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Mino – Magnifico!

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.

Blown Away by Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival

© 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!

Curious – Me?

What would you add?

Suffolk is in the news for the most curious of reasons. [For the ITV news item take a look here] The gist of the story is that Condiment working with Visit Suffolk have come up with the title The Curious County as part of a campaign to attract visitors to the county.  When I first heard about it over the weekend I liked the idea, Suffolk is so much more than Beach Huts, Tractor boys, bucolic scenery and Newmarket racing (not that there is anything wrong with any of those) ~ but you do have to lift up the rug to find what’s under there.  As the battle between the reported views of the MPs ‘Dangerous – got to go – negative, idiotic’ and a significant chunk of the twitter community who are #proudtobecurious I was getting ready to pen a letter to the EADT, the MPs or some other body. Then I decided don’t shout, show.  So if you click the picture above or below it will take you to my particular take on Suffolk The Curious County, an ever growing Pinterest board of the things I find make me curious in Suffolk.

What would you add?

Enter Lear on a Mobility Scooter

Theatre in the Forest - Red Rose Chain - King Lear

It has already been quite a summer – I have not written anything here since the Wensum Swim, so time for a little catch-up.  We all know there has been a helluv-a-lot (meteorological terminology) of rain so looking back I’m amazed at how many summery things have been going on.

Theatrically I have had the pleasure of seeing Margaret Catchpole performed by Eastern Angles at the Hush House at Bentwaters.  This former jet engine testing site makes an excellent theatre and Margaret Catchpole was a fabulous topic for a regionally based play.  It was beautifully performed and the long exhaust chamber that forms the end of the hanger was used to very good effect.  The production followed the story of Margaret, from her life in Naction, to ‘stealing’ a horse and being sent to Australia; at heart though it is a love story with a bit of Suffolk farming and smuggling thrown in.

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More recently I was invited to attend King Lear performed by Red Rose Chain, if you get the chance this is a must see theatre-in-the-forest production;  absolutely madcap and thoroughly entertaining.  You are met by the cast before you have even parked you car so it shouldn’t really come as a surprise when King Lear enters on a golden mobility scooter.  It is a testament to how engaging the whole piece is that the children in the audience were completely enthralled.  There is something magical about outdoor theatre, and the the cast made the most of the setting, entering from deep in the forest as an integral part of various scenes.  As night fell and the sounds of the forest changed the sensations became even more intense.  It was both hilarious and moving – and it has to be said suitably sad at the end. The cast, staging and costumes were fabulous. The production continues over the next few weeks, don’t miss it! [..and p.s. buy a programme, there is a comic strip version of the play in the back, which helps if you never listened much in Eng Lit – or like me did The Scottish Play]

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This summer has also seen Suffolk’s first International Polo match. After Suffolk Show having been blown away in the storm it was good to see Trinity Park back on form as a social centre. I had forgotten just how huge a polo field is, but thankfully as the teams change ends frequently there was plenty to watch, not least is the pitch invasion ‘treading in’.

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Travelling has led to some more interesting finds on the hotel front.  The first I can thoroughly recommend is the Green Dragon, a pub with rooms, at Cockleford, not far from Cheltenham. This is dog friendly, has very comfortable bedrooms, free wifi and excellent food.  There is also fantastic woodland walking just over the road. The second, the Clifden Hotel in Teignmouth, was a totally dog friendly hotel, not surprisingly as it is run by Vision. The staff could not be friendlier and the facilities include ‘spend areas’ for the dogs, grooming areas etc.  In both cases the hotels were found through Smoothhound, which remains my favourite source of different accommodation.

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The rain has brought on some interesting fungi – one of the cutest was the Witches Butter growing in the moss down the middle of the lane.  I think the rabbits have been eating it – looking at the list of things the polysaccharides in it are supposed to cure/prevent the rabbits will probably last for ever!

Now we are in full Olympic’s mode and I’ll admit I’m hooked.  I was lucky enough to see the torch arrive at Ipswich and then on the day of the opening ceremony Framlingham had its own flag parade; it even made it to the national news!  it certainly brought home to me how the torch bearers role as ambassadors for the games live on after their few minutes with the torch – people were queueing up to have their pictures taken.

Now its time to start looking forward. The full programme for Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival has been published.  The main days should be interesting – I’m involved with Food Safari and looking forward to the fringe programme which has almost too many fantastic activities to choose from.

Dennington 60/40 auction – Saturday 19th May

Sad to say the tennis court in Dennington is in a very shabby state. Not much chance of any future British tennis champions coming from the village, nor any others improving their health by the sport if this is all the facilities we can offer. It is a huge pity because for a small village we boast a wonderful playing field, bowls green, children’s play area and village hall. So, a big fund raising effort is required.

There will be an auction on Saturday 19th May, starting at 10.00am (viewing Friday 4.00-8.00pm). People can offer goods on a 60/40 or full donation basis and some local collection is possible. It is an ideal opportunity for local people to have a good clear out and who knows what bargains customers may find. In previous auctions my best buy was a ‘mixed box’ which I sold on as individual pieces for a considerable profit with one item going via e-bay to Australia. Typically it is also a great way for people to fit up grandparents with bikes for visiting children or young couples to get some basic kit together for a new home. The joy is that like most auctions, you never know what you will find unless you get stuck in and take a look. All proceeds will go to Dennington Sports Club who are raising funds to replace the tennis court.

So why not follow @DenningtonAucti on twitter and view the twitpics on http://twitpic.com/photos/DenningtonAucti which will show some of the items as they are collected. In previous years we have had up to about 200 lots.

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Has anyone seen @Farctum?

I have some new loves in my life – variously Suzette, my speedy new machine and on-line Scrabble like games. Suzette and I are making quite a team, with a trip to Ipswich and back last weekend; once I had left Tuddenham village I only saw four cars.  All part of my preparation for the Dunwich Dynamo I am steadily building up the miles.  Yesterday’s 20 or so miles in strong wind were very hard work though.

I play Lexolus and Words free; neither of which are exactly the same as Scrabble, different layouts, numbers of letters, dictionary they use, which words they allow; still I keep trying.  I’m Grethic in both places if you fancy a game.

Pop-out, Pop-up

It’s been a while since I blogged – so some catching up to do. Let’s start with a playlist for those with Spotify – Click Here

This post is in three stages:

  • The Fantastic Truffle Pig Pop-Up in Brandeston
  • How do I give feed back when asked – “is everything OK for you” and whilst OK it’s not great
  • Why detox anyway?

The Truffle Pig Pop-Up

Way before Christmas, the delightful @suzannewilliams started mentioning the idea of a Pop-Up restaurant to be held at Brandeston Queen’s Head for one weekend only. I liked the idea; but from mid-January to mid-February I like to detox. For me that means no meat, wheat, dairy, fish, tea, coffee or alcohol. Now Suzanne’s other half is a great cook, I know because he has influenced the food at Brandeston Queen for some time now in his role as consultant, so I was rather sad to think I might forego the pleasure. However, quick as a very fast cheffy knife, they came back with ‘so? We’ll take you on, tell us what to avoid,’ thus a cunning plan was born.

A group of tweeting friends and other halves, six of us in all including @adrianmelrose, @fiswaff and @spudballoo decided to book. In the meantime Adrian experienced an epiphany (if that’s not too strong a word for it) and decided to become a vegan too, having read Eat to Live. Did Truffle Pig rise to the challenge? – You bet they did.

The aim with Truffle Pig was for Suzanne and David to run the show in their way, putting their stamp on everything from the food, suppliers to service and publicity. This is importantly different from acting as a consultant where you are influencing, advising and supporting others to develop their ideas. What a sign of a truly professional relationship though that the host location for this Pop-Up was Brandeston Queen’s Head who are current consultancy clients.

From the moment we walked through the door, coats were taken by attentive staff and we were directed to our table. The meat eaters had menus to select from but the detox two had each course introduced with due ceremony. To start was cucumber jelly with apple sauce and salad, delicate, colourful little roundels of jelly perfectly set and light on the palate. The main course included golden beetroot in a vegan consommé, rosti potato, with pak choi and tight spinach bundles. Desert was a trio of red fruit delicacies. For meat eaters there were such spectacular delights as pig’s head starter, pig’s trotters or blade steak for main course these of course were anything but ordinary. Every course created with the accent on flavour and beauty.

This was an evening to savour a long, leisurely meal with some absolute wow factors built-in. As if to prove that I’m not a food blogger, I failed to photograph anything as I went along; so many thanks to Suzanne for the photographs.

The extra good news is they are about to Pop-Up again. Follow @trufflepigpopup and register at their website to receive more information.

So half way through the detox and I was being treated like a queen – all good. Then came the end – time for a blow out meal but…

How do I give feed back when asked – “is everything OK for you” and whilst OK its not great

At the end of detox month, time for a meal out. I shan’t name the place (but if you think it’s you, ask). I have always said I’ll post the positives here and if there are negatives I’ll give feedback direct. First meat in a month, first wine etc, etc. I don’t think it was my palate being askew, if anything it should have been heightened and relishing good food. So how do I, or should I even, give feedback when food is OK, as in nothing to complain about (which I would do) but just uninspiring; the location hollow and empty and the whole experience leaving a feeling of – well we’ve tried it and now we know not to go back again? “Fine”. I would genuinely welcome your views. Since that meal another impromptu lunch date was totally unspectacular too – I swear, what gave the appearance of freezer sausages in freezer stew-pack veg with some watery stock does not constitute a sausage casserole in my book – “interesting”.

However I refuse to end on a down note – today I went to Marlesford Farm Cafe, squashed goat pie, mash and mushy peas – simple, fabulous in a deservedly busy, carefree atmosphere. p.s. no goats were squashed in the making of the pie, it is goat cheese and squash. When asked I was happy to say -“it was great thanks!”

Why detox anyway?

I promised Niamh a fuller response to her tweet to me (above). My version of detox might be more appropriately called a month’s rest. It is not intended to be a whole life change, but just to get me back on track after the Christmas excess, before you ask, I know I should just be less excessive over Christmas. It also is linked to dropping a few pounds in weight and getting out and active once again, fit and ready for the spring. It works for me. Basically I just eat super healthily for a month and then slide back into eating other stuff gently with the aim of being better with my self control thereafter. I am not trying to remove weird and wonderful substances from my body in weirder and wonder-fuller ways. I am more than happy to post Ben’s YouTube clip below, I don’t disagree with what he says, there is far too much hype about products etc., not sure that this clip is any more scientific than some of the things it is commenting on though. Many cultures, for many years, have had some period of abstinence, often fitting with religious festivals or timing that neatly fits with seasonal shortages or periods when eating certain foods might be more dangerous due to climate. None of this is new, a period of rest, a little pause, regroup and then off we go again.

One final comment:

RIP Broadhouse Hotel. Catering and hospitality is a difficult world. The Broadhouse Hotel recently announced its closure. It was a great place to stay. Sadly staff, customers, investors and suppliers will all have been impacted – it is such a pity, I can’t begin to understand the economics of it all, I hope others can and good will come of it in the long run.

The Undersideness of Leaves

If you have Spotify this playlist accompanies this post

Today was a working day for me and not one that I could inject much exercise into for a variety of reasons.  I took the dog for a walk only slightly longer than our regular one, so the most I can claim for Janathon is 1.8 miles.  It was windy and having suggested to @JonMWelch that he go fly a kite (in the nicest possible way) I started to wonder if it was the right kind of wind for kite flying.  Cheerily singing ‘Let’s go fly a kite’ as I walked I felt really upbeat. Then I started to think about my Suffolk 365 Picture of the day – could I capture the wind in a photograph.

The wind was evident; clouds scudding across the sky, grass stems bent nearly horizontal.   I started to think how the wind is like an emotion; you see its impact, the effects created by it, but not he wind itself. With the photograph in mind I realised the main way I could capture the wind was by the effect it was having on the few evergreen leaves on trees and bushes.  You could see their undersides.  Then I started thinking about the word leaf and how the plural is leaves.  English is a curious language, before long leaves had turned in my mind from parts of plants to departures of one kind and another.  By the time I was home I was fixated on the concept of the ‘Undersideness of Leaves’ – here is one take on it.

The Undersideness of Leaves

Shiny cuticle
Protective shell
Outward self

 

Dulled underside
Canker, rust, spot
Hairs that sting

 

Miner, explorer
Consuming, growing
Replete, leaves

Last Night I dreamed of Chickens, but ate duck…

 

C'est n'est pas un poulet traversé la rue

 

 

A lot to pack into one post: Illustration Friday, Janathon and Suffolk 365 including a mini restaurant review, iPhone app review and a local music link; but I’ll be swift.

The topic for Illustration Friday this week is ‘chicken’.  I found a poem by Jack Prelutsky called Last Night I Dreamed of Chickens, follow the link the poem is quite cutesy.

As for Janathon – today I went and did session 7 of my plan.  I had managed to miss it unintentionally so for the Stats: 1,000m done as 5×40 warm up 15×40 (every third set with pull buoy) at speed and 5×40 cool down.  I was the only person in the pool for most of my session so no need to negotiate swimming sides rather than loops in the lanes.

Disseat

 

Last night I was lucky enough to get a visa to travel over the border to Norfolk.  There is a great town called Diss, one town – so many puns.  There is a little secret in Diss called the Singtong, it is only open in the evenings and Fri and Sat lunch.  As a welcome change from standard Hong Kong Chinese food the Thai style menu is a bit different.  Not sure if it still acts as a coffee-house during the day, it used to.  It is on the first floor and has the air of going to your aunties for supper, small friendly and family run.

Today’s Suffolk 365 picture is a bit of a cheat really.  I found myself listening to twitter on the radio.  Well specifically started with Radio 4 listening to @hen4 who was on Open Country, talking about her yurt and tree growing on Exmoor. Then via Twitter I discovered that @theprofithunter was on Radio Suffolk.  I tried to find it on iPlayer on the iPhone and it appears that Suffolk doesn’t exist – so that will be my Suffolk 365 picture for today.

Never mind  in the end my trusty Tunein Radio App (it has like a gaddzillion channels)  picked up Radio Suffolk, but I only caught Scott’s newspaper reviews.  Then I made a quick trip via the same app to the World Service where Ed Sheeran was being interviewed.  This lad is currently doing amazingly well, having self promoted his tracks and being top of the downloads.  He is from Framlingham and his MySpace is worth a visit if you’ve not heard him before.

Life is just a bowl of…. The winner is and Janthon update

I know I have always taken on too many things at a time. Currently I am finishing the #12DCP, involved in 365 Suffolk and #Janathon.  You may have come here from any of those sources.  This post is a wrap up for one of them though….

 

The winner is:

The 12 Days of Christmas received a total of 106 comments.  I avoided being murdered, just.  I didn’t do any legs questions but the Lords on the roof  or the cats at the Olympics could have caused a major international incident.  In the end all those who took part in the roulette questions survived – I kept resuscitating them because they really were trying hard.

In the finish the winner is……

Which means that Margaret is the winner – I’ll be in touch via a twitter DM to let her know officially..

Huge thank you to all #12DCP participants


The picture above is my feeble effort for today’s 365 Suffolk picture.  It has rained so much that today I didn’t even attempt the bike, or a dog walk – poor #okdoggy all she got was a shimmy round the garden.  Because I haven’t been out and about in good light I photographed the fruit bowl on the iPhone and played with the camera bag app.  It is amazing how black and white images make you more aware of shapes, highlights and gaps which when you go back to the colour originals are there, just didn’t notice them before.  To help tune into the fruit bowl I have made a collaborative playlist in Spotify – please add your fruit bowl or life affirming tracks here.  The track Life is just a bowl of cherries goes way back to my childhood where it was played in Butlins as a call (for supper, to wake up???) in the days of Round Table holiday/conferences.

As for the Janathon update.  No cycle commuting today, so I nipped to the gym between work and WI (antique glass). Managed my 45 minute training ride, using the Trixter.  I prefer the Trixter to the other bikes in the gym as it is more like a real bike.  The downside is I have no idea of the true ‘distance’ but it was an easy 45 minute on the plan so I estimate 6 miles.  Tomorrow I am supposed to do a 60 minute ride so I hope the forecast is good.  Otherwise I’ll swim tomorrow and bike Friday instead.

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