The very best of Norfolk Christmas Food and Drink
PUBLISHED: 11:21 29 November 2016 | UPDATED: 15:04 29 November 2016
Whether you want to master a succulent roast, make mouth-watering sweet treats, discover aromatic wines and indulgent cocktails or wake up to a delicious breakfast – our four part guide to Christmas Day will help you serve up a most memorable festive feast.
Start your Christmas morning in style by being treated to an extra special breakfast. The man with the perfect recipe to start the day has to be Jamie Gooda, from The Assembly House in Norwich, who won the New Face of Norfolk Food and Drink award, sponsored by Zaks. Jamie’s ideal breakfast on Christmas Day would include bubble and squeak with smoked salmon and poached eggs followed by flapjack pancakes – but the likelihood is that if he was cooking it, he’d have to wait until he’d served it to more than 100 guests before tucking in himself! Jamie, who has worked in hospitality since leaving school, now works in a front of house role at The Assembly House while still working shifts in the kitchen. “The Assembly House is open over Christmas and New Year, and this year we have the new bedrooms which means people are spending the whole of Christmas with us for the first time. At Christmas you really have to pull out all the stops, and that starts with breakfast. Children also need to have something tempting so that they’re ready for the biggest day of the year for them – that’s why these flapjack pancakes are ideal, oats for energy and chocolate for Christmas. “For the flapjack pancakes, you first need to make the strawberry compote. Put 25g honey and 10g sugar in a pan, heat, add 300g strawberries (frozen if no fresh available), cook for two minutes, take off the heat and add the juice of one orange. To make the chocolate sauce, break 100ml white chocolate into pieces, add 100ml cream and melt in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, finally add 50ml of champagne. “Place 250g plain flour, 60g flaked oats, 5g salt, four eggs, half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, 30g sugar, 30g melted butter and 300ml of milk in a food processor, or mix by hand, and blend until smooth and creamy. Add the a further 300ml of milk and blend. “To cook, heat some sunflower oil in a large, heavy-based pan. Grease some steel circular cookie cutters (6cm diameter) and place in the pan, fill halfway with batter. When the batter starts to set and cook, slip a palette knife under the ring and flip over to cook the other side. Then simply serve drizzled with compote and chocolate. Merry Christmas!” The Assembly House, Theatre Street, Norwich, NR2 1RQ; 01603 626402; www.assemblyhousenorwich.co.uk
As winners of the Outstanding Front of House award, sponsored by Broadland Wineries, Brasted’s at Framingham Pigot is renowned for its exceptional service. And for director Nick Mills, there are two simple words which will ensure everyone has a fantastic Christmas Day – “be prepared”. “Christmas is a such a magical time of year, so spending more time with our guests and less time being a stressed host is paramount. The secret to making it extra special is to be utterly prepared. Try to do as much as possible in advance. It is always advantageous to prepare a list of activities leading up to that special period.
“On the day, have welcome drinks ready - this is such an integral part of the dining experience and helps everyone relax. Bubbly always goes down well, so make sure you have plenty for any unexpected guests. The festive period brings some wonderful deals on drinks, especially fizz; so shop around on the internet before setting off to buy it. “Instead of the generic packet smoked salmon, enhance your Christmas experience by taking a festive trip beforehand to a Norfolk coast smokery, a favourite of mine is Cley Smokehouse. “Decorations make Christmas sparkle. Try tasteful and classical, and make extra time for this as it will transform any gloomy room into a ‘festive grotto’. On the table, a line of glasses, one for each course, all highly polished, will make your guests feel decadent and looks fabulous. Add more candles and a centre piece of ivy and white roses, and your table will immediately look opulent. Add the finishing touch with crisp, white linen napkins – although don’t use them for red wine spillages. And as the saying goes, eat, drink and be merry!” Brasted’s, Manor Farm Barns, Framingham Pigot, NR14 7PZ;, 01508 491112;, www.brasteds.co.uk
This year’s winners of the Best School Food Project, sponsored by the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association, was Parkside School and White Lion Café in Norwich. Transition co-ordinator Helen Holderness, who looks after the project, says that giving the children, who have special educational needs, the chance to learn more about food and to work in the café, has an enormously positive impact on their development, both in the classroom and out of it. “By the time our pupils leave, we aim to encourage them to be as independent as possible at a level appropriate to the individual. We are very fortunate to have the White Lion Café in the centre of Norwich. Our pupils’ many successes in this real-life work environment raise confidence and self-esteem, develop their ability to work as a team and provide them with the skills that may help them find employment,” she says. Here is a recipe we shall be trying out in the café. Why not give our Christmas pudding cakes a try with your children to give to guests on Christmas Day? Christmas Pudding Cakes: Preheat the oven to 180C. Weigh two eggs and use this weight to measure the same amount each of self-raising flour, caster sugar and margarine. Remove 60g from the total amount of flour and replace with 60g of cocoa powder and add two teaspoons of ground mixed spice. Cream the sugar and margarine until pale and fluffy and add one egg at a time. Once mixed, add the flour, cocoa and mixed spice mixture and very gently combine with a spoon. Fill dome-shaped silicone moulds with a spoonful of the mixture. Bake for about 20 minutes, then leave to cool before turning them upside down to make “Christmas puddings”. While cooling, make a thick icing and dollop it on the top of each, letting it run down the sides. Buy or make some decorative green icing and cut out holly leave shapes. Decorate the top of each pudding with two holly leaves and half a glace cherry. White Lion Cafe, 17a White Lion Street, Norwich, NR2 1PX;, 01603 626213