A Very Blakeney Christmas

Just a little seasonal tour of my favourite place….

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Oyster Catcher Catering

As part of our ‘Winter Recaps’ we can’t wait to gush about our invitation to a fabulous tasting event by Oyster Catcher Catering. I am not food blogger (though we do seem to talk about food, and local food, a lot on here) so I will let the starters speak for themselves!

Heritage beetroot salad with grilled goats cheese and toasted nuts and seeds
Canapes: Goats cheese wrapped in cured ham with oven dried tomato and pesto, cucumber cups with Cromer crab and radish salad, polenta cakes with pickled mushrooms truffel mayo and broad bean

Polenta cakes with pickled mushrooms, truffle mayo, and broad bean

They are as delicious as they are beautiful. 

Wherever possible they provide food and ingredients from the Norfolk area. And of course living in some of the best arable farmland in the UK, great ingredients combined with Chef Jackson Campbell’s imagination and skill leads to an amazing meal. While it is pretty, this is real food. Healthy, filling, local. 

Enough of me, here’s some more…

Seared sea bass with celeriac mash, braised fennel, and prawn bisque

Sea bream ceviche with citrus, herb puree and rocket cress
  

Jerusalem artichoke ‘lasagne’ with blistered tomatoes and balsamic
   

Apple tarte Tatin, vanilla icecream

So many courses! But we had to have it all! On display at the event was a selection of things offered in their Welcome Packs. (which we may have also tried.) What a great idea! When you spend all day trying to get out of the Big Smoke, and arrive late and hungry, what better thing to have waiting for you than delicious local food? I can distinctly remember when we moved to Blakeney and by the time we unloaded the van the only thing being served at the local pub was dessert and a cheese board. If only….

  

So to summarise, catering, meals delivered, and welcome packs. Amazing. 

  

Photography by George Gould and Fiona Diamond

Babcia tea & a taste of Eastern Europe at Lituanica in Kings Lynn

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Whenever I’m taking the train to London from Kings Lynn, I try to allow extra time to stop at Lituanica, a wonderful Eastern European supermarket.  It has an extraordinary range of fresh meat, vegetables, bakery and cakes – as well as jars and frozen food for the store cupboards.

There is Polish heritage in my family, but even without this connection, it makes for a great shopping experience. You’ll find produce you just can’t get in traditional British supermarkets and in a store that is beautifully quiet and clean.

The butchers, fresh bread and cakes are particular highlights. I also use it to stock up on herbal teas – Babcia brand! ‘Babcia’ in Polish is Grandma and it reminds me of my own Babcia, still going strong at nearly 90.  I recommend the Apple Mint and Pear varieties.

The store opened a café recently, complete with exactly the sort of dark wood furniture and floral prints you’ll find in any Eastern European café or household of a certain era.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the value too. Cappuccino and a weighty slice of cake (it is sold by the gram) set me back the princely sum of £2.48. This extends to the shop goods as well – if you’re used to shopping at Tesco, Waitrose, Asda et al, you’ll be blown away by the value here.

Go and buy some random stuff you don’t recognise and enjoy a taste of Eastern Europe in Norfolk!

Buying late night dinner at Creake Abbey Food Hall

Creake Abbey Food Hall & Cafe
Creake Abbey Food Hall & Cafe

It was Thursday night and the cupboards were bare. We were wondering what to do for dinner when I remembered I’d seen a post on Twitter earlier in the day from Creake Abbey Food Hall, saying they were open until 8pm on a Thursday.

We’d been meaning to go back after acquiring some delicious local lamb (and not so local olives) on their opening day last month. It seems such a good idea to have a late night opening once a week, and rare among the local delis, so we jumped in the car and headed down.

We arrived just as they were closing up but Steve, the owner, and Tom, the manager, couldn’t have been more welcoming. A glass of wine was offered almost the second we walked through the door (a Mexican white, surprisingly good, and they also have a red from the same producer).

They chatted about how things have been going since the opening and showed us around the cafe.

Eventually we remembered we’d come to buy something for dinner and chose some of the meat balls from the well stocked butcher’s counter. They had minted lamb and spicy beef, so we took a handful of each.

It was then that I noticed the pie: a great hulk of pastry and meat, with a thick wedge already cut. It turns out it is made by the landlady of the pub near owner Steve’s village, close to Halesworth in Suffolk. According to Steve, it won recognition at a local food fair and deservedly so.

Made with chicken and pork, it had a wonderfully herby flavour, spiced with plenty of pepper. The pastry, so key to the success of any pork pie, was thick and hearty.

We added that to our list and, suffice to say, it was stuffed in faces before we’d finished the drive home.

It is good to see this new venue growing. The range of produce is interesting, from local favourites like Candy’s Chutneys, to an extensive and well curated butchery counter.  Combined with the warm welcome, the location among an already established collection of shops at Creake and smart ideas like late night shopping on a Thursday, they look set for deserved success.

We’ll be back to try the cakes in the cafe, some more of the olives, their great selection of meat and maybe even the eclectic wine choices.

Google Maps link.