EDitorial ± 19-Dec-2012

Ipswich Lunches: Patisserie Valerie

Ah, nearly Crimble and Ipswich has got itself a controversial tree of white light. It's stunning, which is why it's surrounded by folks whipping out their phones to snap a quicky pic. Hats off to IBC. In other seasonal news, it's less than a week to the big day, i.e. the first day of the Christmas Radio Times. Woop!

I thought we'd established some sort of Light Lunch tradition of heading somewhere a bit nice at this time of year. Turns out that previous festive outings have been to the likes of Cafe Siena (2011), El Taco Loco (2010) and even the caff in Asda (2009). All fine in their own way but not super special. This year, however, we may have saved such a place: welcome to Patisserie Valerie.

Diagonally opposite ShakeAway in the Buttermarket and occupying the former premises of an odd shop selling wartime songs on CDs, etc -- Past Times will eat itself -- PV was first spotted during the Tour Of Britain week. Even then, the simple folk of the town were gathering to gawp at the gorgeous gateaux (fancy plural) and peer at the pretty prices. How much is that doughnut in the window?! Despite or because of the cost -- austerity Britain, my beignet -- it gets busy, hence the waiting area by the window. No time to experience that since Andy's already seated. Let's be having you, as they say up in Norfolk.

There's attractive smiles by the dozen, and that's just our table. Shiny young servers attend to your every whim, and stood patiently, still a-gleam, while we made our choices. Looking after the pennies, we both opt for two courses for a tenner. Pasta carbonara for him, pasta arrabiata for me, and a refreshing orange & cranberry to sup (with a straw) while waiting. Bit of a wait, then our Italianate meals arrive. Oops, young lady has brought two carbonaras. T'ain't right. Profuse apologies follow, as does the offer of a free drink -- I couldn't possibly -- or a free cake? No, no, oh, go on, then, surprise me. Sweet deal, that one, as a lovingly wrapped package of goodness arrives, easily beating my late pasta. Meantime, Andy, is bolting his down prior to catching a train. Finally, here's my saucy pasta. Yum.

PV manages a olde worlde charm with that air of kaffee und kuchen: our old TT friend Rene would like it here, no doubt. Savoury sorted, at last, we both go for the pancakes with maple syrup and mascarpone. They're OK but not a lot better than you'd get with a McDonald's breakfast. Should have gone for one of the posh £4 pastries. Coffee and mocha, though, are top drawer. Whereupon Andy decides to skip that train and catch the next one instead, further confuddling the waitress. Lovely service and atmosphere -- like a corporate version of the delightful Tea Boutique -- though you'll need to dig into your savings before you come on over to Valerie.

If it was a car -- Citroen Dyane.
If they were passing by -- Valerie Singleton.

EDitorial ± 14-Dec-2012

Ipswich Lunches: ShakeAway

Now, if you want to take some pictures of the fascinating witches or, like us, simply visit The Bubble Lounge in Ipswich, you're too late! Their place in The Walk looked much like that of The Orangery across the way, i.e. closed. Or maybe they're all out of bubble mixture. There goes Plan A.

Plan B (who, oddly, was in the audience at the New Wolsey in October): let's shake a leg down to the Buttermarket. Must check if the likes of Cafe Giardino and Cafe Moda are still going. Grazing gaudily opposite prim Waterstones is ShakeAway, "the world's largest milkshake bar company", or at least a branch thereof. Seats outside are as welcoming as last week at the Ruddy Duck, but it's now mid-December and the weather's still filthy.

There's a handful of seats inside -- plus a table football -- and they do coffee, and they have a roof. Criteria met. Hang on an udder-squeezing minute: hold the coffee 'cos this is the place for a hot milkshake! Canny all-year franchise that they are, they offer a limited edition range of warming shakes on their Hot Stuff Winter Menu. Among the saucily named Cuddly Kate, Hot Harry and Warming Willie, fnar, are sections labelled:

  • chocolatey
  • cakey
  • biscuity
  • sweety

Eventually, selections are selected: Daim/Dime Bar with extra Maltesers for Andy, and bakewell tart topped with custard for me. Truly a first for the Light Lunchers, those options. Takes a while for the fella to freshly prep our beverages, but here they are, and ... they're far better than you might think. Not unpleasant. Actually quite nice on such a grotty day. An entire Wonka-type meal in themselves, and ideal before heading up High Street to see the hygienist. Sweet!

If it was a car -- Jake The Shake Car.
If they were passing by -- Sheikh Mansour.

EDitorial ± 7-Dec-2012

Light Lunches: Ruddy Duck Cafe, Bromeswell

Enter Ronald Rutherford from Leicester:

Er, well, Swann's, Swann's, there's this nursery, there's this nursery, and er, it's in the morning, it's in the morning -- no, it's lunchtime, in the lunchtime and er, there's a garden and er, these blokes come in -- blokes come in -- what's their names? -- what's their names?

Andy and Ed -- for those are their names -- are heading Swann's Way. Past Five Winds, past the British Larder (one day, maybe), then a cheeky left. Before Eyke comes Bromeswell, and praise be, there's a sign: CAFE. Down the track to park outside Swann's Nursery, "local experts for plants". We ain't here for greenery; we're here for grub. Cafe sign seems to point within that tent of Christmas goodies -- brief visions of sitting under a sheet of soggy polythene -- but no, it's round the back. There, in its standalone portacabin home, sits the Ruddy Duck Cafe. Outside seating would be delightful if it wasn't early December and a really filthy day. Push door and proceed for warmth and welcome.

Counter and kitchen to the right, proper wooden tables -- with cushions, mind -- and some comfy seating to the left, and a Christmas tree dead ahead. Naw. Specials all round from the lovely ladies: pumpkin and red pepper soup for the driver, turkey & stuffing bap for the passenger. 'Tis the season, innit. On our table sits a carved wooden duck named Ida. Quick scan of today's EADT and behold our well-presented platters, mine with added coleslaw, crisps and, note, some dressed side salad. Thumbs very much aloft. Clear that these ladies take pride in the produce.

Back for a large macchiato, and let's pause there. Imagine, a posh coffee, very good too, near Eyke! Wow. Plus a slab of millionaires' shortbread, since it's nearly Friday. For Andy, the mocha and choc cake, 'cos he needs building up. Best garden centre caff by a country mile. I ruddy love this place.

If it was a car -- DUKW.
If they were passing by -- Joe Gilgun.

EDitorial ± 3-Dec-2012

Asda Bell


Bell, can't deny.

Evac! Fire!


Heed info. Just keep left.

Move next onto path.

Quiz risk? Safe, this unit!

Very well. eXit your zone.