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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This little piggy

Nothing beats great local Blythburgh free range pork for Jonathan Nicholson, chef-owner of The Sail Loft in Southwold If you venture up the A12 near us in Southwold and explore the lovely coastal landscape, you can’t help but come across fields of very happy pigs, rooting around, wallowing and sunbathing.

These are the great-tasting, well-fed, well-bred herds of the dedicated farming family, the Butlers of Blythburgh Free Range Pork, up there with Adnams, Aspall and other great foodie icons in the county with a claim on being Suffolk’s best export. As a chef, I firmly believe you can’t beat it, the succulence, flavour, texture of Blythburgh pork once cooked, it’s nothing like cheap supermarket meat. Just get down to your local independent butcher and look out for their name, proudly stamped on the joints. And if you find any on display, ask them to get it in for you. You’re guaranteed to find their pork at Creaseys of Peasenhall, Emmerdale Farm Shop at Yoxford or Clarke’s of Bramfield, owned by another good friend, Jeremy Thickitt, our butcher for the Sail Loft and The Bell At Sax’.

Here is a lovely easy-to-serve weekday supper pork dish, perfect for piggy appetites, big and small. It takes all day to cook but is worth the effort, great for a hog-roast style bap or on top of granary toast – in the picture, it’s on a char-grilled bruschetta with buttered kale, chunky ratatouille and a soft poached egg. There will be lots of leftovers, they reheat well in a microwave or readily transformed into a hearty stew or pie filling.


1.5 – 2kg pork shoulder on bone

2 tbsp soft brown sugar

2 tbsp salt

1 tbsp sweet smoked paprika

Pre-heat the oven to 220c. Line a baking tin with enough foil to cover over pork. Lay pork in but do not cover. Bake for 45 minutes. Turn down oven to 130c. Remove pork and fold foil into a sealed loose tent around pork. Cook for another 6 – 8 hours until soft enough to yield to the back of a fork. Remove and open foil out. Carefully drain off juices into a container and reserve. Turn oven up to 220c and cook for 10 – 15 minutes until well-browned. Cover again with foil and leave for an hour to rest. Remove pork and shred well, pulling apart with two forks whilst warm. Return juices to shredded meat and fold in. Refrigerate overnight.

Enjoy! Jonny


The Sail Loft, Ferry Road, Southwold IP18 6HQ Our beachside café-bar-restaurant, proudly using local, seasonal, Suffolk ingredients – find us near the campsite and lifeboat station. W: T: 01502 725713