EDitorial ± 22-Dec-2010

Ipswich Lunches: El Taco Loco

I was going to begin by saying that previous Christmases, we've gone somewhere a bit nice, like The Alex or The Oaks. Looking it up, I see that last year, me and Grenvyle made it all the way to, er, Asda. Our plans, like Morrissey's dreams, have a knack of just not coming true.

Idea had been to hold a Defiants festive jolly at the newly opened restaurant of a local TV chef slash pig farmer (clue to follow). Would have been lovely. Then it snowed, transport was tricky, and here we find ourselves alongside TK Maxx in the Buttermarket shopping centre (home to Cafe Giardino and Cafe Moda) in the newly reopened upstairs food court. Lovely.

It's as it was before, but subtly altered. What was once Burger King is now Wimpy, Just Spuds does what it says on the tin, and that pizza slice place has blended into Bean2Cup. All this has happened before, and all of it will happen again, if you get my galactic drift. Newest and least familiar eatery is El Taco Loco. Go on, guess what they sell. Need another minute?

There's perhaps four or five main choices, a pleasant change. Quesadilla for Andy, burrito for me. Spoke too soon: rice or black beans or refried? Mild or medium or hot salsa? Guacamole? Is it free? No, that's extra. Finally the decisions are over and here's my foil-wrapped Mexican lunch. One last choice: in which of the many multi-level seating areas will we plonk ourselves down, and can we avoid da yoof?

Table taken, tastebuds get to work. Thumbs up for my burrito, first such takeaway I've had since Harvest At Jimmy's. Maybe we'll make it there next year?

If it was a car -- Nissan Tsuru.
If they were passing by -- Eli Wallach.

EDitorial ± 17-Dec-2010

Ipswich Lunches: Oggy Oggy

Before I became the self-made man I am today, ahem, I'd amble into Carr Street of a Saturday lunchtime and nip into the food section of the lamented Co-op department store. There, I'd treat myself to a top takeaway treat in the guise of a chilled Cornish pasty from Pork Farms, a brand for the people by the people. Good times.

That industrial noise of which you're only dimly aware is the procession of progress in the pre-cooked pastry world. Ipswich, our great town, leads the way by offering not one but two proximate pasty emporia. First up and at the Starbucks slash White Horse end of that self same Carr Street, spookily, is Oggy Oggy, The Pasty Company: note that definite article. "Pasties to Shout About!", they claim. We'll be the judge of that, thanks.

Tad chilly for the outside seats. In we step and it couldn't get more Cornish, what with the curry fillings and photos of St Michael's Mount, Clovelly, Adam & Joe, etc. Like Willy's And Milly's round the corner, they've squeezed in some tables though most trade is to-go. Bit poky but OK. No queueing up here, friends, it's waitress service and with a warm smile too. Baguettes, paninis -- pah -- I'll have the medium, no large, no giant Cornish pasty, thanks, plus a side order of beans. When in Rome.

Soon, two ex-tin miners are carrying aloft my Pride Of Padstow to the table. Then I woke up and Andy had finally arrived. How was the grub? Just the job on an icy day, as was the mini cream tea that followed it, comprising scone plus jam plus your actual mini-catering clotted cream portion. All praise the pasty and associated food products.

If it was a car -- VW Kombi.
If they were passing by -- Rick Stein.

EDitorial ± 14-Dec-2010

TT1011, Week 13

Final match of the first half and behold, if it isn't our old friend Rupert from the 90s. We used to do battle with him in the murky depths of division 5 back when there was such an entity. Good to see a reappearance of that famous blue and white headband: once ITFC, now Colchester.

Only Ed and Andy C tonight: Rene needs a Rennie and PC Andy's on lates. Never good to give away three points before you've hit a shot, but hey. Inspired by the Brantons' father and son practice session on the other table, we waltzed through Rupert, Ken and Christine, with one slight wobble for Ed against Ken. And for the second home match in a row, we made half-time tea, this time with added Tesco deep fill mince pies. Yum.

Post match submission of the score followed at The Seal, Woodbridge, very recently rebranded as the Duke Of York. Pleasant enough though they don't have the sophisticated coffee making facilities of the Black Tiles. Boyton, The XX, not a deer in sight.

EDitorial ± 8-Dec-2010

Light Lunches: The Cook's Shed, Melton

Word to the wise from a FOAF was of a new eatery on the outskirts of Woodbridge. Andy's Googling revealed precious little, but he'd been directed towards a particular turn-off from the A1152. There we headed on a cold, cold day. Into the Valley Farm Road we rode, then a tentative right and park up. Horse business abounds, equine laundry, and no obvious sign of ... a-ha, here we are, The Cook's Shed.

Not inclinded to sit outside with those slushpiles on the tables. Inside, and wow. Log-burner, long wooden tables and aromas of good food. By no means the only ones in here, we take a pew among the chutney books and decrypt the chalked-up specials. One lady -- somewhere between Helena Bonham Carter and Rome's Cleopatra -- does the lot: cooks, takes orders, tidies plates, etc. She brings us our drinks, has a chat with some customers, then goes back to the fully open kitchen to prepare our orders.

Room resembles a giant I-Spy game with knick-knacks and misc items everywhere. Here's my Cook's Shed breakfast -- inc. saute pots and fried egg -- c/w Heinz organic ketchup. Most welcome, warming the cockles. Andy's more adventurous with his chorizo & chestnut soup: v. good. Grabbing a quick chat with the owner, she says that she's only open to the general public twice a week at present. We're lucky today. Mostly she does workshops / event catering / private dining / children's parties / business dining and supper clubs. That's how her business card reads. Reputation spreads the best way by word of mouth.

We're both reminded of our trip to the (now defunct) Butley Barn. Sure enough, Shed lady has connections that way. Coffee is calling, to be accompanied by shared beetroot brownie and pear cake. That nice lady comes over, again, bringing us a large cafetiere for two. Like the large overhead clock, I'd have been more than happy to be stuck in there.

If it was a car -- Volvo XC60.
If they were passing by -- Lyndsey Marshal.

EDitorial ± 6-Dec-2010

TT1011, Week 12

Snow's over and now it's even colder, two or three below. Defiants are huddling together for warmth in Andy C's Volksmotor en route to The Dome. About the same temperature inside as out, tonight, though the ping-pong purist's heart would be warmed by the matches being played. Not ours -- dur -- but the Premier Division match on the other two tables. Boy, they sure can hit it ... and still get it back.

Meantime down in division three, our latest avian opposition is the Wrens: one bloke, two lads. Business as usual for Ed with a hat-trick, ditto (sadly) for PC Andy with a duck. He couldn't get going and those kids are on the way up, unlike our sorry selves.

Leaving Andy C to cruise past the kids but then come unstuck in an uncomfortable game against Phil, bad back winning out over jelly legs. Easy-ish doubles to claim the win, then all back to Ed's for a chip supper.

EDitorial ± 4-Dec-2010

Light Lunches: Mistley Quay Cafe

Tip of the top hat to the top notch two wheelers of Sudbury Cycle Club for their terrific list of cafe stops. It is, like my 11-16 school, comprehensive. Shame that most of 'em fall outside our official light lunch range, but a good excuse to pick off the odd one on a solo excursion, so...

Past Bourne Bridge shack, TV's Jimmy's Farm and through Manningtree: the only way is Essex. False start on Mistley high street. Redirected past the iconic Mistley Towers (hello, Adam!), and keep your eyes peeled for the swan. Reparked in the slush on the slope and spotted two signs: "Fresh Coffee" and "Open". I'm there.

Up the stairs, through the workshop, into the cafe, and it's warm & welcoming as they promised. Like Orford, we're able to take the best seats in the house. If it wasn't already dark, we'd have a fine view over the waters towards the bombed-in-1940 Bijou barge. Lots of lovely specials to be had -- hearty beef stew, haddock and bacon risotto -- but mind on the job, we are here for death. Oops, cake. Paddling pool hot chocs for the girlies, depth charged with marshmallows. Mine's the cream tea: v. good scone with lashings of jam and cream, plus an above average straight coffee. Elsewhere on the table, verdict is in on the carrot cake: "yummy".

Not too big, not too small, cakes on view and art on the wall. All that and today's papers (inc. Times and 20p "i") contribute towards that atmosphere which says "let's have another cup of tea" and linger a while longer. Tucked away gem, well worth a trip out.

If it was a car -- DUKW.
If they were passing by -- Ben Ainslie.