It’s harvest time and the perfect season to raise a glass and tuck in to Norfolk’s fabulous food and drink. Many of the county’s finest ingredients are produced within a short distance of Heacham Manor and used by our chefs to create delicious dishes for our AA Rosette Mulberry Restaurant. With dinner taken care of, if you love good grub and a thoughtfully crafted tipple, book an autumn stay and spend your days touring and savouring the best of Norfolk’s food and drinking hotspots with our handy guide.
With so many scrumptious goodies to sample, pack in plenty of nibbles and sips at this season’s food events. First up is the North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival which takes place on 2-3 September inside the Walled Garden at Holkham. Now in its 14th year, the free event will bring together more than 70 growers, producers and retailers including Candi’s Chutneys, natural honey-maker Leighs Bees and artisan bakery Bread Source. Holkham locals Malt Coast Brewery are running a bar at the show, which this year also sees the introduction of a Festival Cream Tea, and the Cookery Theatre, sponsored by renowned local butcher Arthur Howell, will feature a talk by Norfolk’s ever-popular Two Magpies Bakery founder Rebecca Bishop. Gates open at 10am, so leave the car behind and ride the Coastliner 36 to Holkham and enjoy a delicious day out.
Even if your Norfolk break doesn’t coincide with the festival, you can still sample plenty of local food and drink at Creake Abbey Farmers’ Market, which takes place on the first Saturday of each month. Located next to the abbey ruins, the market attracts up to 50 stallholders alongside the site’s boutique shops. There are two large barns to shelter, should the weather be less than stellar, but you’ll find a bustling crowd and plenty of passionate producers who love to tell you all about their products and share some samples too!
Closer to home, there is also a weekly market at Docking Village Hall, just a few minutes’ drive from Heacham Manor, on Wednesday mornings. Much of the produce is locally grown and while you may not need a full shop while on holiday, there are fantastic jams, crafts and pastries to buy, and you might be tempted by a ‘Docking bacon butty’ for a mid-morning snack.
Later this season, Norfolk Restaurant Week takes place from 30 October – 10 November, and is a great way to enjoy lunch at a wide range of local eateries (including the Mulberry Restaurant). With menus starting at £16, click here for a list of participating restaurants, but be sure to book ahead as places always fill up quickly!
More of us are making sustainable choices to help protect the planet, and the mantra, ‘Eat local, eat seasonal’ is a great mindset to adopt when choosing what to munch! If you love seafood, be sure to enjoy some fresh, juicy and flavoursome Brancaster mussels, which are back in season, during your autumn break at Heacham Manor. You’ll find them on most menus from September and if you fancy taking some home with you at the end of your stay, head along the coast to Gurneys Fish Shop in Burnham Market or The Fish Shed in Brancaster Staithe (look out for the red crab sign on the A149!) to bag your catch. Game is also in season and you’ll find pheasant, partridge and guinea fowl, shot locally at the Sandringham and Holkham estates, on many menus.
One ingredient which needs no season, but is a must to indulge in while staying in Norfolk is cheese. Leading the way is Mrs Temple whose award winning, handmade cheeses are made sustainably from milk from her Brown Swiss and Holstein cows, farmed at Wighton. Try the soft Binham Blue, Copys Cloud, Gurney’s Gold and Wighton or if you prefer hard cheese, the Walsingham and Wells Alpine. Look out also for the goat logo of Fielding Cottage whose Wensum White and Norfolk Mardler have been known to defy those who say they don’t like goat’s cheese in blind tastings! Why not treat the folks back home to a cheesy souvenir? The Norfolk Deli in Hunstanton and Norfolk Lavender Farm Shop in Heacham stocks these and a larder full of other tasty Norfolk food and drinks.
As we love good food in Norfolk, we also enjoy a great tipple, and there are plenty of locally bottled brews to try while you are staying at Heacham Manor.
Fancy a pint? North Norfolk’s sea air is said to help grow the best malting barley in the world, much of which goes into local brewing, so make sure you take the taste test. Woodforde’s Brewery in Norwich has been making its award winning Wherry Bitter since 1981 and now brews more than 15 craft beers, ales, stout and cider. Or if you love a good ale or bitter, try the imaginatively titled bottles from Barsham Brewery at Fakenham – our favourite is the Christmas ale, S.O.S. Spicy Old Santa! Don’t miss micro-brewery Malt Coast, which turns barley grown on its Branthill Farm at Holkham into beautifully brewed, stylish ales.
It’s apple season, so definitely the moment to branch out into cider, perry and apple juice from Whin Hill Norfolk Cider at Wells-next-the-Sea, or go soft with orchard fresh apple juice from Drove Orchards and Sandringham – you’ll find both widely sold locally.
No need to miss out if you prefer a glass of wine. Norfolk has a crop of award winning vineyards, including Winbirri, which won the Best UK Wine Award in 2016 for its Bacchus. Closer to home, Burn Valley Vineyard in North Creake is a family-owned and run vineyard producing superb bottles, including a recent first vintage for Holkham, using grapes grown in the estate’s Walled Garden. It regularly hosts tasting events, so check here for upcoming dates.
Norfolk’s spirits are plentiful and WhataHoot in the heart of King’s Lynn’s historic quarter produces artisan gin and vodka from its distillery where you can shop, take a tasting tour and even try your hand at making your own gin. Black Shuck also offers tasting sessions of its gin, rum, vodka and flavoured liqueurs at its Fakenham distillery, and similarly Archangel Distilleries at Walsingham runs tours of its distillery. Finally, if you love a wee dram and fancy a great day out, The English Whisky Company in south Norfolk offers tasting tours of its award winning whiskies and liqueurs – you might be amazed at how simple barley can be transformed into the most glorious glass. Our toast this season? Your very good health!