Everything you need to know about Beccles Food and Drink Festival 2019

PUBLISHED: 13:36 28 April 2019

Karen Rees with some examples of the drinks on the Tiny Tipple Company's stall at the Beccles Food Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Karen Rees with some examples of the drinks on the Tiny Tipple Company's stall at the Beccles Food Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY


Fringe menus, a sausage cook-off, street food and more planned for the event this May.

Johnny Spillings, owner of the Penny Bun Bakehouse, with some of the varieties of bread he has at the Beccles Food Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYJohnny Spillings, owner of the Penny Bun Bakehouse, with some of the varieties of bread he has at the Beccles Food Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Does a whole day of eating, drinking and shopping sound right up your street? If so, firmly pencil Saturday, May 25 in your diary – the fifth anniversary of the Beccles Food and Drink Festival 2019.

Set throughout the riverside town, around New Market, Sheepgate, St Michael's Church and the Public Hall, the event attracts foodies from all over the region, and organisers have plenty up their sleeves this year.

Brand new is a sausage cook-off, pitting local butchers and chefs against one another to be named best of the best. And there are 13 delicious fringe attractions taking place on dates either side of festival day. That's in addition to a cookery theatre, sampling products and ingredients from some of the finest businesses in the Waveney Valley and beyond, and the Grazing Trail – with some great prizes up for grabs.

Crowds at the Beccles Food Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYCrowds at the Beccles Food Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

What time is it on?

The festival runs from 10am to 4pm and is completely free.

How do I get there?

Follow the signs on the day. There's a free park and ride system and additional parking in place at Beccles Quay which will prove one of the easiest ways to attend.

What are the fringe events?

New for this year, restaurants and producers in and around Beccles have planned special menus and hands-on activities (including sausage making) for food-lovers to get stuck into – just make sure you book them in advance. Relish Café is hosting a five course vegan supper on May 18. It's just £25 per person and you can bring your own booze. You can sample a taste of Suffolk at the Waveney Hotel on May 18 and 31 and June 1 and 2, with the restaurant presenting a menu using prime ingredients from the area, at £20 for two courses or £25 for three. Dishes include local asparagus panna cotta with garden salsa verde, Lowestoft fish of the day, and selection of desserts from D'Hotel Patisserie. Baileys Delicatessen will demonstrate how delicious cheese can be with their wine and cheese evening on May 24. It's £55 per person including wine with every cheesy course. Head for Urban Jungle on May 24, where there's an evening Japanese dining experience of five courses (from sushi to katsu), priced at £35 per person, including a sake reception. And if you've got a penchant for puds, the Wine Vaults in Beccles is laying on an all you can eat pudding buffet from May 28 to 30. Its £25 per person for a main course, following by all the desserts you can eat – from cherry bakewell, to passion fruit and white chocolate cheesecake.

Who's in the Food Theatre?

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It will be a varied day. At 10.30am Mark Dixon of The King's Arms in Fleggburgh will demonstrate cooking using ingredients sourced from the festival stallholders. He's followed at 11.30am by students from East Coast College, who'll show you how to cook with cheaper cuts of meat. At noon winemaker John Hemmant of Chet & Waveney Valley Vineyard is up on stage. And then it's the battle of the bangers. College students will cook sausages from seven butchers and producers – and it's up to you to taste them and vote for the best. Marie Taylor cooks game at 1.30pm. James Santello will demonstrate dishes from The Duke's Head at Somerleyton at 2.15pm. And, finally, learn how to make the best of squid at 3pm.

What can I eat there?

As well as nibbling your way around the stalls, you'll find plenty of street food choices on the day. Hay Hay will be there with their succulent wood-fired kebabs. Grab an Italian-style porchetta roll from Hog & Ale. Peachey's Preserves will be cooking hot dogs. There's Indian dishes from Currylicious. And Graze at the White Horse are bringing Pimms, gin and Vietnamese Banh Mi. And that's just a flavour of what's on offer.

Who's going to be there?

Around 70 food and drink makers will be in Beccles on the day selling everything from gin and wine, to locally-reared meat, gourmet cheese, chocolates and cake. They include:

Yum Yum Tree Fudge – made with only prime natural ingredients and flavours, and selling sugar-free and dairy-free fudge too. The salted butterscotch and liquorice flavours are excellent.

Harleston Cider – real cider produced from local apples. They also now make an ice cider (a great alternative to dessert wine) and have their own warming tonic.

The Penny Bun Bakehouse – you make have seen their bread on menus of local cafes, restaurants and pubs. Michelin-trained chef Jonny brings his expertise to baking and makes some of the very best breads, pastries and cakes in East Anglia.

Fen Farm Dairy – makers of raw butter and one of the best cheeses in the UK, Baron Bigod.

Maisebrooke Farm – home-reared wild boar, goat, chicken and pork.

The Fresh Sauce Co – amazing, authentic pesto, Thai green, satay and other sauces.

Waveney Valley Smokehouse – from delicate chalkstream trout, to punchy kippers.

Grab a festival programme and take it around the stallholders with you. There are four stamps to find and collect. Once you have them all, fill in the form and hand it in at the Public Hall for your chance to win anything from lunch at Graze at the White Horse, to vouchers for the Wine Vaults.

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