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Thetford resident Jan Randall orders meat at Elveden Estate’s butcher counter. She said the meat at the Thetford estate is cheaper and much better quality than what’s offered at local supermarkets.

Thetford resident Jan Randall orders meat at Elveden Estate’s butcher counter. She said the meat at the Thetford estate is cheaper and much better quality than what’s offered at local supermarkets. (Charlie Reed / S&S)

Thetford resident Jan Randall orders meat at Elveden Estate’s butcher counter. She said the meat at the Thetford estate is cheaper and much better quality than what’s offered at local supermarkets.

Thetford resident Jan Randall orders meat at Elveden Estate’s butcher counter. She said the meat at the Thetford estate is cheaper and much better quality than what’s offered at local supermarkets. (Charlie Reed / S&S)

From seeds to bulbs, half of the store is a garden center. Potted herbs and plants are also sold outside the entrance.

From seeds to bulbs, half of the store is a garden center. Potted herbs and plants are also sold outside the entrance. (Charlie Reed / S&S)

A variety of local wines can be purchased at Elveden Estate in Thetford. Along with locally produced labels, the shop sells wines from around the world.

A variety of local wines can be purchased at Elveden Estate in Thetford. Along with locally produced labels, the shop sells wines from around the world. (Charlie Reed / S&S)

The buffet of olives is typical of the fresh, gourmet goodies for sale. Most Elveden label products are made on site with locally grown produce and meats.

The buffet of olives is typical of the fresh, gourmet goodies for sale. Most Elveden label products are made on site with locally grown produce and meats. (Charlie Reed / S&S)

THETFORD — Trying to leave the local Guinness family estate without buying something is like an American learning to drive in the U.K.

Two words: very difficult.

That’s because there’s a little something for everyone at Elveden Estate. The place is overflowing with gift ideas for any occasion. And shoppers are also sure to find a treat or two for themselves at this cluster of food and lifestyle shops just a short drive from RAF Lakenheath.

Nestled down a winding gravel road, the 24,000-acre estate has been in the Guinness family for 135 years, now under the auspices of Lord and Lady Iveagh. Its working farm in the Suffolk countryside yields many of the products sold there.

“His lordship is very passionate about locally produced goods and just championing the region in general,” said Rob Tate, head of food and retail operations.

The estate boasts a cornucopia of culinary delights, with homemade chutneys and marmalades, herb-infused oils, freshly harvested produce, an old-fashioned butcher counter and a wine selection including locally produced labels.

Its rows, counters, cases and barrels of perfectly packaged goodies are to adults what Willy Wonka’s candyland was to the lucky Golden Ticket holders — a fanciful playland of pretty food that can bring out the glutton in any of us.

A fair amount of free samples are laid out so one can get a taste before spending a few bucks. Or, get a proper meal at the Elveden Café Restaurant, where almost everything is made with ingredients from the estate or elsewhere in East Anglia.

Serving breakfast and lunch up to 3:30 p.m., the eatery offers hearty plates such as the grilled Suffolk pork steak, light dishes like the goat’s cheese and tomato quiche and tempting desserts such as the homemade sticky toffee pudding. Choose an item marked “Elveden Creation” to savor the house specialties such as the venison steak and wild berry sorbet.

The Elveden burger made from local beef and served with a tomato relish and homemade chips (French fries for those who haven’t caught on to the Brit speak yet) is among the café’s most popular menu items, Tate said.

There’s also a variety of teas, coffees and Elveden label beer and wine to be enjoyed in the relaxed and rustically elegant dining room.

A walk outside to the courtyard — with al fresco dining in the summer — leads to the two other main shops at Elveden Estate.

The lifestyle shop has a variety of things you probably don’t need but nevertheless might feel compelled to buy. With sterling silver flasks, money clips, Elveden label bath products, handmade pottery and books, picking up a gift couldn’t get any easier.

Across the square is a cookware shop filled with gadgets, gizmos and utensils that can give a gourmet flair to any aspiring chef. An outdoor garden center will soon be expanded but still offers a decent variety of herbs and plants.

The estate has a chapel and can be rented out for weddings and other special events. It also hosts seasonal pre-fix dinners. The upcoming Valentine’s Day dinner is 37 pounds per person for a four-course meal including champagne.

Whether you’re a foodie looking for your next fix, on the hunt for a gift or just looking for a place to sample local food and wine, Elveden Estate is worth checking out.

“It’s a nice place to spend a few hours,” Tate said. “You can always walk away with something whether you spend a few pounds or a few hundred pounds.”

Getting there

From A11, take B1106 toward Brandon. Look for signs toward Elveden Estate Shops, Café Restaurant. Address is Thetford, Norfolk IP24 3TQ.

Phone: 01842 898068

Hours: 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Sunday through Friday during the winter, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.

Most major credit cards accepted.

Web site:www.elveden.com


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