It only has the shortest of seasons, but England’s noblest veg, the mighty asparagus, yields to none in taste and texture. In the prime growing area of the Worcestershire’s Vale of Evesham, experience eight weeks of “asparagus-related fun”, from auctions of the finest spears to cooking demos, tastings, farmers’ markets and tours of the region on the “Asparabus” – not to mention the ever-present Gus, a man dressed as (come on, keep up) a giant asparagus.
Quite how a small West Yorkshire market town ended up inextricably linked to the root-sap of a Middle Eastern herbal plant is hard to say (returning Crusaders may have had something to do with it), but Pontefract is proud to be England’s Liquorice Capital, and has the sweets to prove it. Sample the famed splendours of the Pontefract Cake, plus more herbal-flavoured food and drink than you can shake a liquorice stick at this one-day summer event.
No doubt the French would have something to say about it, but a) Britain produces nearly twice as many types of cheese as France, and b) who cares what the French say? Britain’s biggest and best cheese festival is held in the majestic surroundings of Cardiff Castle, where hundreds of producers offer tastings, cookery demos and masterclasses, while bands play, artisan ale, wine and cider are drunk, and the drama of the World Cheese-Tossing Championship unfolds.
Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival, Suffolk
The Suffolk coast’s annual foodie fixture is a two-week celebration of all things local in and around charming, arty Aldeburgh. The main two-day event is held at the old Victorian malthouses at nearby Snape (concert venue for the town’s biggest bash, the Benjamin Britten-focused Aldeburgh Festival) and, despite being relatively new, has rapidly acquired a reputation as one of the best food fests in the country – a field-to-fork showcase in stunning East Anglian countryside for local producers, restauranteurs, chefs, farmers and food writers.