With two producers’ markets, Festival Dinner, a ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’ and the always-popular Big Slow Breakfast, this year’s Aylsham Food Festival, from 30 September to 2 October, promises something for food lovers everywhere. Now in its sixth year, the Festival will for the first time be run in association with the Norfolk Food Festival and will provide the last of that event’s five ‘feature weekends’.
Presented by the local branch of the international Slow Food movement, and supported by Broadland District Council, the 2011 Aylsham Food Festival is welcoming the weekly Country Market as part of its celebration of local food. The Market is held every Friday from 8.50am to 12 noon in Aylsham’s Town Hall, featuring produce including cakes, cookies, vegetables, fruit, eggs and plants. There will be a range of tasty samples on hand as well as a café serving tea, coffee and refreshments.
The evening of Friday 30 September will see the Festival Dinner at Aylsham High School. Regular Festival-goers will know that this indulgent Dinner is traditionally locally sourced, cooked and served by catering students at the school and this year they are turning their hands to a selection of scrumptious soups and delicious desserts, all accompanied by wine from the Loire Valley. An interval between courses will see a cheese tasting, accompanied by cider from the Wroxham Barns Apple shop and presented by Catherine Temple from Wighton-based Mrs Temple’s Cheese. In addition to her own products, Catherine will also include Ferndale cheeses in her talk. Tickets for the Dinner, at just £12 per person, are available from Salad Days fruit and veg stall and from Barnwells newsagents, both to be found in Aylsham Market Place.
The first of Aylsham’s two monthly FARMA-accredited Farmers’ Markets will open proceedings on the morning of the second day of the Festival, Saturday 1 October. This successful market sells produce from within a 50-mile radius of the town and includes bread, eggs, honey, rapeseed oil, fish and shellfish, cheese, preserves, plants, apple juice, cakes and meat.
Starting at 10.00am on the Saturday morning is a free, drop-in, ‘Ready Steady Cook’ show with local chefs Matthew Miller from the Black Boys in Aylsham; Andrew Baker from the Market Place restaurant in Aylsham; Graham Edgar from the National Trust’s Blickling Hall and freelance Derroll Waller. The event, sponsored by local electrical retailer J B Postle, will be in two parts with pairs of chefs, using produce from the Farmers’ Market, competing for the audience’s vote for the best dish.
Aylsham Food Festival has always concluded with the Big Slow Breakfast and 2011 will be no exception. Slow Food members and their friends will be serving up traditional English breakfasts (with a vegetarian option) for up to 120 people in the Town Hall between 10.00am and 12.00 noon. Using bacon and sausages from Aylsham’s three butchers – G F White, Granville Bond and J S Coxford – plus locally sourced eggs, the Breakfast will also include bread, croissants and preserves all made by Slow Food members. With tickets at just £6 for adults and £4 for children under 12, this event is likely to be as popular as ever – tickets are available now from Salad Days and Barnwells.
The Aylsham Food Festival has been a great success throughout its six year history and with its link to the larger county event, 2011 should see even more visitors to North Norfolk’s ‘foodie’ town. Slow Food Aylsham’s chairman, Giles Margarson, commented, “Slow Food has organised this Festival since its inception and we are really proud to have a hand in promoting the wonderful produce available in our area. Linking with Norfolk Food Festival and including for the first time the Friday Country Market has added new interest and I am sure that we will see another very successful event.”
There is more about Aylsham Food Festival at www.slowfoodaylsham.org.uk/foodfestival