It’s just a few steps out of the back of The Cross Keys pub in Aldeburgh, where I’m staying, on to the beach. It wasn’t quite as early as the above photo suggests but actually 8.30am when I was heading out for a short walk before breakfast. However there were many clouds overhead, so dark for the time of day, but also a glint of bright light bringing the promise of the day to come. Later it got bright and sunny for a while … then clouds again and it looked as if it might rain. Typical UK weather, but whatever it brings, Aldeburgh is always beautiful.
After breakfast I wandered down the high street. Shops mainly don’t open until 10am and close at 5pm. I bought a takeaway Flat White from Munchies, a good cafe I discovered on the last trip. Then I headed through an alleyway to the beach. Aldeburgh is so small everything is just a few steps away. I came back into the high street once I knew the shops would have opened. I wanted to go back to the wine shop where I bought some local Suffolk chocolate yesterday. It does sound a little strange, I know, to buy chocolate in a wine shop!
The friendly man from the day before – Bryan – recognised me and teasingly asked if I’d eaten all the chocolate already. I laughed and said I needed more to take home as gifts, but also had decided I should buy some for myself.
The chocolate comes in exciting flavours like Gin & Tonic, and Roasted Hazelnut & Sea Salt. I paid … but then we got talking about Fishers gin, a local gin which is distilled right on the seafront, almost behind the shop. I told Bryan that I’d bought some of the gin for my son and daughter from him in June. I wasn’t particularly a gin drinker myself but they liked it. Then I told him how my friend Annie had emailed me as I was setting off for Aldeburgh to let me know that the owner of Fishers Gin had been interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today at the beginning of the week. Her husband had heard it and remembered how much he’d liked the gin when he had it recently. The interview was about how the owner’s farm by the beach was being rewilded to grow botanicals for the gin.
As we enthused about the gin, Bryan said I should try some and offered a sample. It was only about 11am! A bit early for me. But then how could I refuse? And actually, it was all great fun. A small shot was poured and a little tonic water added. I sipped. It was very good – though I had to confess that as I rarely drank gin, I couldn’t really compare it to other gins. My daughter though, when I told her about Annie’s email, said the Fishers Gin was delicious and she likes that kind of aromatic gin. So, I’m sure you’ve guessed, some gin was added to the chocolates in my bag!
We did talk a lot more about wine, whisky and food before I left the shop. It was great to have an unexpected but enjoyable conversation with another wine and food enthusiast.
You can visit the Fishers Gin distillery on the beach. There are tastings and tours offered. Take a look at http://www.fishersgin.com.
Later I returned to Slate where I’d bought my lunch yesterday and chose more of their delicious food to make a picnic lunch to have on the beach. As we move quickly to the cooler days of autumn, I can’t resist making the most of the opportunity to eat a simple lunch on a beautiful beach.
I had a relaxing afternoon, taking walks along the seafront, sometimes just sitting and looking out at the vastness of the Suffolk sea. It’s so flat here and the sea and sky look enormous and neverending. It’s really quite special. However, it’s cooler and windier than yesterday with rain threatening at times, so I didn’t venture too far. But it was pleasant just to be here, to have the sea so close – visible from my bedroom window or just a few steps away.
I’d booked a table for dinner at The Aldeburgh Market, a popular restaurant here with a good reputation. I had a simple lunch here on the June trip but was too late to get an evening table. So I booked well in advance this time! All the good restaurants get booked up well ahead so it’s a good idea to book somewhere you’re keen to go before you come.
I had a table for 6.45. That was the only time available but fine for me as I usually eat quite early. I got such a lovely, warm welcome and shown to my table.
I ordered a 175ml glass of Albariño wine (£7.50), a nice full-flavoured Spanish wine. I didn’t plan to have a starter so had just some olives with my wine to begin. They were excellent olives (£2.75).
I looked up as I waited for my main and saw a wonderful ceiling with swimming fish.
I’d ordered a South India fish curry for my main served with rice, naan bread, mango chutney and raita (£17.50).
It was perfect for what had turned into a chilly evening. It was a gorgeous, thick curry with salmon and white fish in a tomato base; it had a good hot hit but wasn’t too spicy and hot. I really enjoyed it. The little naans were wonderful – so light and fluffy.
When I skipped a starter it was only with the intention of having a pudding! There was a great choice.
I chose Orange & Ricotta Cake with Greek Yoghurt (£7.50).
I was surprised the cake was hot – but it worked well and was fabulous; the yoghurt accompaniment perfect.
The bill was £35.25 without service.
What a lovely last day it had been: gorgeous food, friendly people, and a continuing love for this little Suffolk seaside town of Aldeburgh.