Basingstoke’s deliciously successful food festival was a taste of the fantastic events to come over the next few months at the Top of the Town.
TV chef and restaurateur Brian Turner, CBE, delighted his fans at the food theatre by creating mouthwatering summer dishes using local seasonal produce.
Brian, who is a familiar face on TV cookery shows Ready Steady Cook, Saturday Kitchen, A Taste of Britain, and My Life on a Plate, was joined on stage by award-winning local chef Gordon Stott, from The Sun Inn at Dummer, who produced some family favourites with a new twist.
Also demonstrating on the cookery stage was Tania Casey from Broughton Water Buffalo, and Paulo Gonclaves, chef at the town’s Portuguese Ponto De Encontro Cafe.
More than 3,000 foodies flocked to the Taste at the Top of the Town event, on Sunday 31 July, and enjoyed a day out sampling local food and drink treats from Hampshire Fare producers and local traders.
Visitors of all ages enjoyed food-themed street theatre and family fun activities, including Plunge Boom’s Allotment Show, the Hungry Chefs and a chef’s hat making workshop with local artist Sandy Kendall. Local businesses also got involved offering special discounts in a food trail leaflet available on the day. These included 20% off at Zizzi and 15% off at The Lime Leaf Restaurant. The Willis Museum, Majestic Wines, Vitality Health Foods, Ponto De Encontro, The Tea Bar, Sundaes Gelato and The Creation Space Café, The Red Lion Hotel and Berry Bros & Rudds took part too.
The event, part of the Hampshire Fare Food Festival, marked the beginning of the exciting Top of the Town events programme which Proteus and Big Adventures have been commissioned to deliver, on behalf of Basingstoke Deane Borough Council, throughout 2016 and into next year.
The spooky Mexican Day of the Dead Festival returns on Friday 28 October, with a colourful musical procession of giant illuminated skulls, skeletons, dancers and lanterns.
The Top of the Town’s alternative to traditional Halloween celebrations celebrates local ancestry, culture and diversity. Known in Mexico as ‘Dia de los Muertos’, the event will honour our ancestors with live music performances, street food and an illuminated night market, featuring the decorated skull motifs.
Bringing a little Ooh La La to the Market Place on Friday 18 November is the French market. Authentic cheeses, wines and crepes will add a Gallic flavour to the event.
Festive fun arrives when the popular Christmas at the Top of the Town is held in December - children can give their wish lists to Santa and his helpers, and there’s a chance to browse for Christmas presents at the gift market.
In January, you can celebrate the Chinese New Year in the historic heart of Basingstoke - and don’t forget to visit the bustling market in Market Place and Wote Street every week on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
The borough council’s Deputy Leader Cllr Terri Reid said: “This year’s Taste at the Top of the Town was more popular than ever, with top chefs, fine food and local produce in abundance. Brian Turner certainly tickled the tastebuds with his fabulous summertime fare from Hampshire.
“Fortunately, the food festival was just the starter course in the exciting events programme for the Top of the Town. I hope local residents and businesses will make a date in their diaries to come along and take part in the planned events - the Mexican Day of the Dead was a huge hit last year and promises to be even bigger and better this October.
“Everybody who comes along will be giving great support to local traders and the events to help rejuvenate the historic heart of Basingstoke.”
To find out more about forthcoming events in Top of the Town, visit www.topofthetown.org or follow on Facebook at TheTopOfTheTownBasingstoke or Twitter @TotTBasingstoke.