Suffolk Food Hall has been a reasonably recent addition to my foodie haunts, having only discovered it around 18 months ago on the recommendation of a friend. However since then my husband and I have visited few times. It’s one of our favourite ways to spend a Saturday; mooch around the shops before heading to The Cookhouse restaurant for lunch. Depending on our energy levels after lunch, a visit can be finished off in one of two ways: a walk in the shadow of the Orwell Bridge or coffee and a cake…usually the latter.
When Gemma, their marketing coordinator, phoned inviting me to trial their Kitchen Masterclass day I was raring to go and discover their cooking secrets. Due to work commitments I found I was unable to go but Dan, my husband was more than happy to book the day off work and attend in my place. I was only mildly jealous.
Where food is concerned our expertise and activities are split quite well: I grow the food, he cooks it; I love baking cakes, he’s more interested in fine-tuning his bread recipes and we both despise washing up! With him having no interest in writing we are, once more, making use of a bit of team work to re-tell the experience of the Kitchen Masterclass.
The day started with coffee, croissants and a chance to meet fellow foodie guinea pigs Ruth (Suffolk Foodie, Inspector X), Tilly (Italian chef), Victoria and Jennifer (Editorials from EAUX magazine) and Gemma (Marketing coordinator of SFH). First up was a talk from Oliver, co-founder of Suffolk Food Hall about the background of the Food Hall and the provenance of the products they sell – mostly sourced from their estate near Woodbridge.
Next came a demonstration from Butcher Mikey who showed three different ways to prepare a pheasant before guests were invited to try it for themselves; removing the breasts and legs for use in the day’s recipe.
On the menu was red onion tart tatin, pheasant kiev with confit leg and potatoes followed by melt-in-the-middle chocolate fondant with blackberry compote. The starter and main, as well as using ‘an ocean of duck fat’ utilised a number of different kitchen skills. After previously failing at making fig tart tatin (think burnt caramel, melted pan-handles, inedible mess) it was nice to be shown how to do it properly. Chef Stephen was excellent at guiding the participants through the preparations, helpfully answering a multitude of questions.
When both the starter and main courses were prepared it was time to head up to the restaurant to taste the result of all the hard work. With Mr Sampling-Suffolk being a man of few words it’s difficult for me to describe the lunch he created; needless to say it went down well.
Next came the preparation of dessert; chocolate fondant with a fresh berry compote. Watchers of Masterchef could be led to believe that a chocolate fondant with a melting middle is a relatively tricky or risky pud to prepare. With the expert help on hand the perfect fondant was surprisingly easy to master.
Suffolk Food Hall’s aim in inviting a panel of foodies along for the trial day was to gain useful feedback before their run of four seasonal masterclasses begin in March for the public. Aside from some minor organisational improvements it is difficult to imagine a better treat for any discerning foodie. The price tag for the day of £75 pp (less if you book all four classes with a season ticket) may seem a little steep for some but given the excellent facilities, the quality of the local ingredients, not to mention the generous leftovers to take home; it seems like a reasonable day out. This is before considering the pricelessness of having a husband whose new confidence in the kitchen means a new range of treats for me to try, thanks to the expert teaching from Mikey and Stephen.
The dates of this year’s Kitchen Masterclasses are as follows:
- Satruday 5th March ~ Spring ~ Fish
- Friday 10th June ~ Summer ~ Beef
- Friday 9th September ~ Autumn ~ Pork
- Friday 2nd December ~ Winter ~ Game
Dan has been dropping some pretty strong hints about it making a perfect Birthday present so maybe we’ll see you there!