Whenever I see Paris Brest on a menu I'm reminded of Tony, my very eccentric head waiter who I worked with for many happy years at The Chalice Restaurant in Bury. I cooked, he was front of house. His first job when he arrived at work (usually late as he stopped to buy things on the side of the road, arriving in with eggs, flowers, vegetables and often a piece of furniture) was to check what was on the menu and then to hand write the copies. His handwriting was awful and his speciality was the deliberate misspelling of menu items hoping that I wouldn't find out before the end of service and allowing him to regale the customers with a verbal description of the desserts of the day. 30 years on I will never forget his squiggle, the r and i in Paris becoming an m. So dear followers, in honour of Tony I give you my recipe for Pams Brest.
Head Chef Stuart Drane, formerly of Aurora in Ipswich and more recently Chef Lecturer at Suffolk New College, has taken up the reigns at the Suffolk Food Hall, heading up the brigade in the Cookhouse. I was invited to try the new Spring menu and after a heatwave weekend, the day I went was freezing cold and wet. So I was quite happy to see a slow cooked featherblade beef with roasted root vegetables and roast potatoes on the daily specials and ordered that for my lunch, preceeded by three very crispy and tasty fishcakes with homemade tartare sauce. The new slightly shorter Spring menu offers a very good element of mix and match menu items, and had it been warmer I would have easily been tempted by the Suffolk Gold Rarebit with a side salad. As I took Mr SuffolkFoodie I got to dip into his roasted tomato soup which had dollops of mascarpone, grated Parmesan and olive oil dotted across the surface, and also tried his Shepherds pie, which was rather delicious as it was made from slow cooked shoulder of lamb rather than the traditional minced lamb. Portions are very generous, and being conscious of the amount of food I've eaten recently judging for the Suffolk Food and Drink Awards, decided that sharing a dessert would be the healthy option. I saw some fantastic ice cream sundaes being delivered to other tables, but couldn't resist the sound of the vanilla cheesecake with burnt orange caramel and orange sorbet. The sorbet packed a punch of flavour against the creamy cheesecake and the contrasting burnt caramel flavours and was easily big enough to share. The garden centre and farm shop proved to be a good chance to walk off some of the lunch, but as always, with the next meal in mind I managed to leave with a whole oxtail to cook for the weekend. And that was delicious too!
- roasted tomato soup with mascarpone, Parmesan and olive oil
- crispy fishcakes with tartare sauce
- slow cooked featherblade with roasted root vegetables and roast potatoes
- lamb shoulder shepherd's pie
- vanilla cheesecake with burnt orange caramel and orange sorbet
Look at some of these grate spellings, collected from a variety of establishments over a surprisingly short period of time. Do people not proof read anymore?
When I worked in a Suffolk restaurant the thought of a food critic discovering us, writing amazing things and launching us into celebrity-land was always tempered by the fact that they might not get it, would write something rude and send us in a nosedive into even greater obscurity. Like a Michelin star it's as much a blessing as a curse. And although the critics still have some influence, now that anyone can have an opinion I'm sure it keeps them on their toes. Tracey MacLeod, food critic of the Independent, ventured out not too long ago to review The British Larder, a Suffolk country pub that has a food blog of the same name.