Muddy tries: The Norfolk Deli, Huntstanton
There’s something lovely and comforting about a deli – from the traditional canopies (stripy or otherwise) keeping the place – and the produce – cool, to the wooden crates of plump fruit and veg, and from the delectable cheese counter to the rows and rows of local bottled beers.
It’s even more comforting when the deli is family-run with a lovely story to go with it. Take The Norfolk Deli in Hunstanton, founded by husband and wife team Rosie and Mark, they finally took the plunge after years of living in London and now live in the house upstairs.
“When our last child decided not to go to University, we thought it was the right time,” says Mark, whose love of delis started when he was a child and his dad used to bring back tasty products from nearby Harrods.
With both a deli counter boasting more than 30 cold meats/hams – as well as a wide choice of olives/antipasti – and a cheese counter with 60 cheeses, all hand picked for their flavour, customers couldn’t want for much more. There’s also jams, pickles, oils, chutneys, eggs, cakes and much, much more.
Being a traditional deli, Rosie and Mark felt it important to forego a café in favour of sourcing and stocking the best of Norfolk produce, as well as those harder to find items not often available in supermarkets. It’s paid off: you only have to look at their website to see the amount of awards they have (and are still) amassing.
Sandwiches at the stylish grey shop are made to order and stuffed to the brim with fresh produce, while brides and grooms can order a cheese wedding cake – layers of large cheese wheels designed to look like a tiered cake. Genius.
In fact, with just two people running Norfolk Deli, it’s hard to imagine them managing more than the long seven-day week, but Rosie and Mark go all out offering picnic hampers for days out; gift hampers; cakes, cookies and cupcakes freshly baked to order; and a takeaway menu for eat-in or take out.
But the loveliest idea conjured up by Mark and Rosie is Cliques, a members club for customers with a passion for wine, cheese or coffee. Clique members receive a different East Anglian cheese, speciality grade coffee or bottle of plonk to their door each month to try. It doesn’t get more quainter.
With a weekend at a country barn on the horizon, I got in touch with The Norfolk Deli to ask if I could try one of their hampers. Having chatted over Twitter (well, this is the 21st century!), we established that, being a local, I probably wouldn’t benefit from a hamper full of local jams and oils to take home but would prefer something more ‘useful’. We finally narrowed the extensive choices down to two ideas: a breakfast hamper with coffee, local sausages, fresh eggs and juice or an evening hamper with dinner and wine.
Knowing that I was arriving Friday evening after a day at work – and that the barn was located quite a way from a shop – I opted for the dinner hamper and gave an ETA and directions. Easy peasy.
What wasn’t so easy was finding the barn, but Mark persevered and eventually reached me. Carrying a white cardboard box with The Norfolk Deli emblazoned on it, he opened it up and unpacked the produce in front of my eyes, making me salivate (warning: if you are hungry, stop reading now!).
Inside is a homemade steak and kidney pie (the pastry traditionally crimped by hand), a bunch of Norfolk asparagus, a bag of local – and still muddy – potatoes, a bottle of red wine from Norfolk vineyard Winbirri, two packets of frozen Cosmopolitan cocktails, a punnet of fresh (and shiny) strawberries, a carton of double cream, and – for my daughter – a bottle of fresh apple juice, a tiny chocolate bunny and a hot chocolate stirrer stick. Check it all out – yum yum!
As the pie cooked, the pastry puffed up and became flaky, while a rich gravy oozed out meaning I didn’t need to make any.
So, if ever you find yourself in Hunstanton, make sure you drop into the Norfolk Deli – you’re wallet may not thank you but your stomach certainly will.
The Norfolk Deli, 16 Greevegate, Hunstanton, Norfolk, PE36 6AA. Tel: 01485 535540. norfolk-deli.co.uk