Enjoy our delicious diversity
Sarah Pettegrew of Bray's Cottage Pork Pies and the Norfolk Diet market talks about what makes Norfolk so special for local produce.
It's an interesting exercise, when travelling, to consider what the things are that makes a place distinctive and linger in the memory. Along with accent, landscape and architecture it is, so often, the local food and the people who produce it – and Norfolk famously has some of the most delicious and diverse food in the UK.
I know families on the coast who have made their living for generations from the salty narrow stretch between the open sea and the land, according to the season they will cut reeds for thatch, harvest crabs, smoke fish, grow oysters and mussels, pick samphire in the summer and wild fowl during the winter.
Even tiny villages have their specialisms, such as Stookey (Stiffkey) blue cockles, Morston Mussels and oysters from Roman Brancaster. As you travel along the coast road it is well worth stopping and buying where you see their signs, sometimes at the end of people's gardens, you’ll be tasting both the landscape and the tradition of Norfolk.
Norfolk also has a vibrant and growing community of artisan food producers who are increasingly causing quite a stir on the national food scene. Look out on menus for produce from names such as Marsh Pig and Fruit Pig who are part of the revival of British charcutierie. Another name you may recognise is Dr Tim Kinnaird, who was a finalist in Masterchef and has set up a patisserie business and has a beautiful and decadent shop in the Art Noveau Royal Arcade in the centre of Norwich.
Closely associated with the agriculture that the county is famous for are the bee keepers, asparagus growers, orchards, rape seed oil producers and butchers. We have high quality bakers who have developed their own sourdough recipes and specialisms such as lavender bread. In the West of the county around Burnham Market we even have our own saffron grower.
Some of the nearly-lost foods, such as Norfolk Biffins, dumplings and Norfolk shortcake speak from the past of the foods that people carried into the fields and fed large families with when times were hard.
Find and eat just a few of these treats and you'll understand and remember Norfolk in a deeper way.