Thousands flock to Holkham Hall for returning North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival
After a Covid-forced year’s absence the North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival was back in all its tasty and aromatic glory at the weekend.
Stalls and tents were sent out in Holkham’s walled gardens where in years gone by only the landed gentry could dine in the grand Palladian Hall on the finest fruit and vegetables produced there by the estate’s team of gardeners.
Up to 10,000 people browsed among more than 50 stalls during the two-day event.
Vendors supplied not only home-grown but international foods and drink that grace menus from regions as diverse as China, Asia and the Mediterranean to Scotland and the Americas.
Curries, pizzas from wood-fired ovens, tasty oriental-spiced tidbits, hot chillies galore, chutneys, seafood and meats including Holkham venison were on offer.
They could be washed down with local beers, wines and spirits such as rum, vodka and gin, not forgetting Royal apple juice from the Sandringham estate.
To follow were tasty pastries, exotic chocolates and other sweetmeats.
Nor were snackers and nibblers forgotten with varieties of pop-corn on sale alongside Norwich-based Kettle Chips.
Even dogs were catered for with a stall selling all manner of baked treats for man’s four-legged friends.
Wells butcher Arthur Howell’s Cookery Theatre dominated one corner of the garden where a succession of local chefs demonstrated some of their favourite recipes in a large marquee.
Visitors were introduced to the way to use ingredients from micro herbs to sea vegetables and how to prepare everything from a decent steak or a cut of venison to a Japanese Duck Yakitori and lobster risotto.
Among the many exhibitors was Fakenham’s C P Stoves. They drew large crowds with their Big Green Egg barbeque, first imported from the United States five years ago.
It’s a barbeque that does more than just grill steaks, burgers and sausages. The charcoal-fired unit will also make bread, pizzas, cakes and even Yorkshire puddings as well as having the capacity to slow-cook food for as long as 25 hours.
They are a growing company who are in the midst of moving from the outskirts of Fakenham to North Drive nearer the town centre where they will become Fakenham Fires.
To wash down all the food on offer was Wells’ Whin Hill Cider, run by Mark and Lisa Jarvis. Once a company which only sold good old-fashioned Norfolk scrumpy, they now offer not only a cider brandy but also a dessert wine called Ice Cider.
More traditionally they have also expanded their traditional range of drinks with eleven different sorts of cider and eight varieties of apple juice.
Offering tasters, this time real ales, were Anglia Country Inns who not only have eight pubs, including the White Horse and the Jolly Sailors at Brancaster, but also brew their own beer.
The chain started a micro-brewery in the early 90’s but soon outgrew their shed-based efforts and now brew at Beeston, not only producing five bottled beers such as Oyster Catcher, Sharpie and Brancaster Best but a draught beer called Lucky Lobster which can only be bought across the counter at one of their pubs.
Wild Knight Distillery, from Beachamwell, chose the festival to introduce their latest innovation - Ready-to-Drink cocktails.
Two were on offer for the first time at Holkham, a vodka, cranberry and grapefruit aperitif and an apple and black current martini.
They sat alongside the company’s selection of vodkas and gins and were sold out long before the festival was over.
The success of the weekend was such that by the time the event closed many stalls had exhausted their stocks such were the number of eager customers.
The owner of one selling cheese was reduced to telling visitors that she had nothing to offer but they could sample the few crumbs of her various products left on empty plates.