Food festival to serve up a feast

Berwick food festival
Berwick food festival

Organisers of the seventh Berwick Food & Beer Festival are promising this year’s event at The Barracks will be the best yet with feasting, fine ales, foraging and fishy recipes just some of things on offer

The beer festival will be open from noon on September 12 with the main food events taking place on September 13-14.

Whether you have been inspired by the Great Allotment Challenge, the Great British Bake Off or Saturday Kitchen, there is something on the menu for everyone.

Highly appropriately for this foodie themed extravaganza, the food festival will be opened at 10am on Saturday 13th September by Lauren Dixon, this year’s Tweedmouth Salmon Queen.

Festival Director Helen Henderson and her team have been busy planning the event for the last twelve months, she explains, “Since the first festival in 2006, the event has continued to thrive and is now a favourite with locals and visitors. With the help of sponsorship from local firms Simpsons Malt and Silvery Tweed Cereals, this year we have been able to improve the overall appearance of the festival site to make the event an even more enjoyable day out for the whole family.”

The festival is organised by the Berwick branch of the global Slow Food Movement which champions local food, the preservation of traditional produce and the sharing of food knowledge between generations. It’s no surprise, they are keen to emphasise all the stalls in the popular Producers’ Market come from the North East and Scotland. The market offers everything you would find in the supermarket but with a local twist, much of the produce is made less than 20 miles from the festival site and visitors have the opportunity to speak to the people who grew it, raised it or baked it.

On offer will be hand crafted cheeses, meats and charcuterie, free range eggs, locally caught fish and seafood, home made with the bread, puddings, pies pickles and preserves, chillies, cakes and chocolates, honey, sauces and seasonings, locally grown vegetables, wines and liqueurs and even baskets to carry everything home!

Regular stallholders Sloecrafts are celebrating 7 years of the festival and 10 years in the business by raffling a magnum of sloe gin, more details on their stand. They are just one of the stalls offering samples to try before buying.

The festival’s key message has always been to support and showcase local businesses so Silvery Tweed Cereals who are supporting the festival for the first time are particularly appropriate sponsors. The family-owned business, based in Berwick upon Tweed, specialises in premium-quality cereal and seed ingredients and its products are used by many leading industry brands. Throughout its 170 year history, the company has continued to innovate; it was the first company to coat cereals and its state-of-the-art blending plant was the first of its kind in the UK. Staff will be on hand to explain how they produce ingredients for a variety of well known names in the baking and cereals sector as well as offering some tasting opportunities.

For those inspired by the produce on offer and keen to have a go at growing their own, members of Borders Organic Gardeners will have a produce display at the festival throughout the weekend and will be on hand to answer questions. BOG’s main aim is to encourage organic gardening methods. Each year hundreds of people visit its annual Potato and Apple Days and it also runs a number of projects including composting workshops and donating seed potatoes to local schools. Visitors can also learn more about potatoes by stopping Peter Potato, from the British Potato Council in Stoneleigh, as he wanders the site giving our samples of Northumberland potatoes!

The Slow Food movement is also focused on sharing food knowledge and enjoying food with friends and family and this year’s line up in the Demonstration Kitchen is one of the best yet.

Saturday, September 13

Beginning on the morning of Saturday 13th September and back by popular demand will be Cameron Waterhouse from the Barn at Beal. Normally the chef at the unique coffee shop overlooking the Holy Island causeway, he will be demonstrating recipes that underline its philosophy of recreating awareness of the the link between farming and the food we eat.

Forager Fi Martynoga, editor of the acclaimed A Handbook of Scotland’s Trees and author of several books and essays will be on hand to show visitors how they can make the most of seasonal foods found for free in our fields, hedgerows and coastline. A lifelong forager, Fi will show how we can become more connected to our landscape while respecting what its natural larder has to offer.

Chefs from the Outlook Cookery School, Northumberland’s newest school dedicated to local food will also be in the festival kitchen with more recipe ideas.

Run by Ben Keenan and managed by Karen Larkin, the school aims to encourage people to cook for themselves rather than rely on fast food or ready meals through its wide range of classes.

Saturday afternoon is dedicated to all things porky to inspire visitors with inspiration on what to do with their piggy purchases!

Rachel Hammond from Hammond Charcuterie in the Scottish Borders and runs courses on pig keeping, butchery and charcuterie will demonstrate recipes using locally produced pork. She will be joined by Linda McDonald Brown, presenter of The Food Show on East Coast FM 107.6. Linda specialises in rural issues and is the author of Choosing and Keeping Pigs and Pigs for the Freezer, a Smallholder’s Guide, numerous articles and a weekly column Musings of a Piglady.

Sunday, September 14

Sunday is a day of inspirational chefs and home cooks beginning with Kenny Whittle from Edinburgh Larder. Described as “a taste of the country in the heart of the city”, at its café just off the Royal Mile and bistro in the West End, its team create their dishes from seasonal, local produce. Local chef Richard Sim ,who along with famous names such as Angela Hartnett and Nick Nairn, is a member Slow Food UK’s Chef Alliance whose illustrious members are all British based chefs who actively champion small-scale producers and promote good quality local and sustainably produced food will make a return to the Demonstration Kitchen this year. Born and raised in Northumberland,

Richard grew up hunting fishing and foraging. His latest culinary venture is the The Old Boat House in Amble Harbour which is at the heart of a plan to develop the town into a “seafood centre”.

The afternoon will continue with Slow Food members showing how to end a meal with three different ways to cook apple pie. For those with more savoury cravings, goat keeper, Derek Goggins from Blue House in Barmoor, Lowick will be talking on the versatility of goat’s cheese and showing visitors a simple method to make their own cheese. In between sessions, visitors will also be able to see how we used to cook, what’s stayed the same and what’s different with a display of retro kitchenware kindly provided by The Cookshop in Bridge Street.

Young foodies will have chance to join in the fun with a separate special programme of hands on cookery sessions. Throughout the weekend, under12s will be able to try making their own pizzas and icing cupcakes. The sessions are free of charge but numbers are limited, places can be booked at the Slow Food stall in the centre of the Barracks.

The Slow Food stand is also the place to find out more about this global movement, buy special edition aprons, collect free s and enter the Guess the Ingredient competition.

Before or after their cookery sessions, youngsters and the rest of the family will no doubt be thrilled by the antics of the Barnacre Alpacas from Liberty Hill Farm, Raylees and the Anglo-Nubian Goats courtesy of Derek Goggins of The Blue Cottage, Lowick. Both are back by popular demand and their owners will be on hand to explain how the animals are raised and answer questions from what they eat to where they sleep.

This year for the first time, chickens from Robert Ord & Hens of Chatton along with some of their more unusual shaped eggs will be at the farm and there will even be a chance to try ‘milking’ the life sized cow provided by the National Farmers Union with help from Reston Young Farmers.

Enjoying entertainment around the festival site has becoming a hugely important part of the event.

While shopping, visitors will be able to enjoy a range of music courtesy of Brian Martin from The Music Gallery in Berwick The Slow Food cinema on the festival site will screen a series of short food related films with hints and tips on food production and recipe ideas.

Once again Simpsons Malt, will be a major sponsor of the event. Their involvement is particularly fitting as Berwick takes its name from the old English word for barley and this locally produced malt is still synonymous with the brewing industry today. Consequently it’s the perfect location for showcasing local ales and ciders and the Beer Festival is a major part of the event. Organised by Simon Vickers who runs the town’s Barrels Alehouse, the event opens at noon on Friday 12th September featuring a huge range of beers from breweries on both sides of the Border.

Simon comments: “Berwick’s own Bear Claw Brewery will return this year and will be dispensing from two hand pulls all weekend. Rikki who brews in Spittal is preparing a range of established brews as well as new recipes including a single hopped American IPA especially for the festival.

“After some sampling sessions at The Barrels we’re delighted to announce Loch Ness Brewery as a new addition to the festival. They will showcase all their core range of 6 beers as well as the new ‘Loch Ness Lager’. Other Scottish brewers new to the festival will be Cromarty and Cairngorm who will join established favourites such as Tempest and Alchemy.”

Local brewers already confirmed include Bear Claw, Tempest, Scottish Borders, Wylam, Allendale, Hadrian Border, Tyne Bank, Jarrow, Mordue and Anarchy. Guests ales from north of the border will come from Fyne Ales, Cromarty Brewery (Black Isle), Alchemy and Williams Bros. From a little further south, Timothy Taylor will return with all their core range which proved very popular last year. Thornbridge from Derbyshire will be back and Dark Star another festival favourite. Tasting notes will be available and bar staff on hand to answer questions throughout the weekend.

The musical entertainment at the festival has now become a key part of the weekend providing the perfect backdrop for those enjoying a beer and a bite of local food or enjoying a wander around the festival site. Unsurprisingly for a pub with an excellent reputation for live music, the beer marquee will not disappoint.

On Friday, evening visitors will enjoy blues numbers from the US based Tommy Bentz Band. On Saturday night, local band Hardly Original (formerly Risky Numbers) is back to warm up the crowd with their own unique acoustic set. Headlining will be top Zeppelin tribute act ‘Led into Zeppelin’. One of the UK’s leading tribute bands, the four piece comprises Paul Bradshaw one of the industry’s best Robert Plant impersonators on vocals, Bram Duckworth as Jimmy Page on electric guitar, Nigel Clutterbuck as John Paul Jones on bass and David Holt as John Bonham on drums. They will be recreating Led Zeppelin’s stage presence performing classics such as Stairway to Heaven, The Rain Song and Whole Lotta Love. The musical entertainment will be rounded off on Sunday afternoon with a chilled session of jazz and blues.

If all the food and frantic activity leaves visitors a bit peckish, there will be a host of Street Food stalls located next to the beer tent including Aberdeen Angus burgers from Well Hung & Tender, lamb koftas, paellas, lamb pasties and Canarian stew from Berwick’s El Taperio restaurant, sweet and savoury crepes from Monsieur Crepe, delicious coffees, hot chocolate and tray bakes from Bang on Catering, a hog roast from Johnsons of Wooler and wood fired pizzas from The Big Blu.

Festival Director Helen Henderson sums up: “We are delighted to be celebrating seven years of our own local produce from across the North East and Scotland. I would like to thank our sponsors Simpsons Malt and Silvery Tweed Cereals for their support of the festival and the Slow Food committee, English Heritage and all our suppliers, stall holders, sponsors and volunteers from the local community who work so hard and give up an enormous amount of time to make the festival such a great weekend.”

The food festival organised by Berwick Slow Food will be open from 10am – 5pm on September 13-14, entry is £2, under 12s free.

The beer festival will be open from from midday on September 12 to 10pm on September 14. Entry after 4pm on Saturday will be £5 including tasting notes, 1st half pint and music. Entry on Friday will be £2 including tasting notes and music. Further details will be announced on www.berwickfoodandbeerfestival.co.uk and on twitter.