Battling climax to the Norfolk Food Festival

Sarah BrealeyHave your tastebuds been tickled and titillated? Have you tried something new? If not, there's still time as the Norfolk Food Festival draws to a close this weekend - with a treat in store for sausage-lovers.EDP Bidwells Norfolk Food Festival websiteEDP Bidwells Norfolk Food Festival websiteSarah Brealey

Have your tastebuds been tickled and titillated? Have you piled on the pounds? Have you eaten something delicious? Have you tried something new?

We hope so, because the EDP Bidwells Norfolk Food Festival is now drawing to a close. There have been events all over the county, enjoyed in total by thousands of people. But if you have not taken part, there is still a chance to get involved. This weekend is the big weekend of the Norfolk Food Festival, starting today (Friday) and drawing to a close on Sunday.

The focus of the action is the Forum in Norwich, where there is a cookery theatre today and Saturday with some of Norfolk's top chefs. There are also stalls and displays outside, including hand-washing and healthy eating. And there today is the launch of Cook4Life and Dance4Life in Norfolk, part of the NHS's Change4Life programme. Today is also the Tallest Jelly Competition, and spectators are welcome at the Forum from 11am to watch schoolchildren unmould their ingenious constructions.

On Saturday a food fair will run all day at the Forum, and Richard Hickman, head chef at the Victoria in Holkham, will be helping to launch Norfolk County Council's new Meal Makers cookbook in aid of the Prince's Trust.


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Norfolk cook Mary Kemp will be hosting the cookery theatre on both days, and chefs taking part include Chris Coubrough, television chef and chef at the Crown in Wells, Richard Hughes from the Lavender House, and Vanessa Scott from Stratton's in Swaffham, who will demonstrate seasonal dishes.

For many the highlight will be the Battle of the Bangers on Saturday, sponsored by Anglia Farmers. From 9am to 3pm, people can taste free samples of sausages from seven of the county's finest butchers and pork producers, and then vote for their favourite. The chefs taking part in the cookery theatre will also vote for their favourite in a blind tasting, and a prize will be awarded for both the public vote and the chefs' vote.

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Those taking part include Perfick Pork from Great Ryburgh, near Fakenham, Goodies Farm Shop, from near Long Stratton, last year's winner Frank Spurgeon of Brooke, and the 2007 winner Archers of Norwich.

There are few people more excited about the event than Stephen Plume, 30, who has been dubbed the 'Sausage King'. The maths teacher at Great Yarmouth High School, who lives in Brockdish, near Diss, spends the holidays travelling the country on his motorbike visiting sausage-makers and food fairs. He set up the www.sausagefans.com website eight years ago because he was concerned about the decline of traditional sausage skills, but also as something of a joke. It now gets five million hits a year and people all over the country send him sausages to try. He said: 'It will be really hotly contested this year. There is one outsider, the FruitPig Company, who could come from nowhere. But it is difficult to predict who will win.'

He only eats sausages once or twice a week. 'You can have too much of a good thing.' But he believes they are a very special dish. 'They are the ultimate British versatile food - perfect for any meal of the day or any snack.'

FESTIVAL EVENTS THIS WEEKEND

Saturday:

t Blickling Hall, a nostalgic 1940s evening in costume. A wholesome three-course menu will be served in the East Wing restaurant. 7pm, �26.50 each, book on 0844 800 4308

t Cheese and wine evening at Felbrigg Hall, a selection of local cheeses and English wines. 6.30pm, �24 each, booking essential on 01366 328258.

t Harvest Fayre, Felbrigg Hall, a chance to buy the best in local and seasonal food from some of the area's best producers. 11am to 4.30pm, free.

t Aylsham Food Festival - farmers' market in the market place, 9am to 1pm, free cookery theatre in the town hall, 11am to 3pm, children's cooking workshops (must be pre-booked).

t Grain Brewery Hop Harvest Festival Party, Alburgh, near Harleston, midday-10pm. Beer, food, live music and traditional dancing.

Sunday:

t Aylsham Food festival - apple event at Aylsham Library, 11.30am-1.30pm, free. Traditional breakfast in the town hall, 9am or 11am, tickets �4 or �14 for a family of two adults and two under-12s.

t Family Sunday at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich. Carvery lunch (with vegetarian option) made with local produce. �15 adults, �12 concessions, �7 for children. Book on 01603 593199 or scva@uea.ac.uk. Plus Eat your veg! activity sessions, sculpt your own vegetables from brown paper, and storytelling. Activities from noon to 3.30pm, �3 per one-hour session, free storytelling at 2pm for under-fives and 3pm for six to 12-year-olds.

See www.norfolkfoodfestival.co.uk for further details and more events.

EDP Bidwells Norfolk Food Festival websiteEDP Bidwells Norfolk Food Festival website

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