What food lovers can look forward to in Norfolk in 2021

By Proudly Norfolk Champion, Lauren Cope

A look at the coming year in food would typically cover future trends, hard-to-find ingredients and some mention of edible insects.

But after the year we've had, what we need most is simple reasons to feel cheerful.

And if we've learnt anything in 2020, it's to expect the unexpected. Never to make plans. Even if we've been told by Number 10 there's no way, absolutely no way, they'll be cancelled.

As we adjust to life once again in a national lockdown, we will try to focus on the positives. Food businesses have a rocky few weeks ahead, but if we can weather the storm there's plenty to look forward to.

So here is a handful of reasons for food-lovers in Norfolk and Waveney to feel optimistic about 2021.

Though much was cancelled in 2020, many events - particularly those held outside - were able to go ahead.

Even if the vaccine roll-out continues at speed, plenty of people will still be cautious come summer, meaning al fresco events are likely to remain popular.

Wildcraft Brewery in Buxton will be reopening its field for socially distanced pop-up pub events from May to September, with live music and comedy acts, following the success of similar events in 2020.

And Duration Brewing, in West Acre, is planning events including a beer 'field-to-glass' event out in the Norfolk countryside.

The North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival, which was also cancelled for 2020, is due to return this year.

And a sausage and cider festival is also planning to come to Norwich on June 5 this year, though a venue is yet to be announced.

New openings

Though Norfolk and Waveney's food industry weathered closures as a result of pandemic, innovation also boomed during lockdown, with plenty of new businesses opening.

It ranged from those offering delivery treats from home to market stalls opening bricks and mortar premises in Norwich city centre.

And that's unlikely to slow down in 2021.

Lindi and Shaun Hancke, who run OakVilla gin distillery in Wymondham, are also set to open a restaurant in the space left empty by The Kitchen at the English Whisky Co's St George's distillery near Thetford.

And ClearCompany is inching closer to its goal of opening a street food park in Norwich.

Takeaways and street food

Though restaurants, pubs, bars and cafés will eventually reopen to diners, the demand for takeaways is unlikely to ease anytime soon, particularly for those shielding or with vulnerable loved ones.

Though they can be less profitable, and more time-consuming, to offer, there are likely to be even more options for both takeaways and meal kits.

And while in the first lockdown it was a novelty, the amount of restaurants offering them has now grown, meaning they will have to become more creative to catch your attention.

The Station Smokehouse, in Hoveton, for example, is planning to launch DIY cook-at-home barbecue kits (no, you won't be expected to do the barbecuing).

And the Bird in Hand in Wreningham, inspired by similar ideas up in Scotland, has launched a Lockdown Munchies Box packed with snacks which will change each week.

We'll still have plenty of pop-up vendors taking up residency at pubs - Dough at Deer is set to soon start serving pizzas and po' boy sandwiches from The Reindeer on Dereham Road.

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