The Food of Love

The Food of Love


All it’s all about shared indulgence come February 14 for Jonny Nicholson of The Bell At Sax’, Saxmundham

Perhaps every day should be Valentine’s Day, not just one day when we celebrate Cupid and his proverbial arrow, but I guess the heartfelt expressions and good intentions on the big day make us appreciate our loved ones even more all year round.

Snuggling up in front of the fire, sharing a tender morsel or two, toasting marshmallows or breaking out the Ferrero Rochers… Ahhh, it must be that Valentine’s time of year!

There is perhaps nothing more special than treating your sweetheart to a home-cooked meal on the probably most romantic days in the calendar. But you want to be cuddling on the sofa with your other half, not tied to the apron strings, sweating over a hot stove this February 14. Of course you can always head out for a meal to a lovely restaurant or if staying in, then keep it simple and rustle up a few grazing dishes. I love sofa food, things you can share and finger food.

I tend to avoid a main course, it’s not that kind of big blow-out meal, but if you do want to do the whole romantic table for two at home, then some lovely pink-roasted meat keeps the red romance theme, perhaps a lovely piece of venison, lovely Suffolk lamb cutlets or tender fillet steak, all would be delicious, perfect with creamy potato gratin, sweet-sour red cabbage and green beans.

Pudding is the perfect food of love, most of us have a sweet tooth, chocolate and soft fruits are always a romantic combo to fit the occasion. Layered desserts in a glass look the part and are not too heavy and perfectly portion-controlled. We are well-known at the Bell At Sax’ and The Sail Loft for our knickerbocker glory and sundae desserts so do try my ultimate romantic version this Valentine’s Day.

Happy wooing! Jonny

Jonny Nicholson, Chef – Proprietor, The Bell At Sax’


VALENTINE’S NIGHT Wednesday 14 February – if you want the whole romantic occasion, head to The Sail Loft’s sister restaurant, The Bell At Sax’ where their Valentine’s Supper has Bellini cocktail on arrival and Jonny’s special four course dinner menu for £34.95 per person, booking essential. W: 01728 602331

Alternatively in Southwold, we’re doing things quieter at The Sail Loft with just our regular dinner menu on offer – we’re bound to be busy, so reserve a table.


The Sail Loft, Ferry Road, Southwold IP18 6HQ
Our beachside café-bar-restaurant, proudly using local, seasonal, Suffolk ingredients – find us by Southwold’s dunes near the campsite and lifeboat station. Book for our daily specials: Monday Madness – two courses for £10; Curry-tastic Tuesday; Wednesday Burger Bonanza; Friday Steak Night
W:   T: 01502 725713



Or ‘Black Forest trifle’ in a glass… You will probably have more than you need so make up leftovers, of course you may be piggies and want one each, sharing is optional!

Feel free to cheat if you are short of time, you’ll find ready-made chocolate mousse and whipped cream is fine by itself of course.

For the cherries, ideally you want to seek out a jar of kirsch-marinated black cherries (in cherry liqueur), ask for griottines in your local deli. You could opt for plain tinned black cherries or a cherry compote, and failing that, just more of the cherry conserve.  nb Raw egg in the mousse is not recommended for vulnerable people.



50ml double cream

75g dark chocolate (70+% cocoa), grated

1 very fresh, organic egg

25g caster sugar

Bring the cream to the boil and pour over the chocolate in a medium glass bowl. After a few minutes, beat until combined. Allow to cool until just warm to touch. In a large glass bowl, whisk the egg and sugar until creamy and doubled in volume. Fold the chocolate cream into the egg mixture until well-mixed. Chill whilst you make the cream.



3 tbsp mascarpone

3 tbsp single cream

Zest of half a lemon, finely-grated

Drizzle of vanilla extract

Icing sugar

Combine the first four ingredients with a whisk until well-mixed and then add icing sugar to taste a couple of tablespoons at a time, mixing well in between, to give the right flavour and a thickish texture like softly-whipped cream.



dark chocolate brownies, cubed

black cherry conserve

marinated cherries, drained

dark chocolate for grating

Build your trifle in the glass(es), first a base of mousse, then cubes of brownie, a covering of conserve, a layer of the mascarpone, more mousse, whole cherries or compote, a final swirl of cream and then grated chocolate to finish. Not forgetting a cherry on the top. Enjoy!



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Earthy Delight - Potato Recipe From Jonny at the Bell at Sax

Sweet velvety new potatoes, fresh from the earth are a simple treat for Jonny Nicholson, Chef-Proprietor of The Bell At Sax’

To peel or not to peel? Rather like olive oil stopped being sold by chemists and could be found in the supermarket aisles, when did we stop peeling new potatoes?! It is curious how food fashions change and we see the flavour and health benefits of things like potato skin. Who would ever imagine that we would fall in love with the American starter of stuffed potato skins, giving the muddy protective outer more value than the precious insides we should be eating. I remember as a kid seeing a mound of empty baked potato skins on our stacked plates at the end of the meal, no-one ever ate them. Now all that lovely melted cheese, crunchy bacon bits, sweetcorn kernels in a crisp-baked potato skin sounds delicious right now, even at breakfast time, how times do change!

New potatoes are such a simple thing, very easy to cook and a great foil for all manner of flavours and other textures, so flexible in what you can add to complement them in terms of condiments and accompaniments; few ingredients are as versatile and co-operative in the pan and on the plate. And you definitely don’t want to be peeling them, just a gentle soak and light scrub before preparing.

This month’s recipe is just a stylish twist on classic herby buttered new potatoes that looks great for guests.

Here are six other favourite ways of enjoying new potatoes (cooked in their skins of course!):

Salad - warm with soft-boiled eggs, petit pois, thick yoghurt and tarragon

Gratin - grilled with local Baron Bigod brie, pan-fried bacon lardons and shallots, wholegrain mustard and flat-leaf parsley

Braised – finished with shredded little gem lettuce, peas, broad beans, garlic, a little white wine, chicken stock and crème fraiche

Tortilla – in a perfect Spanish omelette with crisp chorizo sausage, onions, paprika and roasted red pepper

Hash – sauté with proper corned beef (not from a tin) and spicy sausages, red chillies, shallots and mustard and served with poached eggs and parsley

Rissole – lightly flattened and roasted with lots of oil until crispy and browned, glazed with cyder vinegar, and sprinkled with sea salt and black pepper

Enjoy! Jonny

Jonny Nicholson, Chef – Proprietor, The Bell At Sax’


The Bell At Sax’, High Street, Saxmundham IP17 1AF
A laid-back restaurant-with-rooms with good food, proudly using local, seasonal, Suffolk ingredients

W:   T: 01728 602331



A great lunch deal with The Bell At Sax’ - free dessert and coffee!

Book a table and order two courses per guest of a starter and a main course from our a la carte menu, and we’ll offer you complimentary dessert and coffee on us, completely free!  Available Tuesdays – Saturdays 12 noon – 2pm during August 2016 by arrangement.


Hasselback new potatoes (serves 4+)

16 – 20 large new potatoes

Rapeseed oil

Unsalted butter

Sea salt and black pepper

Few finely-chopped garlic cloves

Chives or mint leaves

Pre-heat the oven to 190c.  Place a potato in a tablespoon and cut down every 5mm until you are almost through to the bottom but not quite.

Repeat with the remainder. Melt a couple of knobs of butter with similar amount of oil before brushing it around a gratin dish to fit the potatoes snugly. Add the potatoes as a single layer and brush with more buttery oil, then season  generously before scattering with a little garlic. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until softened (test the thick part with a knife) and lightly browned.

Remove and scatter with chopped chives or mint before serving.