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Images: 1:The Munnings Museum, Dedham; 2: The swimming pool at Maison Talbooth, Ded- ham; 3: Sherri’s fresh Mistley Thorn Mussels, Mistley; 4: Harwich’s Redoubt (Napoleonic- era fortifi cations); 5: The Edwardian Electric Palace façade, near Harwich harbor; 6: Harwich Pier at sunset, the dome of the Ha’Penny Pier in the foreground


Much of the local area around ① ② ③ ④ ⑤


Harwich can be explored by train, and the appropriately named ‘Mayfl ower Line’ railway is a great way to travel further inland along the side of the River Stour (there’s a heap of River Stours in England - 'Stour' meant 'mighty river’', just like there’s a bunch of 'River Avon’s', which means 'River River’!) The Mayfl ower Line goes between Harwich and Manningtree, and on the way, do stop in Mistley. Having recently watched Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, we were intrigued to fi nd that Mistley was where Matthew Hopkins, the ‘Witchfi nder General’ of the UK, is thought to have lived. Mistley has another American angle, the sensational Californian-born chef Sherri Single- ton, who developed the fabulous Mistley Thorn restaurant, where we stopped for lunch. Sherri’s love of cooking combines with Essex’s unique local produce to great eff ect, with each day’s menu host- ing a delectable range of meats and locally-landed seafood. The Thorn proves that Essex can mix it with the best of London’s high end restaurants. I’ve never tasted such a well put together terrine, and my companion was delighted with his large bowl of Steamed Mussels. I stuck with the traditional English classic of Fish and Chips (or as Sherri’s menu calls them, Fries) which was delicious, followed by the most sumptuous cheesecake I’ve ever had, Sherri’s Mom’s recipe, so a real American cheesecake! Sherri also has a number of rooms, which is a good idea if you fancy exploring the area further by bike – much recommended - or taking part in one of Sherri’s cooking workshops at the nearby Mistley


38 The American ⑥


Kitchen. During our time in Essex we opted to stay in two venues run by Milsom Hotels: the Maison Talbooth near Dedham, a luxury country house with all the ameni- ties you could ask for (including a day spa and hot tub), some truly impressive rooms and a really friendly service. We chose to dine at the hotel’s Le Talbooth restau- rant, and were surprised to be whisked down by a courtesy Range Rover to the picturesque riverside location for some exceptional cuisine. I absolutely can’t speak highly enough of the feast that was laid on for us at Le Talbooth. Our second venue was The Pier Hotel in Harwich, another Milsom hotel. It’s a lovely English seaside hotel that sits right on the harbourside, with spectacular views over the Stour and to Felixstowe, a spectacular sight when lit up at night, and very near to the town. The Pier Hotel’s in-house restaurant, The Harbour- side, is a great foodie stop for the Cruise passengers apparently. We dined at there after all that walking through Essex’s famed countryside! As you’d expect, it specialises in great fresh seafood, but also serves exceptional local meats Essex really won us over. We had no idea it was so green and rural. It’s easily accessible from London, has fi ne dining and luxury accom- modation to rival any European capital, and is steeped in American and British history. I wonder if we should now be re-naming Essex as the UK’s County of Contentment. I’d certainly be content to


return.


For more details call +44(0)3330 130636 go to the website, or go to Twitter @VisitEssex


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