Posted 8 July 2013 by Andrew Gardner
Local food in Sussex, eating out or eating in - sometimes I get so enthusiastic about it I don't know where to start. On the hors d'oeuvres at Rye Bay Scallop Week, perhaps, with a nice glass of chilled Nyetimber white? Hearing that celebrated Brighton resident Fatboy Slim, aka Norman Cook, is buying Heather Mills's vegan cafe in Hove Lagoon was what sparked this culinary caper - and by the way, aforesaid cafe won't be vegan any more if the deal goes through, although Mills has moved her set-up into the town if you're worried. And thinking of vegetarian food (close enough for all but purists, I hope) I had heard that Terre a Terre in Brighton had a kitchen fire last year, but only recently learnt that it was caused by "spontaneously combusting laundry". A pile of warm, tumble-dried tea towels apparently, which sounds much more mundane.
To fuel your self-catering holiday in Sussex, do please look out for farmers' markets and local food and beer festivals, there’re all the rage at the moment - we do them rather well. They're a win-win idea, really: fun for visitors, who get to sample some new and delicious treats, while local businesses get a networking opportunity as well as, hopefully, new customers and some publicity. They give towns a chance to shine and tourists and residents alike a chance to see them in a new light. I'm not being cynical - we're a local business too, and these opportunities are vital for survival. Many Sussex farming families have gratefully seized the opportunity to diversify and the quality and freshness of their produce is second to none.
This summer and autumn, as well as regular farmers' markets, we can look forward to the Sussex Food Festival at the Bluebell Railway; food and wine festivals at Glynde Place and Petworth; Taste of the World at Fontwell Racecourse; Horsham's Big Nibble and Grow!Cook!Eat! at West Dean College, to name but a few. The Glynde festival focuses on English wine, much of which comes from Sussex or nearby and is considered rather good by those in the know.
Meanwhile, back on our modest allotment well below the chalk South Downs escarpments, we've reluctantly admitted that growing vines might not be practical on a small area of Sussex clay and decided to stick with the vegetables. It's rewarding but hard work!