Rain didn't stop play at the launch of the Hampshire Food Festival 2013

Rain didn't stop play at the launch of the Hampshire Food Festival 2013

The rain certainly wasn't going to put a dampener on the launch of one of the country's biggest food festivals. Enticed by the promise of delicious local produce and a cooking demonstration from food writer and chef, Antonio Carluccio, the guests were not deterred by the rain showers.

The launch of the thirteenth Hampshire Food Festival took place on Thursday 27 June in the picturesque setting of Lainston House Hotel near Winchester. Guests included the Mayor of Winchester, local chefs, press and sponsors of Hampshire Fare.

Hampshire's abundance of outstanding local produce was evident in every detail of the launch. The choice of drinks on arrival included local medal winning wines from three vineyards; Cottonworth, Jenkyn Place and Danebury. Whilst sipping their drinks the guests marvelled at the talents of the hotel's falconer and his eagle.

The guests then moved to the hotel's stunning kitchen gardens where star of the BBC series Two Greedy Italians, Antonio Carluccio was centre stage at the demonstration kitchen. Here Antonio worked with Andy Mackenzie, the hotel's Executive Chef to create a unique Hampshire pizza. Antonio drew inspiration for the pizza from the local produce on display at the launch. The finished dish incorporated local mozzarella from Laverstoke Park Farm, charcuterie from Parsonage Farm, sausage from Greenfield Pork Products, cheese from Lyburn and plenty of fresh herbs and vegetables from the hotel's kitchen gardens.

Full of tales and jokes of his adventures and mushroom foraging Antonio certainly entertained the crowds. He was eager to communicate how delicious a simple combination of fresh ingredients can be, revealing that one of his favourite snacks is broad beans straight from the pod with bread and cheese. Antonio spoke of his reasons for being involved in the Hampshire Food Festival:

'For many years I had a house near Petersfield and it was then that I discovered much of the wonderful local produce on offer in Hampshire. I am passionate about supporting local producers and urge that people try to use the seasonal local ingredients available to them to create something delicious. The Hampshire Food Festival celebrates local producers and I am delighted to be part of it. Thank you to you all for taking me into your arms.'

Mike Wright, Chairman of Hampshire Fare thanked Antonio for his support and explained how important the festival is and what it aims to achieve:

'This year's festival is packed with such a great mix of events, there is something for everyone. It showcases the work of the county's producers, something we should all be proud of. Hampshire Fare is passionate about local food and we are determined to put Hampshire on the map as a food destination. We really want to make a difference but this is only possible thanks to the ongoing support of our sponsors. We are extremely grateful to them for their belief in what we do.'

After tasting Antonio's Hampshire pizza fresh from the large clay pizza oven guests milled around the gardens meeting local producers and tasting their food and drink. Despite the continuous rainfall the guests kept smiling with many quips heard being made about the British summer.

The Hampshire Food Festival will begin on Monday 1 July with more than 75 events taking place across the county until Sunday 4 August. A Hampshire Fare pop-up shop is one of the first events to take place. From Tuesday 2 July- Sunday 7 July a temporary shop selling local produce will be at Whiteley Shopping Centre near Fareham.

For the latest festival news visit www.hampshirefare.co.uk/food-festival, follow @HampshireFare on Twitter and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/hampshirefare

The Hampshire Food Festival is only possible thanks to the support of Hampshire County Council, together with Hampshire Fare's Corporate Partners: Ecover UK LTD, Fuller Smith & Turner, Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, Ideal Collection, leepeckGroup, Newsquest (Southern) UK, Sparsholt College, The Southern Co-operative and Wave 105; and Corporate Friends: Apollo Internet Media, Ascot Racecourse Ltd, Business Solent, Handover HR, Guildhall Winchester, The National Trust, New Forest & Hampshire County Show, NFU Mutual, Starfish Creative Design and Upham Brewery. Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Hampshire and Strategic Partners The New Forest Marque.

Hampshire Fare would also like to thank the producers and other supporters of last night's launch: Andwell Brewing co. , Bellows Direct Food Services, Bowman Ales, Carving Magic, Cottonworth Wine, Danebury Vineyard, Durleighmarsh Farm, Flack Manor, Fundamentally fungus, Greenfield Pork, Hampshire Cheeses, Hildon, Hill Farm Juice, Jenkyn Place, Laverstoke Park Farm, Little Bee Bakery, Lyburn Cheese,Naked Jam, Parsonage Farm, Sundowner, The Chutney Company, The Garlic Farm, the Hampshire Chutney Co. , The Hampshire Jam & Chutney company, Upham Brewery, Upton Butchers, Vitacress, Wessex Wild Plum company, Yarty. Special thanks to Lainston House Hotel, Hampshire Farmers markets, The Electric Eye and Sunnyfields Cookery Theatres.