Everything you need to know about the North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival 2017
- Credit: Ian Burt
From Cromer crabs to Morston mussels, artisan beers to salty samphire, Stacia Briggs discovers what's on the menu at the North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival.
Under the big skies of North Norfolk, the irresistible combination of surf and turf combines to produce one of Britain's most vibrant larders.
The seafood from North Norfolk is world-famous and the area's lush pastures lend themselves to the production of exceptional dairy and meat production – and then there are a host of renowned restaurants plus a superior selection of gastro pubs and at the smallest end of the scale, roadside stalls that offer fresh-that-day seaside finds.
Once a year, the whole area comes together to celebrate the North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival, sponsored by Kettle Foods, held at the wonderful Holkham Hall thanks to the generosity of Viscount and Viscountess Coke and supported by a host of local suppliers, chefs, businesses and food fans.
Chris Coubrough, owner of The Ship Hotel in Brancaster and The Crown Hotel in Wells-Next-The-Sea and Norfolk's 'Flying Kiwi', is chairman of the North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival, a Norfolk Food and Drink patron and a passionate supporter of all things local.
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Every year more than 12,000 visitors pour through the gates for a taste of North Norfolk and this year organisers hope even more will come for the festival, this year being held over the weekend of September 2 and 3, the biggest event of its kind in the region.
Chris explained that in addition to a line-up that includes well-known local chefs performing in Mary Kemp's Cookery Theatre, a host of exhibitors, a food court to whet every appetite and activities for adults and children alike, this year there will be a Kinnerton-sponsored baking competition to find the festival's best bakers.
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The Kinnerton Cake Competition has two categories, one for children aged under 14 and another for all other bakers, with older bakers taking centre stage on Saturday and both categories attracting a top prize of a KitchenAid mixer. Cakes should include chocolate – as little as one chocolate button or chocolate throughout – and must be delivered to the chairman's tent before noon on Saturday in a container that does not have to be returned. (The same format for children will be repeated on Sunday).
'Carrot cake is my favourite cake of all, although if I'm honest, that's because I love the topping. In fact if I'm really honest, you could probably dispense with the cake entirely and just give me a bowl of topping but at the festival I will very gladly eat a great deal of cake in order to find the best,' said Chris, one of the competition judges along with Mary Kemp and Kinnerton.
'This also addresses the important issue of me not eating enough cake at the North Norfolk Food Festival, which is great news.'
Produce on sale will range from real ales to fresh meat and poultry, local seafood, vegetables, local honey, cakes, fruit, ice cream, cheese, fresh juices, cakes, puddings and tarts – everything on offer must either be grown, reared, caught, produced or sold in North Norfolk.
Just outside the Walled Garden a food court area will provide everyone attending the event with outstanding local food and drink, including Arthur Howell offering his famous hog roast, the Fruit Pig Company with award winning sausages and Morston Mud Inns with seafood.
The ever popular Cookery Theatre will see demonstrations from this year's wonderful line-up of chefs including Chris, Vanessa Scott from Strattons, Richard Hughes from The Assembly House, Richard Bainbridge from Benedicts, Tom Blofeld from BeWILDerwood,
Great British Bake Off 2016 contestant Kate Barmby and Eric Snaith from nearby Titchwell Manor.
In addition to its sponsorship, Kettle Foods is once again offering a business mentoring prize of £1000 to one of the attending stallholders to help them develop their products.
In 2016 this prize was won by local cheese, yoghurt and milk producer, Nortons' Dairy.
North Norfolk Food Festival facts:
• Festival gates open at 10am and close at 4pm
• Holkham Hall is open on the Sunday from 12 noon until 4pm (last entry). Holkham Park is open both days from 10am to 5pm.
• Entry to the festival is free but a car park charge applies.