An insider's guide to the county's best kept secrets
The Norfolk Deli Co
60 Staithe Street
Tel: 01328 711914
Bespoke charcuterie at its best. If you’re into designer sausages, cured meats and other deli treats, look no further than this hidden cave of delights; classical, obscure and modern tastes, all handmade on-site by a self taught genius of the sausage world.
Where to find it
Wells is one of those traditional sleepy seaside towns that ooze old school living. You’d be excused for thinking that nothing much goes down here, no celebrities or designer cutting edge stores. But if you look a little closer, you realise that actually there’s understated class everywhere. Take De-lish, soon to be The Norfolk Deli Company, a small charcuterie based deli on the main tourist street that doesn’t look much from the outside; if you’re not careful you walk right past and soon reach the huge deli store run by Howells the butchers (worth a visit), but I’m here to highlight Norfolk’s hidden gems and the discreet De-lish certainly fits that brief.
Owned by a slightly crazed Jules Jackson who spends his days locked in a world of sausages, this little shop is packed with meat treats and other fine food delicacies that will leave you salivating for more. Cured meats – both air dried and to be cooked - , salami, pates and terrines, chocolates, pickles and cheeses. Everything to make a meal really - nibbles, main course and afters.
What to expect
‘Classical, obscure, modern’ is the logo of this self taught charcuterie chef, and it fits the description perfectly. He sells the obvious things that most people have heard of as well as foods which may be a learning curve. He also makes a variety of unique creations that you simply cannot buy elsewhere. Take his sausages for instance, 22 different recipes all in his head, the most famous being his signature ‘stoutie’ – a traditional roast beef dinner sausage that contains the meat, potato, two veg, horseradish and mustard – “the only thing missing is the Yorkshire pudding” Jules says with a cheeky grin. He clearly loves his work which he approaches from an artistic background and the inspiration of a French chef in his teens. You can’t help but like this guy, especially when he brings out the taster samples.
What makes Jules special is his eclectic vision; he doesn’t stick to what he knows but instead is forever experimenting with new taste sensations. The variety of foods on offer at any one time is impressive and it’s the unusual flavour combinations that put him a cut above the rest. Whether it’s mustard pickled prunes, cinnamon and clove sweet and sour apricots, or chestnut chocolates, you’re sure to find something that you cannot live without. My favourite is an incredible raspberry cordial sweet. This isn’t chocolate as you know it though; as my friend once said, it’s “initial taste, then texture, then the slow introduction of the honest flavour”; in short, it’s something else!
Plan for the future
The shop’s been open for nearly four years now but Jules is keen to expand and has recently taken on two business partners with a view to increasing the space to make mail order and trade sales possible. At the moment his tiny premises, which he describes as “shop, kitchen, mini-butchery department, fermentation chamber and drying cave” isn’t large enough to allow him to make more than he can sell over the counter. His customers will always be his primary concern though; he’s a lover of Norfolk having moved here on the toss of a coin back in 1993 of which he’s never looked back.
Spreading the word
He does tasting sessions at local farmers markets such as Creake Abbey and tours the food festivals in summer. He runs a weekly competition on Twitter (@dehyphenlish, soon to be @NorfolkDeli) to guess the weight of salami and other produce and has winners visit him from all over the country. One of his most famous visitors was Henrietta Green who had nothing but praise for the little shop and big talent and Delicious magazine have also featured him so don’t just take my word for it.
All his sausages are gluten free (“they say it’s a binder but to me it’s an unnecessary fillar”). Salami starts at £25 per kg, pates and terrines from £15 per kg. He also does party platters made to order which start from £10. His shop houses other locally sourced produce too such as Brays Cottage pork pies; everything is made in Norfolk by hand.