Friday, 20th October saw movers and shakers of the Staffordshire culinary scene attend a glittering ceremony at Lichfield Cathedral to mark the NFU Mutual Taste of Staffordshire Good Food Awards 2017.
Among the most popular attractions on Westbridge Park over Food & Drink Festival weekend is the Talks and Tastings Tent; offering food and drink lovers with a chance to hear and learn direct from passionate producers and sample their wares.
2016 looks set to be no exception, with the Talks & Tastings Tent once again kindly sponsored by Mercedes Benz of Stafford. Over the course of Friday 30th September, Saturday 1st & Sunday 2nd October there will be no less than 20 sessions covering topics from beer and wine to cheese, no cook recipes – and pretty much everything delicious in between!
First to take the stage at 1.30pm on Friday will be Uttoxeter Voice food writer and festival favourite Pete Rowley, showcasing an easy recipe for scones that needs just three ingredients – one of which will be something of a surprise! At 2.30pm, Vicki Slater of Slater’s Ales will present a tutored Beer Tasting, before Neil Bain, Head Brewer at Joule’s Brewery talks about the process of developing new beers at 3.30pm. At 4.30pm, James Gillespie of Touchstone Wines will present a tutored tasting of the wines of Rioja, while 5.30pm will officially be ‘Gin o’ Clock’ as Old School Wines’ Andrew Wilson showcases some fabulous gin based cocktails.
Saturday’s programme is just as varied, with Gian Harrar of iCookIndian getting proceedings underway as he demonstrates that Indian food can, in fact, be healthy at 10.30am. Next up, at 11.30am, Julia Philips of Just Perfect Wines will discuss matching food and Prosecco, and at 12.30am Stone butcher Nick Griffin will demonstrate how to trim a rib of beef. History buffs are in for a treat at 1.30pm as Lymestone Brewery’s Ian Bradford talks about the history of the Brent’s Brewery Building before Aston Marina Deli farm Shop Manager and self-confessed ‘Curd Nerd’ Gill Howe presents a Supermarket vs Deli cheese tasting at 2.30pm. The 3.30pm slot will see Andrew Wilson of Old School Wines talk about Rum and why it’s the ‘undiscovered’ spirit, and at 4.30pm Touchstone Wines’ James Gillespie will discuss why Romania is the hidden jewel of European wine. Bringing the day’s proceedings to a close at 5.30pm, Pete Rowley will demonstrate how to create a classic Cornish Pasty.
On Sunday, first of the day’s talks will see Pete Rowley show the audience how to make a delicious, no-cook Peppermint Aero cheesecake at 10.30am, followed at 11.30am by Butcher Lee Walker who will transform a whole lamb carcass into oven-ready cuts. At 12.30am Vicki Slater of Slater’s Ales will debate the question ‘What is Craft Beer??’ before, at 1.30pm, Amarpal Harrar of iCookIndian ‘spills the daal’ on one of Indian cuisine’s foundation dishes. The 2.30pm slot will see Staffordshire’s very own artisan gin distiller, Neil Harrisson of Nelson’s Gin, showcase what sets his gin apart from the crowd. At 3.30pm there will be a lesson on how to judge a beer with Ian Bradford of Lymestone Brewery before James Gillespie of Touchstone Wines leads a tutored tasting of the wines of Burgundy at 4.30pm.
The Stone Food & Drink Festival will take place on Friday 30th September, Saturday 1st & Sunday 2nd October 2016. All Talks and Tastings sessions are free – included within the cost of entry to Westbridge Park (£7pp/day, accompanied under 16s free). For more details and to book advance tickets online, visit www.stonefoordrink.org.uk