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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Summer warmth, alfresco dining and healthy eating put berries centre plate for Jonny Nicholson, Chef-Proprietor of The Bell At Sax’

Few foods are generally loved universally from toddlers to pensioners, but berries pretty much achieve that rare thing, relished by simple eaters to gourmets, definitely a national favourite. There aren’t many popular foods that are actually so good for us!

Having lived and cooked for many years in Suffolk and East Anglia, both renowned for their fine British berries, it is no coincidence that I have a love affair with these sweet juicy morsels and I savour the first of the season, whether a raspberry, blueberry, strawberry, blackcurrant or blackberry. Of course the early eagerly-awaited punnets are mine, all mine, enjoyed with no cream, no sugar, just their natural goodness. But after a month or so, I will be looking for something interesting to do with them, perhaps to impress friends and family over a meal or to put on the menu.

I love trifle and seems like everyone else does too, it is one of those comforting nostalgic dishes from our childhood that just makes you smile.

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 July 2016 by arrangement.



Try and get very big tumblers or tall knickerbocker glasses for this; alternatively layer up in one large glass bowl to share. You will need a long day or overnight to set each of the various layers for several hours.  Naturally other berries and currants work well too.



1.5 gelatine leaves

125g raspberries

1 tbsp caster sugar

Splash of elderflower cordial

100ml double cream, whipped

Cover the gelatine with cold water.

Gently cook the raspberries with the sugar until dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the gelatine. Purée smooth in a blender. Cool and then fold in the elderflower and whipped cream.  Add a quarter layer to your glasses and refrigerate to set.



2 gelatine leaves

120ml water

55g caster sugar

200g fresh raspberries

Juice half lemon

Cover gelatine with cold water. Dissolve the sugar in the water. Add in raspberries and cook gently to collapse the berries.  Push through a sieve into a wide measuring jug and mix in lemon juice. Measure to 240ml volume, adding boiling water if needed.  Drain the softened gelatine and whisk in. Allow to cool and pour onto mousse to the same height in the glasses and then chill until set.



1.5 gelatine leaves

300ml double cream

Zest of 1 lemon

25 grams caster sugar

Cover the gelatine in cold water. Simmer the cream and zest, take off heat and whisk in the sugar. After 15 minutes, whisk in the drained gelatine, then sieve into a wide jug. Allow to cool and pour onto the jelly another similar height up the glasses. Set in the fridge.



200g raspberries

40g caster sugar

Put half the raspberries in a pan and heat gently until dissolved. Break up with a potato masher and cook gently for a few minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Fold in remaining whole berries.

Add a layer almost to the top of glasses. Chill before serving.