Category Archives: fruit

Graze and Suffolk cattle – chewing the cud or joining the herd

Aldeburgh Food Festival has some great fringe events, I joined two separate farm walks and thoroughly enjoyed them both.  [Here is your Spotify playlist to accompany this post]

The first was at Whitegates Farm, just off the A140 at Creeting St Mary and home of Suffolk Farmhouse Cheeses. If ever you have the chance to go on tour do. Here is a happy farmer, with happy cows and a great example of turning adversity into advantage. The whole project started when Jason’s employer decided to sell up his herd leaving Jason without a job. Now he and Katherine,  after a few false starts along the way, have perfected their Suffolk Cheese, using milk from their Guernsey herd.  You may remember the cheese featured in my Suffolk diet dinner a few months ago.  The creamy milk is gorgeous too and I thoroughly enjoyed the pork sausages I brought home.

The spare whey goes to feed an eclectic mix of pigs, who grunt eagerly for scraps of cheese experiments that have gone past their sell by dates. I am looking forward to hearing how the air dried ham and Brie style cheese trials are going.  If you are interested in learning the craft of cheese making, you may like to join one of the Food Safaris that are run at the farm.

The second visit was to Peakhill Farm at Theberton, here the emphasis is on the beef end of cattle production with beautiful South Devon cattle strolling through the meadows, slowly creating full flavoured organic beef.  I wish I had taken my proper camera as I only have one photo.  Rob is a charming host and talks passionately about his love of his farm and cattle.  Here beef never goes to slaughter, it goes on holiday and comes back ready for the shop. The last year has seen the farm add another element of diversity with a small caravan site; a fantastic location for those wanting to hide away near the Suffolk coast. The walk finished with tomato and basil soup, jacket potatoes and beef casserole and quince crumbles all produced by the delightful Karen and cooked in the field kitchen.  I bought a beef pack and the brisket was great, the rest will come out of the freezer over the coming weeks and the dried field mushrooms are being turned into a Heston Blumenthal recipe soup.

It was great to meet Rob and Karen, having ‘conversed’ with them via Twitter for some time before the walk.  Slightly worrying that Rob was expecting an older woman with a ‘large chest’; but as he ended up having to push my car out of the pond I guess he had to deal with the batty creature that turned up anyhow.

So two farm visits, plenty of luscious meat and dairy to eat and then along came a code to allow me to try and Graze on nuts and olives.  If you haven’t come across the concept before, you order a Graze box, it is posted to you (typically your work address) and you munch.  I quite enjoyed the nibbles, fresh and very tasty; I would normally pack a small selection of nuts or dates with my lunch box anyway, but I do have a basic packaging over expediency problem with the whole idea. So not sure I will be joining the herd, long-term, or only for very special treats but I can see how it would appeal to the office bound with only a cake shop to fall back on for comfort.

If you would like to try the Graze experience click HERE you will receive your first box free (until the voucher expires) and I will receive either £1.00 off my next box or to donate to a Uganda farming project.

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Food Auctions– The country market

One of my indulgencies when I have time off is attending the local market at Campsea Ashe near Woodbridge, in Suffolk. When I first started attending this was a ‘proper’ auction market with cattle, pigs etc being brought in for sale. However, in recent years with the various diseases and changes in rules and regulations the majority of the livestock element has ceased. Now there is some dead stock (turkey, duck, chicken and gammon) a small amount of live poultry, some market stalls, a house clearance auction and my favourite the fruit and veg, sold by auction. Here a hardy tribe of Suffolk boys and gals, well above pensionable age auction items for a few pence to a few pounds.

There is witty banter, “who’ll give me 80p for a bunch of carrots – an’ they’re good ‘uns “

“Yuh goota be kidin Basil I ken get they in Tesco for 40p”

Of course we all know – a) you can’t b) these were pulled out of someone’s garden this morning or last night c) it’s all in the thrill of the chase. The challenge is also in snatching the definitive bargain, so people will refuse to raise the bidding above 40p if they think five minutes later they can get something for 30p. There is also the art of being the ‘under bidder’. This is the person

who helped raising the bids but stopped at the last minute. Where several lots of the same item are on sale and the winning bidder doesn’t take them all, the under bidder gets the second option. As the bids are called, small amounts of cash move from hand to hand across the hall; bags of tomatoes and bunches of carrots, gladioli and marrows weave their way from one part of the old pig stalls to another. Not all the items come from local gardens, some are the ‘run off’ from market traders who had stock left on a Sunday and don’t do a market on Monday so sack loads of over-ripe bananas can be had for a few pence too.

I made pints of tomato (40p a pound) sauce for the freezer, the carrots, cabbage, sweetcorn, cauliflower, were all used ‘as is’ during the week, the Sharron fruit (woppers 30p each) and avocadoes, kiwis were the basis for lunches and the peppers were turned into jars of roast pepper antipasti for sale, presents and home. The beetroot became part of a chocolate and beetroot cake.

Is it a bargain? – add in the travel, the cooking, the two or more hours out of your day…….. Of course it is; nothing in life is just about the money. I’ve been going here for over 20 years, some of the same faces are still there, buying and selling, ranting and bantering, I just wish I was free on a Monday more often.

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