Bizarrely almost the first person I saw outside Earls Court was someone I'm more likely to see at Suffolk farmers' markets, Ian Whitehead from the Suffolk Salami Company. We're fans of their sausages and bacon (branded as Lane Farm) but I was pleased to try their chorizo which was delicious and my first purchase of the day.
Suffolk Salami was one of the few Suffolk food producers represented at the Festival, others were Munchy Seeds, Casa del Oli (olive oil) and Stark Naked Foods (pestos made with herbs grown on the family's 150 year old farm) and the big boys, Aspalls. I was disappointed not to see a stronger representation of Suffolk food and drink producers there and, with the exception of Aspalls, there was nothing there that was unique to Suffolk. Where were our micro-brewers, cheese-makers, beef or pork farmers?
Other regions were represented by their Regional Food Groups and clustered together - Wales had a very strong presence. Rumour has it that Tastes of Anglia, our own Food Group, didn't get the funding they needed to be there; but with stands costing as little as £200 each, I think that's a poor result. My friends at Grain Brewery sold so much beer they had to drive back to the Norfolk to get more to sell on the Sunday. Watch this space - next year Food Safari will be there and I'll bring as many of my friendly producers with me as I can to show the rest of the country what great foodie things are coming out of Suffolk.
In the meantime for a true taste of what Suffolk has to offer come to the fourth Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival on September 26-27, 2009. I'm going to be organising the programme of fringe events with producers, farm shops, delis, pubs and restaurants running September 26-October 4th.