Down By The Seaside – A Weekend at Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival

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Hope you’re all well!  Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve blogged, lots of exciting projects have been happening which I’ll update you with in my next blog but I just had to share my fab weekend at Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival on the 29th & 30th September………

With a slight chill in the air and a harvest moon in the sky it was that time of year again. The Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival is Suffolk’s premier foodie gathering, showcasing the very best of Suffolk food and drink and the amazing people that produce it. The festival which first started in 2006 was the place to be over the weekend and with a host of chef demonstrations and workshops, the festival has something for everyone. The whole event takes place in the superb surroundings of the Victorian brick built kilns of Snape Maltings.

For me the festival really is a treat.  I love the whole feel of the place; it’s like the whole of Suffolk is in one place to feast on its bountiful harvest.  The organisers had a great line up this year with Valentine Warner, Angela Hartnett, Thomasina Miers, Matthew Fort and Emma Crowhurst to name but a few, all of whom were doing demonstrations across both stages. Throughout the two days there were also a number of workshops being held from the Food Safari butchery courses to bread making and children’s cookery classes.  You could spend a week there and still feel you missed something.

I was at the show to do a couple of butchery demonstrations on the ‘Cook With Me Kids’ (@cookwithmekids) stand.   Founded by Emma Haines, Cook With Me Kids is centered around the concept of bringing real local food to children and schools. Emma works with children of all ages from reception class to 6th former’s, educating them about  food and where it comes from. It was great to see local pupils and teachers from Leiston Primary School getting involved throughout the weekend on the stand from making apple crumbles or painting bags with apples.

I was doing one demonstration each day and I wanted to do something a little different so I chose to use Muntjac for the demo.  Muntjac are funny little fellows – they are even on a most-wanted list that names and shames the six foreign invaders wreaking havoc on our countryside. There is no closed season for Muntjac and they can be shot at any time of the year.  Originating in South-East Asia, the Muntjac first set hoof in Britain as a legal immigrant in 1900, brought into the country as a plaything by the then Duke of Bedford.  Since then these cheeky little deer have spread far and wide with some even making it to Scotland. They are a bit prehistoric looking and are one of the oldest breeds of deer dating back 35 million years. You may be wondering  why you haven’t seen this destructive invader…..well they are only a small animal, so during the day they can hide away in undergrowth and brambles out of harms way. Muntjac are also known as the ‘barking deer’ as they can bark like a dog and also scream like a fox so they frequently get mistaken for another four-legged animal. The best thing of all is that Muntjac taste superb and are a great value carcass.

The Muntjac I used in my demonstrations were kindly supplied by the Wild Meat Company (@wildmeatcompany). The Wild Meat Company have their fingers on the pulse when it comes to game and wild meat in Suffolk and the surrounding areas.  Established in 1999 by Robert Gooch and Paul Denny, the main aim of this Suffolk-based business was to take the muck and mystery out of buying, preparing and eating game.  All of The Wild Meat Company’s game is from their own or neighbouring farms and estates in East Anglia.  Being so close to the coast as well, The Wild Meat Company also stock a host of migratory birds such as wild duck and woodcock and can deliver nationwide.

On both days at the festival the demonstrations went very well with a good crowd of both young and old. I’m very passionate about what I do and the products that I use and I like to get this across to audience so it was great to see that so many people enjoyed the show!

A few pictures of my demonstrations at the festival

I met some fantastic foodie people over the weekend including Adrian Melrose from Rosery Farm and Stephen Plume aka The Sausage King.  I also had the pleasure of meeting Lucy of Lucy’s Dressings (@lucysdressings) as well.  I took an instant liking to these dressings with their clean crisp flavours using key local ingredients – they are great!  It is important to remember that dressings are not just for salads, they can create great sauces and marinades for meat and cooking as well.  I especially liked the Light Asian Dressing which I think makes a fantastic marinade with the muntjac I was demonstrating with.

It was lovely to meet with Polly from the fabulous Food Safari (@foodsafariUK) as well.   She really has worked hard to establish a unique brand of food experiences that has put Suffolk well and truly on the foodie map. We have got some great plans for the future which I’m really excited about so watch this space!!

I had a thoroughly enjoyable weekend and would recommend this festival to anyone!  If you would like to know more about the event and all the producers that exhibited, as well as all the fringe events that are still going on check out the event website here or follow them on Twitter (@aldeburghfood).  There’s another cracking blog about the event from the guys at Eat Anglia (including some photos of me!) check it out here.

Thank you to all that were involved in making this a truly awesome show and I hope to be back next year.





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