A warm welcome back to Norfolk

At the end of last year we decided it was time for a change of lifestyle. Having spent over 10 years away, Norfolk started to call me back (as I’ve heard it does!) and so a move was on the cards. It’s been a tricky few months trying to make it happen, and we’re still not quite there yet, but we finally have breathing space to start looking forward and, of course, start blogging again.

I was really helped along by a very kind invitation from Jarrolds (@JarroldsNorwich) to join them at Benji’s, their newly opened bistro style café, for an evening of delicious food. What better way to feel welcomed back to Norfolk than a chance to find out more about a Norwich institution – an independent, family-run business that’s been at the heart of the city for coming up to 200 years?

Benji’s is just one part of what is a significant catering operation at Jarrolds consisting of three further cafés and a staff canteen. The newly refurbished first floor eatery has had a stylish makeover and their chef Nick has come up with some wonderfully imaginative and tasty dishes, which are also beautiful to look at. The sharing platters are a real feast and show off an array of local produce from vegetables to pork and quails’ eggs.

Vegetable garden box, complete with own snail

Vegetable garden box

Stunning butchers board

Butchers board

We were treated to cookery demonstration for the main course – Sea bass with Jerusalem artichokes, samphire and salsa verde – a dish that will only be on the menu for a few more weeks before it is swapped for something more autumnal. It was a really lovely combination and perfectly cooked, so we will definitely be back to try some more of their creations.

Chef Nick cooks sea bass

Chef Nick cooks sea bass

Sea bass, jerusalem artichokes, samphire and salsa verde

The finished article

Throughout the evening it was clear to see the commitment that Jarrolds has for supporting British, and particularly local producers. We had a chance to meet two very different producers, both incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic.

We’d come across Fielding Cottage (@fieldingcottage) plenty of times before, and even wrote a bit about their Norfolk Mardler goats cheese in a previous post. They are the only people in Norfolk making cheese from goats milk, and got into it quite by accident after bringing some goats back from holiday – as you do. They’ve recently started making a brie style cheese called Wensum White, which is definitely worth looking out for.

I’m usually more of a savoury person, so don’t often write about chocolate, but having met Marcel from Dolce Momento (@dolce_momento), his passion when he talked about their Brazilian inspired brigadiero chocolates was quite infectious – and rightly so, because they were delicious! The chocolates have an unusual soft texture which means they melt in the mouth. They only set up the business in December and are already catering for events as well as selling the chocolates in Jarrolds Deli.

Marcel from Dolce Momento and Sam from Fielding Cottage

Marcel from Dolce Momento Fielding Cottage’s Sam

Dolce Momento's brigadieros

Dolce Momento’s brigadieros

The Deli stocks plenty of other local treats alongside carefully selected artisan products from across the UK and further afield. From looking around the rest of the store and speaking to staff, it’s obvious that Jarrolds approach to seeking out quality producers who offer something different, alongside more familiar brands, extends far beyond food to all areas of the store. It’s great to see independent businesses supporting each other and using their local knowledge to offer something different.

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