Lots of treats in store at Beccles Food and Drink Festival 2018

Beccles Food Festival. Layla Rous and George Bennett from Southwold Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Beccles Food Festival. Layla Rous and George Bennett from Southwold Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Eat to your heart’s content at this festival in the Waveney Valley on May 26.

What a great way to kick off the late May Bank Holiday!

On Saturday, May 26, more than 50 artisanal food and drink producers from Suffolk and Norfolk will descend on the pretty town on the cusp of the Broads waterways, bringing a flavour of their wares to the streets.

Running from 10am to 4pm, the event is a wonderful opportunity for gourmands to chat to the people behind the products, and (essentially) to try before they buy – be that real ale, award-winning pies, moreish cakes, or cheeses.

Stalls will be set around the town centre, in and around St Michael’s Church and in the Public Hall, where there’ll be a cookery theatre hosted by East Coast College.

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Entertainment for children will be found throughout the day across Beccles too.

Make sure you pack plenty of reusable bags to fill with all manner of delights from both the town’s independent shops, and the traders visiting for the event.

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Blackbird Cottage Fine Foods is ‘flying’ down for the festival all the way from the north of Norfolk with its gluten, egg and preservative-free traditional French terrines, rillettes and pates. The owner fell in love with French provincial cooking while working on a farm in the countryside decades ago. Now she lovingly recreates those tastes using premium local ingredients. Try her duck liver parfait with aged French cherry brandy, or the wild duck and pork terrine with cranberries steeped in Cinzano.

To go alongside that terrine (with some good butter and bread) how about a few slices of charcuterie from Marsh Pig who’ll also be at the festival?

Only very high welfare meat is used to make Marsh Pig’s array of salamis and charcuterie, which ranges from air dried beef and coppa, to red wine and black pepper jerky and garlic and paprika salami.

The coppa is incredible served at room temperature over toasted sourdough with a drizzle of olive oil.

Sticking with the savoury theme, you absolutely have to check out the products from Fen Farm Dairy on the day. The Crickmore family lovingly rear Montbeliarde and Fresian cows on pastures in the Waveney River Valley, producing grass-fed raw milk, raw butter and the UK’s only raw milk Brie-de-Meaux style cheese – Baron Bigod. Underneath the dappled bloomy rind is a yieldingly creamy fromage with an earthy hints of mushroom. It’s wonderful.

Another cheeseboard favourite (although not necessarily with the above) is Red Chilli Kitchen’s tomato and chilli jam- a warmingly sweet/savoury, thick jam made with lemongrass and ginger. It’s amazing with blue cheese, or alongside cold cuts and can even be mixed into a stir fry. All Red Chilli Kitchen’s products are made from natural ingredients and inspired by the owner’s mother’s Vietnamese kitchen.

Lynn and Steve Tricker from Truly Traceable will be at the festival, fresh from winning the Field to Fork category in the Eat Suffolk Food and Drink Awards 2018.

Steve shoots the game for the couple’s products, while Lynn works her magic in the kitchen, using other seasonal and local ingredients to make exceptional pies and sausage rolls. The venison pie with red wine gravy was Class Champion in The British Pie Awards of 2015, with other popular products including a Suffolk pheasant and chestnut pie, and Suffolk rabbit pie with Blythburgh free-range bacon in Marybelle cream and Giggler Cider sauce with tarragon and wholegrain mustard.

And now let’s move onto the sweet stuff. Janet of Peachey’s Preserves will be attending with her highly praised jams, chutneys and likely her range of gins and fruit infused spirits too. If she has some with her, you must try the strawberry and vanilla preserve which came out tops in our East Anglian strawberry jam taste test.

Rosie of Cocoa May is bringing her decadent brownies in flavours such as orange and coconut, to the festival, as well as her sticky date bars.

And you’ll be able to cool down with a refreshing treat from Lickety Ice –the other ‘baby’ of John Spillings from The Penny Bun Bake House. All of the ice lollies in the range are made with only natural, fresh ingredients and they change with the seasons. Flavours have included strawberry, passion and vanilla, strawberry cheesecake, plums and English custard and even the vanilla chocolate shard – like a Vienetta in ice lolly form.

If traditional ice cream is more your thing, look out for the Parravani’s van. Made in Beccles to the Italian family recipe, the creams from this company are incredibly smooth and luxurious – crafted from local double cream and milk, with great-tasting inclusions. Flavours include banana, coconut, toffee fudge and sea salted caramel.

And to wash all that lot down? Head for the Nelson and Norfolk Tea stand where you can pick the brains of qualified Tea Master Mark Richmond. He really knows his stuff, and every loose leaf blend has been selected carefully. We rather like the sound of the unusual variations on Earl/Lady Grey, including Lady Hamilton (with lavender flowers) and Lady Nelson (with hints of orange blossom and rose petals).

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