Thursday, 30 August 2012

Happy birthday us !

The man of the house and I don't quite share a birthday but they are only a month apart. And so it was three months or so ago I booked a special treat for us as a celebration at the Norfolk This was before the hotel appeared in the Observer I think it was as one of the best foodie breaks in the UK. Rock on. Just what we wanted.

The day came and we abandoned the girls and headed for the coast.

First impressions were good - a nice room  and a warm welcome. The room was perhaps a bit more formulaic than I had hoped - it was well done but I perhaps was expecting a bit more oompff for the money. The dissapointment was clear when we tried to enjoy the much hyped tile-vision TV that you could watch in the bath. Mmm, yes you could but not with water in the bath. What a let down. We had to make do with a walk and a drink in the local pub while we waited for dinner.

First the canapes - spelt battered mackerel with Thai sauce and cheese and herb pate with confit of tomato.
Speechless. Nothing could be said except one mouthful was not enough. I desperately tried to work out what was in the Thai sauce - it was subtle but devine. I wanted to work out what was in the pate but it was well gone and we were arguing over whose turn it was to lick the spoon. Off to an amazing start.

Spelt battered mackrel and Thai sauce

Canapes - lovely !

We were taken to our table to find our bottle of Pinot Gris was a bottle of red. Er, no. We ordered a French Pinot Gris. A bottle of white arrived. I checked the variety. Yes this was it. Tasted it. Not corked. Fine. Good to go. Then I tried it properly. Er, no. Something not right. This clearly wasn't a french wine. And indeed it wasn't - it was an Ozzie wine. Perfectly nice but not what we wanted. Third time lucky and we are good to go. Finally.

Onto the appetisers - no photos of this. They were great.... But we wanted the main attraction. And boy we were not disappointed. I was rather surprised by the menu's description of a roasted carrot as the starter and was even more surprised by the plate. But my oh my, the flavour. I cannot quite find the words to describe the smooth, sweet taste of the carrot combined with the chamomile broth, carrot puree and goats cheese. It was breathtaking. Absolutely breathtaking. I consider myself a decent cook but whoever had created this had not just a great palate but great vision. I never thought carrot could taste like this ! And I wanted more.....

Roasted Elveden farm carrot, Ragstone goats cheese, camomile tea.

And so the fish course. I may well be Head Fish Fanatic but cod does not usually feature on my favourite fish list. This was lightly pan fried with skin popcorn, lightly frozen (I think) radish slices and the most green parsley jelly. Positively yum and enough to make me reconsider my views of cod (which is often overcooked and dry). This fish was moist, delicate and complemented by the jelly perfectly.

Locally caught cod, parsley gel, radish
The main course was duck which we were both happy with. Unlike one of our fellow diners who was craving a burger..... The duck was in a light white port jus rather than the traditional deep rich sauce. It really worked and the flavour of the duck was the hero of the plate. It was nicely balanced and I have to say I was very happy with the onion fondue. What an unusual combination.

Gressingham duck breast, onion fondue, peas, white port jus

Gressingham duck breast, onion fondue, peas, white port jus
The only choice of the menu was desert and I wanted the man of the house to have cheese so I could pinch half of it but as it was we both opted for the Sharrington strawberries ! As it was it was probably a good idea that we had the same. It was lovely - vanilla panna cotta. The perfect end to a lovely dinner.

The lime sorbet, petit fours and boozy coffee meant it was a great meal. And one that we will remember for a long time !

All in all it was an azmazing if expensive experience (there went my special kitchen tap!) and the food was worth it (despite taking three attempts to get the wine right!)  The accommodation was not quite perfect but maybe I was just expecting too much.

Happy birthday us !

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