Rucksack Foodie

Eat good – Live well – Enjoy life !

A Part of Something Delicious

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A wonderful new friend and amazing instructor of Egyptian Cooking, Marina of Cooking-Like-Cleopatra.com, who shared with great enthusiasm the exotic tastes and rich traditions of community to be found in Egyptian cooking.

Food and community are synonymous in my world. Where each alone is a moment in life,  the coupling together of food and community provide you memories to last. So volunteering to work at the Ludlow Food Festival, UKs original (and one of the largest) slow & local food featured Food Festivals, was a memorable weekend of delicious moments for this rucksack foodie!

Ludlow, Shropshire England is a special place. It’s medieval castle with a strategic and beautiful hilltop location shadowing over the River Teme has been the hub for this Welsh March region since the 11th century. Retaining much of its medieval charm

Ludlow Castle at sunset. Ludlow, Shropshire England

Ludlow Castle at sunset. Ludlow, Shropshire England

and numerous Tudor examples of fine architecture, this busy tourist town somehow maintains sincerity in its old world charm without brazen missteps of commercialism. Where as medieval Ludlow ushered in political royalty, laden with treachery and

Sweet heaven!

Sweet heaven!

murderous plots of upheaval; modern day Ludlow’s royalty is of the epicurean kind with Michelin Star chefs, trend setting eateries, artisan bakers, craft butchers and sausage makers, locally produced cheeses, fresh seafood, a DAILY market square featuring over 25 stalls and not to mention Ludlow’s numerous historic pubs most of which are over 300 years old; It honestly is just a slice of British travel heaven.

I came to Ludlow under the suggestion of a dear friend who spent her formative years attending Ludlow College with weekend pints in the “Garden of Rest”. Her knowing of this foodies journey couldn’t help but mention Ludlow’s renowned Food Festival and my experiencing it. Notorious for being a “joiner” , I was elated to see the option for volunteering at this annual event and even more so when I was welcomed on by the committee. The Ludlow Food Festival was born in 1995, by a group of locals looking to promote the already abundant amount of specialty shops and

A small glimpse at a large undertaking on the day before Festival opening. (Picture from Ludlow Food Festival website)

A small glimpse at a large undertaking on the day before Festival opening. (Picture from Ludlow Food Festival website)

fabulous dining found in Ludlow.  An original idea that was only a natural evolution considering the location of endless hillsides of orchards, rich agricultural soil, and beef and lamb as far as the eye can see. Ludlow has become a perfect epicurean utopia and kicked started the movement of food festivals for England (which there seem to be 100s of!) The event ran by a not-for-profit organization, generates over a £1million boost to the local economy each year with proceeds from the Festival supporting local charities as well as their own young food entrepreneur bursarys. 

Just a tiny glimpse of the hordes of shoppers inside the GIANT marquee of food stalls. But somehow it was never a problem to maneuver about or chat with the sellers!

Just a tiny glimpse of the hordes of shoppers inside the GIANT marquee of food stalls. But somehow it was never a problem to maneuver about or chat with the sellers!

This years 3 day event was an amazing jam packed weekend featuring over 160 stalls of locally produced foods and beverages, master classes from world renowned chefs on subjects ranging from slow food topics of traditional breads and  cheese education to Egyptian cooking and the history of Gin, Taste Workshops, and their famous Sausage & Ale Trails through the town. Most all off which were sold out even before the Festival opened. Around every stone alcove and medieval wall you could find coffee education, knife skill courses, food science activities, demonstration stages with full rotation

Although I volunteered Thursday through Sunday, the wonderful folks in scheduled me the Saturday morning off to explore the festival properly, so I took a long over due Knife Skills Course that was excellent!

Although I volunteered Thursday through Sunday, the wonderful folks in charge scheduled me the Saturday morning off to explore the festival properly, so I took a long over due Knife Skills Course that was excellent!

schedules of fabulous chef demos and food education and endless amounts of reasons to sample deliciousness. It was a foodie paradise! The taste options were endless; From  giannormus sausage rolls, smoked salts and spices, fresh oysters, cakes and puddings only dreamt of, to locally brewed ales, ciders and even british cassis….it was all there! And it WAS a “foodie’s” event, despite the looming rain clouds the queue at the gate seemed endless and EVERYONE  came with shopping bags and pull carts in tow, leaving with them bulging. I’ve been to many events in my life time and this is the first event I’ve ever seen with a “shopping crèche “(like a “coat check” but for your shopping bags)!  My only regret throughout this wonderful 5 day experience is that i did not snap more pictures. I found myself so caught up in the moment, the smells, the fabulous folks I met, the deliciousness i consumed in mass quantities…that i just forgot to keep clicking the camera! I found

Over 100 volunteers lend a hand with set-up, stewarding and demonstrations to help make the Ludlow Food Festival happen each year. John, Liz and Stewart were all locals that volunteer a bit of time each year and were such a hoot to work hard with on set-up day!

Over 100 volunteers lend a hand with set-up, stewarding and demonstrations to help make the Ludlow Food Festival happen each year. John, Liz and Stewart were all locals that volunteer a bit of time each year and were such a hoot to work hard with on set-up day!

myself doing everything from setting up an endless amount of chairs, to assisting the lovely ladies behind the scenes on the Demonstration Stage, to helping with the fabulously fun and interesting Cooking-Like-Cleopatra MasterClass, to just wandering the stall marquee and grounds providing information and direction to the visitors. Beth, Phil and Vince of the Ludlow Food Festival Organizational Team made my time as a volunteer (and im sure all of the volunteer’s would agree) such a pleasure! The committee made sure to rotate schedules so that the volunteers had a great perspective and interesting day. They accommodated for needs and interest if necessary and they fed us all like kings and queens with a magnificent lunch buffet each day as well as tea with heavenly cakes provided throughout. The festival is a well oiled machine with so many aspects and individuals involved in making it happen that somehow comes together each year beautifully and seemingly flawless. There are many (in fact hundreds) of food festivals in England now, but you MUST plan your trip to England in September with a visit to the Ludlow Food Festival, come hungry for both food and fun and I guarantee you will satisfied beyond belief!

imageI also want to mention and give a big thank you to Sarah and Andrew of Whitfield House B&B who not only allowed this friend, of a friend, of a friend (otherwise a complete stranger) “camp out” for the weekend and making me part of their beautiful family while I was there. Whitfield House has luxurious and spacious rooms, a beautiful garden and the most gorgeous views of Ludlow castle to be found. Although there are many lovely places to stay within Ludlow, Whitfield House is most definitely the only one you’ll want to book for your visit !

10 comments on “A Part of Something Delicious

  1. Anonymous
    September 21, 2013

    Wonderful post, Cody! It takes me there … a place I’ve never been! And I know you regret not having more pictures, but the ones you share are fantastic. Thank you!

    • Rucksack Foodie
      September 22, 2013

      Thanks so much, and definitely make a trip to Ludlow and this part of England as I promise you will not be disappointed !!

  2. Sally
    September 21, 2013

    Mouthwatering. Not only the food but the architecture.

  3. Petra Haynes
    September 21, 2013

    That looks and sounds fantastic! My mouth was watering as I read your descriptions and looked at the photos.

    • Rucksack Foodie
      September 22, 2013

      Thanks Petra! Exactly what I like to hear!!!
      Btw…..delicious looking gluten-free desserts were abundant as well !!!!!

  4. Malcolm Greenhill
    September 25, 2013

    I’ve never visited Ludlow but the local tourist office should use your post to advertise the ‘mouthwatering’ attractions. Very well done.

    • Rucksack Foodie
      September 25, 2013

      Thank you Malcolm! I really appreciate your comment as I always walk away more enlightened after reading your thought filled posts!

  5. Anonymous
    September 29, 2013

    Hi Cody, as one volunteer to another – I agree with every word! It was great to meet you at the Wednesday night meeting than on and off over the Festival.
    Hope to see you back again one year?
    Best wishes, Carol

    • Rucksack Foodie
      September 29, 2013

      Thanks Carol! It was GREAT meeting you too!! Hopefully see ya in 2014!
      🙂

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