Malton Food Lovers’ Festival 2011

The team at We Love Malton in Yorkshire organised their first indoor Food Lovers Market on 5th November, bonfire night this year, in the Milton Rooms.

The aim was to “showcase the best food and drink local to Malton” and the variety on offer was truly staggering. As soon as you arrived at the festival there was an intoxicating aroma of home-bake goods, vibrantly coloured and freshly dug organic vegetables and mountains of white muslin capped Christmas puddings.  Just outside and leading into the hall were several tents where local rare breed meat farmers had their sausages sizzling on grills alongside a huge array of golden, crusty pies. The market was already busy and buzzing with anticipation at 9am in the morning, and numerous people passed me clutching bags of goods that they had already purchased. The early birds certainly got the worms.

There was heightened excitement and anticipation about the arrival of Selina Scott, a local “lass” and famous journalist who was opening the market officially. Antonio Carluccio had already visited Malton several weeks before to “Adopt a Pig” and set the food lovers event in motion. The Yorkshire Meats and “Adopt a Pig” scheme was the brainchild of Duncan Turnbull, but local farmers James and Lucy Haxton, who run the rare breeds pig farm just outside Malton, take care of the scheme now. Their award winning pigs include breeds such as the Oxford Sandy and Black, one of the rarest breeds of all, as well as Gloucester Old Spot and Tamworth pigs. If you would like further information about their breeding programme, the link is here : Meet the Pigs.

Next on my list was a visit to Farmhouse Direct, another local award winning rare breed’s farm and butcher that specialises in Highland cattle. Their justly famous Brandsby Pies were on sale as well as hand-raised pies topped with onion marmalades, cider apple chutney or leeks with Cropwell Bishop Stilton. I was intrigued by the freshly made Victorian chicken pie, which I bought to serve at a farmhouse tea later that day.

My local farm shop of Trotters was nearby. All of the meat that is used in their sausages comes from their outdoor reared free range pigs, and have won multiple awards with their high meat content, locally reared pork meat and a wonderful choice of porcine flavours on offer such as: Chilli and Red Pepper sausages, Cracked Black Pepper sausages, Pork and Black Pudding sausages and my own personal favourite, Pork and Wold Top Ale sausages, made with a premium ale from the local Wold Top brewery and another neighbour of mine.

Leaving the crisp, cold outdoors I stepped into the hall and my eye was immediately drawn to the beautiful vegetables on display from Newfields Organics.Rosemary Wass was on hand to tell me all about the farm and her organic status vegetables: she gave me a leaflet they have created to explain to their customers their crop rotation system with land percentages to vegetables. The vegetables were freshly harvested and still had the soil clinging to the roots. Newfields Organics has achieved the coveted Soil Association Organic Standard certificate and all of the vegetables can be bought at the Malton Farmer’s Market on the last Saturday in the month or at the Farm Shop Gate along with free-range eggs.

Goodness Vegetables also has the Soil Association Organic Standard and specialises in a Vegetable Bag scheme being delivered to your home all year round. They also offer salads, soft fruits when in season and fresh herbs. A clever idea is their Christmas Dinner Bag, which offers all your Christmas Dinner vegetable requirements: potatoes, carrots, parsnips, swedes, sprouts, red cabbage, onions and Savoy cabbage. An average weekly bag delivered to your door is only £12 and has nine varieties of vegetables, all organic and locally grown.

Epicure’s Larder is another of the Wold’s producer and all of their cheeses are made entirely with their rare breed Shetland Cow’s milk. The cheeses on offer were in the style of Brie and Mozzarella as well as traditional British blue, curd and hard cheeses, with quirky names like Wold Blimey or Wold Marvel!

Keeping up with the Wold’s producers, I made my way to Wolds Cottage Kitchen, who produce handmade traditional preserves, jams, chutneys, cakes and fudge. Wolds Cottage Kitchen is situated in the uniquely named village of Wet Wang, and it was interesting to meet the owner Melanie Moss, who I have chatted with on Twitter for several months now. Melanie sources all of the ingredients for her preserves in and around The East Riding of Yorkshire, and only when the seasons become too cold does she source British produce from outside the area. The variety of pickles, jams, jellies, chutneys and preserves was remarkable and all beautifully presented in small chunky jars; these preserves would grace any tea time table.

Award winning Wold Top Brewery was showcasing their special Christmas ales, and I was very taken with their Shepherd’s Watch, which advertises itself as a “A rich dark Ale, ideal for keeping the chill of Winter at bay. The roasted barley and pale chocolate malt give a deep red hue, the hop combination of Progress, Styrian Goldings and Cascade gives bitterness with a soft spicy yet fruity edge, resulting in a winter beer that is well balanced, with an underlying maltiness and a subtle fruit aroma. It is excellent with Yorkshire Parkin, Christmas Pudding, Rich Fruit Cake and Mince Pies.” I had to try a small sample and immediately decided that this is the beer I will be using for my Christmas Puddings this year. This innovative brewery also produces a gluten free beer called “Against the Grain”: the gluten content is certified to be well below the required codex standard of 20 ppm.

I was then seduced into trying locally produced sloe liqueurs all made on the impressive Raisthorpe Manor Estate. Their Raspberry Gin Liqueur and Sloe Port was delicious and it was heartening to hear that they have planted more blackthorn bushes  as their sales continue to climb. Two of their liqueurs are currently being used in the cocktail bars of Harvey Nichols nationwide, an important accolade for a local Yorkshire producer. Another award winning sloe beverage producer at the market was SLOEmotion, a small family run business that is proud to “revive an almost forgotten, ancient country practice”. They make a range of sloe products that include Sloe Gin, Sloe Whisky, Sloe Vodka and the delicious Sloe Brandy, which I sampled on the day.

All the chillies on the Yorkshire Chillies stand were grown in Yorkshire, and due to the mild weather, Nigel Parker the owner and grower was still producing fresh chillies in November. The bhut jolokia chillies I bought for a friend who loves hot chillies, has a heat rating of “Nuclear”. Further on and miles away from nuclear chillies but still on the “hot and spicy” taste front, I discovered Liz from The Gingerbread House and her gourmet gingerbread houses and pigs, tractors, chickens and fish for sale, reminiscent of old fashioned gingerbread fairings. Liz is based in the seaside town of Whitby and she also caters for children’s parties as well as holding children’s cookery workshops.

As well as extra virgin cold-pressed golden rapeseed oil from Gold from the Wold, which was displayed with chunks of bread for dipping, there was also a selection of flavoured vinegars and oils from Garth Cottage Herbs, who are specialist growers of fine culinary herbs and producers of a gourmet range of cook’s ingredients.

I visited the stand of Side Oven Products and Carr House Farm are totally organic and have their own stone ground mill as well as an attached bakery. All the bread is baked in wood-fired ovens and sourdough is their speciality. The farm is also a haven for all types of wildlife and their pond and waterways provides habitat and hunting for water voles, herons, owls and otters. Their full range of products include breads, honey toasted mueslis, flour, cereal bars, oatcakes, cordials and home-pressed apple juices from their one hundred year old orchard that boasts old and rare varieties of apples such as Peasgood Nonesuch, Ellison Orange and Lord Derby. I was invited to visit the farm to see their work, and will report back with my observations later.

My last stand was Malton Relish, an award winning delicatessen in the heart of Malton itself. This centre of speciality food and produce was launched by Sophie Legard in 2007, and it is always on my list of “must visit” places to go when I am back in the area. Malton Relish is filled with the very best local produce and Sophie herself cooks some of the cakes, tarts, pies and biscuits. She was the winner of The Local Food Hero Award in 2009 as well as the Best New Deli award in 2008. The stand at the market had lots of small treats and samples to try out including mini mince pies and some beautiful home-cooked ham. Their speciality hampers are wonderful and I have my eye on the The Man Who Has Everything hamper this year for my father that contains: a bottle of Campbell pudding wine, a truckle of Yorkshire cheese, a pack of yummy Fat Betty’s biscuits, a small homemade fruit cake and a jar of homemade chutney.

With thanks to the organiser Tom Naylor-Leyland for sending me all the pre-market information and making me feel so welcome on the day; his hard work, Tweeting and enthusiasm was a contributory factor in making the first Malton Food Lovers Market so successful. The standard of the local produce was exceptional and the organisation was seamless. The Food Lovers Festival in May of 2012 is the next big foodie event of the region. Both events place Malton in central position as the northern hub of artisanal and organic produce, as well as being such a pretty and historical market town.

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