Final preparations are in place for this weekend’s Isle of Man Food & Drink Festival in the Villa Marina Gardens, with a mouth-watering line up of local producers and cookery demonstrations set to entertain thousands.
The Festival is open from 10.00am until 5.00pm on Saturday and Sunday (September 20th/21st), with musical entertainment throughout both days and a bar selling beers from breweries around the Island, featuring Bushy’s, Okells, Hooded Ram, Old Laxey Brewing Company and the Manx Cider Company.
The Manx Cookery Theatre will host demonstrations and a chance for young visitors to make bagels, plus two special events – a Calzone pizza-making challenge between well-known Island residents Dot Tilbury and Stuart Baggs at 3.00pm on Saturday, and at the same time on Sunday, it’s the final of the I Love Manx Chef of the Year competition, with Darren Woods from 14North taking on The Abbey Restaurant’s Danny Johnson.
DEFA Minister Richard Ronan MHK said: ‘It promises to be our biggest and best Festival yet, featuring the widest range of produce and producers in one place at one time. There will be plenty to entertain young and old alike over the two days, including family activities with Greeba Mushrooms, farm animals and milking demos from the Manx National Farmers’ Union, and Manx Litfest with partner bookseller Bridge Bookshop and storytellers.
One of the highlights each year is, of course, the final of the I Love Manx Chef of the Year, and there should be some fun and games on Saturday afternoon when Dot and Stuart face-off for the pizza challenge – that’s one not to be missed!
‘The team at DEFA can’t wait to get started and welcome everyone to the Villa Marina Gardens. Each year we are keen to improve on the previous year, and we encourage visitors to complete a survey form on the day, with the chance to win a bumper hamper of Manx produce.’
The weekend will also see Greeba Farm undertake a fun challenge, but one with a serious angle. The farm is asking visitors – in particular children – to help chop a huge pile of their Manx mushrooms to make a ‘Big Soup’, which will then be used to feed those in the Island who are homeless or living in insecure housing, through a local project called ‘Graih’.
The Manx NFU is inviting members of the public to bring along their favourite recipes using Manx produce to a ‘swap shop’ in the Farm in the Festival marquee over the weekend. They will have a selection of recipes already provided – including a unique Manx pizza, blackberry and apple crumble, and Manx lamb moussaka. Recipes will be pegged up on the ‘recipe line’, so you can copy them and
leave your own for others to enjoy.
There are several first time exhibitors at the Festival, including BallaKarran Meat Company, Taylor Made Cakes and Betty, the Peel-based vintage food caravan, along with a pop-up restaurant called The Fish & Bottle, a collaboration between 14North, Bath & Bottle and Little Fish Café.
The Manx Produce Marquee will include Paddy’s Fish, Robinson’s Vegetables, Ramsey Bakery, Laxey Glen Flour Mills, Isle of Man Creamery, Shoprite (featuring steaks and special offers), Ellerslie Oil, Manx Pack Ltd, Noa Bakery, Green Mann Spring Water, BallaKarran Meat Company, Berries Luxury Pudding Makers & Confectionary, MostlyManx, Taylor Made Cakes and Stay on a Manx Farm.
The Villa Marina Colonnade will host stalls including Island Sheepskins, Mannbiltong, Jane’s Jams, Coeliac Group, Dianne McCudden (local photographs and scenes), Helen Maddrell (second-hand cook books and kitchen pottery), Gavin Carter (wooden bowls and “have a go at carving” for children) and Kathryn Mitchell Ceramics.
Outside the Produce Marquee will be Staarvey Farm, the Apple Orphanage van (with new product gooseberry lemonade) and Jimbo’s Ice Cream.
For refreshment, choose from Betty (pie and mash), Barista Express (paninis), Kallow Point Seafoods and Culinary Liberation (local meat and vegetarian), while the Restaurant Marquee will include The Fish & Bottle (cocktails and food with a Middle eastern influence), Harbour Lights (teas and cakes) and Your Personal Wine Service (offering tastings and advice).
Adult admission for each day costs £3, children under 16 are free. There will be a free ‘park & ride’ facility from Noble’s Park on Saturday.
For further details, visit www.gov.im/food.
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