a top trend – was one of many of his vegetable puddings.

He added: “I use a lot of vegetables in the pudding, especially sweet vegetables like sweetcorn, parsnip and carrot. At the moment we’re just coming to the end of our parsnip cake that we serve with a parsnip toffee and cumin and baked apple. In late summer I make a sweetcorn milk and a sweetcorn sorbet and serve it with blackberries and basil. They’re very popular, people are more open minded but they are still surprised. I try to use natural sweetness where I can so you are not adding sugar to a lot of dishes. It’s sweet but not sickly sweet.”

Mr Foster said despite magazine claims of “weirdness” being in, his cooking was not about trends.

“It’s about thinking about what you are doing and using things for the right reason, not to follow a trend. There is some great food in Suffolk at the moment. A few years ago it was a bit of a culinary desert and over the past couple of years it has really picked up. It must be about the produce, it’s one of the reasons I came here - the vegetables and coastal ingredients from the east.”

Chocolate soup with beetroot ice-cream, grilled ox heart with garlic greens and crisp calves brains will be coming to a table in The Angel Hotel, Bury St Edmunds soon. General manager James Haggar said head chef Jason Scrimshaw cooks within seasons, using local ingredients to create high quality nose to tail dining.

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He added: “We don’t need to go far for anything. We’re surrounded by farm land so why not use what is around us? Nose-to-tail eating is really on trend and that is what we are trying to do. Offal is not the first thing that people think of, but it wins people round. It’s different, but it’s good to be different.”

Graze Kitchen and Bar in Bury are also cooking curious, serving up haggis and rabbit bon bons, while the Shepherd and Dog in Forward Green near Stowmarket are offering Japanese Wagyu burgers. In the east of the county, The Crown Hotel in Southwold has incorporated Adnams beer and spirits into many of its dishes including gin marinated salmon with beetroot and Adnams Limoncello Meringue Tart.

Amanda Bond, Brand Manager for Visit Suffolk said: “Suffolk is renowned for its impressive food offering, from the fresh produce harvested daily for use on restaurant menus to the artisan food producers who proudly preserve trades and traditions from this region. As well as this, we know we attract visitors who enjoy good quality food and creative cuisine, which is why we’re seeing an increasingly distinct range of curious dishes being developed seasonally across the region. We have amazing gastronomic talent and outstandingly good produce – these curious dishes are testament to that.”