Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Celebration of Local Cuisine; Food Lovers Will Be in Seventh Heaven as Wallington Again Flings Open Its Doors for a Weekend Celebration of Local Cuisine - with Gold Medal-Winning Great Taste Award Winners Very Much to the Fore. JESSICA TRAVERS Reports

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Celebration of Local Cuisine; Food Lovers Will Be in Seventh Heaven as Wallington Again Flings Open Its Doors for a Weekend Celebration of Local Cuisine - with Gold Medal-Winning Great Taste Award Winners Very Much to the Fore. JESSICA TRAVERS Reports

Article excerpt

Byline: JESSICA TRAVERS

THE North has long laboured under the stigma of being a culinary desert. The impression has all too often been that the region has nothing to offer the gastronome.

Those born and bred in the region have always known differently, however. Culinary traditions developed through the generations from the monks of Lindisfarne to the kitchens of the great castles and country houses, through to the gardens of the shepherds' cottages and allotments of the miners' terraces, have ensured the North's food heritage is rich, varied and very much alive.

Thankfully, the rest of the country is at last sitting up and taking note. North-based food and drink producers and manufacturers are increasingly making their mark on the national stage.

This year's Great Taste Awards - the Oscars of the British food world - are a case in point. The annual prize giving ceremony which honours the best speciality foods on offer saw a plethora of North East and Cumbrian firms taking the top star rated honours.

They include Beckleberry's luxury ice cream and sorbets, the newly launched Consett Popcorn Company, Northumbria Fudgery, cake makers Jenkins and Hustwit, The Proof of the Pudding and More? The Artisan Baker y. Now the public will be able to discover for themselves what all the fuss is about when these latest award-winning food names line up alongside scores of other top producers such as Deer n Dexter, JR Jams, Cumberland Mustard, Cartmel Cheese and Country Puddings at the Wallington Food and Craft Festival.

Back for a fifth helping, this year's weekend-long event on October 16-17 at the National Trust's picturesque Wallington estate at Cambo in the heart of Northumberland, promises to be the biggest and best yet.

Set against the backdrop of Wallington's magnificent 18th century Palladian mansion, 65 producers from across the North East and Cumbria will be joining forces with a clutch of top chefs to dish up a gastronomic extravaganza.

From the finest organic meats to eggs, gourmet pickles, breads, pies, puddings, chutneys, oils and dressings, traditionally baked cakes, fudge and cheeses, visitors are promised plenty of choice.

A selection of crafts including hand-embroidered cards and pictures, jewellery, stained glass, wood turned gifts, ceramics and knitwear will also be on show at the event jointly organised by Made in Cumbria, the North East England Food and Drink Group and the National Trust.

Last year more than 17,000 people flocked to Wallington for the food and craft festival, attracted by the smorgasbord of culinary delights on offer.

Over the years the celebration of local cuisine has played a vital role in showcasing the plethora of fine foods grown, reared, produced and made across the area, and helped scores of discerning consumers add a much needed flavour of the North to their shopping basket. The event which had its first outing in October 2006 at the 13,000-acre Wallington estate on the banks of the River Wansbeck, has quickly established itself as a highlight of the autumn food calendar - and played a pivotal role in helping prove that when it comes to quality cuisine, the North really does have it all.

It's a sentiment echoed by former North East Chef of the Year, David Kennedy, of the Black Door Group.

This will be the third year in a row he has taken part in the Wallington Food and Craft festival, and this time around he will join fellow top chef and BBC Great British Menu winner, Kenny Atkinson, and BBC MasterChef semi-finalist Stacie Stewart, giving cooking demonstrations on Northumbria Larder's state of the art mobile kitchen. Originally from the South West, he has fallen in love both with the area's food and scenery since arriving in Newcastle 19 years ago - and says North fare is as good as you can get anywhere. "When I first came up to the North in 1991, people I spoke to in London said I was taking a backward step. …

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