Maltings Musings



Older people are expected to grumble about things, so when you do find something to criticise “they” say: ‘There, I told you, he’s a miserable so-and-so’. This is a short preface to one or two less than favourable comments I have this month and to say that most of the time I am a cheerful cove.

If, like me, you are of an age when going to a concert was something special, and the musicians looked as if it was important for them too, contemporary scruffiness is hard to get used to. A couple of weeks back we attended a Maltings concert by the London Wine Ensemble (no jokes, please). The players, eight in number, augmented to 13 for the final opus, especially the three women members, looked as casually dressed as many of the audience, if not more so. That their performance was not tip-top either, only accentuated the impression. They were all competent professionals, but even in items as popular as Mozart’s Wine serenades, total togetherness was not theirs. We came away slightly disappointed. Listening to a recording of the said Mozart alas confirmed the impression.

Whilst on the subject of the Maltings, I do feel the gents urinals (a flat stainless steel “peeing” wall) need updating. Or something. Most unpleasantly malodorous.


Which doesn’t bring me directly to the delightful afternoon tea we had last month in the 1800 Café at the Maltings. We were the beneficiaries of a Voucher for Tea for Two from son Robert, and I have to say it was most enjoyable. Years since I had cucumber sandwiches, scones with cream and jam, and little cakes, all in one go. At £12.95 it’s reasonably priced, served by charming young women in a happy and pleasing atmosphere. An excellent way to spend an afternoon, especially if the sun is out and you can have a walk along the reed-side pathways and the famous “boardwalk” afterwards.

Having enjoyed a couple of marvellous French meals last month – one at the Zedel Brasserie in what used to be the basement of the Regent Palace Hotel, Piccadilly Circus, and the other at a restaurant with rooms in Warlingham, Surrey, called “Chez Vouz”, I get increasingly depressed about the use of ready-meals in English restaurants and pubs. The tell-tale signs are items like “Slow cooked lamb shank”, Lasagne, Shepherd’s Pie and exotic stews like Tagine, on the same menu. Sometimes, there is a chef in the kitchen doing more than unwrap frozen or ready-cooked packs, like the White Lion at Badingham (see review), but all too often it’s warm-up time, folks. If I want ready-meals I can go to the supermarket.

If you need culinary inspiration, or simply ideas for meals or where to buy local food and ingredients then the place for you is the Festival Weekend of the Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival on the 27th and 28th of September at Snape Maltings. The free programme is a mine of information, with several good recipes in it. . There are lots available, free, at many food stores and other locations. Or, go to

Children are welcome and can participate in cookery sessions as my picture shows.


I rather like the title of some of the Master- classes – for instance: “Make Loaves Not War”, “My Favourite Rye Bread and Why I eat it Every day” (Good Lord!) and “Secret Butchers Cuts” (An apostrophe missing?) If you can bear the crowds – and one session, “A Feast from the Middle East” is already sold out – then this is where you should be.