This September.Taste Cumbria Food Festival returns to Cockermouth

If you love food , make sure to mark down the dates of  September 24 and 25 free in your diary. This is when the fantastic Taste Cumbria Food Festival returns once again to the beautiful town of Cockermouth, situated right in the heart of the western Lake District. With less than three months remaining until the festival kicks off, the countdown has begun.

It promises to be one of the most eagerly awaited events of the entire summer and will once again be highlighting the reputation that Cumbria has for national and international cuisine. The area also produces quality local products and is home to some quite remarkable culinary talent.

Following the incredible success of the Taste Cumbria 2010 festival, this years event has already been receiving a huge amount of media coverage, both at a local and national level. The Guardian recently ranked the festival as one of the UK’s top foodie events, rubbing shoulders with such long standing festivals as Abergavenny and Ludlow.

Katie Read is the Tourism Manager for West Cumbria and also the organiser of Taste Cumbria. She has revealed that the food festival has huge support from the rest of the region and she has also announced some of what is planned for the 2011 festival. Sponsor such has Four Seasons Foods have given the festival their full support, and there will be many more exhibitors than last year.

Taste Cumbria Food Festival is billed as the perfect weekend event for anyone with an interest in regional food and drink, and the exciting new features for 2011 will happily satisfy the gastro appetites of professional chefs and home cooks alike.

Last year over 17,000 visitors descended on Cockermouth to enjoy a slice of foodie heaven and 2011’s festival is set to be even bigger and better, with a number of new restaurants and bars already confirming their attendance, alongside returning restaurants including Cockermouth’s own Trout Hotel which becomes Official Hotel Partner of the event.

Talking about what visitors can expect to see in September, Katie Read, continues:

“This year there is an enormous focus on the festival being a two-day event and we’re encouraging visitors to come down to Cockermouth on both the Saturday and the Sunday; we’ve many new events and activities planned.

For celebrity chef fans, we’ve some real culinary heavyweights rolling into town – the line-up is just being finalised – all will be revealed soon!”

“As well as a whole host of household names we’ve also got presentations running throughout the two days in the festival’s ‘Chef’s Theatre’ by some fantastic local and regional talent including chefs Mark Teasdale of Sharrow Bay and Daniel Grigg of The Samling.”

Spanish Tapas dishes will also be presented by Cockermouth’s Merienda Restaurant, whilst celebrity chef John Crouch will demonstrate ways to cook with flowers, and Nick Lawler of Winder Hall focuses on easy ways to cook with game.

“We are encouraging all the demonstrators to use Cumbrian produce in their demo’s, such as regional meats, vegetables, pickles and preserves, and many of these delicious delicacies will be available for visitors to buy in the festival’s Producers’ Market which will take over the town’s Main Street.”

“Another new addition this year is the Beer ‘n Bangers Festival Marquee,
with six different breweries involved including Jennings, Great Gable Brewing Company, Hardknott Brewery and Mitchell Krause. Visitors will be able to experience the true taste of Cumbria as well, with the High Cross Inn selling their famous sausage casserole alongside the breweries – the perfect partner to a pint or two!”

As well as lots of fun opportunities for visitors to sample new products and flavours, the festival has a focus on learning, with organisers hoping that visitors will gain new skills and knowledge about produce.

“Education and learning underpins everything that we are putting on during festival weekend” Katie says “And we’re really keen to get visitors involved, so this year we’re making our masterclasses more interactive. We want visitors to really get stuck in!”

Masterclass experts will be demonstrating their skills on diverse number of subjects including bread-making by Patrick Moore of Staveley’s More? Artisan Bakery, beer and food matching by reknowned beer-blogger Pete Brown and even bee-keeping and honey-making by the engaging Cumbrian Beekeepers.

Paul Peacock from BBC Gardeners’ Question Time will be holding sausage and cheese-making classes which are perfectly complemented by ‘Embellish Your Relish’ talks hosted by Maria and Mark Whitehead OBE of award-winning Cumbrian producers Hawkshead Relish.

For those visitors with an interest in angling, they can even take to the waters with Lake District Fly Fishing who will be giving 20 minute demonstrations on the Derwent with the opportunity for private lessons also available throughout Festival weekend.

Katie concludes:

‘As you can see, we’ve really raised the bar this year and this is just the tip of the iceberg, with lots more planned. We’ll be unveiling more attractions as the festival draws nearer, and visitors can find out more on the official festival website which is continually updated as well as following us on Twitter and by our Facebook page. We hope that Cumbria is as excited about the return of its very own food festival as we are!”

Taste Cumbria is funded by the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) funded by Defra and the EU and managed by the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA). The festival is organised and managed by Cumbria Tourism and SK Events.