So, in between my wonderful working life in the fairytale land of Daylesford and arranging The Secret Garden Series at Barnbury, the better half insisted all the family go away to celebrate her birthday (sorry but age disclosure is not permitted).
Newly married with little kids we often visited friends in Frinton-on-Sea which was always delightful, particularly the daily visit to the beach hut (plenty of booze in tow, of course).
It’s many years since we ventured east and the rest of this coast remained alien to us. We chose Aldeburgh for the few days away with all the family, except for son Edward who was on stage at the BAFTA’s in LA having been shortlisted for an award for his film, 219 (you can see it online at BBC3). (Proud Dad!). Many friends had recommended the area and Aldeburgh in particular and it really is the most charming, peaceful and perfect place. We all fell in love with it and Thorpeness, Orford and Southwold all within easy travelling distance. A walk from Aldeburgh to Thorpeness and back along the coastal walkway was bracing and very beautiful.
Now, as you know, my posts are more familiar for the food element. There is a decent selection of restaurants in Aldeburgh but what is most appealing is the fresh fish which is delivered from boats daily onto the beach and a series of huts along the front. You can get a great selection of lobster, crab, Dover sole, plaice, sea bass, rock eels and loads more shellfish as well as the most wonderful samphire, freshly harvested from the coast.
I chose to cook Dover sole one evening for the six of us with some samphire on the side. I am not sure if i have ever before tasted such deliciously sea fresh fish.
I was reading recently about one of my fave singers, who comes from Suffolk, Ed Sheeran. Apparently whilst on tour recently Ed tweeted how much he missed Aldeburgh Fish and Chips. So get there early, be prepared to queue and have some great fish and chips.
I think it’s fair to say, the whole family fell in love with this area and in particular this little hunk of joy.
I want to make something perfectly clear, it may seem as if I am permanently on holiday at the moment but this is not the case! So Aldeburgh was all too brief and so was our next short trip to the Tarn region of France to celebrate the birthday of a very special friend.
These friends hosted a house party for a number of special people at their really beautiful home near the town of Castres. The celebrations were pretty full on for the 3 days we were there. You may not be surprised to learn that, the entire party, which lasted a week or more were able to order wine for home delivery. To the embarrassment of Rachel and Nick, our hosts, the wine order was delivered on a palate!
We were allocated teams to cook dinner each evening. I was on the team known as ‘chickengate’ since considerable discussion ensued on the methodology for correctly preparing a spatchcock chicken. So Nick, if you had any doubt at all please take a look at the linked video!
As always, it was a pure joy market shopping in the town of Realmont, sitting down for coffee and croissants in a lovely cafe and perusing the great fresh market vegetables available. Just buy what’s available and plan your menu around that. We kept it quite simple with local asparagus (not as good as Evesham) with hollandaise, ‘spatchcock chicken’, spinach, minted new potatoes, rainbow chard and french beans.
I was somewhat flattered to be asked by one of the stall holders how to make hollandaise. Imagine, giving a French person a cooking lesson!
Visit the Tarn if you have an opportunity. It’s stunningly beautiful and relatively unspoilt.
Last but not least folks, please please please come to one of The Secret Garden Series pop-ups. Menus and bookings all up and running at www.foodbybazza.com. Some amazing establishments are involved.