Ten years of celebrating the best of Norfolk produce

Norfolk and Norwich Food Festival 2014 launch event at the Aseembly House, Norwich. Photo: Steve Ada

Norfolk and Norwich Food Festival 2014 launch event at the Aseembly House, Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

It's time to celebrate a decade of fantastic food and delicious drink. The Norfolk Food and Drink Festival 2014 has been officially launched with six weeks of celebration to look forward to. STACIA BRIGGS joined almost 300 guests at The Assembly House in Norwich to kick-start the festival.

Norfolk's lavish larder has opened for another fantastic celebration of the food and drink that makes the county the gastronomic envy of Britain.

The Norfolk Food and Drink Festival – the largest event of its kind in the country – celebrates its 10th birthday this year and has a jam-packed calendar of events for food fans to get their teeth into across the county until October 12.

Whether you fancy dining in the dark at The Maid's Head in Norwich, enjoying high-end restaurant-quality food at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital's lunchtime Pop-Up Restaurant, joining 1,000 other diners for a food safari at Lloyd Addison's Moveable Feast, hearing a special concert from the London Vegetable Orchestra in Aylsham, picnicking in the grounds of the stately Hoveton Hall or trying mad macaron flavours in the Royal Arcade in Norwich, there's something to whet every appetite.

Last night, almost 300 invited guests toasted the launch of the festival, which is being sponsored by Adnams and Spire Solicitors LLP, at the Assembly House in Norwich alongside festival patrons Richard Hughes, Vanessa Scott, Galton Blackiston and Chris Coubrough.

They were offered a taster of what can be expected during the festival with a tempting array of canapés packed with local produce and glasses of pink fizz donated by festival sponsors Adnams and soft drinks courtesy of Norfolk Cordial.

Canapes included Colman's Mustard scones topped with apple butter and black pudding, sage scones topped with cream cheese and chorizo, parsley garlic scones topped with whipped Binham Blue cheese and horseradish scones topped with creamed smoked salmon and capers. There were cones of cockle popcorn and truffle popcorn, smoked chicken club sandwiches on skewers and Norfolk Dapple and ale rarebit toasts and sweet treats including Grain stout brownies, Great Yarmouth-style doughnuts and green and yellow canary macaroons.

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Speeches came from festival patron and Assembly House director Richard Hughes, Liz Cobbold from Adnams, David Harris from fellow sponsor Spire Solicitors LLP, Norfolk County Council's Paul Smyth and festival chairwoman Sarah de Chair. There was also a prize draw picked by event sponsor Contract Personnel and the unveiling of a special 10th anniversary birthday cake baked by Pye Bakers.

Mr Hughes, who praised the festival committee for having organised another spectacular celebration, said: 'I am sure I speak for the patrons, for the festival committee and for all those who have been involved in the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival over the past decade when I say that we are all very proud of the fact that this has become the destination festival we always hoped it would be.'

Liz Cobbold from festival sponsor Adnams said she never failed to be impressed by the passion for food and drink shared by both household-name brands and upcoming artisans in the region.

'Food, drink and agriculture are the largest employment sectors in the region representing nearly 13 per cent of all jobs and the diversity of products being produced in the region from beer through to chocolate, meat, fish and vegetables means it is truly possible to eat and drink local,' she said. 'At Adnams, more than half or the farms in our growers' club of suppliers are from Norfolk and this is very important to us as we strive to source locally as part of our ongoing commitment to sustainability.'

Spire Solicitors LLP is a new sponsor for the festival and the firm, which has eight offices throughout the county, was last night represented by partner David Harris, who specialises in employment law. A keen amateur cook, David said Spire was proud to sponsor the celebration of the county's storecupboard.

'Norfolk has a long association with feeding the nation. It takes only a few minutes to reel off some well-known bigger regional food and drink brands,' he said. 'Spire is also firmly part of Norfolk. Many of our clients are in the food and drink industry, whether it is arable or livestock farming or food manufacturing. We are therefore delighted to support the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival.'

Norfolk County Council is also a festival sponsor and, in his speech, spokesman Paul Smyth congratulated the festival on its 10th birthday and praised the wide variety of events which showcase the county and the produce available on our doorstep.

He also added that the council's public health department would be hosting Health and Wellbeing Roadshows at four of the festival's key events – the satellite food festivals in North Norfolk, the Brecks, Great Yarmouth and Norwich.

'Tenth anniversaries are, I understand, normally marked by the giving of tin, although I doubt very much whether anything eaten during this celebration of Norfolk's finest produce will be out of a tin!' he joked.

Speaking before the launch, chairwoman Sarah de Chair said she was looking forward to the festival and showcasing Norfolk's produce and hospitality to the county and the country and thanked all the festival sponsors, giving special mention to Adnams and Spire Solicitors. She said: 'Our long-term aim is to turn our food and drink festival in Norfolk into a destination event, bringing people into the county during the off-peak season to experience sumptuous offerings our county has to offer.'

The festival kicks off tomorrow and Sunday with the North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival at Holkham Hall, from 10am.

Click here for more information about the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival.

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