13 goodies to buy at Holkham’s huge festive food market
- Credit: Holkham
The Holkham Estate is a feast for the senses in any season. Hours can be lost walking the grounds in the warmer months, boating on the lake, admiring herds of deer grazing in the parkland, enjoying a picnic on the lawns.
But Holkham, the residence of the Earl and Countess of Leicester, truly comes to life in winter, when it sparkles inside and out under thousands of lights. A candlelit tour of the property ‘feels’ like the essence of Christmas.
If you’ve not been lucky enough to get tickets for those events, don’t worry, you can still nab a spot at the Holkham Christmas Food, Drink and Gift Market, taking place on December 18 and 19.
Running from 10am to 4pm, and with entry priced at £2 for adults and £1 for children (with half of proceeds being donated to Hospitality Action and Heritage House), it is one of the most anticipated food events on the East Anglian calendar, bringing together some of the best producers in the region.
Stalls will be spread across the Lady Elizabeth Wing, while the courtyard hosts a variety of street food traders to tickle your tastebuds, selling everything from authentic Thai, to cheese toasties, mac and cheese and mulled wine.
Here’s just a glimpse of what you can pop in your basket across the weekend.
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Formerly a fudge business, this brother and sister led, artisan confectionary brand conjures up all sorts of delectable creations on the north Norfolk coast. Made in small batches, their bubble-form bars are cast with single origin, or naturally flavoured chocolate. The range includes Colombian Santander 65%, Italian Blood Orange, French Lavender, and Golden Honeycomb. The duo also make luxury hot chocolate (the orange blend is a Great Taste winner), and chocolate or vanilla marshmallows.
Nora Chan’s innovative savouries and pastries are a labour of love for the cook, who started the business as a retirement project. Well, there seems to be no stopping her, with the range growing with every coming year. Each is made with prime local ingredients, given an Asian twist – and the flaky, signature pastry is enriched with goose fat.
Favourite flavours of pie have included duck, pheasant and goji berries with Nora’s own dried bacon, and local venison with sweet dried mandarin. Look out for newer creations such as Scotch quail eggs, curry doughnuts and macanese tarts.
Unlike some other British spirit brands, who buy in their base alcohol, Fen Spirits can claim to make their drinks entirely from scratch. Sugar beet is fermented to make a vodka, which is then distilled into gin, used for their liqueurs, which are all bottled, labelled and wax sealed by hand. Surely every home needs a bottle of their Christmas Gin this year? It’s infused with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, vanilla and mixed fruit.
If you’ve eaten at The White Horse at Brancaster Staithe (which has some of the most stunning views across the north Norfolk coastline) chances are you’ve already tried Phil’s smoked fish – his wife is head chef at the pub, and regularly incorporates his products, made next door, into her menus.
This is a traditional smokehouse, where fish and seafood are delicately smoked to enhance the flavour of their rich, natural oils. The range includes kiln roasted snoked salmon, kiln roasted smoked mackerel, smoked salmon mousse, and smoked scallops.
Chef Candi makes all her chutneys by hand, using as much local produce as possible. Her Non Mango Mango Chutney, for example, swaps out the tropical fruit for English Bramley apples.
Every jar in the range packs a punch of flavour, and many are versatile too. The Norfolk Crier Onion Marmalade, for example, adds depth to a winter stew. And the Hot Pow Wow Chutney is cracking in a stir fry. A popular favourite is Candi’s Spiced Carrot Chutney, which makes an epic cheese toastie.
Look out for seasonal flavours such as Mulled Pear and Norfolk Perry.
Handmade vegan, nut-free granola, inspired by classic British desserts – and sold in 100% compostable packaging. Favourites include Cherry Bakewell (frangipane oat clusters with sweet dried cherries and red cherry powder), and Victoria Sponge (vanilla oat clusters with strawberry pieces and creamy white chocolate chips).
Owner Martin took on the former Reepham Brewery, taking the legend of the area’s supposed prowling big cat as inspiration for the new name. Beers from the award-winning brand are made with local barley malt, and include citrussy, floral Golden Panther, nutty, caramelly Red Panther, and Hopsta – a 0.5% pale ale made with hops typical of modern craft beers – Citra, Cascade and Chinook.
Forget supermarket salami. Even if just for Christmas, it’s worth swapping to an artisan brand such as Marsh Pig, which uses only the best cuts from free-range pigs for its range of whole muscle cured meats and salamis. The products speak for themselves, with the pork remaining the star among seasonings that include garlic and black pepper, rosemary and garlic, black olive, and truffle.
Cocktail making really took off during lockdown as a nation sought to recreate all the fun of local bars and pubs in living rooms across the country. If you haven’t got room to build up a collection of spirits, Mindful Mixology can help with their range of ready-blended premium drinks, made without artificial additives or super sweet, cheap juices. The Christmas collection includes a Ferrero Rocher Martini made with triple filtered vodka, Bitter Truth chocolate bitters, dark chocolate, vanilla and hazelnut syrups.
Brown Swiss cows are renowned for their milk, which has all the qualities needed for making fantastic cheese. Alongside selling milk, natural yoghurt, butter and cream from their Frettenham-based herd, the folk at Norton’s make a creamy, fresh-tasting variety of soft cheeses, just ripe for smearing over crusty bread and crackers this Christmas. As well as the original, plain variety, there’s lavender, chilli or apricot to choose from.
Simply Cake Co
What started as a brownie delivery business from a small kitchen, has grown into a purpose-built kitchen in King’s Lynn, where owner Susanna makes gooey, crusty-topped, fudgy brownies in flavours such as triple chocolate and peanut butter, stuffed cookies, blondies, and even raw, gluten-free cookie dough to be eaten out of the tub. Susanna should have her Christmas pudding cookies at Holkham over the weekend.
Liz Walker has racked up multiple awards for her small batch made sweet and savoury preserves, which come in all manner of weird and wonderful flavours.
Her Great Taste award-winning Christmas Marmalade is infused with The English Whisky Company’s Norfolk PX. Ashill Fruit Farm bramley apples and Nelson’s Gold Caramel Vodka go into her Toffee Apple Jelly. And her Spicy Carrot Relish is packed with local produce. Must-haves for Christmas include Boadicea Gin Jam (local gin with red berries, cherries and hibiscus), Plum and Mulled Wine Jam, and Christmas Chutney (with pear, walnut and festive spices).
Wild Knight Distillery
Steph and Matt Brown started with their Wild Knight vodka and Nelson’s Gold Caramel Vodka, with a base spirit made from British sugar beet. And have gone on to add Boadicea gin to their collection.
Wild Knight was awarded gold in the Best British Varietal category of the World Vodka Awards in 2020.
Parking at Holkham is £5, redeemable against a £30 spend in the Courtyard Café or gift shop. Dogs on leads are welcome in most areas except the Lady Elizabeth Wing.