The best local delis – and nearby picnic spots
Picnics on benches are THE hottest social event. Dig out your hamper and waterproof blanket, and order some treats from these divine Cambs and Suffolk delis.
Limoncello, Mill Road, Cambridge
The Deli: A new hobby during lockdown is to browse delis, especially ones like Limoncello, where you can imagine for a moment that you are on holiday in Italy. Out of lockdown, I can’t wait to get back to their gorgeous garden for an Aperol Spritz, but for now a picnic will more than suffice. The counter has an amazing selection of olives and antipasti such as sun-blush tomatoes, marinated peppers and artichokes to have with bread, cheese and cured and cold meats. Or perhaps pre-order one of the stunning paninis – ciabattas with such delights as melted Buffalo mozzerella, home-made rocket pesto, sun-blushed tomatoes and parma ham. Ooo – can you hear the crunch as you bite into that beauty! Wash down with Italian wine or a cold beer.
Picnic Spot: Founder Steve Turvill is as passionate about Italian food as he is about wild swimming, so he would choose somewhere he can take a dip, such as Overcoat, near Needingham. Cherry Hinton Park is close to the deli too, and a favourite place of Steve’s to sit and feed the ducks if he’s not in the mood for a swim!
The Geographer, Impington
The Deli: Planet-friendly, plastic-free and zero waste are watchwords at The Geographer, but that doesn’t mean compromising on taste or luxurious treats. This friendly, family-run vegetarian café in Impington (north of Cambridge) has fresh bread, home-made cakes, Italian biscuits, fresh fruit and veg and if you want to do a quick eco-friendly weekly shop too you can get refills of all the essentials like rice, pasta, pulses and grains. A typical picnic lunch might be a yummy mozzarella, tomatoes and basil focaccia. Wash this down with some Copper Crew South African Rosé – which comes in a handy can from a local company based in Cottenham – erm, I’m off to stock up now! For an added treat finish off with a slice of the ever-popular Belgian Chocolate rocky road or maybe some of the chocolate Guinness cake in honour of St Patrick’s day which is on the counter this week.
Picnic Spot: Owners Caroline and David Child, like to picnic at the Histon and Impington Community orchard or they say anywhere near a tennis court so they can burn off the calories after that big lunch! Now that is commitment!
Shelford Deli, Great Shelford
The Deli: I have been known to get up early and drive to Shelford (4 miles south of Cambridge) just to get one of their delicious almond croissants – they sell out faster than Glasto tickets some days. For your picnic, you are spoilt for choice with the items such as roasted veg frittata, pork, apple, mustard and honey sausage rolls, homemade calzone, mixed antipasti, salads, plus a range of artisan cheeses (the team recommends the moreish Pyrenean cheese Bethmale, Apres Soleil or unctuous Italian soft mixed milk cheese La Tur…). These cheeses with tomatoes marmande and Grainculture sourdough baguette are a match made in heaven. Cleanse your palate with fresh seasonal fruit or don’t bother and just have a slice of homemade cake! If you’re not driving grab a chilled bottle of prosecco too. You can order upfront with 24hrs notice and just swing by to pick up your pre-prepared picnic.
The Gog Farm Shop and Deli, Stapleford
The Deli: The Gog Deli looks over south Cambridge from one of the only hills in the area. Last year it won the Great British Food Awards ‘Best farm shop and deli’ – a well-deserved accolade for this family-run place that has managed to stay super busy through the whole of the last, tough year. There is a brilliant master butcher on-site, as well as the Deli, wine shop, and cafe (takeaways at the moment). The Gog’s’ scotch eggs have a legendary status in the area, and you can get lovely hummus and taramasalata dips too. The cheese counter is bursting with goodies, curated by Neal’s Yard Dairy’s, Mons Cheesemonger & Brindisa, stellar foodie names that the deli partners with to ensure a top-notch selection. We’d go for a classic ploughman’s style picnic here, with cheese, locally baked bread, charcuterie from amongst others Dhruv Baker (master chef champion). Grab a bottle of pale AIX Provence rose, and a brownie for pud and you’re good to go!
Picnic Spot: Owner Charles Bradford, likes to head five mins up the road to the nearby Wandlebury woods, where there are plenty of picnic tables, or to really get away from it all, he loves a picnic on a punt, floating in a quiet spot on the Cam near to the popular Grantchester meadows.
Meadows Deli – Newnham
The Deli: Meadows is a neighbourhood deli offering healthy, vegetarian food, and sweet treats in Newnham (a southwest suburb of Cambs). Contrasting luxurious cheeses with fresh-tasting seasonal fruit and vegetables is the recommended way to create a Meadows picnic. There are tomatoes in every colour, shape and size to enjoy with a ball of buffalo mozzarella and hard cheeses like Comte or an English cheddar. Mop up with a baguette from the allotment bakery range or Meadows own homemade focaccia. If you want to be hip and healthy too you could some Fementrary kimchi or sauerkrauts to pep up your picnic. You can also pick up yummy hummus, daily made salad pots and frittatas. Stay on that healthy tip and complete your picnic with some of the incredible fresh fruit on offer like cherries or summer Italian peaches, but equally, you may find yourself ordering a chocolate chip cookie to tuck into that basket.
Picnic Spot: Owner Suzannah Wansell used to be a cheese importer, travelling around France buying cheeses to try direct from farms so is she is a big fan of a good car picnic in front of a pretty view. Now she, like many, likes to head to Grantchester Meadows with a blanket and watch a cricket match taking place beside The Orchard.
The Black Dog Deli
The Deli: Small but perfectly formed the Black Dog Deli in Walberswick, has all but taken over Suffolk with its splendid sausage rolls that are now supplied to many other delis across the county too – they are that good! Try a red onion and wholegrain mustard sausage roll or a splendid veggie version made with chickpea and sweet potato. There are many more delicious goodies on offer too from Greek spanakopita, and home-cured salmon & gravlax, to incredible mini quiches – try the wild garlic, smoked chicken and cheddar – it is to die for. You can tell there are talented chefs at the helm of this deli that is unsurprisingly expanding to Halesworth in April. The salad selection always provides a tangy, taste sensation – try Black Dog slaw with dill and pumpkin seed or Vietnamese carrot lime and peanut salad. The cakes and pastries never fail to impress – from the lemon drizzle to mini pavlovas, or rocky road. Come to mama! Add some sourdough bread, and local cheeses, plus a great selection of wines, and you have a gourmet bonanza of a picnic from this lovely little deli.
Picnic Spot: The Black Dog Deli team– Andy, Michael and Damien, all agree that down on the river Blyth over-looking the harbour across to Southwold is their favourite spot in the village. If going slightly further afield they like to head south to Dunwich beach or find some shade in Dunwich forest.
The Deli: If you love cheese, you need go to Slate (there are branches in both Southwold and Aldeburgh). A wall of cheese (I want a wall of cheese!) is how they describe their display of cheeses, all in vertical cabinets so you can really see what you want. There is a strong focus on East Anglian cheeses, such as Baron Bigod, and Suffolk Gold but there are plenty of Europeans too if you can’t do without your favourite brie. Seasonal salads are made on-site every day and may include such delights as wild rice, cauliflower and pomegranate, or roast pepper chickpea and tomato with a zesty lemon dressing, or customer favourite – happy carrot. Choose from tarts, quiches, sausage rolls, scotch eggs, pasties and pork pies (from Greys Cottage in Norfolk). Add in some olives and breadsticks, and not forgetting the finishing touch of flapjacks and brownies – and you have yourself a bumper hamper fit for a queen. It may be just as well there is no wine on sale here as you have blown your weekly calories on cheese, but why not try the latest in kambucha from the LA brewery or the peppy locally produced High House apple juice.
Picnic Spot: Owner, Clare Jackson likes to head out of the wind and away from the sometimes-busy Aldeburgh beachfront, down to the Martello tower, by the Yacht Club, looking out towards Snape and the estuary – where you can watch the boats and dinghy’s coming and going as you enjoy your cheese feast of a picnic.
Suffolk Food Hall
The Deli: We’re gonna need a bigger hamper! If you are picnic shopping at the glorious and plentiful Suffolk Food Hall you might easily get carried away and come home with a month’s worth of their fantastic local produce. Butchers, bakers, (candlestick makers?) grocers, fishmongers, chocolatiers, wine and beer merchants all under one huge roof, just under the Orford Bridge near Ipswich. Head to the deli counter to pick up a cult fave – caramelised onion sausage roll or a chorizo scotch egg. For vegetarians, there is the vegetable samosa (almost as popular as the sausage roll) and a range of vegetarian tarts. With fresh rolls, and specialty bread baked daily in-house this is the perfect place for making up some sarnies too. From the cooked meats try honey & mustard glazed ham, sliced in a fresh roll with some Stokes sauce and salad. There is a huge range of cheeses both local and beyond, you can mix and match and create your own picnic cheeseboard with chutneys and crackers too. Must try sweet treats from the bakery include brownies, Chelsea buns, and hot cross buns too. Hungry shopping here could be dangerous!
Picnic spot: The Food Hall has a huge amount of space in the front paddocks, and when the gelato hut is open it’s the ideal picnic area. The team recommends walking off your lunch at the nearby and beautiful Shotley Peninsula. A short drive away is Christchurch Park in Ipswich -a beautiful public park, lots of space and green areas to sit down and watch the world go by.
Roscoe’s Deli, Thornham Magna
The Deli: Jason Pennellier left corporate life to start Roscoes Deli and Farm Shop and to champion all things British and delicious – everything in both the deli and farm shop is 100% British. The farm shop sources shellfish, and rare breed meats from around the British Isles, and the grocery and salad boxes (delivered across East Anglia, London and Brighton) are a feast of colour that are all about encouraging us to eat seasonally. Roscoes has a cheese club too where selections are sent out monthly (that’s my kind of club). At the deli try daily-made artisan sandwiches such as a customer-favourite smoked salmon, beetroot, and horseradish mayonnaise on sourdough bread. Or really treat yourself and pre-order some oysters or lobster to go! Add British sparkling wine and it’s a posh picnic party.
Picnic Spot: Roscoe’s is about to open up a shop at Thornham estate near to the beautiful traditional woodland where there are fantastic picnic spots with great oaks to laze under on hot summer days. Jason also recommends a romantic spot by the riverside in Long Melford, where you even take a swim in the river if you’re feeling daring!
The Dog Deli, Grundisburgh
The Deli: The Dog in Grundisburgh –is two miles from Woodbridge and not far from the coast, is a family (and dog) friendly pub with a lovely garden. The owners Eilir and Charles Rogers, passion for food has spilled over into a desire not just to feed great gastro pub grub to their punters but to provide gourmet goodies and bespoke picnic hampers too, via their deli that was set up during Covid to serve the village. A deli in a pub? Sounds good to me! Here you will find croissants, homemade sausage rolls, salads, quiches, Italian pastries, and artisan cheese, plus Pinneys smoked fish and Dingley Dell charcuterie. There are loads of lovely extra goodies like figgy jam and amaretto biscuits, plus a great selection of wine and beer – you would expect no less from a pub! Soon to move to its own premises in the village, the deli has been a lifesaver this year, and their bespoke hampers are a real winner – pre-order and collect on your way to that picnic spot.
Picnic Spot: Owner Eilir Rogers is fan of secret picnic places, like the Shingle Street Lagoon or the Rendlesham Forest lakeside, but also has a soft spot for the dunes at Walberswick as that’s where hubby Charles proposed. Awh!