Yesterday we decided we needed a day out on the coast. It's easy to forget we live in a coastal county, we're about 2 hours drive from the sea. A search through our extensive collection of books of walks found a circular route through the sandlings and along the River Alde to Snape – just the thing! (click on the map to enlarge it)
It was a glorious day to be striding out along the sandy paths lined with gorse bushes with their yellow coconut scented flowers. Our guide book was written when Rendlesham forest had been flattened by the 1987 hurricane, it described 'views across to the river' – these were now behind tall conifers and silver birches, 20 years of forest regeneration.
The middle section of the route was along the River Alde with views all the way to Snape Maltings. Flocks of waders and ducks were on the shallow estuary, from time to time some took to the air calling reedy, piping notes. This is one of the traditional wherries with its brown sail – the sort of boat that sailed in and out of the east coast estuaries and rivers carrying all sort of goods.
After our walk we drove to the nearby coastal town of Aldeburgh. Of course we had fish and chips, eaten straight from the paper bag while sitting on the sea wall.
There are loads of tempting shopping opportunities at Snape Maltings and in Aldeburgh – so what did we buy . . . pottery from the gallery at the Malting? a dress from the designer clothes shop in Aldeburgh?
No – I resisted! A jar of pickled onions from a table outside a little terraced house and this beautiful line caught cod from one of the fisherman's huts on the beach.
We'd never bought a 'whole' cod before and here was the opportunity to cook the very best quality fish. I consulted my copy of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Cookbook, he recommended cooking the head with generous quantities of fresh herbs . . .
and some chopped onion in 750ml water with 250ml white wine . . .
The tender white flesh from the head was served 'a la Hugh' with mashed potato and a drizzle of a fruity olive oil – no further pictures 'cos we were too busy licking our fingers and saying mmmmmmmm yum!
The fillets will make three more delicious dinners and there's a litre of excellent stock for soup or a risotto. Oh I wish I lived nearer the sea, we'd do this every week!