The East of England is known for many things, but at this time of year it’s all about the food. The harvest season is over and the Christmas prep is well underway. If you live in, or are from, Norwich you’ll know about the independent vibe and lifestyle; the Lanes are thriving and there are so many local producers doing well. This year the East of England Co-op, have brought out a fantastic range of locally sourced Christmas food. Yesterday afternoon Hamish and I headed to our local store to pick up some treats for a Christmas-style bits and bobs tea, which is one of my favourite things to do!
The range of options they have in store are incredible! It’ll be easy to put on a full spread with all of the products in the range. I had my eye on Hamish Johnston’s fine cheeses and anything that had that winter spice taste!
The Jarlsberg and vintage Cheddars were delicious and creamy. They perfectly complimented both the Stokes English Mustard, which was gorgeous and fiery and the Fruits of Suffolk Christmas chutney, which was one of the stars of the show for me! It was gorgeous, tangy and full of those Christmas flavours that we all know and love. I’m bringing this one to my parents with me this year, if I’ve not eaten it all by then! If you’re a fan of cheeses you need to check out Hamish Johnston’s range. He has every variety of cheese under the sun and a special Binham Blue, Suffolk Blue and Suffolk Gold for Christmas. You would have a pretty incredible cheese board with his produce!
One of the items that intrigued me was the Fairfields Turkey crisps, made with real Turkey. I’ve had their other hand cut crisps before and I knew they would be good. They were like easting Christmas dinner in a crisp, I honestly could have eaten multiple packets!
What’s a little Christmas buffet without a bit of ham? We picked up this pack from Broadland Hams, which would be perfect for any little feast. Again it tasted amazing with the Stokes mustard and the Fruits of Suffolk Chutney. If you’re looking for a proper ham for all of the family this Christmas the Hilltop Smokehouse ones look amazing!
For a cheeky little chocolate treat we opted for the Hadleigh Maid’s Chocolate Whirls. Around this part of the world they are known for their amazing chocolates, made in the smallest chocolate factory in the UK. I mean, who can say no to a good Christmas chocolate? I was very impressed with the quality of the chocolate whirls. The marshmallows inside were gorgeously soft and sticky and the shell of chocolate encasing them was thick and rich. They were perfectly balanced and tasted really expensive. Moreover they weren’t too sweet making them easy to devour.
We washed it all down with the most incredible drink. The Stoke Farm Orchard’s spiced apple juice was wonderfully festive. It was a mix of Apples, Oranges, Orange peel and festive spices and it was thoroughly warming and it would taste amazing hot. It is a great alternative to alcohol if you can’t or don’t drink this Christmas.
If you are a drinker, the Woodford’s Tinsel Toes Christmas ale comes highly recommended by Hamish. It is a dark bitter with a hint of Christmas pudding and wintry spices. On my list to try is the Shawsgate Vineyard sparkling rose. I’m a massive fan of sparkling wines and I’ve always had really good ones from Le Chateux (the East of England wine store on Unthank Road). It won East Anglia’s wine of the year and it stocked in a variety of high-end restaurants around the country.
All of this made for the most delicious tea yesterday and I’m excited that there is left overs for later. You can’t beat a good Christmas spread! I’d highly recommend heading to The East of England Co-op this Christmas as their range of food, supporting local businesses looks delicious. From Wolff-Evans and Sons’ scotch eggs, to Bowne and Wallis Christmas Garnishes to Christmas pudding ice creams and even a Christmas tree from Lindsey Lodge farm! They do have everything you could possibly need at this time of year! What’s more, you’re supporting your local farms and independent producers of amazing food, which in turn supports their families and makes sure they all have wonderful Christmases too! You can’t beat shopping local, so many of these bits would make lovely Christmas presents or hampers for your friends and family too!
What’s on your foodie list at this time of year?