The highlight of the Suffolk foodie calendar for me is the annual Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival at Snape Maltings. It’s a non-profit making event designed to showcase the many excellent food and drink producers we have in this part of the world and it’s how I’ve met many of the people who’ve featured on these pages and whose food I have cooked and eaten.
This year’s festival is on September 27/28 and among the 80+ producers who’ll be there will be old friends Don Lear, the Bhaji Man; Jimmy from Alburgh Lamb (the best lamb I’ve ever eaten); Lottie Barbour of Cratfield Beef; Hill Farm Oils, who make an excellent cold-pressed extra-virgin rapeseed oil; Pump Street Bakery, home of sourdough supremo Chris Brennan; and Emmett’s Ham and Bacon, who produce the famous Suffolk Black Ham.
Then there’s Norfolk Saffron and Essence Foods who I’ll hopefully be writing about later in the year; the fabulous Pinneys of Orford, who have an oysterage and their own fishing boats and a smokery and restaurant (pause for breath); Suffolk Farmhouse Cheeses who featured recently on Fromage Homage; The Tidemill Living Museum, which makes terrific bread flour; and P.A. Mobbs, from whom we always buy our Christmas turkeys – in fact we usually put an order in while we’re at the festival.
The list goes on – but check out the festival website and take a look for yourself. I go every year but this year I’m rather chuffed to be able to say that I’ll be doing a bit of compering at some of the cookery demos.
I’ll get to meet some of my personal food heroes, including Mexican food maestra Thomasina Miers of Wahaca; Galton Blackiston, the chef/patron of Michelin-starred Morston Hall Hotel in north Norfolk; chef and food writer Jane Baxter and Sabrina Ghayour, whose book of Middle Eastern food, Persiana, is my favourite new cookbook. Again, there’s a long list of top chefs who’ll be passing along their expertise in a series of cookery demonstrations and masterclasses.
New this year will be an on-site bakery producing fresh loaves all weekend, a new producers’ zone to showcase young businesses, a kids’ zone and a Saturday night Street Feast.
I hope this doesn’t read like a press release because, in fact, I’m not getting paid to write this. Cooking and eating locally-sourced food is important to me and we’re lucky in East Anglia in having so many good producers, people who are passionate about what they do and the quality of what they make or farm and who care about the welfare of their animals (and customers).
The festival is a great day out. Come along if you can and say hello – I’ll be the one on the Marquee Stage who’s trying not to trip over her own microphone cable.