Battle of the Bangers returns to Norwich
Across Norfolk butchers are sharpening their cleavers in preparation for one of the most sizzling competitions of the year. The Battle of the Bangers returns to the Forum in Norwich.
The contest is undoubtedly one of the most popular events at the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival. Last year, around 4,000 people voted, and competition organiser Sarah De Chair is expecting a similar turn out again.
Seven butchers from around Norfolk will be taking part in this year's event. Two, South Green Park Farm Shop of Mattishall and Bower's Butchers of King's Lynn, are newcomers to the competition, while Tavern Tasty of North Walsham, Bradwell Butchery and Frank Spurgeon of Brooke are returning after a couple of years out. Bramble's Farm of Briston and the FruitPig Company of Emneth complete the line-up, plus students from City College Norwich will be on hand to help out the butchers by making sure there's a ready supply of sausages for the judges to sample.
In fact, the butchers will face two sets of judges – the public and the competition's sponsors.
The winner of the public vote will have their sausage put on the menu at the Unthank Arms pub in Bury Street, Norwich, for a week as one of their specials, with a prize for one lucky voter picked at random who will win a meal for two at the pub.
And the winner of the sponsor's vote will receive a framed engraved meat cleaver to put up in their shop.
As Sarah explains, there is a very important rule the competitors must comply with.
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'We ask that all the sausage meat is from Norfolk and I advise the butchers to do a regular sausage – sometimes people don't like the more unusual flavour combinations,' she says.
Last year's winner was Archer's of Plumstead Road in Norwich. The shop has dominated the Battle of the Bangers since the beginning, winning the 2006 and 2007 competitions.
They had a year out in 2008, were runner up in 2009 and won again in 2010 and 2011.
Sarah says a change to the rules means that, although they will not be taking part in this year's competition, their sausage making expertise will certainly be called on.
'We've made a new ruling for the competition that the winner of the previous year becomes a judge,' she says. 'That person will also be offered a stall in the Forum.'
So what's the secret of an award-winning sausage? While most butchers would agree that to create a tasty sausage it needs to have a high meat content, they are often secretive about their blends of herbs and spices .
'It's probably a family recipe passed down from generation to generation. They keep the recipes very close to their chests,' says Sarah.
The Battle of the Bangers competition will take place outside the Forum, Norwich, on Saturday, September 8, from 9.30am. Voting finishes at 3pm and the winner will be announced on the steps of the Forum at 4pm.