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The treasures of the east


The counties of Suffolk and Norfolk don’t get as much publicity as other parts of England. But as JON UNDERWOOD found out, that could all be about to change.

What do you call a cow with the government identity number 007? Miss Moneypenny, of course (no jokes about a ‘licence to grill’, please!).

 

The Bond-inspired bovine can be found – neither shaken or stirred – chewing contentedly among her fellow English Longhorn at the Kenton Hall Estate near Stowmarket in the heart of the Suffolk countryside.

 

Privately owned and family run, Kenton has, like so many farms in the UK, diversified to create new income sources. Apart from producing the most succulent beef you’ll ever taste, the estate is also a wedding and glamping venue, runs a cookery school and will shortly be going into the muesli bar business.

 

Historically, this county in England’s east has been bypassed for other, more famous areas of Britain. But not anymore. This is a hip and happening region that is getting its tourism act together and coming out fighting. Primarily, food fighting.

 

At Kenton Hall, not only can you taste locally sourced, fresh produce but you get to cook it as well in the specially-constructed teaching kitchen. When I visited, I got to try my hand at cauliflower soup (which was delicious, even if I say so myself ), while the rest of my party dabbled with homemade bread, creamed leeks, rhubarb crumble and shortbread.

 

The lessons are fun and relaxed and – depending on your culinary ability – the results can be scrumptious. There’s every chance that when Kenton does start production of their muesli bars that these products will make their way onto the shelves of the Suffolk Food Hall in Wherstead near Ipswich.

 

This is another venture which deserves to succeed because it is trying to encourage people to buy local produce from local growers, rather than pop into the local Tesco. It was recently voted ‘Best Local Food Venue in the UK & Ireland’ by the Countryside Alliance. Here in the farm shop you’ll find all manner of yummy goodies, including meat, fish, cakes, preserves and cheeses. Stop by and stock up the pantry before enjoying lunch in the on-site restaurant with views over the Orwell Bridge. It’s a great spot to chow down and wonder just why you haven’t visited Suffolk before...

 

FAST FACTS

 

HOW TO GET THERE: Ipswich is just under two hours by car from central London. Trains run from Liverpool Street in London and take around 75 minutes.

 

WHAT ELSE TO DO: Take a tour of Adnams Brewery in Southwold. They spent millions on a recent upgrade to the brewing facility and visitors can follow the process from start to finish, including an all-important tasting.

The artist Thomas Gainsborough loved the light available in Suffolk and you can tour the house where he spent his early years in Sudbury. Hear how young Thomas helped catch some thieves by creating possibly the world’s first identikit drawings for police.

Lavenham is home to one of the finest collections of medieval houses in England, one of which you may recognise from a very famous magical movie franchise. 

 

WHERE TO STAY: The Swan at Lavenham Hotel & Spa is a time-capsule, with creaking floorboards, low beams and oodles of history. It may be 15th century, but this is one of the finest hotels in the county, with an award-winning spa and delicious cuisine.

 

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Written by: Jon Underwood
Published: 10 April 2017


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