Nowadays it seems that every town and village has a food festival but for our money York, which starts on 21st September is the daddy of them all. It’s got quantity: ten days’ worth including two weekends of stalls and demonstrations but more importantly it’s got quality and it keeps re-inventing itself with fresh ideas and events.
New this year is the Taste Trail. 24 businesses have signed up to provide tastings of all sorts: cheese, chocolate, cakes and drinks at venues across the city. A book of vouchers costs £8, £12 for two. Great idea.
New faces include York University’s Professor Paul Walton’s with his Chemistry of Food demo. Nitrogen chocolate anyone? I also fancy the sushi masterclass and Sophie Jewett’s chocolate workshops. I’m keen too to see Norman Musa cook. I’ve just reviewed his Malaysian restaurant Ning for the Yorkshire Post due out next week.
Some of Squidbeak’s mates will be there, so we’ll be popping in to support them: Stephanie Moon, from Rudding Park and of Great British Menu TV fame; Matthew Asquith, our award-winning fish man from Whitby Seafish; and Robert Ramsden, the clever and funny chef who supplies top restaurants with the best local produce through his company Delifresh.
We usually book one of the Festival dinners and this year it’s a toss up between one of the Dine at My Table dinners, where people open their homes as a pop-up restaurant for the night and the Chateaneuf du Pape Black Tie Dinner at the Mansion House. This might just win out because it combines good food in a stunning setting and Karen Hardwick, the most approachable, unpretentious and easy to understand wine tutor you could wish for. No wonder she won Wine Educator of the Year this year.
And in what must be Yorkshire’s definitive pub crawl, CAMRA connoisseurs are leading a Guided Historic Pub Walk through the city’s finest old hostelries.
As ever, I’ll be shopping in the food market in Parliament Street, but midweek when it’s not so busy. The Grazing Café also on Parliament Street is a sound bet for lunch. Select a plate of deli items from York suppliers for around a fiver and wash it down with a glass of fizz from the Champagne Warehouse.