Calling all foodies, get your forks at the ready as The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre prepares to host its first-ever food festival!
With some of the region’s best-known local food and drinks producers signed up to take part, the two-day event on 1-2 June will be a gastronomic showcase of some of Northumberland’s finest flavours, celebrating all that is great and good about our region from its fiery whiskys to its artisan sausages.
“We are incredibly excited about hosting our first-ever food festival,” said Claire Mason, manager at The Sill.
“The food and drink found in different parts of the world is often characterised by the landscape it comes from. With such a vast and varied range of terrain found across our region, from miles of fields and hills to sprawling coastlines, we wanted to bring together the very best of what the whole county has to offer to create a weekend-long celebration of the real flavours of Northumberland in a truly unique setting.”
The free to attend event will provide visitors with a unique chance to sample and purchase goods from all of the exhibitors, as well as participate in some live cookery and mixology demonstrations hosted by the producers, alongside The Sill’s own catering experts, Fresh Element.
Serving up inspired dishes made using only the finest ingredients sourced from the land and sea, Fresh Element has been enhancing visitors’ cultural discovery of the landscape at The Sill through its on-site café restaurant since the Centre opened in 2017.
With a focus on high-quality production and food provenance, over the course of the festival, Fresh Element’s head chefs will be inviting visitors to get stuck in and try their hand at charcuterie and gin curing salmon.
In addition to the producers’ fair, Northumberland National Park is also holding two of its immensely popular ‘Meet the Maker’ events as part of the weekend’s celebrations.
Designed to enable people to go behind the scenes of the fascinating manufacturing processes of some of their favourite local brands, the ‘Meet the Maker’ series has seen artisanal royalty such as Doddington Dairy and Muckle Brewing under the microscope in previous months, with guests then able to enjoy a fine three-course meal at The Sill cooked using the produce in the recipes.
Back by popular demand following last year’s sell out event, on Friday 31 May, visitors can enjoy an evening with the makers of Rothbury’s famous Hepple Gin, or on Saturday 1 June, get to know the team behind the sizzling Steel Bonnet Whisky at our debut event with Lakes Distillery.
Walter Riddell, founder and managing director at Moorland Spirit Company (makers of Hepple Gin), commented:
“We’re delighted to have been invited back to The Sill for another Meet the Maker event.
“We were absolutely blown away by the reception we received at our first event last year. The precise distillation processes we have established at the Moorland Spirit Company enables us to produce our gins and flavoured vodka in such high fidelity, true to the nature of the landscape from which we take our ingredients, so to be able to share our craft with an audience that understands and loves this landscape is fantastic.
“The Sill has been a great supporter and platform for Hepple Gin from the get-go, so we’re thrilled to be able to give something back by supporting its first food and drink festival.”
Named after the nearby Great Whin Sill and hailed as the ‘gateway to the National Park’, the award-winning Sill has helped to introduce the heritage, history and culture of Northumberland to over 250,000 visitors from around the world.
The Sill Food Festival is set to be an extension of this journey of discovery with visitors able to sample tasty treats from across the county whilst enjoying a range of food-based activities and live entertainment in the beautiful surrounds of the National Park.
“Ideally placed at the heart of historic Hadrian’s Wall country, from the outset, we wanted The Sill to become a hub from which visitors could explore and learn more about our unique landscape and what makes it so special,” Claire added.
“Food is of course a big part of this, so we’re delighted that we’ve been able to attract such a strong mix of local makers to our first-ever food festival.”
Food stallholders signed up to showcase at the food fair so far include fudge-maker, The Canny Candy Gadgie, award-winning chocolatiers, North Chocolates, homemade baked goods specialist, Northumbrian Bakehouse, the Northumberland Sausage Company, preserve makers, Cumberland Mustard and brownie and blondie experts, The Travelling Spoon. To wash everything down, visitors can enjoy samples from drinks producers such as The Winery, Muckle Brewery, Marlish Water, Alnwick Rum and Lakes Distillery.
The Sill Food Festival and Meet the Maker events are just a few examples of the activities taking place in and around Northumberland National Park over the coming months as part of its new spring/summer events programme.
For a full events listing, visit www.northumberlandnationalpark.org.uk/whats-on or collect one of the new illustrated events programmes from The Sill or other visitors centres across the Park.
The Sill is the UK’s first dedicated National Landscape Discovery Centre and the result of a pioneering partnership between Northumberland National Park Authority, YHA (England and Wales), and funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund through a £7.8 million grant made possible by National Lottery players.
For more information visit www.thesill.org.uk.