The 12 days of Christmas - pt 2
- Credit: Angela Sharpe
In celebration of the county’s enviable number of fantastic producers, growers, restaurants, brewers and retailers - we have asked then winners of EDP Norfolk Food and Drink Awards 2015, in association with the East of England Co-Op, to share their favourite tips with you
On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . seven swans a-swimming
Grey Seal Coffee, based in an idyllic setting by the north Norfolk coast surrounded by wildlife, ethically sources and freshly roasts green coffee beans to create a variety of coffee. Winners of the Made in Norfolk Award, sponsored by Kettle Foods, they are the perfect people to ask what the golden rules are for good coffee.
“Use freshly roasted, good quality coffee; if at all possible, grind your own coffee, this keeps it even fresher; never brew coffee with boiling water and make sure the water is filtered first,” says director David Lane. “For hot coffee, the cafetiere is the simplest method of brewing coffee at home, ideal for Christmas Day breakfast. Don’t forget the decaf option. Look for anything that’s ‘water processed’ as it means no nasties, and follow all the usual rules.
“A perfect party season talking point is the coffee cocktail. Start by making a cold brew base. Weigh 250g of single origin coffee beans and grind finely. Place in the bottom of a large jug and gently pour one litre of cold filtered water on to the coffee grounds, ensuring it is all evenly soaked. Brew for eight hours undisturbed. Line a sieve with a muslin cloth and slowly pour it through. Drink it by itself with ice, or you can use it as a base for cocktails.
“This is our signature cocktail, served in a stylish tall glass.
Use two parts cold brew coffee, one part crème de cassis, one part spiced rum and three dashes of Angostura bitters. Pour it all into a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice, shake and serve.”
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Grey Seal Coffe, Glandford, NR25 7JP; 01263 740249; www.greysealcoffee.co.uk
On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . eight maids a-milking
A CHRISTMAS feast is not complete without a delicious cheese board - but this year, why not try something a little different?
Fielding Cottage, winner of the Field to Fork Award, sponsored by Easton and Otley College, uses milk from its herd of goats to create delicious cheeses which will give a twist to any festive menu.
“We have been making goat’s cheeses from our farm in Norfolk since 2009 and over that time we have been able to understand what makes a perfect cheese, especially a perfect cheese for Christmas. When planning a cheese board we have always liked the rhyme, ‘Something old, something new, something goat and something blue’,” says owner Sam Steggles. “So for ‘something goat’, try our Wensum White, a Brie-style goat’s cheese, or a Norfolk Mardler, a creamy eight week matured goat’s cheese.
“As well as for your cheese board, we have several tempting solutions to your Christmas starter dilemma. How about a Christmas salad with goat’s cheese, a quick and easy recipe that is sure to go down a storm.
“If you want to use up some of your spare cranberry sauce, then why not serve up grilled goat’s cheese with a cranberry dressing. Alternatively roasted peppers, stuffed with creamy goat’s cheese is a favourite of ours.”
Fielding Cottage, Colton Road, Honingham, NR9 5DJ; 01603 880685; www.fieldingcottage.co.uk
On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . nine ladies dancing
There will be plenty of opportunity for dancing and merriment this Christmas – and if you can’t make it out to sample some festive cocktails, why not recreate the party atmosphere at home?
Charlie Dorner, food and beverage manager, of the Cliff Hotel in Gorleston, winner of Norfolk’s Best Pub, sponsored by the Eastern Daily Press and EDP Norfolk Magazine, shares his favourite cocktail recipes.
“Cocktails are served from 6pm, Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays, and from 12 midday on Sundays at the Cliff, and the Ferrero Rocher cocktail is amazing. It tastes exactly like the chocolate, is really simple to make, and very festive and decadent. Your guests will absolutely love it. You will need a shaker, straws, ice, chocolate syrup, squirty cream and a sling glass - a sundae glass or champagne flute will do.
“The ingredients are 50ml white creme de cacao liquor, 50ml Frangelico liquor and 60ml double cream. Take the glass, and drizzle the chocolate syrup around the inside, half fill the shaker with ice, pour all the ingredients into the shaker, shake and strain into the glass. Add a peak of squirty cream on top and garnish with half a Ferrero Rocher, a strawberry and two straws.
“If you fancy making it even more exciting, put the glasses in the freezer and use ice magic instead of chocolate syrup. And don’t forget, if you have a lot of people coming, you can make up a large jug and serving it as party drinks.”
The Cliff Hotel, Cliff Hill, Gorleston, NR31 6DH; 01493 662179; www.thecliffhotel.co.uk
On the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . 10 lords a-leaping
Over the centuries many lords and ladies would perhaps have celebrated Christmas a-leaping in the grand and glamorous setting of the Assembly House in Norwich – but how can you recreate that elegant, sophisticated style when it comes to your own home?
Richard Hughes, director of The Assembly House, which won the Outstanding Front of House Award, sponsored by Broadland Wineries, says creating a stunning table needn’t be a daunting task.
“Before you lay your table, dress it: Use a tablecloth and then a table runner which overhangs at both ends of your table. We like to give our celebration tables some extra height with traditional napkins folded into fans or the beautiful bishop’s mitre.
“Cutlery should be arranged in the order in which it will be used, starting from the outside. Knives and spoons are placed on the right of each plate, setting and forks on the left with the tines facing upwards and blades towards the plate.
“Make sure you have a spectacular centerpiece to celebrate such a special meal: Whether it is a fantastic floral arrangement or candles, evergreen foliage or a glass jar filled with baubles - make sure it reflects you and your family – and that it doesn’t block eye-contact with other diners, this is the season of goodwill, not strategic mother-in-law avoidance.
“Good hosts prepare well in advance so they can be guests at their own party – have the drinks and nibbles ready and encourage guests to help themselves to mulled wine and hot chocolate that can be warming on the stove.”
The Assembly House, Theatre Street, Norwich, NR2 1RQ; 01603 626402; www.assemblyhousenorwich.co.uk.
On the 11th day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . 11 pipers piping
The pipes are buzzing as the team at Redwell Brewery produce their award-winning beers for the festive season ahead. The brewery, based in Norwich, won the Pride of Norfolk award, sponsored by Bernard Matthews Farms. So which of its beers best match all those special Christmas occasions?
“Before Christmas there is the round of office parties, and we would recommend Redwell Hells Lager which is a clean and refreshing German-style lager. It is a beer perfect for a bit of social lubrication,” says David Jones, from Redwell.
“On Christmas Eve, as you wrap the last presents in front of the fire and the lights of the tree, try a glass of Bullards No. 3, which is malty and warming with aromas of pine resin and subtle citrus. Why not leave one out for Father Christmas too?
“On Christmas morning, while busy in the kitchen checking the turkey and trimming the sprouts, a Redwell pale ale is the perfect partner: Golden, spritzy and dry with a clean aroma of Cascade hops. On the sofa in front of the telly with James Bond, there can only be one beer: Redwell West Coast pale ale. It comes in at 5.6pc and is more than a match for any Martini.
“Finally on Boxing Day, whether walking on the beach or preparing a lunch of cold cuts and pickles, Redwell White IPA is the perfect companion. It is bursting with ripe mango, banana and cloves. Refreshing and reviving!”
Redwell Brewery, The Arches, Bracondale, NR1 2EF: 01603 624072: www.redwellbrewing.com
On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . 12 drummers drumming
A DRUM roll for Nick Mills, managing director of Brasted’s restaurant, wedding venue, bed and breakfast and catering company, who was presented with this year’s Outstanding Achievement Award, sponsored by Hansells Solicitors and Financial Advisers.
With his wealth of experience in the food and hospitality industry, he has one simple piece of advice to help Christmas run smoothly and to enable everyone to enjoy it as much as possible.
“Preparation,” he laughs. “We always say, start thinking about Christmas early, but a lot of people think that means shopping for presents. But you need to think about what food and drink you are going to serve, when and where to buy it, and how you plan to decorate your house and table.
“Get the children involved by encouraging them to start foraging for pine cones, branches and bits of greenery, and then you can all help make decorations together to get in the Christmas mood.
“Many canapés can be made in advance or frozen. How about making some mini Christmas pudding dessert canapés for an evening? Cook the pudding then separate it and roll it into little balls. Top with a little brandy sauce or brandy butter of fondant icing, garnished with a few red currents.
“Always make your gravy in advance and freeze it. Ask for some good quality bones from your butcher and leave them stewing as a great base for your gravy. It is a great, tasty, time saver. For a great dish perfect for Boxing Day or a Christmas party, beetroot cured salmon is excellent made a week before and left curing in the fridge. There are some brilliant recipes available and it is a great dish to serve which looks and tastes amazing.
“Finally, if you know you have lots of guests coming, make a festive punch – alcoholic and non-alcoholic. It means you can put out glasses and guests can help themselves, leaving you time to chat to everyone and join in the fun.”
Brasted’s Restaurant, Manor Farm Barns, Framingham Pigot, NR14 7PZ, 01508 491112, www.brasteds.co.uk