Last weekend’s (unexpectedly extended) stay in England included a trip to the best farm shop I’ve ever visited, the HFG Farm Shop at Beeston, Norfolk. We were in Norwich visiting the Engineering Couple and my kinswoman, their beloved Irish terrier, Bridie, who, knowing my love of food, brought us there after a morning spent tramping and on the river in their Canadian canoe. Outside the shop were long stems of brussels sprouts and sparkly Christmas wreaths but the real treasure was inside. Tables were piled with home baking – hungry from our morning’s activities, Paradise Slices, Flapjacks, Shortbread and Date Slices immediately caught our eye – while groaning shelves of jams, jellies, oils, vinegars and chocolate lined the walls. A freezer was stocked with a multi-coloured selection of loose frozen fruits and baskets of locally grown vegetables were stacked high at the end of the room. The food available was more than tempting and, although I did resist, I still managed to walk out of the shop heavily laden with the aforementioned baking, brown paper bags of spelt and wholewheat flour from Letheringsett Watermill, a warty celeriac, a selection of nobbly Jerusalem artichokes and, because I never can resist something gingery, a bottle of Great Uncle Cornelius’ Finest Spiced Ginger Non-Alcoholic Apertif.
Tagged: Books for Cooks
A new arrival on the Dublin grocery scene is the gorgeous-looking Fallon & Byrne, a classy supermarket along the lines of Donnybrook Fair, on Exchequer Street in the city centre. They’ve been renovating the building for a while and, seeing it opened at last, I just popped in for a few minutes last Saturday week. A former telephone exchange, it’s an airy, echo-y space, all parquet floors and food everywhere. Right inside the door is a juice bar and, dotted around the periphery of the vast floor space, were also an in-store butchers, a long deli counter filled with take-home dishes, a coffee bar, complete with high stools and tables, and a well-stocked cheese and charcuterie counter which I could have spent the rest of the afternoon poring over.
In London there is a wonderful shop called Books for Cooks. A bookshop, filled with – what else – cookbooks, it is situated at 4 Blenheim Crescent in Notting Hill and is the kind of place that Sunday supplements wax lyrical about. As does anyone who visits the shop. It is small, not so very wide, and has bookshelves from floor to ceiling, crammed with hundreds upon hundreds books of amazing dishes, foods, ingredients, people. There is a cosy, albeit battered, couch in the middle of the floor, right between a piled-high table and a low shelf – just the place to sit and leaf through one of the many books that will take you on a journey to far off lands or reveal more about your own culinary surroundings. All this, and I haven’t yet got to the best bit.