IT was a menu with a difference. Crocodile burgers, pigs’ cheeks, chocolate vodka and candied ants are among the delicacies being enjoyed by Huddersfield foodies this year.
Thousands of people packed into St George’s Square yesterday as Huddersfield’s Food and Drink Festival got underway.
Visitors of all ages had the chance to sample the wares of more than 70 stalls selling everything from olives, cheese and speciality breads to cider, sweets and cupcakes.
Dozens of restaurants are taking part in the four-day event to cook up feasts for an expected 100,000 visitors, while pubs are keeping punters watered with a range of real-ales, cocktails and wines.
The Butchers’ Arms, Hepworth, is among those taking part with a stall for the first time this year.
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The restaurant’s chef, Tim Bilton, has been a familiar face at the festival’s Ready Steady Cook event for several years.
He was celebrating a win over Discovery Bay’s Barrington Douglas yesterday, after wowing crowds in the demonstration area with his braised featherblade of Yorkshire beef.
Tim, who has also launched his own range of chutneys and sauces, said: “It’s the first time I’ve won in four years so I’m really pleased.
“I have been playing at making Piccalilli and butternut squash chutney for a while now. It all started when a customer asked if he could take some home with him from the restaurant.
“It is going very well. We are here to market ourselves to a brand new spectrum of people who have probably never heard of the Butcher’s Arms before. The weather is cracking. It is a fantastic food festival.’’
Large queues formed at the exotic meats stand, on Railway Street, where curious customers were tucking into a range of dishes including zebra, crocodile, camel and kangaroo.
Free children’s activities were proving a hit, with parents making the most of a full programme of daily workshops ranging from chocolate, smoothie and pizza making to circus skills.
Mum Angela Catron, of Brockholes, was enjoying making chocolate buns with her children Connor, five, and four-year-old Claire.
She said: “The workshops are excellent. We have learned about healthy food and made smoothies and now we’re doing chocolate.
“We’ve also had a crocodile burger and eaten ant candy. The kids have loved it. It is just something different.”
Dalton Dad Martin Platt was also there with daughters Holly, nine, and Macey, five.
He said: “We’re just having a look around. I like to try different foods and it is a good family day out.”
Curry-house Ali Murad, of Wakefield Road, was serving up an Indian treat in the main square.
Manager Ans Jamal said: “I have been doing this for about five years and have seen the number of people gradually increase.
“We love it when the customers come back to say they love our food and we like that most of the stalls here are from Yorkshire.’’
“It attracts us back every year.”
Festival organiser Cathy Burger was delighted with the turnout. She said: “The weather really does help. It just adds to the number of people who come down here.
“The feedback last year was that seating was difficult to find so we have increased the seating areas this year to allow people to sit down and enjoy the atmosphere.
“We have also added more children’s workshops .
“It is a real mix of people and it really caters for people of all ages .
“We are expecting to top the 100,000 visitors who came last year.”
The festival will stay open until 9pm on Friday and Saturday evening. Today, rugby players will show off their culinary talents when the Huddersfield Giants compete in a cook-off against Wakefield Wildcats from 11.30am to 1pm.