Hello, friends. I hope September treated you well.

Having used my first column last month to share a few of my favourite places to eat in our fine county, I thought I'd use this one to implore you to join me on a bit of a crusade.

Suffolk, as I hope you'd agree, has a buzzing, exciting and diverse food scene. It's something I'm incredibly passionate about.

But, friends, I fear sometimes we take it for granted. And these fine folks need our support, in these trying times for the hospitality industry.

If we don't, we risk losing what we have. Speaking personally, I was crushed when Bury lost the brilliant Northgate restaurant, a place where we enjoyed one of our best meals of 2022.

Ipswich Star: Mark Heath at The Northgate in Bury St Edmunds in 2022. The restaurant has since closedMark Heath at The Northgate in Bury St Edmunds in 2022. The restaurant has since closed (Image: Mark Heath)
We'd always intended to return but, as ever, life got in the way, Before we knew it, the chance was gone.

So, from this month henceforth, let's all make sure we're doing our bit. And there's a bunch of ways we can help - it doesn't even have to cost you coin.

Firstly, and most obviously, go and treat yourself to a meal out, one of life's simplest, yet most rewarding pleasures.

Swerve the chains though. I appreciate chain restaurants serve a purpose - you can, for example, have the same consistently bland, uninspired dish in Ipswich or Inverness, for the same price.

But bland and uninspired is not what food's about. It's not what Suffolk is about. We can do better. If we're not careful, our high streets will be overrun with chains instead of thriving, exciting independent eateries. I know which I'd prefer.

Ipswich Star: Wyken Farmers' Market is one of many cracking ones in SuffolkWyken Farmers' Market is one of many cracking ones in Suffolk (Image: Newsquest)
Secondly, support our brilliant producers. Spend a morning at a farmers' market - we have some amazing ones in Suffolk - and perhaps buy just one or two items as a treat for yourself. It all helps.

We're blessed with some brilliant butchers, bakers and candlestick makers. Ok, I'm not sure that last one is accurate, but I like the line - and I bet we've got a cracking candlestick crafter somewhere.

If you fancy a steak, get it from a local butcher rather than the supermarket. Craving a croissant? Get thee to your nearest bakery. Want some wine? We have our own vineyards and independent wine shops.

Yes, I appreciate it will likely cost more. But I guarantee you it will be better. And it doesn't have to be every week - consider it your good deed for the month, one which benefits all of us.

Finally - and for this one you don't even have to spend money - just spread the word.

Tell folks about places you like. Share posts from our restaurants and producers on social media. Post yourself when you discover somewhere good. It won't cost you a thing, save a few seconds, but again, it all helps.

Together, we can make a difference.

Ipswich Star: Rebecca Bishop is launching a new baking school in Suffolk Rebecca Bishop is launching a new baking school in Suffolk (Image: Rebecca Bishop)
So, this month trundle into your favourite local pub for an afternoon pint on a whim. Surprise your better half with a meal out somewhere new, or old.

Go and get yourself an artisan sausage roll from that bakery you keep meaning to try.

Pop for an impromptu coffee at the cafe down the road you've just driven past so far. 

Support Suffolk's stars. Eat better. Live well. 

Tasting notes

I'm going to use this section every month to highlight bits and pieces happening across the county and beyond, things which I find exciting and interesting - and hopefully you will too.

As ever, if you want to talk about anything food, drink or travel related - or even to be featured in tasting notes - drop me a line at mark.heath@newsquest.co.uk.

- I was delighted to get a message from Rebecca Bishop, founder of the thriving Two Magpies Bakery, about her next venture. She's launching a new bakery school called 'The Next Loaf' in Wenhaston, with classes starting in January 2024. You can learn about all sorts there, from sourdough to pizza, Italian baking to parent and child classes. It sounds brilliant - best of luck with it, Rebecca. Find out more at www.thenextloaf.co.uk.

Ipswich Star: Top chef Adam Spicer has a new homeTop chef Adam Spicer has a new home (Image: Newsquest)
- I'm hoping to get across to the Greyhound Inn at Pettistree in short order. The new man in charge of the kitchen is the super-talented Adam Spicer, a Masterchef: The Professionals finalist whose food I absolutely loved at The View Restaurant at All Saints in Fornham. He's since been wowing diners at Retreat East, before taking on this latest challenge. I feel another review coming on...

- I'm very excited to see what Lucy and Grant Newland do with their new project just over the Norfolk border at the English Whisky Distillery. The duo, who departed Haughley's popular pub The Kings Arms earlier this year, will open the new Grain Kitchen restaurant next Monday. It's a beautiful space, and another excuse to pop into the distillery for a tour and some of their delicious whisky, too. I can highly recommend their English Smokey. 

- My favourite wine shop, Bury's extraordinary Vino Gusto - if you've never been, make it a Priority Action Item this month - has a new member of staff. Welcome and good luck to Evelyn Sewell, who joins the team from the excellent Wyken Vineyards. VG has some exciting tasting nights coming up this month too, if you're looking for something a bit different. A superb shop which makes one feel better about life. The wine helps too, of course.

- Congratulations to Zack Deakins and the team at Bury's brilliant 1921 restaurant on getting your three AA rosettes. Richly deserved!

- Finally this month, it's great to see the Suffolk Farmers' Market returning to Trinity Park on Saturday, October 14. Almost 50 of our great producers and foodie talents will be there, so give it a look. The event runs from 10am till 2pm, it's free to enter and dogs are welcome. All the ingredients for a super Saturday.