Celebrity Olly gets festival under way

All in the best possible taste: Tony Leonard and Olly Smith at the launch

All in the best possible taste: Tony Leonard and Olly Smith at the launch

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The Lewes OctoberFeast celebration of local food and drink got off to a flying start on Friday.

A rousing speech by celebrity Olly Smith, TV presenter, wine expert and newspaper columnist, got the 10-day programme under way.

He was joined at the launch at Lewes Market Tower by Tony Leonard, Chair of the Octoberfeast Committee.

He warmly thanked the producers and independent retailers who work towards such a rich food culture in Lewes.

Details of Octoberfeast 2012, with a string of interesting events to beguile all lovers of good food and drink, can be found by visiting the website www.lewesoctoberfeast.com

Special guest Olly said: “Celebrating local food and drink is awesome. The number of producers, farmers and foodie community in and around Lewes is spectacularly diverse and I’m delighted to support OctoberFeast 2012 with great gusto.”

The action continues today (Friday) with a dark chocolate masterclass led by John Bayley at Lewes Community Kitchen, which will cover the essentials of chocolate making including tempering, ‘raw’ and classic truffles, torte and ice-cream. It runs from 10am-2pm at the Phoenix Works, North Street, venue.

Elsewhere today there’s the chance to Meet the Producer, featuring High Weald Cheeses. The all-day event is at Cheese Please, High Street.

Beer Britannica gets under way at The Snowdrop, South Street, and continues until Sunday. The pub’s much-acclaimed annual beer festival this year features the favourite British ales of Mark Tranter, Head Brewer at the Dark Star Brewing Company.

The event has won high praise - “One of the most enjoyable weekends I can remember,” said Pete Brown, of the Morning’s Advertiser.

There’s a tutored tasting of English wine at Knill James, Southover, led by Harveys’ wine manager, Andy Harris. The event gets under way at 6.30pm and canapes will be served. The firm is celebrating its 125th birthday this year, and all proceeds will go to South Malling Primary School PTS.

The monthly Farmers’s Market returns to the Cliffe precinct tomorrow (Saturday) with some special OctoberFeast events, including cookery demonstrations and the King of Ketchups competition (for recipes and entry information, go to the Common Cause website). The market runs from 9am-1pm.

Also tomorrow there will be apple pressing at the Market Tower from 10am-4pm. Don’t let your apples and pears go to waste – bring them along to the venue and let the expert pressers do the hard work and transform them into juice. Bring your own container or buy the ones provided.