ludlow food festival
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Ludlow is a fine, historic, market town and has deservedly acquired a reputation for being the centre for some of the best food and drink in Britain. Ludlow Food and Drink Festival is one of the paramount food festivals in the country. In 2007, it was in its 13th year and bore little resemblance to the first festival all those years ago in 1994. However, although the festival is now on a much grander scale the objective of the festival is still the same, namely, to celebrate the quality and diversity of the independent food and drink producers that can be found locally in and around Ludlow and the Marches. There are a few producers from France and Italy, from towns twinned with Ludlow, but they too must meet the same objective as the locally suppliers.
The Food Festival is held over three days, Friday to Sunday, and is always held on the second weekend in September. The main festival site is in the inner and outer bailey of Ludlow Castle, a spectacular backdrop. In 2007, there were over 120 independent food and drink suppliers there, some offering free tastings. There were also a Demonstration Marquee where some of Ludlow’s famous chefs show off their skills and the Slow Food Marquee. To keep younger children amused, there are variety of entertainments going on through the day. The best day to visit these stalls is Friday when the crowds are far less.
Popular events are the real ale trail, the bread trail and the sausage trail. In 2007, Carters won the peoples’ choice for the best sausage. Chris Carter is an old friend and has won this coveted award a number of times as well as other national awards. He has also won the Pork Pie of the Marches on several occasions. His home cured, smoked bacon is delicious and eats extremely well cut fine and eaten raw. The Real Ale trail is run over 2 days. In fact you need 2 days to get round all the pubs that are taking part. You have up to 20 ales to taste and then mark each one. Each year, there is a people’s choice award and the experts. It was good to see that Ludlow’s local brewery was in the winners for 2007.
On all three days of the festival, there are over 50 market stalls in the Castle Square once again showing the abundance of local produce. In the Butter Cross there is a Fresh Herb market. In the last three years, an event that has grown in popularity is the Pudding Tasting at the Methodist Church, where those who have a sweet tooth can indulge their craving. Many shops in the town enter into the spirit of the festival by producing window displays.
To cater for the huge influx of visitors coming by car a park and ride scheme is operated. This is a must as parking in the town is very difficult during this busy period.
The success of the Food Festival has brought considerable prosperity to Ludlow and has resulted in a lot of accommodation providers being established, such as, self catering. However, despite this increase you need to book well in advance. My self catering cottages are usually booked up 6 months advance. So be warned.
Ludlow has become a gastronomic centre and at one point was the only town in England with three Michelin-starred restaurants (a distinction lost to Bray-on-Thames in Berkshire), but Ludlow still holds two Michelin starred establishments, and eight AA Rosette starred restaurants. The town hosts the prestigious annual Ludlow food festival. Ludlow is the first UK member of Cittaslow or "slow food" movement, and is at the forefront of the UK's Cittaslow slow movement network. It supports three traditional butchers, four bakers, a regular farmers market and a range of specialist food shops. The town has its own brewery, which started up and has been producing real ale (using local hops) since 2006.