The Best Food Festivals of 2014: from the mouths of foodies and food writers around the country
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“The FEAST Foodies Festival in Battersea is fantastic for its riverside location, variety of fresh produce and worldwide cuisine. The opportunities for hands-on foodie experiences are brilliant. One minute you’re tasting delicious artisan fudge or watching a cookery demonstration with a celebrity chef, the next, you’re attending a talk with an expert mixologist or sampling an array of street food.
The fresh produce was top notch. The farmers’ market-style stalls sold everything from preserved meats to olive oils, chutneys and cheeses. You come across many health food products and it was great for finding new cooking ingredients that hadn’t yet reached the supermarket shelves.
The people at this festival are incredibly friendly and passionate about their produce. We whiled away at least 20 minutes just talking to the cheese man (his Guinness-infused Cheddar was pretty good).
“Enjoy live music, pick up fresh herbs and watch a crazily entertaining Chilli Eating Challenge where contenders attempt to eat 13 different varieties of chilli pepper. Ouch!
In the height of summer, you can almost always guarantee a bit of sunshine and a chilled glass of Pimm’s. I’ve yet to find a Moroccan tagine that’s as good as the one I had here.”
Lucy McGuire, writer at Oh So London
“Best by far was For The Love Of Food! It was a street food party, with amazing DJs, and street food traders (from all over Europe) competing for The British Street Food Awards.”
Richard Johnson, journalist and broadcaster
“The Abergavenny Food Festival is renowned for its friendly, lively atmosphere, its wacky events, tents, venues and on-trend programme of the great and good. Simply put Abergavenny FF is to food and drink, what Edinburgh Fringe is to comedy and music. This year AFF established a pop-up, hands-on, cookery school. It offered cheese making by Charlie Westhead of Neal's Yard; sausage making by Henry Herbert; fine chocolates by Marc Demarquette; bacon by James Swift of Trealy Farm charcuterie; fresh pasta by Franco Taruschio; sake by Marie Cheong Thong and artisan liqueurs by me – giving all visitors, not only the experience of making an artisan product, but also the chance to take it home.”
Lindy Wildsmith, cook and food writer
“Foodies Festival, has been called The UK's biggest celebration of food and drink. In Summer 2014 I was able to head over to the Festival hosted at Kenwood House, an English Heritage site. I was immersed in foodie heaven. I had a fantastic time and was able to sample a range of wonderful food like Big Mama's (bigmamafood) mutton sausages and their shrimpo sauce. Just delicious! I watched Daisy B create some amazing cake icing art, even though I'm not a baker it was fun to watch. I had a Zebra burger and Lebanese cuisine all in one day. My only regret was not entering the chilli eating competition, I am convinced that I would have won! All in all The Foodies Festival really was a great place to find new and unusual food and drinks. Highly recommended.”
Ronke Lawal, writer at Who’s For Dinner
“The Berwick-upon-Tweed Food and Beer festival has some 40 stalls with all the exhibitors producing their own food and drink and all coming from within a 30 mile radius of the town. The Festival is held in the unique 18th century venue of the first purpose built barracks in the country now in the care of English Heritage. Organiser Helen Henderson said: “We have both a food festival inside the barracks and a street food festival outside.”
“I loved the line-up of street stalls between the beer tent and the Barracks where we could cruise the stalls for a street-food lunch, or stop and graze at any time whilst inside the Chain Bridge Honey Farm stall was amazing with honey mustard and wildflower honey. The 2015 Festival will be held on the weekend of the 4th, 5th, 6th of September. The festival’s website is updated throughout the year so it’s worth paying a visit now and then.”
Steve Newman, freelance writer and photographer
“For me it has to be the Ayrshire Real Ale Festival in Troon! It was their 15th year this year and it keeps getting better. There were two excellent rooms with a fantastic selection of ales, especially the Champion Beers of Britain room. Fine ales, all swallowed down with a famous Killie steak pie – heaven in a glass and on a plate. Roll on next October!”
William Gould, freelance journalist for Food & Drink Guides