In two weeks, my home town becomes the centre of the British food universe.
For three days (16-17 September), the Abergavenny Food Festival
sees hordes of food fans from all across the country milling through blissfully car-free streets between the wonderful Market Hall to the castle to sample some truly fine fodder – most of it grown, reared, fished, fermented, aged, smoked or cooked locally.
In addition, there are cookery shows, food talks, food rants, live bands and a general sense of festivity. As usual, most stands were enticing customers with samples of their wares – there is no finer way to entice a sale, though canny/shameless customers can eat royally for free all day.
This will be my fourth year at the show since moving to Monmouthshire and I’m going to try to see more of the headline acts. Last year I enjoyed Valentine Warner and Joanna Blyth discussing food ethics and politics and this year I don’t want to miss Tom Kerridge and Raymond Blanc talking about their latest recipes and hopefully catching a demonstration or two.
Best of all is the overall atmosphere in the town – especially as evening falls. The music continues, the street food stalls are still serving and, for once, there’s a lovely blend of all ages – giving Abergavenny a rather continental feel. And with a backdrop of the Blorenge, Sugar Loaf and Skirrid Mountains, you feel you’re in the wilds. Plus – if you need a good walk to work off some of the over indulgence, you’re basically in the Brecon Beacons National Park
The Food Festival is a great reminder that food is a joy and those who produce good food should be celebrated. Special thank yous to the truffle seller and those fine people with the deep-fried soft-shelled crabs. Folks, my stomach loves you.
But blessed are the brewers – especially Wye Valley
whose stall prices were commendably under £3 a pint (at the time of writing). Another butty bach for me.
Perhaps best of all, Abergavenny is within an hour’s drive from Bristol and Cardiff – and within two from London and Birmingham.
For more on the festival and how to buy tickets head to: www.abergavennyfoodfestival.com
Main image: Getty