Long live the Aldeburgh Food Festival

Long live the Aldeburgh Food Festival

By Susan Low

Can it really be a decade since the inaugural Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival? This annual shindig in the beautiful Snape Maltings complex near Aldeburgh in Suffolk had been on my ‘must-go-to’ list for ages, but I’d never quite made it (clearly, I’m just lazy…). Until this year.

It was a long time in the coming (for me at least), but the Festival’s tenth anniversary event, held over the weekend, was an expectation-exceeding, nosh-filled triumph. Everyone who loves food should try to make it here at least once in their lifetime.

The people

The weather – all bright blue skies and crisp air – provided the ideal backdrop, but the producers and chefs managed to outshine the warm late-summer sunshine.

Aldeburgh Food Festival
This year’s line-up of demos, talks and masterclasses included some of our favourite chefs, cooks and writers, among them Diana Henry, Thomasina Miers, Jose Pizarro, Olia Hercules (picture below), Tim Hayward and Dhruv Baker, all of whom have graced the pages of delicious.

Olia
Producer highlights

I made a few flavourful discoveries too. First up: cheese, a subject near to my heart. St Jude, a raw cow’s milk cheese (photo below) reminiscent of St-Marcellin from France, made by Julie Cheyney (whose previous cheese creations include Tunworth Camembert) made from the milk of Montbeliarde cows that graze the lush grasses of Stow Fen in the Waveney Valley, is a standout.

St Jude cheese
Made from the milk of the same herd, Baron Bigod a farm-made, Brie-de-Meaux style cheese made by Jonny Crickmore and the team at the dynamic Fen Farm Dairy in Bungay, Suffolk, is a cheese to keep an eye on too.

From across the border in Norfolk, Wensum White, a meltingly soft, creamy textured and flavour-packed goat’s cheese made at Fielding Cottage in Honingham, is also a winner.

Also from Norfolk, Jackie Kennedy from Marsh Pig is turning out some amazing European-style charcuterie, such as bresaola, chorizo, lomo and – my pick – coppa.

Bread and beyond

The selection of breads and sweet bakes from Southwold-based bakers Two Magpies Bakery  stood out and – true to form – Pump Street Bakery’s  lovely Citroen van (he’s called Cedric) was seldom without a queue, with fans of the Orford-based bakery and chocolatier keen to get their mitts on Pump Street’s trademark bear claw pastries and butter tarts.

Pump St Bakery
The turkey and guinea fowl from the Mobbs family at White House Farm in Cratfield is pretty special. The birds are free-range and full of flavour – and the lucky birds get to feast on feed that’s made from the farm’s home-grown wheat, barley and oats.

It was good to see Sutton Hoo, purveyors of top quality free-range chicken, at the show too – with a copy of April’s delicious. magazine (with a feature on them written by our own Debbie Major) on proud display.

The standout beef from Kenton Hall Estate, comes from purebred Longhorn beef. The meat from these beautiful beasts is hung for at least 28 days and butchered on the farm and you can’t get better.

The selection of British-grown pulses at Hodmedod’s in Bungay is a fagioli fanatic’s dream – and they also sell quinoa grown in Essex (really).

Hodmedods
And finally… anyone who knows me knows that I can’t resist a good crisp, and the ones from Fairfield Farm passed my very stringent crisp-assessment criteria. I loved the fact that the type of potato in the bag I was munching is printed on the back of the packet. Single-variety crisps? Bring it on…

Next year

Having (stupidly) left it more than a decade to make the not-very-long journey to Aldeburgh, I’m marking the date in my diary for next year. I recommend you do too…

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