One of the great pleasures of a visit to Norfolk is to take the time to indulge in some of the fine regional cuisine. Because of the famous Norfolk coastline, the region is particularly blessed when it comes to seafood. Cromer Crab is probably the most famous native Norfolk food, but there are plenty more culinary delights to be enjoyed throughout the region.
In theory, the Cromer Crab differs very little from every other brown crab caught around the British coast. In reality, however, the Cromer Crab, with its unusually high ration of white to dark meat, yields the tenderest, sweetest white meat of any crab in the country. The Cromer Crab thrives in the shallow waters of the unique chalk reef off the Cromer coast, which is thought to account for the sweet tenderness of the meat.
Cromer Crab are usually available from April onwards, and can be enjoyed virtually anywhere in Cromer, and in good cafes and restaurants throughout Norfolk.
Known colloquially as 'sea asparagus' or 'sea pickle', and pronounced locally as 'sampha', samphire thrives in the salt marshes of North Norfolk.
Samphire can be purchased throughout Norfolk from spring onwards from in countryside lay-bys, and outside cottages in some of the region's many villages.
This unique wild plant, which looks like asparagus and tastes somehow like the sea, is best enjoyed steamed, and with a little bit of butter.
Another North Norfolk gem, Brancaster mussels are big, juicy and succulent. The mussels are collected when they're young, moved to tidal creek 'lays', and then left to mature for as long as 1-2 years before being harvested.
Brancaster mussels, which thrive in the clean harbour waters of Brancaster Staithe, can generally be enjoyed from September to April. Along the North Norfolk coast you will sometimes find fisherman selling them directly, but they can also be bought in fishmongers and fish and chip shops, or ordered in pubs, restaurants and cafes.
Stiffkey cockles are generally held to be the finest cockles available in Great Britain. They are also know locally as 'Stewkey Blues' because of their distinctive grey-blue colour which comes from the mud and the sand in which they live.
Cockles, which were once a traditional British food, and treasured particularly in the East End, are now something of a seaside novelty. They are still harvested in the same way as they were traditionally, using broad rakes and nets, and are best enjoyed by the seaside in a jar with vinegar and a sprinkle of pepper.
Norfolk Black Turkey
Because of the flat countryside and the ample grain produced in the region, Norfolk has traditionally been a great breeder of turkeys, and the Norfolk Black is perhaps the most delicious of all. Definitely not just for Christmas, the Norfolk Black has a distinct, gamey flavour which sets it apart from other turkeys.
The Norfolk Black was rescued from near extinction 80 years ago by Norfolk farmer Frank Peele, and his descendants still farm the bird today using a traditional feed recipe consisting of wheat, oats and barley, and allowing the turkeys to roam and graze on the grass during the daytime.
There's so much delicious food and drink to enjoy in Norfolk, of which, this article includes just a small sample. To really enjoy the Norfolk cuisine there's no substitute for visiting the region and exploring the many pubs, restaurants, cafes and sellers of local produce, for yourself.