The BITE Sussex Spring food and drink festival returns at the start of April. Nick Mosley takes a look at some of the tasty events you can enjoy at restaurants, bars, distilleries and vineyards across the county.
Sussex Gin Week runs from Friday 1 April until Sunday 10 April with some of Brighton’s top bars offering promotional cocktail and G&T menus in collaboration with local gin distilleries Brighton Gin, Dedbest Distillery, Madame Jennifer and Slake Spirits. It’s a great way to sample not only the quality of locally produced gin but also the creativity of the premium bar scene at venues including Gungho!, Hilton Brighton Metropole, Market Restaurant & Bar, Medusa Bar, Merkaba, The Plotting Parlour and Redroaster Café.
Food businesses are also getting creative showcasing the best of what they do. There’s no ‘mezcal’-ing around at La Choza on Gloucester Road in Brighton. Explore the wonderful world of mezcal – an agave-based spirit from Mexico – in a variety of cocktails and menu specials.
The ‘Flavours of Sussex’ cabinet takeover is back at Brighton’s famous Boho Gelato in Pool Valley. Ice cream maker extraordinaire Seb Cole will be working with various local restaurants and producers on one-off gelatos and sorbets to challenge the tastebuds in a good way.
David Deaves and the team at Curds & Cases cheese and wine bar and shop in Brighton and Worthing will be presenting the ultimate tasting night of all things Sussex: sparkling wines, cheese and charcuterie. Presented by David himself, you’ll enjoy a taste tour of some of our county’s finest producers, from Hastings in the east to Petworth in the west.
Local farmers, wine makers and distilleries will also be throwing open their doors so you can explore behind-the-scenes. On Saturday 2 April, head to West Sussex for ‘Trenchmore Farm & Friends in the Yard’ for a relaxed afternoon in the countryside. Alongside tastings of their Silly Moo cider, meet their herd of Sussex-Wagyu cross cattle and learn more about regenerative farming. Stallholders will also be on-hand so you can try and buy at 3Bros Burger Boys, Slake Spirits, MDtea and My Posy Neighbour florals with live music from Hope Cove.
The internationally acclaimed Wiston Estate is hosting vineyard tours and tastings on both the first and second weekends of April, with Brighton Gin and Madame Jennifer Distillery also welcome spirit lovers to see how their premium drinks are produced.
Of course, there’s also a host of one-off dinners with some of Sussex’s top chefs.
Over at Etch by Steven Edwards in Hove, lunch on Sunday 3 April will be presented by five talented young chefs under the age of 26 to announce the launch of this year’s BITE Sussex Rising Stars Awards, championing young people working in the hospitality and wider food and drink industry. Arion Christophers (Fourth & Church), Antonio Pio Lassogna (Hilton Brighton Metropole), Elisa Gerard (Julien Plumart), Hannah Blackwell (Etch) and Caspian Armani (Isaac At) will each be serving up a course, with Julian Barnett of Gungho creating hand-foraged welcome drinks in collaboration with Slake Spirits.
Jimmy Gray – former head chef of Jeremy’s Restaurant at Borde Hill – and partner Maria Chilton will be taking guests on a ‘Journey through South East Asia’ on Monday 4 April at Meanwhile Café on Jubilee Street, Brighton. Inspired by the street food of Thailand and Vietnam that they experienced on their year-out travels, the menu includes canapés with a matched Asian themed cocktail from Dedbest Distillery followed by three courses including spider crab coconut curry and longhorn beef brisket with fermented black bean and ginger sauce. Priced at £38, a vegetarian option is also available.
Things are getting spicy at Monarch Brighton on King’s Road on Wednesday 6 April with head chef Prakash Pushpakaranvimala presenting a set menu of snacks and curries from his home region of Kerala – ‘the land of spices’ – in southern India. Tickets are priced at £40 and include a complimentary half pint from East Sussex’s Three Acres Brewery, with all profits going to The Sussex Beacon charity specialising in care and support for people living with HIV in Sussex.
There are opportunities to get ‘hands-on’ with food at the Community Kitchen on Queens Road. On Saturday 2 April, enjoy a 1940s themed evening of cocktails and delicious plant-based and free-from food with The Black Market. Cook a four course menu with a friend or partner under the guidance of The Black Market team… complete with drinks pairings, it is Saturday night after all!
Little ones can also enjoy a tasty workshop after school on Monday 4 April. Bertie van der Beek from Pizzaface will share with the children how to make amazing pizza at home, including the perfect soft pillowy dough crust.
For all events, visit www.bitesussex.com