20 May 2013

Malton Food Lover's Festival

This weekend saw Malton Food Lover's Festival bring thousands of foodies together in two days of culinary heaven. Undeterred by Saturday's rain, I headed in early to explore, and I was impressed by what I found. Cars had been banned from all around the market square to allow the roads to contain the overflowing glut of stands and marquee's, and, if it weren't for the rain, one could have been in a traditional French market town.

Malton is a community that is becoming known for its artisan food companies, with a monthly market, under the same name as the festival, running alongside the traditional one. On any given Saturday morning, the town will be bustling with shoppers shunning the supermarkets in favour of the local butcher's and grocery shops; and friends meeting for a drink in one of the tearooms, or award-winning Leoni's coffee shop. This culinary status has been cemented for the last four years by the annual Food Festival.
Image: thepatisseriemalton.co.uk
There was a huge range and variety of stalls, and before long it was too busy for me to get any good photographs of many of the producers, as crowds flooded in. As well as companies from across Yorkshire, it was good to see Malton businesses getting involved, including The Patisserie, which has to be one of my favourite places to go to in Malton for beautiful pasties and tarts.
Ryan Jepson cheeses, from whom we bought some Brunost, which is a rich, treacle-y golden brown cheese from Norway.
 I was pleased to see that a key theme of the Festival was organic, local produce, such as Goodness Growing (pictured) and Riverford's Organics vegbox company.

 As well as traditional foodstuff, it was interesting to see different products, such as rapeseed oil from the appropriately named Gold from the Wold.

Sweet treats were definitely a theme of the day, with a mind boggling amount of goodies to choose from. We brought home a selection of tarts, almond croissants (of course!) for breakfast the next day and a oozing Baklava that took some sittings to eat. One stand, that I didn't have a chance to sample from, was Bedazzled Cupcakes. On display was a refreshingly wide variety of flavours, and some beautifully displayed gift boxes, which were just lovely.
 Image: Bedazzledcupcakes.co.uk
I was lucky enough to be able to get a place at Betty's Cookery School in the workshop marquee, which I will be writing about this week. I adore Betty's, to the point where I have to restrain myself from going in every time I pass one of their tearooms, so I was really pleased to be able to attend the workshop.
There were lots of demonstrations, dining sessions and talks going on throughout the weekend. The choice of talk in my household was Jay Rayner's talk on his new book "A Greedy Man in a Hungry World". It is really worth going to talks like these, as you move away from the frivolity of early evening chat shows, find out more about the depth of the author's knowledge and are presented with a much more balanced argument when issues are raised. In his book, Rayner discusses the implications of an exponentially growing global population where agriculture is struggling to keep up. He challenges the concept of a farmer's market as "the lifestyle choice for middle classes" and suggests a need for "sustainable intensification". The talk itself was engaging and left the audience intrigued about reading the rest of the book.

For my first taste of Malton Food Festival, I found the event superbly organised, with lots of staff and an information tent to help you out; a shuttle bus for transporting visitors to and fro; and a well thought-out  layout, with stalls that were well equipped to deal with the great British weather. With a branding of "Malton in Yorkshire is the 'county's culinary capital'" from Antonio Carluccio, I had high expectations, and these were greatly surpassed. After all the rain of Saturday, Sunday dawned bright and beautiful. Sadly, I couldn't make it, but I am sure that the Yummy Yorkshire Ice Cream Company's liquorice ice cream (yes really) went down a treat with the crowds. Their flavours left my mouth watering, as did the rest of the festival. One thing is certain; you'll find me there next year.
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