2011 Abergavenny Food Festival is gourmet heaven

What key ingredients go to make an ideal food festival? How about a mountain of cheese, chocolate and charcuterie, a long cold beer and an explosion of chilli; an eclectic mixture of subtle contrasts and sensory extremes. If you want to enjoy all of this as well as hearing soap box rants, electric debates and passionate performances, you need to get along to this year’s Abergavenny Food Festival, taking place on the weekend 17-18 September.

There is a fabulous party taking place at the castle so you can savour the joy of fishing at dawning and dancing at dusk. This a massive celebration on the Welsh borders so why not come along and taste it, share it and relish the whole experience. The Box office is now love and you can view the full programme at www.abergavennyfoodfestival.com. Tickets for most of the events can also be purchased from The Borough Theatre in Abergavenny, tel no. 01873 850805.

There is so much on offer at this festival that you would be mad to miss it, everything from an unrivalled shopping experience for dedicated foodies to top class demonstrations. It is very much a family event, and there are free stroller tickets which give admittance to 5 venues for all those under 16 when accompanied by an adult. If you get your stroller tickets online before September 1 you will pay last years price.

An added bonus this year is that for every stroller ticket you buy you will get a free, top quality programme which has been produced in conjunction with Fork Magazine, and which features exhibitor listings, exclusive features on the guests and site maps.

The Abergavenny Food Festival’s charm lies in its special mix of markets alongside individually ticketed masterclasses, tutored tastings and talks – all showcasing some of the most skilled, passionate and knowledgeable practitioners in the country. As part of this programme of events the festival team is delighted to announce that Fergus Henderson (St John’s, Smithfield) will be sharing top tips on hangover cures; Angela Hartnett (Michelin-starred Murano) will be demonstrating dishes from her new book Taste of Home; and classically French-trained Bryn Williams (Odettes of Primrose Hill) will show how his unique style owes much to his Welsh upbringing.

Then it’s over to TV chef Val Warner who’ll get great gutsy flavours from game and fish; and Bill Granger will debunk the myth that cooking Asian food is complicated! Oh, and you can join award-winning drinks writer Richard Ehrlich when he presents the Perfect Martini in the relaxed surroundings of Abergavenny’s Homes of Elegance showroom.

But this isn’t the whole story; see the full guest line-up with a choice of over fifty events online. It’s a truly eclectic mix of Swedish, Italian, British, Spanish, Asian, and French cuisine. And when you’ve digested that, there’s still the Festival Fringe – another fifty events, from films to festive menus – all showcasing the best the area has to offer. Be assured of some warm Welsh hospitality.

For the avid shopper there will be around two hundred stalls across five venues. On the Robert Price Kitchen stage in the delightful Victorian market hall you’ll be able to catch a rolling programme of chef dems featuring the region’s finest. In the grounds of the ancient castle, there’s a Food Academy sponsored by Griffiths Civil Engineering and Construction with hands-on children’s workshops, plus story-telling, comedy and live music. There’s also a cheese & wine area, and a fish market at St Mary’s Priory Centre.

So a UK day out at the festival offers a whole variety of experiences – the hectic bustle of the markets, the relaxed vibe of the Castle with its family entertainment, a chance to get top tips from the best chefs in the business, an opportunity to sit down, relax and eat some great food. And perhaps most importantly it’s an open invitation to enjoy the special conviviality of the whole Abergavenny experience, be it with friends, family or strangers.