Food glorious food: enjoy @TheNorfolkDiet Farmers Market when you #VisitNorwich

Plough to Plate Champion - highly commended at #NDFM

Plough to Plate Champion – highly commended at #NDFM

If you love good food and drink, then you really should #VisitNorwich for the monthly Norfolk Diet Farmers’ Market outside The Forum.

Candi's Chutney tasting with onion bread.

Candi’s Chutney tasting with onion bread.

We went along on Saturday 9 March and spent over an hour chatting to the stallholders, sampling some of the delicious food on offer – buying a few provisions (and one or two treats) – and taking photos (a new hobby – so nothing professional).

Fresh cakes from Pye Bakers

Fresh cakes from Pye Bakers

It was great fun – everyone was very friendly and helpful, keen to explain the provenance of their particular product and why they are so passionate about it.

As enjoyed by 'Aggers' @Aggerscricket

As enjoyed by ‘Aggers’ @Aggerscricket

With some 12 stalls featuring local delicacies, from craft beers, freshly baked cakes and bread, to artisan cheeses, pickles, preserves, spices, rare breed meats, charcuterie and – of course – famous pork pies, you’ll be spoilt for choice for breakfast, lunch, tea and supper.

Norfolk Charcuterie

Norfolk Charcuterie

Not only does the produce on offer taste delicious but it is also very good value – and much more fun than shopping at a supermarket.

Samosas from @EthnicFusion1

Getting into the heart of Norwich is easy. You can use the fast and efficient Park & Ride, which operate from several key points around the city – or you can pay for the convenience of using one of the many central Norwich car parks, most of which are within easy walking distance of the market (including one under The Forum itself).

Chocolate Torts

Chocolate Torts

There’s always plenty to see and do when you #VisitNorwich – while The Forum makes a great place to meet friends because it is so central. So make a day of it and take some tasty treats home with you.

Gathered In Preserves

Gathered In Preserves

In 2014, the #NDFM is scheduled for every second Saturday in the month (so the next two are 12 April and 10 May – June has yet to be confirmed). However, the organisers sometimes have to change these dates because of other things going on in the city and at The Forum – so do check the Norfolk Diet website for details – or follow them on twitter @TheNorfolkDiet for the latest dates and news of the stallholders.

Cheese and milk from Norton's Dairy

Cheese and milk from Norton’s Dairy

Warning: #NDFM is very popular, some of the stalls sell out fast (despite the best efforts of the producers to meet demand) – so get there early and don’t miss out. Market opens at 09:00 and closes at 15:00 latest.

Angus beef from Manor Farm, Foxley Wood.

Angus beef from Manor Farm, Foxley Wood.

Now obviously we can’t try and buy everything from anyone – but here’s what we did get: a chocolate tort from Pye (very rich – so one was enough to share) – an onion marmalade pork pie from Brays Cottage – a gloriously spicy snacking salami from Marsh Pig – and a plump rolled brisket of grass-fed Angus beef from Manor Farm (excellent value at just around £8.80/kg and perfect for slow cooking).

Cheese and milk from Norton's Dairy

Cheese and milk from Norton’s Dairy

Next time we will get some Lavender flavoured cheese from Norton’s Dairy – it really is lovely – and perhaps some spices from Jamoroc (all blended in Norfolk).

Spices and sauces from Jamoroc.

Spices and sauces from Jamoroc.

More info

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post them under this blog or tweet them to me. I will do my best to reply. In future blogs I will talk more about the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival 2014 (see my earlier post about being an #NFDF2014 Champion) – and other food and drink events around the county (such as the monthly celebration of street food)– I hope you enjoy them.

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What is a Food & Drink Champion? #NFDF2014 news. Please RT

A couple of weeks ago I received a pleasant surprise. It was an email the organisers of the EDP/Adnams Norfolk Food and Drink Festival asking me to become one of three volunteer festival ‘Champions’. Not for my talents in the kitchen but to champion the festival – and those producers taking part – as well as other food and drink events that celebrate our local culinary delights throughout the year.

Mike & Deb's fruit and veg stall on Norwich Provisions Market.

Mike & Deb’s fruit and veg stall on Norwich Provisions Market.

So why me?
The simple answer is, because of you – my twitter friends and blog readers. Apparently some of you were kind enough to put my name forward. And the fact that there are nearly 4,000 of you (mostly from East Anglia) means that between us we have a reasonable amount of social media influence – between us we can talk to the world.

Now, if you follow me on twitter, it will come as no surprise to hear I would have supported the festival anyway. In fact, my tweets about local food and other cultural events were probably among the reasons you decided to follow me in the first place. However, I consider it a huge honour to be asked to be an official Champion, so naturally I said ‘Yes’.

Not only am I proud to promote my home county – but I am also flattered because my fellow champions – Charlie Hodson and William Gribbon – are local food heroes in their own right. Charlie is the talented head chef at The Grove in Cromer, which recently won two rosettes from the AA – he is also a Cromer lifeboat crew member. While William is manager of Heygate Farms Swaffham, which introduced the Norfolk Peer and Norfolk Keepers potato brands to UK supermarkets.

Photo by @susieshoots - L to R: William / Charlie / me.

Photo by @susieshoots – L to R: William / Charlie / me.

What will I do as an #NFDF2014 Champion?
As mentioned, the role is completely voluntary – however it comes with some responsibilities. The main ones are to encourage people to enjoy the festival events, to sign up for the festival newsletters and to join the #NFDF2014 Taste group, which will give them access to invitation-only events and special offers. I have also agreed to write two or three short articles for the newsletter and to talk about the festival at any opportunity (so you won’t be able to shut me up).

Since this is a voluntary role, I won’t be swanning round the county over-indulging on a large expenses account (my waistline couldn’t take it for a start); as such, my articles won’t be exotic restaurant reviews. Instead, I expect them to be mainly about my experiences of buying local food and drink during the weekly household shop – the shops and markets I use and their suppliers. However, I also hope to visit the Norwich Research Park to find out more about the Institute of Food Research‘s role in developing more nutritious foods (and to see how we compare to other European countries) – so that might also feature at some point.

Obviously, if you run a local market or have a stall on one – please tweet me when market day is coming up so I can RT for you. Likewise, if you are – or know – a good supplier of local food and drink – or know of someone who is doing a great job encouraging people in Norfolk to eat healthy, local produce – then please let me know (by adding a comment to this post or tweeting me). And if you happen to run a large food or drink processing company in the area and want to tell me about it, I’d be happy to hear from you.

Why am I doing this for free?
The main reason I said yes, is because (aside from enjoying eating and drinking) I think such events are vital to our local tourism and hospitality industry, which employs something like 10.5% of the workforce in the region (Norfolk and Suffolk). They encourage people to #VisitNorfolk and #VisitNorwich throughout year, every year. But they are also important for local people because they bring the community together, encourage young and old to take more of an interest in what they eat and drink, and improve our quality of life.

At the same time, food, drink and agriculture interests me because it is another of the main sectors for our local economy. Agriculture alone accounts for some “5,000 businesses across Norfolk and Suffolk”, which “employ around 20,000 people”, while “related sectors employ a further 94,000.” At the same time, food and drink is a part of the region’s tourism offer, “with 29% of the estimated £4bn sector relating to food and drink purchases.” (Source: New Anglia LEP.)

This will be the 10th Norfolk Food and Drink Festival (thank to the lead sponsors – EDP24 and Adnams) and with your help we hope to make it the most successful one yet. Not only should it be great fun but it should also help boost the local economy – which means more jobs for people of all ages, particularly apprentices from our colleges. The main festival runs from Saturday 30 August to Sunday 5 October – and involves numerous events across the county – so take a look today and start making plans to make the most of it now.

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More info
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post them under this blog or tweet them to me. I will do my best to reply. Future blogs be about the festival – and other food and drink related stories from around the county – I hope you enjoy them.

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Looking forward to Feast on the Street in #Norwich on 27 Feb Please RT

If you missed the first fabulous Feast on the Street of 2014 in January, never fear; because members of East Anglia’s Street Food Collective are back in Norwich on 27 February from 12-8pm with even more tantalisingly tasty treats.

In fact, they are back every last Thursday of the month outside The Forum in Norwich – so it’s easy to remember and easy to find. Plus. it’s late night opening in Norwich on Thursdays – so you have two great reasons to stay in the city after work: the delights of one of the UK’s top shopping destinations, including many independent boutiques in the Norwich Lanes; and amazing food in the fresh air – great taste and great value for money.

If that’s not reason enough to #VisitNorwich in Feb – this week sees the return of The Norwich Print Fair, which is also on @TheForumNorwich 10am-5pm – so you could pop in and pick up some affordable art and then pop out and celebrate with fine food.

You’ll be spoilt for choice

Here’s a list of the fine food traders who are likely to be at Feast on the Street (on twitter@streetfoodNOR) this Thursday, 27 February:

  • Hushwing Cafe – @HushwingCafe (delicious coffee and cakes from the delightful van),
  • Mr T – @Mr_Ts_Catering  (didn’t have room in January for their excellent looking pulled-pork but might be lucky in Feb),
  • Proper Pizza Company – @ProperPizzaCo (wonderful wood fired pizza in seconds – thin, crispy and scrumptious),
  • Nom Catering – @NomInfo (not tried yet – but some splendid dishes on the menu),
  • Cupcake & Co – @Cupcake_and_Co (what’s not to like – cakes – lots of them and very tasty),
  • Flippin Pattys – @flippinpattys (gourmet burgers – 28 day dry aged beef and local handmade brioche buns),
  • The Duck Truck – @TheDuckTruck1 (haven’t tried yet but their duck wraps look yum – you’d have to be quackers to miss it),
  • e8 Food Company – @e8foodcompany (their Suffolk Salt Brisket looks a must try),
  • Tatty Bojangles – @TattyBo (amazing chilli – and spicy hot chocolate – perfect for a chilly evening),
  • Fresh and Delicious x 2 (according to the Feast on the Street site, they offer both sweet and savoury delights – ginger doughnuts anyone?).

You can check out the full menu here – remember to enter the competition too.

Do support these people – working hard to help keep Norwich a great place to visit throughout the year – and enjoy yourself.