England’s Atlantis

DonQui is relieved to arrive back in England to crisp, sunny, autumn weather. Although it certainly feels cold after Tanzania’s mid 30° temperatures, at least it is not grey and rainy.
It being that day of the week, DonQui decides to partake in the English ritual of a walk in the country followed by a Sunday roast at a suitable pub.

One of his favourite places to do this is Dunwich.

Dunwich beachNow not many people have heard of Dunwich and with good reason… Like Atlantis, most of it lies under the sea.

Yet back in medieval times Dunwich was one of England’s most important towns. It was in the top ten listed in the Doomsday Book of 1086, growing in size and prosperity over the next 300 years. Trade with Flanders and the royal shipyards made Dunwich the most important port on the East coast, second only to London. It was here that King Edward III’s fleet was built for the invasion of France in the Hundred Years War.

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However, the sand cliffs on which Dunwich is built are highly vulnerable to erosion. A great storm in 1347 swept away 400 houses as the cliffs crumbled and fell into the sea. In the years that followed the once great port silted up and the Blyth River changed its course. By the beginning of the 17th century Dunwich had lost 3/4 of its original size and the erosion continues still.

Dunwich greyfriarsToday all that remains of the once great medieval city are the ruins of the Greyfriars monastery and St James’ chapel which once administered to a leper colony. Both of these buildings were inland from the original city walls. All that was once inside the walls is now under the sea.

Dunwich museum

The more than 5000 inhabitants of medieval times has shrunk to a modern population of less than 200. A rather good little museum tells the story

Dunwich Ship

Tucked in amongst the cottages of modern Dunwich is the Ship Inn — one of DonQui’s favourite pubs in the area. After a circular walk over the cliffs, through Greyfriars’ Wood and around the monastery DonQui is ready for a pint and some roast beast with all the trimmings.

Dunwich inside

The Ship is a free house serving an ever changing selection of local beers and ciders. This is a rarity in these parts where most pubs are tied to Southwold’s Adnams’ brewery. Now in the past there was no love lost between Dunwich and Southwold so it is perhaps not surprising to find the Ship maintaining its independence. Although DonQui is a great fan of Adnams’ beers he finds it refreshing to have a wider choice every once in a while.

Dunwich bar

He samples the Jenny Morgan, and finds it quite refreshing with a light hoppy taste. Brewed by Green Jack of Lowestoft it is apparently named after a girl in an old mariners’ song who waits at home for her sweetheart who is out at sea.

Dunwich menu

Unlike many pubs on Sunday, The Ship offers other options in addition to the traditional Sunday Roast. However it is roast than DonQui wants, choosing the beef while Duchess goes for the pork. They also decide to share the watermelon, feta, pumpkin seed and basil salad as a starter. It simply sounded too interesting to pass up and DonQui was glad he didn’t — it was utterly delicious.

The Ship always does an excellent roast and this time was no exception. Both were very good but DonQui thought that the pork possible had the edge on the beef. Unfortunately he tucked into the food right away rather than taking photographs.

Dunwich knickerbocker

However he did remember to capture the image of the rather spectacular knickerbocker glory which served as an excellent shared desert.

Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival

On the drive back home from Spain, DonQui sees a sign on the side of the road. It has a picture of a rather fine looking crab with a caption telling him that he is only 5 miles from the most delectable delights. This is too good to pass up so he follows the sign to find himself at the Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival which is not at Aldeburgh at all but rather at the nearby Snape Maltings.

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He pauses for a moment when he sees the entrance price but, as he likes to support local farmers and local produce, he digs deep into his wallet to produce the required £8.

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On entry he is confronted with a plethora of stalls displaying their wares and all offering tasty samples. He goes from stall to stall trying out what is on offer and doing his best to be disciplined and not buy everything that takes his fancy.

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“I’ll come back and buy later,” he say more than once, determined to see and sample everything before filling the tote bag he had been given on entry with the stuff he really wanted.

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He has a plan to buy something for supper and so tries to avoid filling up too much on all the goodies on offer.  So he passes by the many tempting stalls offering everything from suckling pig to goat burgers and crispy duck wraps. Instead he lunches on the free samples.

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After tasting the goats’ cheeses offered by Fielding Cottage, his resistance breaks down. He buys several of them while Duchess also adds curds and some lotions made from goats’ milk.

wild meat

DonQui  loves wild meat and the Wild Meat Company is one of his favourite suppliers. Wild boar, venison and guinea fowl all end up in his bag. With a couple of wild boar filets he hopes to recreate the delicious meal he had in Seville a few days ago.

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The Kenton Hall Estate is offering Longhorn beef. Not to be confused with Texas longhorns, these cattle are a medieval British breed which are much slower than modern cattle to raise and the price is correspondingly high. DonQui decides to buy a couple of small filet steaks to see if the difference is worth the effort and cost. If nothing else he wants to support the survival of ancient breeds.

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DonQui samples several beers on offer from Barrel and Sellers. Unlike most English beers this is bottle rather than cask conditioned. DonQui loves English beer and is a great fan of his local Adnams brewery. However it is hard to take a decent pint home as the beer in the bottle has none of the character of the draught as English beer is usually cask conditioned. He pronounces these new bottle conditioned beers to be “rather good.”

raw milk

The raw unpasteurised milk and cheese from Fen Farm Dairy are very tasty but DonQui does not buy any as he has already filled his cheese quota from Fielding Cottage. He takes their card and vows to buy some at a later date. Mass production and the necessary corresponding health and safety regulations have almost wiped out non-pasteurised milk products and DonQui is rather pleased to see some local producers are still able to supply them.

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All of this has taken a bit of a toll so DonQui decides to take a break amongst the beans and pulses at the Hodmedod’s stall. He has met the lovely people who offer these products before at the market in Halesworth and they are happy to let him rest a while.

book

They have a book on sale: Out of the Pod by Vicky Jones.  The recipes look rather delicious so DonQui decided to buy a copy and at some time in the future he will try out some of their suggestions and let readers know how they turn out.

cheese and wine

When he gets home Duchess cooks a lovely dish of kale with goat curds which DonQui rounds off with some of the delicious Fielding Farm’s goat’s cheese, fresh sesame baguette and a rather fine bottle of Côte-Rôtie which DonQui had bought in Vienne a few months ago.

In all pretty hard to beat!

Drinks and Tapas

One of the best things about Granada is that whenever DonQui goes for a drink in the evening he is offered free tapas. His favourite haunt is Torcuato at the top of Cale Pagés in Albayzín which seems to be primarily frequented by locals.

Torcuato

From 9pm onwards the atmosphere is buzzing and DonQui spends several happy evenings here whiling away the hours sipping wine, savouring the free tapas, and occasionally ordering a dish or two off the menu. It is the sort of casual place DonQui likes — good food and drink without any pretension or fuss. It would probably not appeal to those who want slick service or an orderly meal.

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The tapas varied each evening – DonQui’s favourite was a plate of grilled squid on  crispy cabbage salad bed.

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Further down Cale Pagés there is a small square (Plaza Aliatar) where the bars start up a bit earlier. The tapas there is not as good but DonQui rather liked the ice cold beer served in a clay beaker at El Panero. So a beer there first and then up to Torcuato for wine and food.

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The Mirador San Nicolás is the place to go for a sundowner with unbeatable views of the Alhambra as the setting sun catches the walls.

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Many people simply gather on the wall of the square…

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…but DonQui prefers to have a drink at either El Balcón de San Nicolás or the El Huerto Juan Ranas next door. Neither of these places have free tapas but they have great views of the Alhambra and comfortable seats.

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In the square a number of artisans set up stalls to sell their wares to the tourists. It is all quite atmospheric.

Ale and Hops

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DonQui’s step quickened as he approached the shop in Tarragona. This is my sort of place, he thought.…an emporium dedicated to ale, hops and the joy of the fermented grain. Maybe it would be as good as the Adnams store in Southwold — one of his favourite shops anywhere.

Ale hop full

He couldn’t work out what the cow was doing in the entrance, nor why so many women seemed to be heading inside, leaving their men to wait impatiently on the street. In his experience men seemed to get much more excited about beer than women. Perhaps in Spain things were different.

Imagine DonQui’s huge disappointment when he went inside and there was not a single bottle of beer to be seen—just lots of girly Stuff and nothing of any use to DonQui at all.

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Duchess was happy though. She bought Stuff while DonQui sat on a step opposite feeling more than a little dejected and wondering when beer time would come around again.