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Food for thought at Holkham Festival

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A bright and sunny weekend drew large crowds to Holkham’s 10th annual Food and Drink Festival at the weekend.

The stallholders on more than sixty stalls not only displayed their wares but offered tempting morsels to visitors.

The event’s main sponsor, Norwich-based Kettle Chips, each year offers a one-year £1,000 mentoring prize.

Jeremy Parke, left, and Chris Smith show a visitor how to cook (16130302)
Jeremy Parke, left, and Chris Smith show a visitor how to cook (16130302)

This year’s winner was Pie Central of Norwich, a company making a range of meat and vegetarian pies.

A delighted Mary McDonnell said, “It’ll be invaluable to me. I have no marketing experience.

All I have to do is pick up the ‘phone and they’ll help me - advertising, everything.”

Phillip and Fran Hartshorne of Staithe Smokehouse (16130307)
Phillip and Fran Hartshorne of Staithe Smokehouse (16130307)

Festival chairman, Chris Couborough, said: “It’s a fantastic prize. She’ll gain from their knowledge of management, advertising and back-room expertise.”

Second was AG Meale, of Bintree who supply fresh fruit and vegetables all year round as well as supporting other local farmers.

Third was Susanna Lemon’s Simply Cakes of King’s Lynn.

Sally Francis with Saffron Flour, one of her range of new saffron products (16130311)
Sally Francis with Saffron Flour, one of her range of new saffron products (16130311)

The event is held in Holkham’s extensive walled garden and the aim is to show-case all that is best in Norfolk produce, but foods from India, Sri Lanka, North Africa, the Middle East and South Africa also featured.

One such company was Norwich’s Bonproduce, which makes Middle-Eastern Kebbehs, a variety of spicy meat dishes and Moroccan pastillas, a milk-based confectionery.

A wide range of tasty treats on the stall included filo pastry pouches filled with chicken or mushroom.

Festival chairman Chris Couborough, left, with Arthur Howell (16130315)
Festival chairman Chris Couborough, left, with Arthur Howell (16130315)

Very popular was a salad with enormous white couscous grains twinkling like small pearls.

Fran Hartshorne, chef at the Brancaster Staithe White Horse, was there with husband, Phillip, offering salmon, haddock, herring and salmon mousse smoked in the age-old traditional manner.

Their 11-month-old Staithe Smokehouse business is close by the White Horse and Fran joins her husband when not working.

“I never get a day off,” she said.

Stall holders were kept busy (16130313)
Stall holders were kept busy (16130313)

One of their customers is the TWENTY9 bar and restaurant in Burnham Market. Its executive head chef, Jeremy Parke, had teamed up with Chris Smith of CS Stoves of Fakenham. They were displaying Big Green Eggs – outdoor charcoal ovens - and a cooking centre comprising a large round flat steel cooking surface with a central well of hot charcoal.

The largest version can cater for up to 150 diners.

Burnham Norton’s Sally Francis of Norfolk Saffron was benefiting from an appearance on ITV’s James Martin’s’ weekly Saturday morning cookery show in July.

“It was lovely. I got countrywide exposure for Norfolk Saffron. It’s brought a very good increase in sales because of it.”

She has opened up the market for saffron, mainly seen as a cooking spice by also producing liqueurs and even a saffron flour.

Foods on offer included Norfolk artisan breads, chutneys, preserves, fudge, cheeses, honey, beer, whisky, ice-cream and Kettle crisps.

In the festival’s Cookery Theatre local chef’s demonstrated how to cook dishes for all occasions.

In his introduction to the Mr Coubrough, who together with Wells butcher Arthur Howell were the theatre’s kingpins, said it had grown into a highly successful event with visitors from across the county and beyond.

“I’m delighted to welcome you to the festival and give you the chance to enjoy what our local producers have to offer,” he told visitors.

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