The Grey Seal: artisanal coffee, brought to you by the folks from the Art Cafe

Forgive the gap in posting. There has been a lot of turmoil this last month. The floods left an impression on our coastline and the tragic American military crash came close on its heals. But today we would like to speak on a positive note.

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Brought to you by the fine foodie folks at the Art Cafe, comes a new coffee experience, The Grey Seal. Across from the Art Cafe itself, it only opened last week but we were excited to have a try. We walked over Wiveton Down to work up an appetite and were greeted by the smell of delicious coffee. There is a roaster on site, the only one we are aware of on the north Norfolk coast. The choice of espresso based drinks was great, but the difference was in the various other coffee options.. Marek tried the air press, while I went for the theatrical siphon. You also have a choice of different single source coffee beans, so the mix-and-match possibilities seem endless. We both had the home roast and compared the taste. Mine had a lighter fruity flavour while the airpress produced a richer bolder flavour, all from the same beans!

The cakes provided were of the same high quality we have come to expect from the Art Cafe, which is currently closed for the season . Rounding out the menu are various other teas and homemade soup. Dogs are welcome. A great stop on a winters walk. We wish them much success.

Highly recommended!

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Time for Tea

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Back to the lovely village of Heydon, Norfolk. This time we are going for a spot of tea and cake at the fantastic Heydon Village Tea Room.

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Tis is a very traditional tea shop with gingham, florals, and a large picture window overlooking the picturesque green. Today was bright sunshine and several people were picnicking on the lawn across the way as we entered. On the menu were scones in many unusual flavours and I went for the fig and apricot, which had a hint of all spice. Marek went for a large wedge of one of their many cakes as usual. The decor was sweet and modern and their shop in the back was full of local delights. Definitely worth a visit to this little hamlet for tea and a tour of the church and grounds.

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Huckleberries for cake in Cromer

Huckleberries Cafe in Cromer
Huckleberries Cafe in Cromer

I arrived in Cromer at the end of a windswept adventure on my bike. There’s nothing like riding into a gale of a headwind to inspire a desire for tea and cake.

Despite living on the Norfolk coast for nearly a year now, this was my first visit to Cromer, so I pedalled around looking for the tell-tale signs of a good cafe. External appearance only tells you so much. I found myself peering through windows and looking for stacks of homemade cakes under glass domes or an enthusiastic barrista enjoying their art.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who has actually visited Cromer that such establishments are thin on the ground. I, however, had arrived innocent of this state of affairs. There were no shortage of options for fish and chips or ice cream in a cone, but I was beginning to despair my dream of a moist, dense cake and steaming mug of herbal tea would remain elusive.

It was on my last circuit through town, heading for the train station, that I spotted the pale green exterior of Huckleberries (@hucks_coffee) on Church Street. A discerning consumer of cake just knows when somewhere is going to be a cut above the average, and Huckleberries did not disappoint.

There was a friendly welcome from the staff and plenty of well spaced seating in the relaxed interior of wood floors and pale colours. I sat upstairs, where there was a mix of tourists and locals reading the papers, but there is also more seating downstairs.

Ginger & lemon cake, granola bar & tea in a tea cosy at Huckleberries in Cromer
Ginger & lemon cake, granola bar & tea in a tea cosy at Huckleberries in Cromer

All of the cakes are baked on the premises and range from scones and fruit loaves to Bakewells and chocolate fudge cake. I opted for the ginger and lemon, a pot of Roobois tea and a granola bar, for a grand total of £4.85.

The cake was exceptional. Strong, spicy ginger, a dense and rich texture, topped with tangy lemon icing infused with lemon zest. The granola bar was also good: clearly homemade, moister than I was expecting and welcome after the miles on the bike.

The feature, however, which convinced me this is a cafe trying to go the extra mile was the knitted tea cosy and little shortbread biscuit left as a treat on the saucer. It is the little things that count and, as far as I could see, Huckleberries is the only place for the cake connoisseur in Cromer.

Google Maps link.

A deliciously different cake by Rhubarb & Custard

Orange & Almond Tart by Rhubard & Custard Puddings
Orange & Almond Tart by Rhubard & Custard Puddings

The Blakeney Farmers’ Market & Craft Fair returned today and it was another good showing. Hosted on the 2nd Saturday of each month, it has about 20 stalls, which impress with quality, locally produced food and craft at reasonable prices.

One particular find was Rhubarb & Custard, run by Bridget Bennet (the web-site doesn’t seem to be up and running yet, but they’re on Twitter @rhubardpuds and hopefully she’ll be back at the market next month). They had a delicious Apple & Maple Icing Pudding, but we chose the Orange & Almond Tart. Beautifully presented in a wooden tray, the tart has a great texture, with granular chunks of almond, complimented by a moist layer of zesty orange jam and a pastry base. It is rare to find a genuinely different kind of cake which surprises with its form and taste. This was one of those and a splendid discovery.

A visit to the Art Cafe

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I think today we should take a look at one of the very first places Marek and I discovered in Norfolk. The Art Cafe is just what it says on the tin, a cafe that is filled with art. But it is the quality of the food and craft that is what makes it special.

The frontage has two large barn doors, brightly painted, and many windows to let in plenty of natural light. Inside you are greeted by the art and craft display which includes pottery, textiles, paintings in modern and traditional styles, and handmade jewellery. After you wander though the goods you finally notice the counter of the cafe. And what a counter! It is full of both the sweet buns, cakes, and scones available as well as enormous bowls of the many colourful, healthy, and delicious salads. Each main comes with the full selection of sides and you never leave feeling hungry.

A great choice all year round, during the summer you can sun yourself in their courtyard out front, and in winter the wood burner is cranked up to warm your soul. They also do bistro nights where you book in advance for dinner. We cannot recommend this place enough. Come try it.

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Google Maps link.