27th September-13th October
These days many music festivals have a “foodie” section. Camp Bestival has a farmers market, Young British Foodies and the River Cottage chefs with their wonderful workshops and gorgeous food. CarFest has dedicated marquees with local producers, Wilderness has chefs such as Valentine Warner doing cooking demos and this year Latitude had Gizzi Erskine hosting a cookery caberet stage where there were chefs such as Neil Rankin, Carl Clarke and Jack Stein doing demonstrations.
Music and food go together and at Aldeburgh food and drink festival, held within the beautiful setting of Snape Maltings where many music events take place they marry the two with a strong emphasis on the best food and drink that the county offers.
In the fringe events there are talks and workshops to educate and inspire about food and their origins. As a foodie and passionate supporter of local produce and businesses, I quite often attend food festivals. It’s something I grew up with parents who worked in the food industry and something we carry on with our children. I feel it’s important for children to explore food as much as they would anything else. I encourage them to try new things and we discuss where they come from and how they are made.
Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival has always been very welcoming of families, children attend free of charge and there are bookable workshops (from £10-£15) were children over 7 are able to cook a range of foods under supervision, being shown techniques and skills and given the confidence to work independently. I was talking to Jess from The Cooking Club for Kids who was preparing for her first workshop of the day making Lemon and Lime Crunch pie. Parents are asked to fill in and sign a disclaimer form and are able to go off while their child cooks with Jess in a safe, secure building. The children are then able to take their food home with them. I popped in to have a look at the chicken kebabs work shop and asked some children about what they had to do and what ingredients they had used. They all looked to be very engaged and involved.
The festival is quite spread out with stalls outside and some inside three large marquees. Within one marquee is stage where chefs were doing demonstrations. There was also a smaller cooking stage out in the main courtyard within a smaller marquee. Scattered around were various free children’s activities such as face painting, a book corner, making a paper plant pot and a private school had free activities, printing a canvas bag using potatoes and butterflies made by filling cellophane with different child friendly cereal and tied with ribbons. Although the festival is welcoming to families, the large marquees are so crowded that it makes for a stressful experience with small children. Even without children it is difficult to move around the crowds. I would suggest families “tag team” and take turns going into the large marquees to make it a less stressful experience.
Within the marquee I met Kate Kilburn who was working with Orford Primary School in Suffolk on behalf of the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation in their purpose built kitchen classroom, teaching children how to cook delcious meals for their school lunches using local and seasonal ingredients. One of the pupils was explaining to me how much she enjoyed the classes and how they inspired her to help out with cooking at home.
One area I got very excited about was The Bread Zone, one thing I loved in here was the table where children (and adults) could go up and have a go at kneading some dough, a lovely tactile experience that many may not have had. There was also a beginners bread making workshop going on when we looked in.
On our way out we got talking to some people from EATS (East Anglian Taste for Schools) who provide delicious school meals using local produce and cooked from scratch. They have been taking their cooking van out and about the region and preparing tasty treats from their menu. I very much enjoyed the chicken korma and old school favourite chocolate crunch that they were offering as samples.
There is so much going on here that you aren’t bored for a minute, just watching the world go by while sipping a coffee by the river or enjoying local music outside the marquees. It’s a welcoming and different family day out and an opportunity for all the family to learn more about local food and drink and it’s origins, however despite there being activities available for younger children I think this event is more suitable for children aged 7 and up so that they are able to take part in the workshops.