What makes a food festival? Mountains of cheese, chocolate and charcuterie, an explosion of chilli, a long cool beer – it’s all about sensory extremes and subtle contrasts. Hear passionate performers, soap-box rants and electric debate at the 2011 Abergavenny Food Festival which takes place over the weekend of Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 September.
Savour the delights of fishing at dawn or dancing at dusk (yes, there’s a fantastic party at The Castle!). You can taste it, share it and bring it all together in one big celebration on the Welsh borders. Box office goes live on 15 July. View the full line-up at www.abergavennyfoodfestival.com. Tickets for most events can also be purchased through The Borough Theatre, Abergavenny: 01873 850805.
There’s so much on offer - from an unrivalled foodie shopping experience to top-end masterclasses. And it’s very much a family event, with free 5-Venue stroller ticket entry to all children under 16 (if accompanied by an adult). Now that’s something to celebrate! Buy stroller tickets online before 1 September and pay last year’s prices. This year for the first time all stroller-ticket holders will have the added benefit of a free top-quality official programme, produced in association with Fork Magazine - featuring site maps, exhibitor listings, and exclusive features on guest performers.
Brewin Dolphin (award-winning independent private client investment management firm) has come on board as principal sponsor. Marketing Director Philip Browne said, ‘With a broad and vibrant programme of events, this year’s festival, in association with Brewin Dolphin, will have something for everyone. Its diverse appeal, the economic benefits it brings to our community and the exceptional quality of food and cooking the festival attracts has encouraged us to get involved.”
The Abergavenny Food Festival’s charm lies in its special mix of markets alongside individually ticketed masterclasses, tutored tastings and talks – all showcasing some of the most skilled, passionate and knowledgeable practitioners in the country. As part of this programme of events the festival team is delighted to announce that Fergus Henderson (St John’s, Smithfield) will be sharing top tips on hangover cures; Angela Hartnett (Michelin-starred Murano) will be demonstrating dishes from her new book Taste of Home; and classically French-trained Bryn Williams (Odettes of Primrose Hill) will show how his unique style owes much to his Welsh upbringing.
Then it’s over to TV chef Val Warner who’ll get great gutsy flavours from game and fish; and Bill Granger will debunk the myth that cooking Asian food is complicated! Oh, and you can join award-winning drinks writer Richard Ehrlich when he presents the Perfect Martini in the relaxed surroundings of Abergavenny’s Homes of Elegance showroom.
But this isn’t the whole story; see the full guest line-up with a choice of over fifty events online. It’s a truly eclectic mix of Swedish, Italian, British, Spanish, Asian, and French cuisine. And when you’ve digested that, there’s still the Festival Fringe – another fifty events, from films to festive menus – all showcasing the best the area has to offer. Be assured of some warm Welsh hospitality.
For the avid shopper there will be around two hundred stalls across five venues. On the Robert Price Kitchen stage in the delightful Victorian market hall you’ll be able to catch a rolling programme of chef dems featuring the region’s finest. In the grounds of the ancient castle, there’s a Food Academy sponsored by Griffiths Civil Engineering and Construction with hands-on children’s workshops, plus story-telling, comedy and live music. There’s also a cheese & wine area, and a fish market at St Mary’s Priory Centre.
The Abergavenny Food Festival is a ‘True Taste’ event. Award-winning Welsh exhibitors will be displaying this Welsh Government badge of excellence throughout all the venues. Spot the ‘True Taste’ dragon, take part in the competition (details available on the day) and be in with the chance of winning a delectable hamper.
Feed-back from last year suggested a need for more food to eat on the spot. Great news then. For the first time the festival will have its own pop-up restaurants offering quirky and diverse dining experiences. Fancy a chill-out haven in a yurt or an Indian Street Food breakfast? Fabulous country house retreat, Dewsall Court, and acclaimed Cardiff chef Anand George of Mint and Mustard have some amazing menus lined up. And James Ramsden is bringing his ‘Secret Larder Supper Club’ to the festival. It’s reportedly harder to get into than The Ivy! These events are individually ticketed. Book your slot in advance and see all details online.
So the festival offers a whole variety of experiences – the hectic bustle of the markets, the relaxed vibe of the Castle with its family entertainment, a chance to get top tips from the best chefs in the business, an opportunity to sit down, relax and eat some great food. And perhaps most importantly it’s an open invitation to enjoy the special conviviality of the whole Abergavenny experience, be it with friends, family or strangers.