Spread some festive cheer by making it a Norfolk Christmas this year

Christmas dinner

What better than a Norfolk-reared turkey as the centrepiece of your Christmas food menu? - Credit: Getty Images/Monkey Business

Well, here we are in December, and in one way Christmas has come early today as this week the four week national lockdown was finally eased – albeit into a rather more strict regime than many had expected for Norfolk.
But let’s be positive and spread some festive cheer. At least we are able to get out and shop for the big day. And given that they have been unable to trade for four of their potentially busiest weeks of the year, our local, independent retailers need our support in the next three weeks more than ever.
When it comes to the edible side of Christmas (which let’s face it, is the highlight for many people), the choices we make at the checkouts will have a greater effect this year than at any Christmas in living memory. For many of Norfolk’s food and drink producers and retailers, attracting our custom in December will literally determine whether they are still around in the new year.
Anyone who cares about our county’s position as a food and drink centre of excellence has the wherewithal in their own hands to ensure it endures. Never before has it been more important to shop local.
Fortunately, doing just that is no hardship when it comes to putting your Yuletide feast on the table. Not only will opting for local produce bought at local retailers be supporting local jobs and livelihoods – it will also ensure that your Christmas dinner is as delicious as it can be.
To help you make the right choice, here are some suggestions for your festive shopping. It would take all the pages of this newspaper to list every local producer, so this is necessarily just a suggestion of some of my personal favourites. If you have your own local preferences, please do support them. Just don’t simply put the first thing you find at the supermarket in your trolley.
Putting a Norfolk turkey on your table is an easy start. If you can bag yourself a wonderfully gamey Norfolk black, that would be my favourite, but if you prefer a milder flavour, go for a Norfolk bronze. Buy direct from Peele’s (www.peeles-blackturkeys.co.uk) or Morton’s (www.mortonsfarm.co.uk), or order one from your local independent butcher.
Finding locally-grown vegetables to serve alongside the bird is also simple enough. Mike & Debs on Norwich Market has a sumptuous daily selection, and they also deliver (www.norwichfruitandveg.co.uk).
Several Norfolk farms have well-stocked farm shops, such as Back To The Garden near Holt (www.back-to-the-garden.co.uk), Algy’s Farm Shop in Bintree (www.algys.co.uk) and Goodies Food Hall in Pulham Market (www.goodiesfoodhall.co.uk).
To wash it all down, there is no finer choice than a Norfolk wine – and that choice is getting ever wider. The newest launch, as recently as last week, is just in time to celebrate Christmas. Chet Valley Vineyard in Bergh Apton (www.chetvineyard.co.uk) has produced its first ever sparkling red wine, called Red Kite.
Made from 100%  Regent grapes, this is a world away from the heavy, tannic fizzy Shiraz you might have tried. Instead, it has light tannins, and flavours of cranberry and cherry – so it will go well with turkey, game, and even the Christmas pudding. It’s so new it’s not yet on their website as I write, but I’m assured it will be available imminently, so keep taking a peek.
Finding locally-produced sweet treats is, well, a piece of cake. If you want a traditional Christmas fruit cake, try The Real Norfolk Cake Company (www.realnorfolkcakecompany.co.uk), or if you want to send some letterbox-friendly love, King’s Lynn’s Simply Cake Company (www.simplycakeco.com) has a wonderful Festive Fun Box of Christmas-themed brownies which anyone would be happy to receive through the post.
Meanwhile. Norfolk chocolatier Saffire Chocolates (www.saffire.co.uk) has a shop in Norwich’s Royal Arcade, and does mail order too. Wash them down with locally roasted coffee and tea from the venerable Wilkinson’s of Norwich (www.wilkinsonsofnorwich.com).
This is only a tiny selection of the local producers and retailers who are waiting for your Christmas custom (and two websites where you can find more are www.proudlynorfolk.co.uk and www.visitnorwich.co.uk/christmas-in-norwich/christmas-shopping).
It’s so easy to support them and help them fight back from a terrible year; I can think of no finer – and enjoyable – way of spreading some Christmas goodwill this festive season.

Shop Local: Archant launched its Shop Local campaign this autumn as a use-it-or-lose-it plea to shoppers to consider independent traders and businesses this Christmas and beyond in a bid to bolster our beloved high streets and spark a wave of online spending.
Keeping money in Norfolk and Waveney is vital as the economy splutters in the wake of the pandemic. 
According to research by the Centre for Local Economic Strategies for every £1 spent at an independent business 63p ends up back in the local economy compared to only 5p spent at a national or international retailer.

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