Suffolk’s finest: Delicacies from around the county on show

WHAT we have here in Suffolk is unique - and the Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival, which took place last month, showcased it to perfection.

At the Aldeburgh festival, unlike most other food shows, almost all producers are local.

Many other shows are happy to have butchers, bakers and cake makers from all over the UK. There is no such model at the Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival. This is what gives the festival its credibility, this is the reason that some of the country’s top chefs and food writers return year after year.

The people who organise the festival - now in its seventh year - are like an extended family and they know the value and worth of this extraordinary celebration.

One of the great attractions is the place in which the festival is held. Snape Maltings, with the reed beds, river beautiful buildings, art exhibitions, Aldeburgh Music and wonderful shops, is an unrivalled venue.

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There are tents and marquees housing the chefs’ stages and producers’ stalls. Over a relatively small site, the 90 or so exhibitors were set up for the two-day event and this year was one of the best ever.

When I visited the stalls late on Sunday afternoon everyone I spoke to said it had been a brilliant weekend.

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Many of the exhibitors had almost lost their voices from the endless chatting to the interested visitors. Many had run out of their wares and business throughout the festival had been booming.

There were lots of familiar faces and some new ones amongst the stall holders.

Harrison’s Bakery from Lowestoft, which produces delightfully decorated cakes, enjoyed its first festival. Newbourne Farmshop, Lawson’s Deli, Pump Street bakery, Suffolk Food Hall and Adnams were returning again. They are all as much a part of the festival as the marquee and courtyard stages.

Highlights on the chefs’ stages were Angela Hartnett, Jeremy Lee of Quo Vadis Restaurant and Sarah Raven, writer, gardener and cook, often seen on Gardeners World.

Of our own Suffolk chefs I saw Chris Lee, head chef of the Bildeston Crown, and Richard Knights, of the Southwold Pier restaurant. Both gave demonstrations using the finest ingredients Suffolk has to offer.

Chris did the Bildeston Crown’s famous red poll fore rib of beef with fabulous accompaniments. Richard, appropriately enough, did fish: sea bass with mussels, perfectly cooked and a popular choice in The Pier restaurant.

Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival 2012 has been another overwhelming success, with visitors nearing the 6,000 mark.

The organisers are to be congratulated, bringing tourists in from far afield. Suffolk is a must-visit foodie destination. Some visitors I spoke to had travelled for both days - one day last year was not enough, so they came this year in their camper van to get the best of the Festival. I saw their programme, marked and circled with all the people and events they wanted to see. They, like so many people have already planned to come back next year.

Valentine Warner told me he travelled for six hours to be a part of the weekend, see familiar faces, and share a passion for food and the best ingredients. The festival brings inspiration, creativity and shows the connection between food, the people who produce it and the land and sea from where it came.

For my demonstration at the festival I did a plate of puddings, a tart tatin, a clear jelly and an apple souffl� cooked inside an eating apple. I started with delicious Moat Farm cloudy apple juice. A method of clearing the juice using egg whites, shells and lots of whisking leaves a crystal clear finish.

n The two-day festival weekend may be over but fringe events continue until October 14. To find out more about what’s on offer visit

Apple jelly serves 4/5

4 leaves of gelatine

1 egg white and 2 crushed egg shells

570ml/1pint of apple juice (depending on size of mould)

Preparation method

Soak the gelatine in some cold water in a small bowl.

Take a small/ medium sauce pan for the apple juice. Whisk the egg white in another small bowl and combine with the crushed egg shells.

Whisk into the apple juice and begin to heat. Whisk until it begins to come to the boil. As soon as it does, stop whisking and allow a crust to form. Allow it to boil gently so the juice rises up above the crust and remove from the heat, let it settle down and then repeat.

All the cloudy imperfections will be caught in the egg white crust.

With a slotted spoon, carefully lift the crust into a sieve lined with a layer of kitchen paper. Gently pour the liquid through the crust and let it drip through the sieve. Squeeze out the leaf gelatine and add to the hot apple juice. Stir to dissolve and pour into small moulds or cups. Chill for a few hours until set and then serve.

Cookery courses

I run classes each month with different themes and recipes. Vouchers for Christmas or birthdays are available and you can book at The Suffolk Food Hall 01473 786 610 or through my own web site.

November 10

Game: pheasant confit, venison casserole, partridge with walnuts and squash and more…

December 1


Christmas bone stuffed chicken, cranberry ‘no cook’ cheesecake, chocolate truffle roulade and more…


January 12

Enriched doughs and sourdough: go home with your own sourdough starter, follow the process of sourdough, make panettone and brioche and more…

February 9

Fish and vegetarian: learn how to filet flat and round fish, pan fried mackerel with caponata, flat fish with bacon and mustard, roasted pepper, lentil and feta salad, shallot tatin, aubergine bread puffs and more…

March 16

Easy entertaining: learn how to cook and dress whole salmon, Parma ham & pesto chicken breasts, roasted pepper and goats’ cheese tarts, pecan pavlova and toffee sauce and more…

April 27

Italian Spring: homemade pasta, risotto, black olive and parmesan polenta, red onion tatin, Biscotti, tiramisu and more…

May 18

Men in the Kitchen: beginners’ course for all. Learn how to cook the basics: casseroles, fish, steak, sauces and puddings to increase confidence in the kitchen

June 8

Summer entertaining: boned stuffed chicken with ricotta and sundried tomatoes, roasted mediterranean vegetable tart, rose petal and raspberry meringues, chocolate and summer fruit tart and more…

July 6

Summer dinner party: salmon coriander pesto with mango and chilli salsa, filet of beef with roasted vegetables, pommes Anna, raspberry panna cotta, summer pudding and more…

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