Every year around now (September) on a Wednesday at the Norfolk Show Ground indoor arena - Local Flavours pops up.
A fair where local suppliers display their products and buyers can come along to sample and network.
Admittedly I'm not a big buyer, more of a promoter via Love Norwich Food and of course food writer so its great to see whats new and refresh my brain about old classics. But I do buy some local for my cookery school and have a little shop (I say shop - its a shelf) with local apple juice, jams and odd bits to enjoy while on holiday or to take home for Lodge Farm Holiday Barns - plus I can encourage holiday makers using my barns to enjoy the local products like Farmyard frozen fine dining meals vis leaflets and my guest book.
As if covid hasn't altered thing enough (it was cancelled last year, not covid - the show) and brexit, disturbing delivery and trump (not sure how he altered things ! probably did something wrong) we now have a petrol shortage so some people couldn't attend while others couldn't display because they couldn't get there. BUT there was plenty for me to see and sample -
I discovered newbies, some risen from the covid ting - -
Sunfire Spirits - run by Daniel and family, make Mid Norfolk distilled Rum and Gin. I especially loved the Toffee Rum and it was super smooth - due to a good distillation.
Waveney Mill - is a new pasta. Yes we make lots of pasta in Norfolk. But this family have been milling wheat since 1878. So a bronze die pasta was always on the cards.
Waddell and Turner - I've not seen before but followed on instagram for a while. They make 100% gluten free, dairy free and some vegan bakery products specialising in a Ginger bread range. Luxury patisseries.
Wightman Fishing Company & Ness point smoke house - base in my old home town of Lowestoft where my grandad and greats were all fisherman. Is this family run fishing boat n smoking business. They call them selves artisan as smoke their own catch, and supply fish out of Lowestoft harbour with 2 boats. Contact via - email@example.com
Love Seitan - is an East Anglian company with big dreams. Making an assortment of Seitan - incase you don't know what it is - its a vegan meat alternative made from washed glutenous bread dough, making a textured, slightly chew vegan product which they turn in to salami, bites, burgers, bacon slices and a roast. Selling to other producers as a vegan alternative topping as well as direct to the consumer.
Lean Bakes - make protein bars and snacks. A lovely couple working out of Norwich. Wanting to expand to gyms and health food shops. Find them on social media.
Then there was people I had seen before but never tasted -
Yum Yum Tree Fudge - Tons of flavours and super tasty fudge - all british sugar, gluten and nut free and naturally flavoured and coloured with plant based options.
Fresh Pac - are a coffee machine and bean roaster company, who will hire, supply and train. Plus they also sell a powdered milkshake blend for cafes. Based out of Halesworth.
Cheeky Nibble - make vegan and nut free granola, large chunks which double as a snack. Using compostable packaging. The bakewell tart was my favourite and everyone else too. Sold in Jarrold's and St Giles Pantry, plus online.
Then there was all my favourites - -
Fen Farm Dairy - makers of the most amazing Baron Bignold, the Uk's better answer to brie and camembert. All us chefs are cooking with it - its simply the best thats why Kate and William served it at their wedding. Plus Skyr yogurt, mascarpone, fresh butter plus raw milk.
Marimba - chocolate producers, better known for their hot chocolate range of real flaked chocolate - simply mix with hot milk.
One Planet Pizza - the UK leading plant based pizza company born out of Norfolk and produced in Norfolk.
Hillfarm - make cold pressed rapeseed oil, plus sauces like the best salad cream, mayo, dressings and flavoured oils.
Farmyard Frozen - was born out of Covid, a restaurant self proclaimed in bistronomy (I call it affordable fine dining ) with a sister hotel cooking the very best in meals, available for delivery all over the uk. Stock up on diner party standard meals like Beef or veggie wellington, sticky toffee pudding and all sorts of yummy sides.
Ronaldos - ok i'm gonna say it, there are good local Norfolk ice-creams but I love ronaldos they make the best chocolate brownie and by far the best rum and raisin. I tasted their new plum flavour which was rich and umptious - I could enjoy topped with granola and a thimble of port. Made using local milk and local seasonal fruits.
Nova Farina - Simpleas - make pea based produce like vegan mince, gluten free breadcrumbs and snack packets. Watch my vegan recipe videos on instagram reels.
Uber Corn - Use the best of the two kinds of corn to make their large fluffy rounded popcorn bites and offer a whole range of flavours from orange (which is surprisingly good) to caramel or sweet thai chilli.
Oichi - is made up of three sisters making very tasty and healthy kombucha. Plus they offer starter kits and workshops. I went on one and had my very own scoby (named Delia) for over a year making a fresh batch every week - like most things in life I gave up and now keep a scoby hotel in the depth of my dining room.
Then there is the my mega fan producers
Emporium - with Marcela making amazing Brazilian style chocolates and brigadier spreads.
Crumpetarium - making divine crumpets - the chocolate orange is the besets flavour ever. But Kat also makes ginger, chocolate chip, plain and cheese among a few along with seasonal flavours like the up coming Christmas one.
Dollies - where Gemima makes incredible bakes and breads. So good and so popular she has become in Coltishall that she has out grown her shop and is expanding. Contact her via firstname.lastname@example.org
Not to mention the wonderful breweries of fine artisan ales and beers, plus ciders. And of course the many butchers and meat suppliers.
If every you need any recommendations or suggestions drop me a message - Norfolk is amazing for cheese and ales but we have everything in-between as well.
Love Norfolk Food
Great Yarmouth has been a constant for me - like watching Grease for the first time and after that skateboarding with my bestie in the multi-storey. The Saturday mornings roller skating at the Wellington, winter gardens. The shows on the front watching old greats like Lanny Henry, Peters and Lee, Freddie Star. in-fact one of my earliest memory was my mum singing at the Carlton Hotel, she had a resident Saturday night slot there. I was no bigger than everyones knees and she did this champagne comp where people had to pass the bottle to the person on the left or right or behind and infront until someone won, she would promise me that I would win and had it come right over the top of me - i'd get super excited then someone else got it, when I moaned at her later she said - it was hard to see, I nearly got to you - like a 3 year old could drink sparkling wine anyway. Then the time that Mr Humphries from 'Are you being served' picked me up so I could see - And once we walked round the corner and a massive sign read 'See Renny Lee, from New Faces this Saturday' by the coach tour company where the donut shop stand is now opposite the fun fair with the snails - - gotta love the snails and Joy Land snails are the best, they have them at the adult funfair too but they arn't as good.
At least every summer, every easter and every winter we make the pilgrimage to Yarmouth - often to see the summer circus or to stuff ice-creams milkshakes an donuts on the front, or simply to walk up to the town for some market chips - - - thats gotta be done too.
So when Peter Jay and family from the Hippodrome circus in Yarmouth decided to open the Empire back up as an event space, I was thrilled - it was quite possibly the place I watched Grease, if not grease almost certainly something else. It was built as a theatre in 1911 but never was used that way, instead it turned into a cinema, bingo hall and nightclub - then in the late 90's as Bourbon Street with an avenue of inside bars. But its been closed for over 15 years and out of the dust came The Empire Street Food and Music Bar.
Where you will find tables a plenty to sit on and order food and drink via a QR code, so everything gets delivered easily and quickly to the table. Last week there was Rude burgers, inc a mighty fine Jamaican Chicken with pineapple burger, along with Middle East Coast caterers serving up vegan Falafel salad boxes, plus wraps and stuffed pittas, along with sauces and olives. Plus Fanny Adam's local caterers will be joining them this week with possibly flat breads - although I've been told he will be creating a special changing menu for the Empire. Plus there is a whole array of drinks, no cocktails yet but mix your own - I always go for Archers and cranberry juice if I fancy that sort of vibe. Dessert is Baklava by the Middle East boys.
At the mo its open from midday from Wednesday to Sunday until 11pm, possibly later on a Saturday - plus you'll get good vibes from the DJ's and occasional live bands. The family will be monitoring how it goes and if there is a need opening hours and days will be extended.
So its well worth a look in Peter Jays collection of Vintage plaques, yarmouth finds and memorabilia which adorn the walls - there is almost too much to see and digest - thats why I'll be back for round two - - -
The Empire - Marlbough Terrace, Marine Parade.
Wed - Sun 12-11pm
No booking necessary.
Last week we had a couple in the Dairy who seemed very nice, they arrived at 1am in the morning - we left them instructions out for them and gave them my mobile in case there were any problems. I didn't want to disturb them the next morning as they had a late trip - then they went out for 2 days running - I went round a few times on Sunday but their car had gone - my hubby up earlier than me on Sundays, managed to check in on them - when asked if everything was ok - they said yes lovely.
Then a few days after they left they wrote a scathing review on Booking.com - as well as us losing 15-20% in commission on all bookings via them we also had to endure a rating from 9.7 - down to 9 as they rated us 2.5 out of 10 on all things. The only long winded winges was about dust - dust on beams (3m high) - which we hoover ever 3 - 4 months, a picture of a roller blind in the bathroom which never needs to be opened as its obscure glass and an outside BBQ not looking dirty or unclean just looking like an outside Bbq which isn't sparkly new in stainless steel. He also commented that he had had a terrible night sleep as the bed was soft - we have had nothing but compliments for the expensive medium firm mattresses we replaced little over a year ago. Who sleeps well on the first night anyway - especially when you arrive in a strange place early hours of the morning. They also moaned about cobwebs outside- please!!! we are in the country in the countryside beside lakes, we have a handy man who cleans it down every 2 weeks on a Friday - hellllooo
Of course I was disappointed and annoyed at the gross nastiness of what seemed petty frustrations -
More due to the fact that - if it had of been important rants like a dirty oven or a massive stain on the flooring or damaged walls then I might have been able to agree on constructive criticism - but some dust on a beam, and no proof but supposed bugs on a window sill when we have to leave the window open after a 2 hour clean - I mean really.
He even admitted to trying to find us on Trip Advisor so his intentional photo taking could try and stain our reputation and independent business even more - which was obviously his intention from the get-go.
Anyway - Lodge Farm scores a 9 - 10 from all other guests over the last 8 years, we have a 4* gold Visit England rating. It's set in a beautiful country side location surrounded on 3 sides by Bawburgh Lakes, with an abundance of amazing wildlife - each barn is cleaned very well every check out day, we use 100% Egyptian cotton bedding and buy top end furniture - we have under floor heating, renewable energy and have built or renovated the barns personally inch by inch to building regulations and design.
We are very proud of our business - this is the reality. An amazing place, in an amazing location so says 99.999% off out guests and we very happy to host them and share Lodge Farm with them.
I've found the perfect excuse is 'Due to Covid' - wether its because I've turned in to a ten ton Tessie, spend all my budget on amazon, watched to much Netflix or simply can't stand my family - Quick call the RSPCA.
Either way we have all had changes, its a mammoth thing that will included in History exams and filmed about in to the light ages. And to get through it Lodge Farm Holiday Barns was lucky enough to rent to workers in the area and then some family in-between houses. Now as we can rent to holiday makers again we have to up our game - triple sanitise, bleach and scrub until out hands are raw and out face masks have stuck to the sweat on our chins.
Greet people from a distance - let them struggle with their own bags and shove them in an all ready open door to enjoy their space at a safe distance from me. With all the windows open and a kitchen that smells of anti bacterial wipes. If you want a cuddle call 101 - its not allowed.
But as we go in to May we can finally sit our lockdown thunder thighs on roper seats and eat at proper tables in the warmth and comfort of a proper restaurant and not a pub carpark on a bench with a force one gail. But I'm sure that won't be the last of it - its like the Magic Porridge pot it just keeps on coming and coming, with no time to add maple syrup and cinnamon to make it more palatable.
Any way Due to Covid - I'm signing off and having a break, left with self lathing that I should make some effort and do some jobs - I'm well adapt at ignoring myself.
Escape Hunt UK in Norwich
I first saw escape rooms in Prague over 20 years ago - a go to for stag parties – so its lovely they have developed into a family and friends fun experience worldwide.
Norwich has a few – last year I went to my first down Tombland where we were locked in an antique vintage science laboratory and to this day we would still be there as we didn’t get out in time and had to be rescued.
So, to my pleasure Escape Hunt UK has opened in Chapelfield Norwich, being one of 10 locations in the UK and one of quite a few worldwide with three themed rooms –
Norfolk Food Bloggers got asked to try one out and we chose The Alice in Puzzleland - a very lovely place where you are transported in to the world of Alice trying to find the tarts before your time is up in 2 themed rooms - we made it with 11 minutes spare in a team of 5. Not that I helped much – dyslexia makes you think different it also sometimes knocks you off the track – thankfully these rooms are designed so you all work together and if you go off piste you can ask for help and a few clues on the way helped us.
Aladdin – looks like a good one to try where you navigate through a cave to seek the lamp.
And I’m sure my hubby would love ‘Our Finest Hour’ – where you step back to 1942 WWII, you are a secret agent and need to destroy weapons of mass destruction a bit like Tony Blair and the yanks did to devastating effect back in the day!!!
You can also play at home with a free Netflix game access via the website or pay for more.
Book via www.escapehunt.com
/Norwich or 01603 614222 / Norwich@escapehunt.com
Intu Chapelfield, St Stephens, NR1
Around £20 - 25 pp depending on group size
Open Thursday to Sunday 10am – 10pm
By Zena Leech-Calton
U tube – Dyslexic Chef
I must admit I neglect the finer details of managing this account - I should be ashamed with my self.
My barns is my business and thats our bread and butter but when it comes to writing my passion lays with food. Ive been a busy iguana (let the bees have a rest) for the last 6 months. We've had the summer season in the barns, not quite as busy as last year but we'll just blame Brexit!!! lots of last minutes and odd days in the week from booking.com - so less bread and butter and more ironing!
Then there is the steady rise of the food blogger in me - I run Love Norwich Food writing regular blogs for my website (www.lovenorfolkfood.co.uk) plus spending far too much time on social media!
join me @love_norwich_food - Instagram / @foodnorwich - twitter or Love Norwich Food on facebook
Its not a bad job, its just not a paid job - Im still doing my cookery courses here at Lodge Farm Kitchen, Ive reduced the craziness from last year when I taught 61 courses - I'm doing half that now and so much more manageable. Last year I was working 2 - 3 weekends in the month, one week I had 5 courses on and a few weekends I worked 2 courses on the Saturday. So to slow it down I took mini themes off weekends and stopped selling vouchers. It worked a little too well - - But now my passion is super enthusiastic and I can give 110% to those booking on. Plus it gives me more time to do the blogging thing - - where I earn absolutely no money, but have become ever so slightly obsessed.
I blame Brexit!!!
I love to promote all things food in Norfolk, I love the invites to openings and the occasional event. The odd taste test and off course all the writing - - I love writing. Food really is my passion.
But of course I still love Lodge Farm, the views over the lakes, the wildlife, Charlie and Splurge the geese the lovely holiday makers - meeting new people. Not so keen on the cleaning - but don't mind all the paperwork and correspondence. And it pays the bills. Plus to live in a Jacobean farmhouse with all the history and beauty is lovely - I'm very lucky even though I work very hard.
I tend to close bookings off over winter to allow short term rentals - there is always people looking for an odd month in-between houses or renovations. It means I can have more time to do the nitty gritty I don't get time for in summer and of course I leave them to the own cleaning and bedding - meaning no Tue, Wed and Thur morning ironing sessions.
Well, I guess it will soon be Christmas - -
I love spring - Lodge Farm sprouts leafy goodness all over the place. Bulbs are popping up, snowdrops, daffodils, tulips and crocuses. All 150 trees spring to life. The smell of vanilla wafts in the air from the Liberia (I made that up, don't know the name). Geese, swans, ducks and coots spring to life, mate and nest. Cormorants and Moor hens dive in to the depths of the lake for a cocktail of fish - its like Mary Poppins country here.
As well as the incredible nature scene here at Lodge Farm, we can almost guarantee a hotter than hot summer. Roll on another heat wave, bring me the sun shine glistening over the lake and those warm evenings sitting outside with the barbie going for something yummy.
Lodge Farm has three lovely barns Lakeview (2 double bedrooms) over looking (you can guess)!, the Courtyard (2 bedrooms one double one twin) with its walled Victorian wall and high beams and The Dairy (one bed) overlooking the lakes, the woods and the playground area.
Look out for our short weekend or mid-week breaks on offer last minute or book yourself in to a Friday to Friday week - time to chill and time to shop in Norwich, in the top 10 shopping destinations in the country with Norwich Lanes a highlight of cobbled streets down Elm Hill, to Cathedral to Medieval street along with over 200 independent businesses. Dine in over 500 cafes, bars and restaurants - indulge in gastronomy, eat your self around the world in the market (voted the best in the UK) or cocktail on one of our roof gardens over looking our medieval historical city, with the second tallest spire on the cathedral in Britain.
Go wild with the kids in one of the many them days like the Dinosaur park, Pleasurewxod Hills, Pettittes adventure park or slot your way through Yarmouth so good they called it Great (it has its rough charm and a gorgeously long sandy beach).
Norfolk has something for everyone and Lodge Farm is the perfect place to explore it all - 10 minutes from the city, 30 mins from a beach and in a countryside location - just outside the Village of Bawburgh with a gastro award wining pub.
Come on - book yourself in, drop me a line - have a look on our circe and availability page.
I love writing nearly as much as the foodie thing and one day I hope to replace everything with writing (apart from sleeping and eating) - -
It started way back when my mum encouraged me to write a diary, every Christmas she would buy me one, I’d then fill it with feelings, things I’d done and childhood nonsense. I even kept a separate teen one - - but I won’t tell you what went in that!
One day my mum found it, flicked through it with a cheeky grin on her face so I immediately snatched it off her and told her it was private – but I think she’d already read it. Hasan to say I tore it up and flushed it down the loo - - I learnt then that evidence is not in what you say but what’s written or recorded – hence you’ll never find me flushing out my baggage on social media.
Anyway, short stories followed then poetry in to my late teens and twenties. Then when I was mid twenty I wrote my first children’s book ‘Tick Tock Time’ all about a different dimension paralleled with school life. Containing a romance, creatures, a chimpanzee who liked custard and a world of vivid colour. I sent over 20 synopses to publishers and agents but got no joy. In the meantime I started ‘ The Journey’ about a child discovering a large metal object buried under her shed, that could whip her up to space - but I gave up after getting so many rejections for Tick Tock Time.
Then when my children were baby’s and asleep I started an Adults Novel ‘The Night it Happened’, 77,000 words – sex, violence, a murder mystery and a love story all rolled in to one. I loved it, but my hubby got to chapter 3 and told me it was pornographic!!! But I edited it, played around with it – made it perfect and again got rejected from publishers.
Then Jack was born, while we were living in the caravan renovating Lodge Farm, I wrote a gorgeous little children’s story about an autistic boy and his challenges coupled with his achievements, spurred on by Mrs Grandhouses amazingly nutritious soup samples from his mum’s café. Including the day he dealt with 50 annoying Gnomes and made the shed of memories.
“Bugger publishers” – when I eventfully finished editing it and got the front cover deigned and painted by a local artist in our village – I decided to self-publish.
Then ‘Jack Soup-er-Hero’ was printed in marvellously black & white glossy pages, for all to flick through read and enjoy.
I’m selling the book for £5, pick up from me (Zena) or at Lodge Farm, or I’ll package and post in the UK for £1.50 (£5.50 worldwide)
– you can simply pay via friends and familyon paypal – *** email@example.com= £6.50 for one copy, £11.50 for 2.
Ref – Your full name & JACK
Then *** e mail me, let me know its paid along with your FULL address and I’ll pop it in the post in time for Christmas - - -
I've even got my next two children books in my head - the first is about a secret teenage millionaire, using his secret stash to change his community and turn his family on their heads - in a good way!, the second is based on another planet about a ? farm, thats going to be epic.
BOOKS make lovely stocking fillers - - perfect for over 5’s to read with a parent, or read alone from 8 – 12. The story is set over Christmas and is pleasantly charming with some gorgeous little twists and turns & everybody’s sure to fall in love with Jack.
Happy Reading - - - - -
Zena Leech-Calton ©
I was teaching a cookery course last week and the food scene in Norwich was brought up - - of course who better to talk about Norwich food than me, whom owns www.lovenorwichfood.co.uk dedicated to all things food in Norwich and beyond (well Norfolk)!
Yes, theres over 500 places to eat or drink in Norwich (or both), you can get chips in a bucket, Thai on a boat (actually thats sunk!), Dim sum at lunch time, Octopus on a taco, whelks from the market, chicken on a rotisserie, pizza to die for, Sicilian canolli, South American empanadas, Portuguese Natas, home-made Jaffa cakes, hand pulled noodles, local mussels by the pot, Vietnamese Pho, KANUFA - - - look it up! Its amazing - - and so is Kanufa.
Plus we have Norfolk & Norwich restaurant week, this week intact. Where nearly 100 foodie places all over the county open their doors with a specially priced 2 or 3 course menu. People come from far and wide to EAT. My kind of county.
Anyway, enough of food - I'm on a 5:2, mixed with 16:8 fasting day today - - i've got 100 calorie lunch to look forward to.
What about Christmas - surely we can mention the C word - - its only a few-ish weeks away. Ive already made the puddings - the house smelt divine. We have one holiday barn available over the Christmas week - - every thing else is booked. It will soon be time to get the TAT out of the attic - - Actually I was thinking of buying a blow up Christmas tree for our home - - its much more needle friendly. And with 2 teens no one gives a dam!
Then theres the chickens and Geese - did I tell you that a Stoat destroyed all but one of our new Bantums. We have now caged the top of the run, so the little bugger can't clime over. Poor 'Betty' was left scared and emotional from the ordeal of watching MR Stoat terminate all 8 of her mates and then drag one off for dinner. I do need to find some friends for Betty - she's slowly getting used to me going in now, feeding her corn - - she was terrified after it happened, went mad if anyone went anywhere near her. But I think I'm getting her through - Mind you it didn't help when my teen son Silas let her out and was running around franticly trying to net her - - didn't do much for my slowly slowly catch a monkey training regime!
I had a case of 'cleaning torets' a few weeks back when some short term rental peeps left the place particularly disgusting. Sick all over the loo to name but one gross element I had to scrub. Of course whats better than relieving annoyance than swearing - - - and I do it participially well when I get left present in the loo. Oh, well thats the joys of rental cleaning - that and a million cobwebs. (a new version for Take That)
So - - - - warm Novembers, global warming, 150 trees spewing their leaves all over Lodge Farm, immaculately cleaned toilets and one mad chicken. No wonder I turn to food for comfort - thinking of which, I'm going to make my 100 calorie lunch - oh, the joy.
A lot of people who come to Lodge Farm love the wildlife, especially the geese. Even those scared of geese before, soon learn from a spot of training how to handle them. And its not like we train ours as guard, they come and go on the lake as they please making a very relaxed timid goose who love to be fed left over goodies.
Anyway Charlie Jr, Splurge and Boo are still doing their rounds around lodge farm, running towards the apple trees when theres been a gust of wind to eat all the windfalls. They especially love the plums eating them whole, pip and all.
But theres been a stoat seen on the farm which goes hand in hand with missing chickens - we're down to 0. One got eaten at night when she didn't come back in time, but then Mr Stoat was knocking them off during the day as well. Poor Fluff Bum was mauled and left under a tree - - apparently they kill even if there full.
Plus it seems we have a shortage of rabbits - on a morning you would see dozens dashing back under the fence and in to tunnels but its very sparse on bunny's now. Theres obviously a very fat stoat family near by.
All of which makes me very cautious to rescue more chickens, until I've decided what to do. Do I shoot the little bugger? or if I leave it a few months will he wander off to pastures new. I remember seeing his great grandad back when we were renovating, but I hadn't seen any until last week when he dashed off across the drive way and in to the bushes with his dark brown tipped tail trailing behind him.
The bats are still flapping away at night - it was lovely this summer in the heat wave, sitting in our new patio area watching them zoom past.
Its been especially busy this year with the cookery courses, I've taught over 40 already with 55 booked in this record breaking year - but being so busy with that and the barns hasn't given me much time to enjoy the lake. So I've not seen any otters, mink or kingfishers. The Herron's always out there somewhere playing statues on the side lines.
I think this years heatwave has altered the wildlife rations - I think the bunny were too lethargic but plenty of flys - - So all though its been a bad year for wildlife its been an epic year for fruit. The apple trees are bursting. Ive already made 'Crab Apple Jelly', 'Plum Chutney' and a few sneaky apple crumbles. As well as freezing a whole host of plums, berries and rhubarb.
So, back to the barns and business in hand - we've gone on with Bookings.Com which has boosted the summer trade especially in last minute breaks. We tend to only offer short 1 - 2-ish month rentals this time of year. But Booking. Com's handy for filling in the gaps. But I'll always add last minute specials on to my websites availability page & they'll always be better. Just like I always look after my returning visitors with up to 10% off weekly holidays and early check in.
So - - - if you fancy a break 'who ya gonna call'