PICTURE GALLERY: All the images from ‘incredible’ Aylsham Food Festival

There was a change of pace today as Aylsham Food Festival switched from the against-the-clock speed of yesterday's Ready, Steady, Cook to the sedate Big Slow Breakfast.

The sizzle of sausages merged with the gentle hum of conversation as hundreds of visitors tucked into their fry-ups, cereal, coffee and fruit juice at the final event of the three-day festival.

As with the rest of the annual event - which is the climax of the month-long EDP Bidwells Norfolk Food Festival - only local produce was used.

And the town hall was packed with people enjoying the good food and good company.

Roger Willis, vice leader of Slow Food Aylsham, which organised the festival, said: 'I think the festival has gone incredibly well this year. All of the events have been well supported.


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'The weather might have kept a few people out of the town, but it certainly wasn't quiet.'

He added: 'There will certainly be a three-day festival next year that will include the Big Slow Breakfast and the festival dinner. But the Saturday morning event is a moving feast.'

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Yesterday, the judges could not get a lettuce leaf between the contenders as the Ready, Steady, Cook challenge ended in a double dead-heat.

Scores of people watched the town hall proceedings as Mark Amies from Blickling Hall and freelance chef Derroll Waller went head-to-head - followed by Mark Sayers, head chef at The Norfolk Mead in Coltishall, and Gary Heffer, head chef at The Black Boys in Aylsham.

The audience vote declared both contests an honourable draw.

The foursome were given the task of coming up with tasty dishes from a selection of local foods that were bought by Jill Willis from Aylsham's market before the contest began.

Mr Amies cooked a rib-eye steak on a green salad with orange peel and celeriac. Mr Waller put together a pork loin on a bed of celeriac mash.

And the two chefs combined to cook a fennel soup.

Mr Sayers created pork sausage on a bed of arborio rice and Romanesco puree, with Mrs Temple's Walsingham cheese.

Mr Heffer made venison sausage on a bed of rocket, plus Aberdeen angus meatballs on a bed of tagliatelle and a rapeseed and balsamic vinegar dressing.

Master of ceremonies Roger Willis, vice leader of festival organiser Aylsham Slow Food, said: 'We really couldn't separate them. It was a very good morning and the audience enjoyed it very much.'

On Friday evening night, mountains of profiteroles, dripping with caramel, were the highlight of a festival dinner at Aylsham High School.

The croquembouches were carried in to 100 diners with a flourish by some of the young Aylsham High School year 11 chefs who had planned, sourced, costed and cooked the meal.

An army of younger waiters and waitresses served up canap�s, a choice of three soups, locally-made cheeses - from Ferndale Norfolk Farmhouse Cheeses and Mrs Temple's Cheeses - and three puddings, which also featured treacle tart and steamed apple sponge.

Finishing touches included homemade bread, savoury biscuits, Florentines and fudge, plus local cider.

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