Oh Bungay. For so many years – over 30 – I’ve been drawn to Bungay – To BlackDog Antiques, rifling around the mounds of tiles, fabric, furniture, to the restaurant that Robert and Tim used to run (and then moved to Norwich), to Crocks when it was first opened by Tony and Mary who used to sell us coffee from their shop in Ealing in the 70’s, to Wightman’s for fabric, to Nursey’s for sheepskin slippers, to Cork Brick Antiques for pictures – always a good showing by Margaret Thomas – and today also Bruer Tidman. But the main pull was Tessa Newcomb’s new book The Adorable Plot. Tessa’s pictures, and her parents Godfey and Mary, have woven their way in and out of our lives over many years and the first picture of hers I knew intimately was that of a goat on board owned by Shirley. I used to stare at it as we both emerged, blinking from divorce, addicted to drinking coffee, nibbling pretzels and plotting hugely successful Live Aid jumble sales. Tessa’s pictures are naive and yet evocative, simply portrayed but pulling on deep emotions. Today I bought The Adorable Plot for Will and Katie. Saving for a blue Fender and needing to earn money in the school holidays one year, Will painted the outside of Mary and Godfrey’s house. Godfrey was charged with standing at the bottom of the ladder whilst Will painted the eaves. Godfrey, being Godfrey, forgot after a while and walked away to roll a fag or two. Gradually the ladder slipped down the wall and Will ended up in the water butt!
Today there was a really simple and scrumptious food fair by the castle. We found Shirley and Rob, taking a break from repairing The Wall inflatables, and instead were sliding more-ish parmesan biscuits off a plate at Tessa’s book signing. We wandered over the road to look at the food. The sun was shining, it was warm and bright blue skies spread behind the oak trees. To think a week ago we were eating tapas in Soller in 30C (see future posts for Tapas). My favourite stand was Imperial Wine and we were greeted by the eternally cheerful Su (see Peach Friand dedication) proffering a rather nice Lucien Lardy Fleurie la Roches Beaujolais in pitifully small glasses. We had just missed her first performance – a ‘matching wine with food’ presentation. Established in 1995 its based in Bungay, a great company offering really good value wine and some real stonkers in the back room. Make sure you visit. So so tempting
The Wild Meat Company offered something a bit out of the ordinary. Squirrel for £4.50! I am pondering on what I would do with squirrel, but now know that one squirrel (grey) will feed one person, and apparently it’s very healthy meat because all a squirrel eats is fruit and nuts!! I might have to consult Hugh F-W for a recipe.
Johnny’s Girls at The Cow Shed – beautiful creamy un-pastuerised milk. And I would give them ‘best in show’ for their labels. If i were not off the the Isle of Man tomorrow I would have bought a few litres and made some fulsome creamy yogurt with it.
Marsh Pig was another favourite. If you’ve travelled north on the A12 you will have seen their pigs ranged across the Breckland near Blythburgh. Their passion is Salami’s and meats made from the leg meat. The best on the stall (and I tried them all, including very very good chorizo) was the fennel salami. Juicy meat cut through with fennel seed. Tangy. Gorgeous. Imagine it on a board with chorizo, manchego, membrillo and bread with a few olives thrown in for good measure. And a robust Temperanillo.
Met up with old friends Fielding Cottage who had a new product – goats curd. It is tangy and light – just like a good ricotta. Tonight I plan to twin it with chard and spinach, in a tart, with a little lemon zest.
The end to a perfect morning, we retired to Rob and Shirley’s for very good coffee, admired their house and particularly Shirley’s planting in their courtyard garden. As a young, naive and horticulturally ignorant young woman (me), Shirley introduced me to her Jekyll inspired ‘white garden’ and the ghost of it was here today with tall, slender nicotiana sylvestris giving height and light to lush tropical planting including a magnificent echium. Luckily it’s generous with its seeds and so I came away with a good sized plant too. Thanks Shirl.