There is something exciting about arriving at my Mum and Dad’s bakery, Tracebridge Sourdough, on one of their pizza nights in the summer. Something about being with friends and neighbours in a mystical woodland, eating with your hands, and drinking lots of red wine, transcends the grind of day to day life.
After finding a parking space in the field, the intrepid guests follow the earthy smell of the wood-fired oven through the woods, over the hill, to an opening in the trees lit by fires and multicoloured fairy lights. First time visiters to Tracebridge Sourdough are often unsure of what to expect when they come out of the woods into the clearing where the bakery perches, looking down the valley to the Tone river. It is not a conventional restaurant. For a start, there is no cutlery and the food is served on wooden boards. When a customer’s pizzas are ready, their name is called out by the chef and the customer gets down to the business of cutting up their own pizza (some neater than others!) The best part is that the only advertisement needed to draw a regular crowd of sixty to ninety people to this secluded spot is the rumour passing through the west country of a magical rural venue that makes great pizza.
It is rare to find a place with such a diverse clientele; from the owners of the manor house to the local farmers; people from countryside and city alike. Word has reached as far as Bristol and London, which ensures that there are always new faces amongst the locals. Unlike a meal out in a restaurant where you might spend forty pounds per head on food and alcohol, at Tracebridge Sourdough you can get a pizza for as little as seven pounds and you are welcome to bring your own drinks: In an economic climate that sees many people tightening their belts, an evening out that doesn’t cost you the earth is a wonderful thing.
Dad and Mum at work. Photo by Annabel Dodebier.
Me pulling a pizza out of the oven
Dough balls. Photo by Harry Borden.
It is local community based events like this that get me really excited about the food that brings these people together. In Norwich last year, I was involved with Foodcycle Norwich on Friday Nights. Are there any other community based food projects around in Norwich? If you know of any, please comment and let me know!