AUTUMN is well and truly with us and we are now staring winter in the face. I love this time of year with its beautiful autumnal hues, fresher, cooler days and lengthening nights. It means I can start wrapping up warm again in thick jumpers and coats.
I know by the time next spring arrives I will be itching to get the sandals and short-sleeved tops out of hibernation. But until the novelty wears off, there is something very comforting and reassuring about going out muffled up against the elements.
It also means I can indulge my foodie side – after all, if I am going to have to hide my body under layers of warm clothes for the next few months, there has to be some compensation.
Luckily, I don’t have to scour the North East to find culinary inspiration. Next week is Wallington Food and Craft Festival when some of the finest gastronomic names from across the region will be gathering to lay out their stalls for what promises to be the property’s best and biggest such event to date.
Now in its seventh year, more than 80 of the region’s premier food and craft producers are expected to descend on Wallington for the two-day festival on October 20-21.
That’s over 20 more stallholders than for last year’s event, which saw 20,000 people enticed into the heart of the Northumberland countryside by the promise of fine local food and drink.
That’s what I love about food festivals like Wallington. They allow you to browse a fantastic range of local food and drink while enjoying a great day out.
In fact, festivals do all the foodie legwork for you.
Sunday lunch with all the trimmings? No problem. Wallington will have the answer.
How about a Northumberland poultry organic free-range chicken, duck or guinea fowl teamed with sausages from the Northumberland Sausage Company, bacon from Askerton Castle Estate, seasonal vegetables from Brocksbushes Farm, roast potatoes cooked in Yellow Fields cold-pressed rapeseed oil and condiments from Cumberland Mustard?
If you’ve still got room after that feast, you could finish off with a selection of cheeses from the Northumberland Cheese Company or one of Proof of the Pudding’s wonderful desserts before sitting back and relaxing over a Ringtons coffee or tea and a Kenspeckle Confectioners chocolate or two.
Should you have room for a traditional Sunday tea, The Sconery @ Fi’s Fancies will be bringing along a selection of mouth-watering scones, muffins and old-fashioned bar cakes. Carwinley Preserves or JR Jams can do the honours on the conserve front.
For later in the week Mr J Ro’s tomato-based cooking and pasta sauces will come in useful, while More? The Artisan Bakery’s range of breads, cakes and pastries should provide much-needed lunch inspiration.
New to the festival this year is Bessy Beck Trout Fishery from Newbiggin-on-Lune in Cumbria. They will be bringing along a selection of fishy delicacies from pate to quiches.
From meat to cakes, preserves, pickles, vegetables, cheeses, snacks, desserts, pies, sweet treats, breads and yes, even gluten-free foods, Wallington will have it covered this year.
This annual celebration of all that’s good about the region’s food, drink and crafts, has firmly established itself as one of the North’s favourite local produce festivals.
Its friendly and fun atmosphere epitomises all that people love about the North East and its people. And the fact that this year more than 80 exhibitors will be taking part reflects the wide range and high quality of the local produce now available on our doorstep.
Wallington Food and Craft Festival is also undoubtedly one of the most picturesque events of its kind. Visitors arrive under Wallington’s famous Clock Tower to see the festival spread out before them on the grassed courtyard with the Palladian mansion forming a magnificent backdrop.
This year a series of huge marquees will house the producers should the great British weather decide to do its worst.