What to expect from the Food Festival in Aylsham this weekend

Olly Sanders pictured at his handmade food stall at Aylsham Market.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Olly Sanders pictured at his handmade food stall at Aylsham Market.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

It heralds the annual outing of the most famous breakfast in Norfolk and this year welcomes an orchestra with a difference, which will feature butternut squash bugles and carrot clarinets. STACIA BRIGGS looks forward to the Aylsham Food Festival this weekend.

Aylsham Food Festival gala dinner. Tiramisu bombes ready to serve. Picture: RICHARD BATSON

Aylsham Food Festival gala dinner. Tiramisu bombes ready to serve. Picture: RICHARD BATSON - Credit: Archant

In the town square, Elvis Parsley is getting ready to put on his blue swede shoes – it can only be the Aylsham Food Festival's much-anticipated concert from the wonderful London Vegetable Orchestra.

The orchestra will be appearing on Saturday at 12.45pm and 1.20pm having previously held a workshop at Aylsham High School last weekend to help people from the town learn how to carve their own instruments.

Founded three years ago, the orchestra creates its brass section from courgettes, squashes, peppers and cassava roots, its wind section from carrot recorders and the percussion comes courtesy of freshly-carved pumpkins.

If you'd rather not play with your food, head to Aylsham's Big Slow Breakfast, which brings the town's festival to a close on Sunday and always welcomes a few well-known local faces from the Norfolk food industry for a wonderful fry-up in the town hall.

Aylsham food festival, Saturday's farmers market. Picture: Lucy Clapham

Aylsham food festival, Saturday's farmers market. Picture: Lucy Clapham - Credit: Archant

Other events during the festival include the children's cooking workshops in Aylsham Parish Church which are being held tomorrow and Friday and the Aylsham Country Market in the town hall from 8.30am to noon on Friday.

Throughout the festival, Purdy's Tea Room at Woodgate Nursery, Cawston Road, will have a special Aylsham Food Festival menu packed with Norfolk treats such as smoked chicken from Morton's Smokehouse and watercress sandwiches, Ellingham goats' cheese tart and Wensum White and Norfolk Mardler goats' cheese ploughmans.

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You can also enter Slow Food Aylsham's cooking competition to create a dish containing apples or pears (or both) by filling in the competition form at www.slowfoodaylsham.org.uk and then taking your creation and your recipe to Aylsham Town Hall at 10.30am on Saturday. Judging is at 12.30pm and there are two categories, under-16s and over-16s.

Another hotly-anticipated event in the town's festival calendar is the Aylsham Food Festival Gala Dinner, served by students at the town's high school on Friday night.

The school's catering department and dozens of pupils aged between 12 and 16 spend weeks practising the dishes for the five-course meal which has already sold-out.

On Saturday, the town's FARMA-accredited Farmers' Market will be in the Market Place, there will be Family Cooking Workshops in the Town Hall sponsored by Woodforde's Brewery, cooking demonstrations from local chefs and street magicians from Davenport's Magic Kingdom will be entertaining the crowds, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Aylsham.

There will be jazz courtesy of One Foot in the Groove between 9.30am and 11.30am before the Salvation Army Band's performance between 11.30am and 12.30pm.

On Sunday, The Big Slow Breakfast, catered by members of Slow Food Aylsham, will take place in the Town Hall. Tickets are £7 from Barnwells newsagents and Salad Days Fruit and Veg in the Market Place.


• Until October 5: North Norfolk Restaurant Week

North Norfolk's popular dining event is a culinary celebration of the area's vibrant restaurant scene, giving diners the opportunity to sample restaurants they've always wanted to visit or to go back to favourite haunts for incredibly tempting prices – from £10 for two courses for either lunch or dinner.

Restaurants participating in the two-week-long celebration include The White Horse at Brancaster Staithe, The Ship Inn at Brancaster, The Lifeboat Inn at Thornham, The Rose and Crown at Snettisham, The Jolly Sailors at Brancaster Staithe, the Art Café at Glandford, The Crown at Wells, The Old Coach House at Thornham, The Lavender Kitchen at Heacham, The Norfolk Riddle at Walsingham and The Bank House at King's Lynn.

For more details, and to sign up to the scheme, visit www.northnorfolkrestaurantweek.co.uk

• October 1: The Great British Food Quiz at The Assembly House

Join Food Festival patron Richard Hughes for an evening of food, fun and frivolity at the food quiz that will test your taste buds while exercising your noodle. The ticket includes a two-course dinner, coffee and the quiz. The night begins at 7pm at the Assembly House and winners will be given great food-related prizes. Tickets cost £25 each or £200 for a table of 10. Book on 01603 626402 or admin@assemblyhousenorwich.co.uk.

• October 2: The Lavender House and The Assembly House Pop-Up At The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital

From noon until 2.30pm, the teams from The Lavender House in Brundall and The Assembly House in Norwich will be offering staff, patients and visitors the chance to enjoy a gourmet pop-up restaurant at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Chef Richard Hughes will be joining Serco executive chef Jon Batchelor at the hospital for a very special lunch service, which is raising cash for the Targeted Radiotherapy Appeal at the NNUH. Diners are being asked to pay what they think is fair for their meal. Lunch will take approximately one hour. To ensure your table, please book in advance at cchettleburgh@norwich.serco.com

• October 3: Five-course tasting menu paired with Beer, Woodforde's Brewery tap, The Fur and Feather

Five courses of great food will each be accompanied by a distinctive, Norfolk craft ale handpicked by Woodforde's beer expert Bruce Ash to heighten the flavours of each dish. Bruce will chat to guests about how to blend the textures, notes, aromas and flavours of beer with food and will be joined by landlord Tim Ridley to showcase the finest ingredients around the county including celeriac and apple soup with soda bread, Cromer crab fishcake with chunky tartarre, venison bourguignon yorky with creamy herb mash and caramelised vegetables, a trio of local cheeses with homemade biscuits and a chocolate torte served with Ronaldo's cherry ice cream. The event begins at 7pm for a 7.30pm start, tickets are £30 per head and must be booked in advance at the Brewery Shop at Woodbastwick or by calling 01603 722218.

• October 4: Acle Tasty Food and Drink Festival, Acle Academy

From 10am to 4pm, Acle Academy will be holding a celebration of local food and drink. There will be producers, stalls, fun for children, a Tasty Vintage Afternoon Tea Room Experience and cookery from the academy's GCSE students.

• October 5: Raveningham Gardens End of Season Vegetable Day

Join the Bacon family for a tour of the 18th century walled kitchen garden at 12.30pm and 2.30pm. Discover gardening secrets, the history of the garden and buy garden produce. Entry is £4 for adults, concessions £3.50 and children under 16 go free, www.raveningham.com

• October 5: Walk with a Fork

You should never run with knives, but you should definitely Walk With A Fork at the charity event that combines fundraising with a food safari.

Sunday October 5, Sennowe Park in Guist near Dereham will be throwing open its gates to welcome walkers for a food-based event which will raise much-needed funds for the Ormiston Children and Families Trust which works with children and young people across the east of England. Local chefs and producers have joined forces to provide a range of 'food stops' to fuel walkers as they make their way around an eight-mile trail. For more details, visit www.ormiston.org.

• October 6: Food-themed TED Talk Gala Dinner, John Innes Conference Centre

Join internationally-acclaimed speaker John Bates in this food-themed evening. Learn the secrets of great public speaking and enjoy a locally-sourced and seasonally-inspired menu with local wine. Tickets cost £50 per person.

See www.jic.ac.uk for more details about the event.

• October 10 and October 11: Diss Corn Hall 6th Annual Beer Festival

From 5pm until 11pm on Friday and from noon until 11pm on Saturday, the festival is headlined by Grain Brewery, holders of Champion Beer of Norfolk for the fourth year, and there will be a great mix of tipples to try, from blondes to IPAs, foreign beers to classic bitters and stouts. Most are East Anglian, a few are out-of-towners. There will be a full bar, live music and food on offer.

• October 11 to October 12: Waveney Food and Drink Festival

There's plenty to whet the appetite in Waveney, from the Battle of the Bangers in Diss to a festival fair at Bungay Castle showcasing the best of the region on October 11 and 12.

The Norfolk Food and Drink Festival, sponsored by Spire Solicitors and Adnams, runs from August 30 to October 12 and includes a host of events across the county. For more details and to access the full calendar of events, visit www.norfolkfoodanddrinkfestival.co.uk

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