Thursday, 23 April 2015

King's Lynn's Best Cafe Sausage 2015 - Part 3 of 10 - Silver Spoon Cafe

The first time we ran this competition the Silver Spoon Cafe finished dead last, by some margin. As you can read, HERE. But things can always improve, so four years on we're back for more.

We went for Medium Breakfasts as per the rules this year, and found that there are four different combinations of ingredients to pick from. I chose the B.C version which includes egg, 2 bacon, sausage, fried slice and beans, whereas Junior Sidekick opted for the B.A and its egg, 2 bacon, sausage, beans and chips. There was quite a difference between the two. And drinks are not included.

Sausage: score 0.75. 
I won't beat about the bush - sad to report that the "sausages" (inverted commas are Very well deserved) served at Silver Spoon cafe are the worst I have ever encountered in any food outlet. Ever. Anywhere. The sausage looks like plastic when it arrives in front of you, the waxy skin has the look of a barrier made out of Joan Rivers' face,  to either stop you getting inside, or more likely to stop the disgusting plop inside getting out. There is little or no discernible pork content and the texture.....well, what texture? We sliced one lengthways and pushed a fork down onto the filling. Disgustingly, the amount of force needed to squish through the filling was negligible, and the gooey mess squirted up through the tines like a watery, porky (?) version of the famous Old Faithful geyser. Truly horrendous.

Rest Of Meal: score 2.75. 
Have a look at the top photo on this report, then at the bottom one. The top pic shows this year's breakfast, the bottom pic is the 2011 version. I'm sorry to state that this year's looks equally unappealling as the previous visit's. What do you think? Very poor presentation. My B.C breakfast was very disappointing, the bacon was scraggy and salty, the egg (just as in 2011) looked....unappetising. JS commented "How do they make egg taste not like egg?" And the sausage.....Junior Sidekick's B.A meal both looked and tasted better with a hefty mound of factory-produced chips dominating the plate, but again including the over-salty bacon, bloody awful banger, and bizarre egg. Unfortunately JS found several blue threads in his food, not hairs but some other alien presence. I checked out the cooks and none of them were wearing anything blue or fluffy, so this contamination must come from some other source. Not acceptable.

Service & Cleanliness: score 4.0. 
Now, here's where the Silver Spoon made up some lost ground. The place is clean, bright and very friendly. The exclusively female servers are cheery, fast and efficient, and smartly presented. Good work! The cafe has a range of tables to accommodate varied-size parties from one to eight diners. The decor though - JS commented "Like an eighty-year-old's living room". Bizarre 3D animal pictures poke out of the walls in between plastic models of various kinds of dog. Crisp, clean and maybe a local theme would be so much better.

 Our meals averaged £5.50, which means that the score for Price is 2.49.

Scores On The Doors (after 3 rounds, click the cafe name to read their report):

P1 Pedlars Hall Cafe       13.19 
P2 Archers Cafe               12.25
P3 Silver Spoon Cafe               9.99

It's appropriate that Silver Spoon scored Nine Nine Nine, as their sausages are absolutely criminal.

Scoring & Rules:
Points will be awarded in four categories; Sausage, Service & Cleanliness, Rest Of Meal and Price. The first three will be scored secretly out of 5 by the two of us and the scores averaged. For Price we are again using the Little Chef Olympic Breakfast (£7.99) as the benchmark, subtracting each cafe's price from this, and the resultant figure is their score (minimum score is zero). Simples!

Next target: 
That would be telling! But if you run a King's Lynn cafe, and find a tip of £1.23, we've already come and gone....

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Ian Wright - Creake Abbey Farmers Market - Norfolk Pork Sausage

I bet you didn't know that Ian Wright's sausages have graced these porky pages once before? Way back in March 2012 they were the subject of a guest review written for us by author and sitcom genius Alex Marsh . Here's what he had to say - Jonny B's Review - a positive write-up on the whole.

Now it's time for us to run the RMS rule over Mister Wright's Norfolk Pork sausages, having found them at Creake Abbey Farmers Market, just as Jonny B described. Ian Wright is a lovely chap, gentle in nature, helpful and a pleasure to buy bangers from. Let the rating begin!

Where To Find Them:
Creake Abbey Farmers Market (satnav NR21 9LF). I don't know if they are available elsewhere.  But please do pop along, as well as Ian Wright's you'll be spoiled for choice for good produce.

Mildly salty, but a warm taste of home and childhood. There is more of the salt than pepper, it works quite nicely. Mellow, melting, inoffensive and.....nice.

The skins are great, nice work Ian. The texture is quite even throughout, mid-size pieces. When you push this sausage apart you get lots of nice crumbly crumbs. Overall it's slightly disappointing, very uniform all the way through, every slice pretty much identical. Not terrible, far from it, but not mind-blowing either. Just.....nice.

Junior Sidekick's Three Word Verdict:
Not very chewy.

Vital Statistics:
Average Weight Uncooked = 57 grams
Average Weight Cooked = 50 grams
Meat Content = Don't Know - sorry, my bad, won't do it again, etc....

Value For Money:
£3.37 for 6 sausages weighing 341 grams. This works out as £9.88 per kg and 56p per banger.

We rate this as good value for money.

The Imaginatively Titled Next Day Cold Sausage Test:
There were none of these sausages left to test out in the morning. We "will" re-start this part of the reviews soon, promise.

And Finally, Esther:

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Creake Abbey - North Creake - Pork, Leek & Bacon Sausage

As part of our comeback series of reviews, looking at sausages harvested from Creake Abbey Farmers Market, this week we may be in for a real treat. The sausages are none other than those from Creake Abbey's own Food Hall, produced by an uproariously talented young butcher by the name of Lisa Scothern. It should be no surprise that Lisa's charcuterie skills are so fabulous, as she learned her killer meaty moves from master butchers Ray Smith (River Cottage) and Matt Cockin (Fruitpig Company). OK, not everyone who has ever shaken hands wih David Beckham can bend it like Goldenballs, but Lisa has learned from these Professors of Pork and has the piece of paper to prove it.

When I say "piece of paper" I mean "Degree in Artisan Food Production". This was gained at the School Of Artisan Food in Nottinghamshire, with a major in butchery/charcuterie. This is obviously a very broad subject, as students not only learn how to butcher and process meats, but also "what a fluffer is". Now, unless there's a butcher-specific definition of fluffer, this does seem slightly off-topic? Nevertheless Lisa learned well and set up her own business, "Sherwood Charcuterie". In her own words, "....set up my own business in 2013. My focus was initially on producing great bangers and burgers and cooking at events. I also had a small range of air dried produce. I relocated lock, stock and barrel as I fell in  love with the giant that manages Creake Abbey (all Matt Cockin's fault!!) and we all live happily ever after........My plan is to re-establish a business in wholesaling salami and salumi, once I find a suitable premises locally, whilst keeping a hand in as butcher at Creake Abbey."

Where To Find Them:
The home of this sausage is the food hall at the delightful Creake Abbey Cafe and Food Hall. If you're using your Satnav then type in NR21 9LF. Alternatively find the sausages at Drove Orchards Farm Shop in the gorgeous north Norfolk village of Thornham (PE36 6LS). While you're there head down the lane towards the sea and you may find Junior Sidekick and me crabbing off Thornham sluice gate! Idyllic.

Deep, dark, almost smoky - that was what I wrote in my notes, and before I knew that the bacon included is home-smoked. This is a splendid banger indeed. Just as we like it, each mouthful is a little different which is great to taste and also proof that there is no Mega-Banger X5000 machine pumping these out at a vast rate of knots. The tasty products here are obviously, and superbly, made by hand. You can almost see the thumbprints. Leek or bacon sometimes take centre stage which I particularly admire, and there was the occasional squeak when biting into a larger chunk of the leek. Totally and overwhelmingly delicious.

Very coarse and very rough cut. Exactly the way we likes 'em. These sausages are tough to push apart and when you do finally manage it there are large lumps of loveliness tumbling around your plate. Bloody fantastic work. Substantial and  huge lumps of the top-rated Blythburgh pork, big bits of bacon, and what appears to be half a leek here and there - this is Rate My Sausage perfection. Before our recent break from reviewing it became obvious to me that pork and leek was my favourite type of sausage - Oh Emm Jee these bangers have raised the bar, and the enjoyment of eating, to another level. Natural casings are the perfect finishing touch to one of the greatest sausages I've ever had the pleasure of eating.

Vital Statistics:
Average Weight Uncooked = 105 grams (MONSTROUSLY HUGE)
Average Weight Cooked = 92 grams
Meat Content = 75 % pork, and 16% bacon, smoked in Creake Abbey's very own smokehouse. 

Amazingly we were provided with the full list of ingredients, which is a first as butchers are invariably secretive about there bangers. But we're keeping them a secret.

Value For Money:
£6.28 for 6 sausages weighing 631 grams. This works out as £9.95 per kg and 104p per banger.

We rate this as absolutely bloody marvellous value for money.

The Fruitpig Factor:
Lisa Scothern of Creake Abbey and Matt Cockin of the Fruitpig Company are, at the same time, the best of friends and the keenest of rivals. Indeed, Matt is credited (see above) for starting the avalanche of amour that will end in Lisa's forthcoming nuptials, and I have it on 100% good authority that he will be the chief bridesmaid at said wedding. It won't be his first time....

Take It Further:
Right, you have just read this review. And it's feckin' awesome. You want to make your own sausages just like these. Well....maybe you can....

Lisa Scothern is a tutor at the superb Cannon & Cannon's Meat School. Located in Borough Market, London, this place is a meat-lovers nirvana. Check the link, and if it tickles your fancy, treat yourself to an inside track to pork (and more) perfection. You will NOT regret it!

And Finally, Esther:
A Mary Poppins of a sausage - practically perfect in every way.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Papworths - Creake Abbey Farmers Market - Johnson Flyer Sausage

On 7 March this year I took a trip to Creake Abbey Farmers Market and came home with a splendid haul of new sausages to try out. We ran a poll to let you, our beloved readers, decide which sausage we should fry first, and the winning butcher was Papworth's. I chose their unusually named (more on that later) "Norfolk Flyer" sausage to review first, dug out the RMS pans and here we are. Our first new review since July 2013. Not a lot has changed, we'll still be frying not grilling, but instead of olive oil we've changed to rapeseed oil from the most excellent Yare Valley Oils.

It's nice to be back, and we hope you enjoy reading about our often ill-informed and irreverent adventures with sausages....

Where To Find Them:
As already described I found these sausages at Creake Abbey Farmers Market, but this is definitely not the only place that you can buy them. Papworths also have bricks and mortar shops in Market Place, Swaffham (postcode is PE37 7QH for your SatNav), Miller's Walk, Fakenham (NR21 9AP) and Station Road, Sheringham (NR26 8RG).

Have a peek at the photo of the stall. On the right is Sam Papworth himself, with an enthusiastic Stan on the left. If you're new to Rate My Sausage you may wonder what the heck I'm on about with the Stan stuff? Well for years I called a local butcher Stan, before he eventually told me that his name was "Terry. It's bloody Terry. TERRY!" Since then we have used Stan as the collective noun for all the staff diligently beavering away behind the counter. The more Stans on view the better we like it.

Subtle-y peppery, discreet seasoning but done well. This is an old recipe with no modern frills, and has been tried and tested over many years. Do not add any of your own salt or pepper as I think you'd overdo it and spoil the taste. If this is how bangers tasted during the second world war then it's no wonder that Adolf got a butt-kicking.

The filling is chopped to a medium coarseness, which works well. But how juicy and succulent when you slice one open and press the meat with the flat of your fork. The goodness simply oozes out. The skins are natural and keep these sausages supremely moist through the cooking process.

Vital Statistics:
Average Weight Uncooked = 81 grams - big and bouncy!
Average Weight Cooked = 70 grams
Meat Content = 80%

These sausages look big and that's because they ARE big. Solid chunky lumps of porky pleasure - don't cook too many because you won't manage to eat them all. Alternatively cook LOTS and put some back in the fridge for the next day. Picture two burly lumberjacks using a two-handed saw to carve their way back and forth through a recently felled giant redwood. The Johnson Flyers are the sausagey equivalent of that tree. Really.

Value For Money:
£2.33 for 4 sausages weighing 323 grams. This works out as £7.20 per kg and 58p per banger.

We rate this as very good value for money. Try some soon!

The "Aah, Bisto" Factor:
Delicious sausagey wafts had me clock-watching while the Johnson Flyers were in the pan. Lovely.

Why "Norfolk Flyer"?
A good question, thanks for asking. The sausage was launched to coincide with the 2013 Movember LINK campaign. I'll let Sam's own description do the rest:

The Johnson Flyer – Our Movember Sausage.
Friday 1st November sees the start of Movember, and in our case the launch of a new sausage to go with it.
Richard and Alex are going to grow their Mo's in memory of shop manager John's late father Johnnie Johnson D.F.C.
Johnnie flew over 40 missions to Germany during WWII in a Lancaster bomber.
The butchers will grow their Mo's , and at the end of Movember Johno has agreed to join them in shaving his Mo off! It will be the first time he has gone without for over 45 years.
John knows all too well the importance of good Radiography, as his wife Liz is recovering from cancer, and regularly has to visit hospital in Norwich and London.
With all this in mind we have named the banger "The Johnson Flyer".
It is a robustly flavoured Pork Sausage with black pepper and sage as its’ primary flavours, with hints of nutmeg and coriander in there too.
It is a sausage John can remember making years ago, and was always popular with his customers. With the help of our ingredients company D.F Dickens we have re-created the flavours. Made with our own local Pork we are sure you will enjoy.

And Finally, Esther:
A really good sausage to have chosen for our return, complete with a fascinating and heart-warming back story. Recommended!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

King's Lynn's Best Cafe Sausage 2015 - Part 2 of 10 - Archers Cafe

We're boldly searching the cafeterias of King's Lynn in an echo of our 2011 expedition. This is the second instalment of 2015 - we'll be making one visit each month throughout the year - and this time we raided Archers Cafe in Purfleet Street. Yes, you DO know where that is, down the road alongside Boots towards the Custom House. Next door to the Lynn News.

Online reviews of Archers recently are uniformly upbeat, so we were looking forward to this one, especially a certain favourite food item which we found out was home-made on the premises....

Sausage: 4.0 Very, very good. We were expecting some quality here and while we were waiting to be served the cafe's meat supplier pulled up in their van, right in front of us - it was only ruddy Prior's of West Lynn! Result! The Stan from Prior's came and went and our expectation levels were raised. We weren't disappointed, the banger was a beauty, the pork tasted high provenance and sweet, the seasoning was there but not over done, and the skin snapped apart delightfully. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better banger in a cafe. Great job Archers.

Rest Of Meal: 4.25 The food was tremendous. We ordered the Full English breakfast which included 2 bacon, 2 local sausages, 2 home-made hash browns, toast, beans, tomato, mushrooms, and 2 fried eggs. Tea was free if you spent £5.00 or more on your meal, before eleven o'clock; Junior Sidekick went for hot chocolate. Every item that was on our plates was cooked perfectly, and looked very appetising. Bacon was thick and sweet, every mushroom was perfectly juicy and Junior Sidekick even praised the beans. The teapot that arrived was huge and I thought I'd stumbled into never-ending char heaven - it was "only" half-full though (not a criticism). A superb quality meal, cooked beautifully.

Unfortunately there was a problem. The people on the next table were told "Sorry we have no hash browns today, our manager didn't order them." Say what? The hash browns are listed as home-made, why would you have to order them? That suggests that they are Not home-made at all. We make hash browns at home for our breakfasts and it's easy, so if Archers had run out they could simply have popped to the fruit and veg stall just around the 
corner and bought some potatoes. Not good dudes! We didn't get any hash browns....

Service & Cleanliness: 4.0 Busy restaurant = good food, so they say. And wow, Archers was busy busy busy! A promising portent. We had to park ourselves and wait for a table, which we didn't mind in the slightest. Once seated we waited a further fifteen minutes for the hard-pressed staff to take our order - again we didn't mind. Service was friendly, if a little rushed, but that's understandable in such a popular venue. Maybe one extra server would have solved this? This is a very clean, quirky, homely place to eat, and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit.

Price: Our meals averaged £9.25, exceeding the Little Chef Olympic Breakfast Threshold (LCOBT). This means that the score for Price is zero.

And, unfortunately there was a problem. We assumed that due to the lack of hash browns a small part of the bill would be chalked off, but not so. Also the free tea, as it was before eleven o'clock, was not free. Small quibbles maybe, but quibbles that definitely took the attention away from the magnificent food.

If anyone at Archers would like to put their case forward please email us -

Scores On The Doors (after 2 rounds):

P1 Pedlars Hall Cafe 13.19 
P2 Archers Cafe 12.25

Scoring & Rules:
Points will be awarded in four categories; Sausage, Service & Cleanliness, Rest Of Meal and Price. The first three will be scored secretly out of 5 by the two of us and the scores averaged. For Price we are again using the Little Chef Olympic Breakfast (£7.99) as the benchmark, subtracting each cafe's price from this, and the resultant figure is their score (minimum score is zero). Simples!

Next target: 
That would be telling! But if you run a King's Lynn cafe, and find a tip of £1.23, we've already come and gone....