WHOEVER knew Sussex game meats and locally produced chocolate could make an excellent combination?

Producers are hoping to treat foodies with new insights and cooking tips at this weekend’s Brighton and Hove Food and Drink Festival.

Holly Caulfield, owner of Brighton chocolatier Chocoholly, said the mix is an ancient technique, known to have been popular with the Aztecs.

Mrs Caulfield said: “Many people might not think of it as a likely combination but it does work well.

“Aztecs are known to have used natural chocolate, without sugar, with their meats and this is where the tip of adding dark chocolate to a chilli con carne sauce for extra flavour originated.”

The shop has paired with independent wine merchant Butlers to offer an interesting combination of wine and chocolate tasting – with sea salt flavoured treats, salted caramel, 100% chocolate and other flavours matching to local and imported wines.

Wine merchant owner Henry Butler said: “It’s typical to combine cheese and wine tastings so we’ve challenged ourselves with matching chocolate and wine.

“It’s easy to match ports and rums as they go so well together with chocolate.

“But having a sweet, quite strong taste in your mouth can often leave the wine tasting acidic afterwards – so it is an interesting challenge and one we hope guests will enjoy trying out with us. It’s all about learning about new flavours and having fun.”

Celebrating the flavours of autumn and the forthcoming harvest, the biannual festival is this time centred on the family of meats, and anything that can complement it.

Hotel du Vin will host a Taste of Game gala dinner while other restaurants and businesses are marking how their produce links in with the theme.

The festival also promises the biggest independent wine tasting so far, with Butlers providing local sparkling wines alongside imported varieties for visitors to taste.

Mr Butler said: “In line with the theme of this year’s event we will feature a range of light and sparkling wines as we bid farewell to the summer, but also focus on hearty, juicy red wines as we welcome the autumn which would sit well with any game dish.”

Matty Bowling, who joined as head chef for vegetarian restaurant Terre a Terre nine months ago, is one of a number of experts who will host cookery demonstrations.

The restaurant’s take on the game theme, will rejoice in the abundance of root vegetables available during the harvest season which could accompany meat, alongside offering visitors to try vegetables in dishes as they have never tasted them before.

Olivia Reid, the restaurant’s marketing and communications manager, said: “We’ve been involved with the festival for years and are very much looking forward to the event.

“Matty’s cooking demonstration will focus vegetables found through foraging including a steamed rice dish with mushrooms.

“We focus on showcasing good food and introducing visitors to inventive ways of cooking with vegetables.”

The business will offer hot vegetarian dishes in the marquee on Hove Lawns as well as hosting an eats, beats, leaves sharing platter meal on Tuesday, from 5pm at its East Street premises, which will celebrate the best of Terre a Terre over the years.

Mrs Reid said: “There is a great sense of camaraderie at the event, with everyone sharing and tasting each other’s produce.

“It’s a great way for us to get out into the community and meet customers, as well as promote our long standing business in Brighton.

“It is known as the last hoorah of summer and something for everyone to look forward to after the holidays.”

The gastronomic celebration, which wants to make good and local food accessible to everyone, takes place every April and September, attracting around 160,000 visitors and 350 food, drink and hospitality businesses each time.

Brighton and Hove Food Partnership believes it is a great opportunity to educate people on cutting down on their food waste.

A composting “doctor” will be on hand to help people learn more about disposing of their food waste sustainably.

There will also be information about community projects which can help people living in flats or without gardens manage their food waste as well as advice on how to shop more sensibly.

Roberta Emmott, communications officer at the Brighton and Hove Food Partnership, said: “In Brighton a third of what we throw away is good food – which in turn costs money to incinerate.

“The cost of wasted food for the average family is £56 a month.

“This event is a brilliant celebration of all the food and drink our area has to offer with a really positive atmosphere.

“It is one of the highlights of the year so we are happy to support it and help people learn how to reduce their food waste at the same.”

Nick Mosley, managing director of the not-for-profit festival, said: “Each year the festival gets bigger and bigger with more local producers and hospitality businesses joining us, and an increasing world food offering generated by our International Chef Exchange.

“The thing I’m most excited about is working with our friends from the Nivarata festival of granita in Sicily.

“We visited them in June with Seb Cole from Boho Gelato and participated in their brilliant festival of all things frozen.

“Now we’re welcoming them to Brighton for our Taste of Sicily event on Friday night.

“We’ve had gelato and granita machines shipped from Italy, and we’ll be making them live in our Little Sicily area on Hove Lawns all weekend.

“I don’t think anyone will have ever had granita that fresh before in the UK and it really is unmissable.

“This weekend is only the start of the Autumn Harvest – we’re running events citywide across the week finishing with the Big Sussex Market on New Road and the London Road Food Trail next weekend.

“We work tirelessly across the year with our patrons, sponsors and partners to ensure that all of our anchor outdoor events are free access for everyone to enjoy and experience good food and drink.

“We’re already in the thick of planning for the Spring Harvest and other events next year.”

Food and drink festival locations

64 Degrees 53 Meeting House Lane, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 1HB
Azure 9 -11 Lower Promenade, Brighton, East Sussex, BN2 1PS
Big Sussex Market New Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN11UE
Brighton Rocks 6 Rock Place, Brighton, East Sussex, BN2 1PF
Churchill Square Churchill Square, Brighton, BN1 2RG
Drakes Restaurant 43-44 Marine Parade, Brighton, BN1 2PE
Hotel du Vin 5 Ship Street, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 1AD
Hove Lawns Marquee, Hove, East Sussex, BN3 2WN
Hove Lawns Kings Road, Hove, BN3 2WN
London Road Food Trail London Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 4JF
Silo 39 Upper Gardner Street, Brighton, BN1 4AN
Terre a Terre 71 East Street, Brighton, BN1 1HQ
The Ginger Pig 3 Hove Street, Hove, East Sussex, BN3 2TR

Live food show demonstrations

TERRE a Terre’s head chef Matty Bowling will host a live cookery demonstration alongside a score of other chefs and experts from the area on Saturday between 11am and 3pm and on Sunday between 11am and 4pm.

Saturday: 11am - Food Waste demonstration with chef Olly Dawson and Brighton & Hove Food Partnership Midday - Chef Matt Gillan, South Lodge
1pm - Brighton Mix Off cocktail competition
2pm - Chef Dave Mothersill, The Coal Shed
3pm - A Taste of Sicily with Seb Cole, of Boho Gelato, who will be joined by representatives from Nivarata

Sunday: 11am - Chef Kanthi Kiran Thamma, Curry Leaf Café Midday - Chef Joshua Kitson, 64 Degrees
1pm - Chef Douglas McMaster, Silo
2pm - Chef Matty Bowling, Terre a Terre 3pm - Chef Andrew MacKenzie, the Restaurant at Drakes 4pm - Chef Alun Sperring, The Chilli Pickle

Free activities

A HOST of free activities have been organised as part of the Children’s Food Festival.

The event takes place on the Hove Lawns next to the Live Food Show marquee on Saturday, from 10am to 4pm, and on Sunday, from 11am to 4pm.

A cookery school, pancake making, and an entertainment workshop have all been arranged by ChildfriendlyBrighton.co.uk.

Children can also try their hand at cupcake decorating, face painting, crafts and badge making.

A taste of events on offer

THE taste of Western Australia can be discovered at the event.

Silo, one of Brighton’s newest restaurants on Upper Gardner Street and chef Douglas McMaster and Matt Stone will offer a wine tasting and supper menu on September 12, from 7pm, accompanied with tales of their life in Australia in the Margaret River region.

Celebrating the theme of the event, Hotel Du Vin, on Ship Street, will host a Taste of Game supper, on September 12, from 7pm.

The four-course wine dinner will mark the variety of game meats available in Sussex matched with wines and cheeses provided by La Cave a Fromage.

Meanwhile three chefs will work together to provide a gourmet menu at the restaurant at drakes, Marine Parade, on Monday, from 7pm.

Rob Carr, from Hotel du Vin, Andrew MacKenzie, from the hosting restaurant, and Michael Bremner, of 64 Degrees, will present a course each.

Supporting good causes

THIS year the festival will support two local charities, Rockinghorse and FareShare Brighton & Hove.

The event will help to raise money and awareness for the causes.

Rockinghorse is the official fundraising arm of the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital and Trevor Mann Baby Unit.

The charity, set up in 1967 by Dr Trevor Mann, campaigns for more resources to improve healthcare for sick children and babies.

FareShare Brighton & Hove fights food poverty by redistributing surplus food from the food industry to organisations working with homeless and vulnerable people.

This also diverts food from being unnecessarily put into landfill and given to those in need instead.

Visit www.rockinghorse.org.uk or faresharebrightonandhove.org.uk

Join the patron’s circle

THE festival has this year launched a patron’s circle.

Patrons receive invitations to bi-annual events, the hospitality area by the Live Food Show stage and the chance to take part in an annual Sussex Gourmet Bus Tour.

Members also receive priority booking and premium seating on all ticketed festival events plus 25% discount on all in-house events.

For information email nick@sharpmediagroup.co.uk