‘Summertime and the living is easy’ - So let’s make the most of it and get outside! Snug, warm, cheery pubs can wait until autumn; this month we’re having a picnic.
Home-made cheese sandwiches just don’t have the right note of luxury and decadence, so Fredrick’s of Diss to the rescue! In an extraordinary courtyard off St Nicolas Street at the top of Diss, you will find (together with other interesting artisan shops of all kinds) a store of such epicurean delight to fill your every desire.
If the sun shines on a Friday, go then; it’s market day and all the extras will be about. Take a cool box with you so you can buy the food early in the day, and take a slow meander down Mere Street (pedestrianised) popping in and out of the shops. There is a 1950 s-style hardware store that sells everything. Down at the bottom of the street there’s a book shop; an ice-cream vendor; and just when you need it – the toilets.
Here also is the entrance to The Mere Park: the mere being a large lake with ducks to feed, fishing to be had, and a fountain! There is a buggy-friendly path right through the park, and the neatly trimmed grass slopes gently upwards to a flat area at the top. Here you will find a safe children’s play area, and a ‘roof-on-legs’ shelter against rain, and a small café for hot drinks. Being of advancing years (and the grass being damp) we were enticed by one of the bench seats
We bought the food after much discussion about what to have; there were some deliciously tempting flat stuffed mushrooms which appealed to me, but having forgotten to take any cutlery with us, we decided – regretfully – to omit them from our list. For £3.20 we could fill a container with our own choice taken from nine different salads. We focussed mainly on the ones we wouldn’t make at home; tomato, olive and garlic salad; and beetroot dusted with chopped mint that gave it a sweet almost floral taste. There was egg mayonnaise; pasta and feta cheese; asparagus, and noodles.
On the meat front, there were at least 5 different pates: smoked salmon, duck, pork, chicken and mushroom. Again, we decided that these were too difficult to eat with fingers. Dithering between the humongous sausage roll and dinky little pork pies, we bought one of each and swapped and shared. The pork pie had a peppery kick which didn’t kick in until you had said, ‘No, I didn’t notice that’ and then coughed earnestly. There was also a range of bread loaves, and a wide selection of cheeses, but as I had firmly decided against a bread-and-cheese picnic we turned our attention to the large individual quiches: we selected mushroom one and a ham, cheese, and tomato one. Also vying for attention was a spinach and salmon ‘slice’; very filling it turned out to be too.
For the desert I chose a Portuguese Custard tart. I was disappointed with the pastry – it had no salt in it, and I find the result insipid, but my companion was happy enough with it. The lemon meringue tart would have benefitted from less meringue and more lemon, but again that is personal taste
We spent £22.19 in all. The shop sells wine, but being unsure about drinking alcohol in a public space, and having a sweet 3 year old with us, we chose Apple and Elderberry cordial which was so fragrant and uplifting it brought the sun out just in time. And the lady in the shop gave us plastic cutlery, so we needn’t have worried about that.
Fredrick’s of Diss, In an extraordinary courtyard off St Nicolas Street at the top of Diss,