Top Spots in Norfolk and Saffron Walden, More Chocolate, and Bakery Pop Ups. w/e Sunday 27th March 2022

Hill Street Chocolates

Here are the recommendations from my visit to Norfolk! I loved it so much I’ve already booked another trip, staying in the same hotel because it was the most perfect hotel room (that isn’t a suite!) with a small kid (works if you have two, as well)! (If you’re interested in going away with 1-2 kids aged between 2 and 10 check out Ironmongers Boutique in Aylsham. You can see the room here.

The pop ups I mentioned on the podcast are the Pump Street Chocolate one at 16C Calvert Avenue, E2 7JP from Thursday 31st March until 10th April and the bake sale for the Cook for Ukraine campaign which will be at Toklas Restaurant.

Here are the most delicious things I tried last week:

Not into listening or not able to? Read The Next Delicious Thing podcast transcript here.

Hello, and welcome to Episode 5 of The Next Delicious Thing

I’m Jennifer Earle. And this is the podcast where I share with you the things that need to go to the top of your list to try next. This week, I’m going to take you to Norfolk and to Saffron Walden in Essex. There’s also a recommendation for London, and some bean to bar chocolate that should be available wherever you are in the world. And if it’s not, you need to make sure that you can figure out how it can be. 

I’m also going to touch lightly on the very deep topic of fairness in cocoa and chocolate. If this is something you’d like me to discuss more than please let me know. This week, I also went to IFE, which is the International Food Exhibition. It’s the largest food industry trade show and it is industry only. I had so many things from there that I wanted to share with you that I’ve recorded an entirely separate podcast episode about it. I hope you will listen because I think it has some really game-changing products. If you’re in the food industry, then you really should listen. Make sure that you’re subscribed wherever you get your podcasts because this will be dropping at some point in the next few days on this channel. 

Before I tell you about the things I tried this week, I want to make sure that you are aware of two pop ups that are happening. They are both in London. The first is by Pump Street Chocolate and it is starting on Thursday 31st and it goes through until the 10th of April at 16C Calvert Avenue in London in East London. I’ll put the link in the podcast notes and everything will be on the website everyday there’ll be hosting different bakers so Brunswick East, Nicola Lamb, Nova Bakery, Esters, Toklas, Violet Cakes, Gwyns Bakery so many more.  

The other pop up is also baked goods. It is this Saturday, 2nd April from 10am until 2pm. It’s at Toklas restaurant, which is near Temple Station in central London. It’s a bake sale to raise money for the Cook for Ukraine campaign and it will include baked goods from Edd Kimber, Happy Endings, Violet Cakes, Bao London, Flor Bakery, Meringue Girls, Ottolenghi, and more. I will be there! If you see me, say hi! I think it’s amazing that so many people are generously donating their time and ingredients to make these things and it all goes to such an important cause. It’s being organised by Clerkenwell Boy and Felicity Spector. I’m sure if there’s a queue, you will meet some nice people there. It’s gonna be really delicious, delicious things. I can’t wait.  

Now, onto this week’s episode. First, let’s talk about adventures outside of London. I went to Norfolk just on an overnight trip and on the way stopped in Essex at a town called Saffron Walden, which is a pretty market town about an hour from London. It’s in Essex, and it has some very cool mediaeval buildings and the largest church in Essex, which is also beautiful, plus a garden which is stunning. It’s had a market there since 1141. That’s right 1141, not the time, the year. It was originally called Walden and was quite a significant town. Then it was known as Chipping Walden until around 1500. At that point, there was a lot of saffron growing in the area. Who knew? It was King Henry VIII that formerly named the town Saffron Walden in 1514. 

It has many independent shops, including Miss Mini Bread, which was our first stop. This is a bakery, making sourdough bread and it was founded by Megan Charnock in 2017, just selling locally from her house initially. They got their space in 2018. Her husband joined the business and they are really popular with the locals. Their shelves are full of stunning looking sourdough and they always have a few treats on the counter as well as cinnamon buns which are the crowd favourite. I loved the marmalade brown butter cake that I bought.  Megan recommended the cafe Bicicleta in the centre of town so we stopped and had breakfast there, which was really well made.  

It was conveniently opposite Hill St Chocolate. Hill St Chocolate was founded by brothers Chris and Greg who grew up locally. Greg went off to work in design and Chris trained as a chef working at places like the Savoy and the Mayfair before moving to Paris and, after they’re working for some three Michelin starred restaurants, he went to work for Patrick Roger, who is an incredible Parisian chocolatier. If you go to Paris, make sure you go and visit him. Although honestly, it’s so similar that you can pretend you’re in Paris by just visiting Saffron Walden in Essex. The chocolates that Chris and Greg and their team make are so similar to Patrick Roger chocolates; very much in the French style, which is a super smooth ganache that’s slightly firm, has the thinnest coating of chocolate on the outside. So you just get this tiniest crack as you bite into it. They’re very, very elegant. It’s a beautiful shop as well. They do make caramels and pralines and have some stunning animals and other creatures that are made out of chocolate. I found out when I visited that they’ve been experimenting with bean to bar chocolate. I got a sneak preview and it was fantastic. The aim is to have all of their bon-bons – all of their filled chocolates – made out of this, their own bean to bar chocolate.  They’ve also expanded into the back of the shop, taking over more of the building. Now you can sit and have hot chocolate and cakes. Later in the year they will be launching an afternoon tea. They also have a shop in Cambridge.  

We were lucky enough to be travelling to Norfolk on a Friday, which at the moment is the only day that you can collect baked goods from Siding. Siding was founded in Melton Constable in North Norfolk by Polly Quick in 2019, after she spent years working in other bakeries. It was a café and then, during lockdown, became just a bakery and a goods store. They will be opening – hopefully in May – as a full sit-down restaurant. Her partner Harry is a chef and makes pasta and they have also installed a rotisserie oven. They use local flour and the difference that it makes to the baked goods really is noticeable. I loved everything that I tried from there and wished that I had bought more. So I’ve already booked a return trip to Norfolk. Hopefully I’ll be able to have dinner and I can report back on that.  

Part of the reason I have booked again is because we found a hotel that had a room which had a large cupboard where they put bunk beds. It sounds maybe slightly wrong. But if you have small children between 2 and 10, then check out Ironmongers Boutique in Aylsham. I have put the link on the website. All of the things that I talk about on the podcast have pictures at Aylsham is home to a bakery called Bread Source. We collected croissants on Saturday morning, which were very good as well. Bread Source have other locations in Norwich, too. We did stop at another bakery in Norwich called Dozen which is on the edge of Norwich. It was almost closing time but I managed to buy a croissant and a cookie. A sensational cookie made with Land Chocolate. Land is a company started by Phil Landers in Bethnal Green, they make excellent chocolate and it really just enhances anything that it goes into. If you do have more recommendations for Norwich, please let me know.  

The promised the London recommendation is Brunswick East. Brunswick East have two locations. They bake their own bread and cakes as well as serving brunch and lunch. They are the makers of the best stollen that I have ever had. We had breakfast and it was fantastic. And I also picked up a croissant swirl that had what was described as Bailey’s and Stout. I felt it tasted much more like a tiramisu with mascarpone. It was very, very enjoyable regardless, Brunswick East are one of the bakers that will be at the Cook for Ukraine bakesale this Saturday.  

Finally, I wanted to share with you a few bean to bar chocolate brands, one of which was sent to me by the founder who I’ve met before and three that I found at IFE and didn’t manage to include in that episode – the one that I’ll be sharing with you soon.  

Bantu is a brand new bean to bar chocolate company launched by Veronique Mbida. Veronique’s mother inherited land in Cameroon in 2016. Rather than just plant cocoa, they also planted other crops in order to make sure that they were operating under regenerative farming practices. Also, cocoa trees take between three and five years to produce fruit that is able to be turned into chocolate. So, it was partly essential, but also with a view to sustainability as well.  

Veronique has launched her business not just to provide income for her family and to make the most of the incredible beans that are found on her family farm, but also to raise awareness of the issues around the cocoa industry. I really love the packaging, which really highlights some of these, and I particularly liked something that I read on her website: “The construction of contemporary capitalism was accompanied by the normalisation of the idea that food is nothing but a commodity. The story behind a chocolate bar is usually one of an affordable luxury, paid for in misery and exploitation of the producers.”  

Chocolate is a $100 billion industry. And at the moment only 2% of that goes to the farmers. There are more than 5 million farmers around the world. Around 70% of all cocoa that grows in the world is grown in West Africa. If you’re interested in learning more about this, I would definitely recommend Dr. Kristy Leissel’s work. As with everything, it is nuanced, but it is true that the price that is paid for most cocoa is far less than what it should be. This is because of the disproportionate power of the major businesses involved in the cocoa and chocolate industries and their lack of incentive to change it. In fact, there are clear short and medium term financial and business incentives not to change it.  

Bantu is named for the largest group of people in Africa who migrated, many of them speaking different dialects and who now live in Cameroon. This chocolate is not just better from a world, environmental and societal perspective, it also tastes much better than most chocolate that you can find. I was so excited to try it and find that it was so flavorful. The initial taste is of coconut and muscovado sugar and then the cinnamon comes through. And then it tastes like shortbread biscuits. It’s delicious and it only contains cocoa beans and sugar. The links will be at  

Another thing I love is that more of the income that is made from these bars of chocolate will go back to Cameroon and more to the people who are doing the labour of growing and harvesting cocoa. It is incredibly hard labour. It’s one of the only crops in the world that is fully planted and harvested by hand and, as I said, we’re just not paying enough.  

I tried three bean to bar chocolates at IFE, the International Food Exhibition, which were made in the country where the cocoa beans are grown. Two from Jamaica and one from the Dominican Republic. Pure from Jamaica had a chocolate made with Jerk spices which won a gold award at the Academy of chocolate last year. I didn’t expect to like it. I certainly didn’t expect for it to be my favourite, but it was. I’m generally I’m not a fan of too much heavy spices in bars of chocolate, but the two founders are pastry chefs and they really know how to balance flavours so if you find it, I would definitely recommend trying that one.  

I also had a chat with Nick who owns One One Cacao and recently won the Mott Green Award. He is making fantastic chocolate I especially loved the coconut milk and the white chocolate with hibiscus. In Jamaica they call it sorrel but it has nothing to do with sorrel herb as we know it here in the UK, although they are both kind of sour and tart. The hibiscus is the purplish reddish flower that you might have seen in syrup and then popped into a glass of champagne. It is also found as a tea and has been scientifically proven to lower blood pressure. It also apparently has antibacterial effects as well. However it should not be consumed during pregnancy.  

The final bean to bar chocolate brand is Definite Chocolate. I met Daniel, one of the co-founders at the Speciality Fine Food Fair last year. They’ve just launched chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, which also grow locally. Not chocolate covered, obviously! The pairing is fantastic and these were very, very hard to stop eating.  

That’s it for this week. Hopefully you’ll be able to make it to one of the pop ups that I mentioned. 

Please leave a review, subscribe and rate the podcast I would be so grateful if you told all of your friends as well.   

Do make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss when I drop the episode about all of the other incredible things that I discovered at IFE. 

Next week I’ll be talking about the things that I’m up to this week including visiting those pop ups and a couple of other shows including The London Coffee Festival and the Natural Food Show. 

I can’t wait to share these things with you. Until next week, I wish you a very happy eating!

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