An Ipswich mini break, The Good Food Festival & Spaghetti

I love food festivals and when The Great British Food Festival came (fairly) close to my part of the world I couldn’t wait to go. The closest town was Ipswich. I didn’t know Ipswich very well but booked the Salthouse Harbour Hotel in Neptune Quay.

The hotel is funky, modern with old building charm in a winning combination. They also accept dogs so we could all go!

The room was lovely and super comfy, overlooking the marina that was filled with impressive boats.

Salthouse Hotel room

Neptune Quay Ipswich Suffolk

There was a park close to the hotel, Holywells park and it is a dog owners perfect park with vast grassland and lots of trees to explore set in impressive 67 acres. It was immaculate not a weed in sight and full of beautiful plants. The history of the park goes back thousands of years and you can read more about the history here.

Summer flowers

The marina was impressive in daylight but stunning at night.

Boat in Neptune Quay Ipswich Suffolk

Suffolk university is based at Neptune Quay and by accident we walked past their cafe, The Cult Cafe. It was open and seeing their menu I ordered some beers and tacos that we enjoyed in the sunshine. The weather forecast for the weekend was rain and potentially windy but it seems we were lucky and we missed it.

The food is street food style and the tacos were delicious!

Tacos from The Cult Cafe Neptune Quay Ipswich Suffolk

I ordered two prawn tacos and one nutty that was vegan. The nutty taco was a revelation, they were both delicious but the nutty taco was so good I would happily eat it again and again!

We had dinner at Bistro on the Quay, overlooking the marina and it was a perfect spot for some people watching. We nibbled on some hummus and bread to start with and both settled for thinly sliced pork with a pork bonbon and polenta.

I met up with a friend and her family at The Great British Food Festival and we spent almost five hours there and had such a good time. The festival was set at the beautiful statley home, Helmingham Hall. The tickets gave us entry to the gardens as well as the festival. The gardens are absolutely fantastic, and the vegetable gardens amazing. I should have taken more photos but I was so busy talking, walking around the festival, eating and admiring the gardens I forgot.

I watched a barbecue cook off and was invited to judge! How amazing is that?! One of the chefs is the barbecue maestro Ben, you can find out more about Ben here.

It was hard to pick a winner, choosing between duck and turkey. I have to admit I usually avoid turkey as I find it a bit bland but Ben’s barbecue sauce absolutely transformed it and dunking the barbecued turkey in more sauce was just irresistable! Both dishes were barbecue perfection!

We ate plenty of sweet treats, doughnuts, ice cream and canolis whilst browsing the food stalls with an impressive range of products, everything from cheeses to infused spirits, sweet treats, Greek bits and hot stuff.

There were different stages set up and I regret getting distracted in the gardens and I missed the chilli eating competition! Not to participate but to watch!

It was a brilliant break and nice to get away! During my trip I had a sudden craving for spaghetti and I have to admit I spent almost the whole journey home thinking about how to cook it.

M picked the last of the artichokes from the allotment and I used them as a base.

Spaghetti with artichoke and sundried tomato (vegan)

preparation time 10 minutes

cooking time 9-10 minutes (or how long it takes the spaghetti to cook)

serves 2


  • Spaghetti 75-100 gr/pp
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 2 dl or 1 cup of olive oil
  • 1 1/2 dl chopped parsley
  • 1/2 dl or 1/4 cup sundried tomato cut in to strips
  • 6 Kalamata olives, de stoned and chopped
  • 1 dl or 1/2 cup cooked, chopped artichoke
  • 2 spring onion, sliced fine
  • 1 tsp Aleppo pepper
  • sea salt & black pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese, or vegan Parmesan style cheese

Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Peel and slice the garlic thin. Chop the parsley, sundried tomatoes and olives. I had pre cooked hearts of 3 artichokes that I chopped in to chunks.

Place the oil in a big frying pan and heat it up. Add the garlic and fry for a few minutes. Turn the oil off and leave the garlic in to infuse the oil.

Boil the spaghetti according to the package. When 5 minutes remain heat up the oil again, add the artichoke and sundried tomato.

When the spaghetti is cooked add it to the oil with garlic, sudried tomatoes and artichokes with some of the cooking water. Add the chopped parsley, spring onion, olives, Aleppo pepper and the remaining sundried tomatoes. Taste with salt and pepper before serving.

Artichoke and sundried tomato spaghetti

It tasted like Italy on a fork! It is a simple dish and I used vegan Parmesan style cheese to make the dish

After an absoltely brilliant weekend away, with spaghetti on my fork, I have to admit I had a “home sweet home” moment. I just need to make sure I get to another Great British Food Festival next year and I need to meet my friend more often! Oh yes, and cook more spaghetti!


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