Abergavenny Food Festival - a highlight on every foodie's calendar - is celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary over the weekend of 16 and 17 September.
All tickets must be bought advance and an adult ‘Day Stroller’ costs £13.50 (with free entry for children under 16 if with an adult) and gives access to all the venues.
Here are all the must-sees and highlights of the popular event...
The Festival Markets
The amazing array of exhibitors —over 180 across six venues — includes true ‘Festival legends’ like Black Mountains Smokery, Café Spice Namasté, Nixon Farms, Patchwork Pâté, and Halen Môn, who have supported the Festival and been part of the story from the start.
Check out the New Producers Market at the Priory. Inaugural ‘New Producer Bursary’ winner, Ffansi Coffi, is to exhibit there for the first time thanks to sponsorship from another ‘legend’ — Gower Cottage Brownies. ‘2022 Best Stall in Show’ winner, Marches Mushrooms, will have a stall in the Market Hall.
Another much-anticipated return exhibitor is Bordeaux Wines, with three bars showcasing four styles of wine, including Médoc. Join them at the Castle for tastings with their expert educator, Mike Turner.
‘Stroller’ Guest Programme
Aside from the Markets, Stroller ticket holders can also enjoy over twenty guest performer events on each day: chef demonstrations, talks, debates, and cooking over fire. Enjoy the theatre of it all and get take-home tips from top culinary talent. Learn new skills and up your game in the kitchen. Here are some things to look out for...
Watch fire stage hosts, the irrepressible Hangfire Girls (Sam & Shauna), kick off the Cooking over Fire programme at the Castle with some fabulous Pembrokeshire lamb.
Their guests include USA star pit-master Ray Lampe aka Dr BBQ, James Whetlor, author of the DIY BBQ Cookbook, and Leyli Homayoonfar of Bab Haus Mex who’s on a mission to bring the best Mexican Street Food to South Wales.
There are lots of success stories to celebrate at the Festival, but we’ve all experienced empty supermarket shelves and food shortages. It could just be a taste of what’s to come.
Join Chair Sheila Dillon (The Food Programme, BBC Radio 4) and guests in the Dome debate ‘What No Tomatoes?’. Can they find a way to avert this crisis? The panel comprises Chris Smaje (author, A Small Farm Future), Jon Parker (Director of Wales at the Food Farming and Countryside Commission), Ali Capper (owner of a 200 year old hop and fruit farm) and Tim Lang (Professor of Food Policy at City University of London’s Centre for Food Policy).
The Dome will also play host to Andi Oliver (Great British Menu, BBC 2), who has her first cookbook out: The Pepperpot Diaries. She’ll be chatting to fellow-author Melissa Thompson about how heritage and identity have helped shape Caribbean cooking.
The Robert Price Kitchen Stage in the Market Hall will, as usual, showcase a lively programme of chef demonstrations. Two of them are celebrations of close culinary partnerships.
James Sommerin (of Michelin-starred Home at Penarth) and daughter Georgia are to appear together, as will Angela Hartnett OBE (who heads up Murano) and her partner and business partner Neil Borthwick (who runs the kitchen at Soho’s legendary French House).
School of Wok founder Jeremy Pang promises to conjure up some simple but delicious family feasts and Jürgen Krauss, loved by many for his stint on Great British Bake-off, will demonstrate dishes from his new book German Baking.
Grab a seat first thing on Sunday and support the finalists in the Abergavenny Rotary Young Chefs Competition cook-off. The town now has a reputation for great food and they are part of it.
Get to ‘Meet The Author’
Alongside the ‘Stroller’ experience, the Festival also runs some individually ticketed events.
Last year saw the launch of ‘Meet The Author’ sessions — a chance to engage directly with award-winning writers about their recent work.
The focus continues to be the best writing on food, cooking, nature, farming and the environment.
A small number of tickets are sold per event and it all takes place in the intimate setting of Abergavenny’s stunning library with the bonus of a panoramic view of activities in the Market Hall. Tickets cost £5.00.
Guest authors include Niki Segnit, with The Flavour Thesaurus: More Flavours — a follow-up to her original bestseller (includes a tasting plate); and Imad Alarnab who lost everything through war and shares the journey to his new life through his book Imad’s Syrian Kitchen: A Love Letter from Damascus to London — testament to the power of food to bring people together.
Drinks Theatre Masterclasses
The Angel Hotel’s beautiful ballroom is the perfect place for Drinks Theatre masterclasses, which kick off on the Friday evening with Battle of the Beverages, hosted by drinks writer Pete Brown. If beer, wine, spirits and cider were to have a fight, who would win? Over three rounds, different drinks fight it out to decide, which one pairs best with cheese or other nibbles.
More pairings are to be explored with Rachel McCormack (author of Chasing The Dram) who will lead a tasting of small craft distillery Welsh whisky with Welsh cheese. By contrast, the only drink on offer first thing Sunday at the Bridgewater Breakfast will be tea or coffee, as an accompaniment to a delicious kedgeree.
Ceramicist Emma Bridgewater will be talking to Kate Jenkins (Gower Cottage Brownies) about her remarkable story, and attendees get to take home a Bridgewater AFF anniversary-stamped ‘toast & marmalade’ plate.