Cartpesta Lecce

I’m recently back from Puglia and have been enjoying some time looking over photo’s from previous trips. In amongst them I found this selection of cartapesta making in Lecce.  Cartapesta is a paper making technique used for creating flowers and models, frequently angels and religious figures.

Cartapesta LecceLuigi and Maddelena Baldari continue this traditional craft and I was lucky enough to be part of a group shown the process of production from making the paper to crafting the models and then given a chance to create a cornucopia to take home. They are a wonderful couple, so much fun and enthusiasm for their art and wonderful teachers.

Luigi and Maddelena have recently transferred their cartapesta making to Squinzano and can be found at the Wine and Olive School.

The tour was organised by Ylenia who can create a variety of different experiences for groups.  Please take a look at her website there is far too much on offer to list here!

CartaPesta Roses

CartaPesta Roses

Don’t press play above if you don’t like sweary bits!

There is something stirring in Framlingham, a merry band called A Slice of Life are set on bringing different and unusual arts to the town. I was pleased as punch to find that Luke Wright was going to be recording a programme (which will be broadcast on Radio Suffolk and Radio Essex on New Year’s Day). I have followed Luke for quite a while on Twitter and had seen odd clips of his poems online, then at Lattitude this summer his was the breath of fresh air I had been looking for. Luke curates the poetry tent as well as performing his own work at the festival and it was there I met the Essex Lion for the first time. I did wonder how Luke would manage the process of editing out the sweary bits for the Radio show but he chose his pieces carefully and this meant I heard several poems that I hadn’t heard before – it was a great night and well done to Slice of Life for bringing the unusual to Framlingham – keep it up!

Mino at The Table

I was lucky enough to be part of a large party at The Table in Woodbridge recently. This was no accident, we were there for the chef! Lovely Mino Mazzotta had travelled from the Salento, the southern part of the heel of Italy to be guest chef for the weekend.  On the Sunday the offering was a rolling buffet of wonderful Puglian flavours. Mino had created a wide range of fresh cold, hot, fish, meat and vegetarian dishes that are typical to his home area; from stuffed squid to gridded aubergines, salamis, octopus, beautiful meatballs – actually too many different dishes to list from memory.  The meal was great value and you could (and we did) go up to the buffet as many times as you liked.

I had not been to the Table in its latest incarnation but was really pleased that we had one long table for our large party, which gave the feel of a big Italian friends and family gathering.  The staff were really charming and we all enjoyed a long leisurely lunch followed by tiramisu, fruit salads and ice-creams; we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The food was always going to be great, having tried Mino’s cooking before in the warmth of Italy, the only question was going to be if it transferred successfully to Suffolk – of course it did!  There was a successful draw to raise money for Mino and his wife Val’s interests in supporting stray and injured dogs in their home area.  Take a look at the Puglia Pooches pages for more information.

Thank you to The Table for hosting and I really hope Mino will be back to Suffolk again in the spring; if he isn’t I’ll just have to wait until I’m back in Puglia again for those luscious fresh, flavours.

Britten's Got Talent

Britten’s Got Talent

“There are times when I feel like I have no talent…no talent at all”

I was fortunate enough to attend a ‘rehearsed read through’ of Britten’s Got Talent at Framlingham College on Sunday. I was very keen to see this; local writer Robin Brooks, who has had numerous plays on Radio 4, has written a satirical comedy based on Benjamin Britten’s life in Aldeburgh. I wasn’t sure what the play would be like, but was delighted to find the type of techniques that would work well on radio incorporated into the play; mixing timelines from Britten’s working life to the modern-day with ease. The piece is gently humorous, part innuendo and part cleverly playing with today’s attitudes to homosexuality as much as with views that may have existed in Britten’s own time.


The actors took their roles very well, Keith Hill was gloriously angst ridden and Jonathan Hansler played more characters than I have hot dinners in a week; showing an amazing ability to change from lover to mother, from elderly judge to boy. I was very impressed by Sam Bell who plays a young boy, so effective and very well done. I am looking forward to seeing the production at the New Wolsey Studio in Ipswich from 20th November the full version with music by Matthew Sheeran should be a delight. Well done to Fiona McAlpine and team for a very enjoyable evening.

ps added value to going on 22nd or 23rd matinees they’ll have cake!

Many thanks to Fiona for the photos from a later rehearsal.


Glow in the dark mushrooms

Glow in the dark mushrooms

Sometimes on holiday you come across little surprises – this time it was life, growing and fighting back.  On a trip to a beautiful olive grove and market garden in Puglia I spotted these fungi growing in the base of an olive tree. I asked if they were edible and was told very firmly NO!  I wish I’d had the where with all with me to do the identification, if I had I would have snuck back once it got dark to take another look. I’m pretty sure the little beauties are Omphalotus olearius aka Clitocybe olearia aka Jack O’lantern; apparently they glow in the dark from the gills when the spores are mature, all very hobgoblin.

Exploding Cucumbers

Exploding Cucumbers

The second treat was the exploding cucumber – equally inedible but if you are not wise in advance you can think you are being shot at by an air pistol the seeds fly at 60 mph!

Looking like an innocent unopened poppy flower the seed pods squirt seeds at you as they fall to the floor.



Watch the second half of this video to see just what goes on.

On return home it was clear that nature had been doing wonderful things in the UK too…

Road Closed

© Mary Woodin

© Mary Woodin


Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival went really well this year.  I had a great time taking people out on forays to look at some of the potentially edible plants and to talk a little about their folk-lore.  It was also fun to take part in the pickled egg competition and the bread competition even if my extraordinary entries didn’t win any prizes – still as the school motto said, to strive is to accomplish – I’ll keep on striving!

I have managed to track down a couple of other people’s blogs and I have to say its the first time anyone has attempted to create a painting as a result of one of my forays, huge thanks to Mary Woodin, click on her name to see more of her amazing work.  Another great blog was written by Lucy of the East Anglian foodies Eat Anglia. If you came out on one of the forays, thank you.

As always I was bowled over by the range of food and drink of superb quality on offer and particularly thrilled to see Jonny and Dulcie from Fen Farm dairy make their first appearance with their Baron Bigod cheese, it is their raw milk I use for my efforts at cheese making in my Sciapod Dairy project. Also it was good to meet many of the producers who I have heard on the Foodie Fix show on Radio Castle.  Of course it was great to see so many old friends too and sampling great products such as the latest from Pump Street Bakery, their bean to bar chocolate; I’m hooked on Madagascar 72%. – talking of Pump Street, did you know Cedric is now hanging out at Garnett’s Gardens on a Sunday?  Two specific highlights will stay in the memory though; one was the amazing drumming by school children as part of the thought provoking conference on the Friday and second is the pigeon plucking with singing on the very last moments of the final day.  Well done to everyone involved in the whole event, it is a massive amount of effort, but well worth it.

Still needing more foodie moments?  There are still a few fringe events to run and of course next weekend is Framlingham Sausage Festival!

Forays at the Food Festival

Once again I will be taking people out for one hour forays at the Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival on 28th and 29th September.  The aim will be to provide a brief introduction to foraging, some of the things that people need to be aware of when foraging, with a bit of folklore and traditional medicine thrown in.

I would love to see you there, come along and say hello.

Places can be booked on line ahead of the event HERE just click the booking link for the date and time you want to attend.  Tickets can be booked on the day but on past experience they fill up fast!


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