Taste Top Talent – it’s the 2012 Abergavenny Food Festival

Box office goes live for the fourteenth Abergavenny Food Festival on 3 July. Sponsored by Brewin Dolphin – one of the UK’s largest independent private client investment managers – the weekend of 15 & 16 September is a totally immersive experience, a special time for celebration and feasting.

Here’s your chance to take some risks, try something new, and up your credibility in the kitchen. Buy stroller tickets for the market venues online at www.abergavennyfoodfestival.com, or through the Borough Theatre on 01873 850805. Free entry to children under sixteen (if accompanied by an adult).

The event is of course all about food and will feature over two hundred hand-picked exhibitors from Wales, The Marches, and further afield, including ‘Wales the True Taste’ award-winners. So bring your shopping bags and take the True Taste Trail. But a full-on food festival needs extra elements to deliver piquancy and depth. Abergavenny has forty two. For a quick snapshot read on.

Some of the most highly esteemed stars of the culinary world are heading for the Welsh Borders this September. True crusaders, their mission is to inspire, motivate and encourage experimentation. The carefully crafted individually ticketed events programme has been shaped by Martin Orbach, programming director. Dive in and take your pick from a whole world of fabulous cuisine. Free wine with masterclasses in the Priory Centre, and food sampling included in all tutored tastings.  Get the whole story online.

There are two run-up events. On Thursday night it’s time for the annual Festival Fanfare Feast in the Market Hall; Latin-American flavours on the palate and scorching moves on the dance-floor. Friday night’s offering is cool and classy with The Chocktail Party – a choice combo of spirits and chocolates with luxury chocolatier Marc Demarquette and James Chase of Chase Distillery, plus sleight-of-hand from Harvey Nicols’ bar manager/mixologist Dom Jacobs too. All in the fabulous Homes of Elegance showrooms. Go for it. You’ve got the night to recover.

An authentic Indian breakfast might help. Try the festival’s pop-up-restaurant and get the Purple Poppadom experience with chef Anand George, award-winner ‘Welsh Curry House of the Year.’ Then hit the streets. From markets to masterclasses all the action is in the centre of Abergavenny. It’ll be easy to get round with a complimentary Festival Guide, (free with stroller wristband).

The special events programme kicks off with a session from ace baker Richard Bertinet on how to make the perfect pastry. Learn how to do it yourself and puff up with pride. Join Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, the brilliant creative duo behind the fabulous Ottolenghi restaurants. Get a feel for the cultural melting pot that is Jerusalem, their home city, buy their brand new ‘Jerusalem Cookbook’ and recreate the flavours in your own home.

Try Chinese home-cooking with Fuchsia Dunlop, share top tips with Monica Galetti, well known to fans of BBC2s Masterchef, and see hot new talent Norman Musa with his take on Malaysian street-food. Rev up to road-test Tom Parker Bowles’ latest cookbook with Matt Tebbutt and Matthew Fort; transform your daily meals with simple techniques from ultimate cookery teacher Alex Mackay; try curries of the world with Atul Kochhar – twice Michelin-starred, and watch fish expert Mitch Tonks conjure up easy fish suppers alongside vegetable supremo Jane Baxter.

And then there’s the Welsh perspective. Meet broadcaster Kate Humble and enjoy a taster from some of the cooks and artisan food producers who are helping her (and husband Ludo) transform their Monmouthshire smallholding into a centre for rural skills and animal husbandry. Plus you can savour ‘Wales at its Best’ with Tim McDougall of Celtic Manor’s three AA Rosette flagship restaurant, Terry M.

Be sure to take note of two titans of the culinary world who’re appearing as part of the Festival’s ‘Food Talks’ strand: acclaimed food anthropologist Claudia Roden and legendary chef, Pierre Koffmann. Claudia will discuss her five-year immersion in the regional cuisines of Spain with Andalucian-based travel writer Michael Jacobs.  Pierre Koffmann, who’s accrued three Michelin stars and a legion of famous protégés, will be talking to influential food writer Matthew Fort about the heights of haute cuisine and his lifetime love of rustic country cooking.

And there’s lots more to come: a Primo Grill Stage featuring street-food chef cook-offs, ‘Rude Health’ rants at Speakers’ Corner, a Children’s Food Academy, chef dems featuring the region’s finest on the Robert Price Kitchen Stage, a rolling programming of musical performance in The Dome, a wild and magical Party at The Castle, wine and beer tastings, forays and walks.

The Abergavenny Food Festival is part-funded by the Welsh Government. It is renowned for bringing together top practitioners through an inspiring and sometimes provocative programme of masterclasses, tutored tastings, talks and debates. All guests will be appearing at book-signing sessions over the weekend. Anyone interested in finding out more should sign up for e.news bulletins at  www.abergavennyfoodfestival.com

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