If the weather smiles everybody smiles: the food and drink at Snape – it isn’t Aldeburgh any more than the music festival – would make anyone smile in a storm.
As well as the gourmet delights there are flowers, plants and the shops and galleries. It’s enough – almost – to justify the high prices of local accommodation. Animate attractions, apart from farmers and producers we know, and the possibility of meeting friends or even making them, always include top chefs talking about and demonstrating their skills. This year we saw Thomasina Miers and Joe Trivelli, ‘joint’ head chef, he insisted, of the River Cafe. Just to watch them demonstrate preparing food is a delight; hearing what they have to say is the dressing.
Fascinating to learn that Caesar salad was originated in Mexico, where Thomasina Miers finds her inspiration, and to hear that the River Cafe sent its chefs to Italy during a period of refurbishment – clearly not part of the gig economy. Tempting to go away and try what they have demonstrated, but we can also pick up easy options, like a sea food meal, to take home.
All the produce would do well at a competitive show; one of the stalls – I suspect it was Suffolk Cheese, a near neighbour – had actually supplied the cheese Joe Trivelli used in his focaccia recipe. It could equally have been Sudbourne Farm that provided the aubergine he used in a second dish, making a tart of the same pastry. How he opened it almost like spinning a plate on his hands to create a wafer-thin disc was a revelation. To try it is to risk the ‘pancake on the floor’ disaster.
Each talk lasts about 45 minutes. It is possible to indulge half a day sitting and listening in the marquee. Alternatively, and very temptingly, one can move between venues and buy food and drink on the way. There has also to be time for lunch, and what better than a table overlooking the river with a serving of calamari accompanied by Prosecco?
Last year I bought a book of recipes and have used several of them regularly. Perhaps my skills are not up to the best of either the Miers or the Trivelli; what I can do doesn’t need a recipe book, although both are home cooking not restaurant methods. Anyway, with a holiday approaching the budget needs watching.
So home we came with delights for cupboard and fridge, looking forward to both in the next few days and having plenty to talk about as well as gaining the benefit of a another fine day close to the sea.
There is at least some connection between the Festival and Aldeburgh, though: some of the contributors are based in Aldeburgh and a free shuttle bus operates for residents to the Festival. Oh, and speaking of meeting friends, my wife said hello to someone she knew then realised it was Prue Leith, who fortunately must be prepared for that sort of thing.