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 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.
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.
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.
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).
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…