A while ago I was asked to re-establish a wine department for a long-standing brewery in East Anglia – Lacons. Along with its original Victorian wine and spirit department, Burroughs, it had been decimated during the brewery and pub asset strip of the ’60’s when takeovers precipitated the abandonment of brewing and distilling in favour of amassing property portfolios. What an inept commercial lesson in the face of a burgeoning demand for craft beer that turned out to be.

Lacons’ principal competition was an arguably more modish outfit further down the coastline – Adnams. An unimposing outfit then, they had managed to avoid all rogue takeover bids by quietly hiding in the backstreets of Southwold whilst the big breweries ran amok across the country, scooping up pubs, restaurants and hotels alike.

As a survivor, much of Adnams’ prospective flair was a direct and natural consequence of its sassy wine buyer. If I were to envisage an exemplar, I needed to look no further. Towards the end of the sixties, the son of an Adnams shareholder, a young Simon Loftus, joined the family business. It was some years later, and not without internal opposition, that he set about bolting on a stylish wine cache to accompany the parade of horse-drawn drays and attendant beer kegs supplying a portfolio of local Suffolk pubs. The inspiring choice of wines will be remembered alongside his highly erudite tasting notes in the renowned annual wine list. Now retired, he continues to write with panache and has a string of publications to his name. My preference, from 1987, is A Pike in the Basement, it is a Proustian celebration chronicling the tastes and smells of Brittany, Teheran, Pakistan, Andalucia, Isfahan and Piedmont. In short a young man’s idiosyncratic grand tour conflating cultural memories with attendant recipes, each chapter providing a notable epicurean tale.

The star recipe for me, ironically located on page 101, is Bacon du Bedat, an extraordinary concoction of toasted bread, bacon, salmon and mango chutney. But please don’t let the ingredients deter you from its surprisingly delicious dénouement, a gem of a sandwich and once tried, it becomes quite addictive. Lunching with Simon one day at Adnams benchmark Crown Restaurant in Southwold (these days it has become a remorselessly middle-class town) it was not difficult to be a tad intimidated by his storyteller’s insouscient pose, effortless élan and studied eccentricity. The only wine trader I have ever met who’s glinting golden ear ring and elegantly poised cigarette were more reminiscent of Captain Jack Sparrow than a director of Berry Bros and Rudd. Although we were together to discus something approaching a joint venture, conversation led serendipitously to his various publications and this, the most original of sandwiches. It was originally unearthed by Simon in The English Cookbook(1985) by Victor Gordon. Although something of a literate joy, this jingoistic publication is packed with unapologetically British and post colonial recipes. Perfidious Albion with a friendly Emoji. Gordon marks out the territory later populated by Fergus Henderson and Gary Rhodes; their shared template of classic British cuisine now fashionably traversing the globe.

A recipe that Simon worshipped, but that Gary would have likely eschewed, serves to highlight the notion that one cook’s muddle can be another’s masterpiece. Its reprise in our own kitchen belongs to the latter conviction.

Bacon du Bedat from A Pike in the Basement. Tales of a Hungry Traveller (1987) Simon Loftus

Ingredients – white bread, smoked salmon, bacon and mango chutney.

Take good quality white bread, thinly sliced and lightly toasted

Cook the bacon and keep warm

Lay cold smoked salmon on warm toast and spread with mango chutney

Add hot bacon and final layer of toast and eat at once

Wine thoughts

Simon writes, “Traditionally this is eaten with champagne, the grander the better”  Who could argue?