March 28, 2014 7:42 pm

Five of the best: Food and drink festivals

From the strongest coffee to the smelliest cheese, the summer festival season runs the gamut of epicurean delights

London Coffee Festival

Pommery Dorset Seafood Festival

Pommery Dorset Seafood Festival

A celebration of the capital’s coffee makers and drinkers, gathering specialist roasters and industry suppliers, from Workshop Coffee to Acme & Co cups. Talks and masterclasses cover brewing techniques, responsible farming and bean tastes. The true coffee geek should beat a path to the La Marzocco pop-up, where engineers from the company’s Florence factory will build an espresso machine from scratch.

April 3-6, Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London, londoncoffeefestival.com

Artisan Cheese Fair

Melton Mowbray is famous for its double gastronomic boast – home not just to pork pies but also Stilton cheese. For the fourth year it hosts this showcase of British and Irish cheesemakers, some 50 in number and producing more than 200 cheeses between them. Expect farmhouse cheddars, Somerset brie and all manner of Stiltons; last year a local heritage cheese, Colwick, was brought back to life after 20 years out of production.

10am-4pm on May 3-4. £1 entry. Cattle Market, Melton Mowbray LE13 1JY, artisancheesefair.co.uk

Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival

A “nosing” into the workings – and whiskies – of Speyside’s great distilleries, this festival has every angle covered for the dram-lover: tastings of special old casks; chauffeured visits to malt houses; distillery-to-distillery canoe trips and cooperage tours. As well as the big names such as Glenfiddich, there are visits to smaller distilleries such as Inchgower and Knockando. Later in May comes the Islay Festival of Malt and Music (May 23-31; islayfestival.com)

May 1-5, spiritofspeyside.com

Ballymaloe LitFest

Irish food doyenne Darina Allen launched this literary-gastronomy festival last year, a powwow of global gourmet talent, drawing everyone from René Redzepi to Claudia Roden in the beautiful setting of Ballymaloe House, County Cork. This year Redzepi returns; other speakers include Yotam Ottolenghi, Jill Norman – and our own Rowley Leigh and Tim Hayward. Fringe events in “The Big Shed” offer local food, music and good craic.

May 16-18. Tickets from €15, litfest.ie

Pommery Dorset Seafood Festival

Weymouth’s Old Harbour rigs up its annual seafood party; this year, about 100 stands will dish up snacks such as mackerel baps, Lyme Bay hand-dived scallop kebabs and hot potted crab. Also expect fresh oysters, whelks, lobsters, cockles and razor clams. Champagnes and local beers wash the sea-salty tastes down. Children can learn the art of lobster and whelk picking in the “have a go” area.

July 12-13. Weymouth, Dorset, dorsetseafood.co.uk

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