York’s annual food jamboree kicks off today. MAXINE GORDON has the highlights.

WHETHER your passion is for curry or chocolate, coffee or chardonnay – the York Festival of Food and Drink has something to tempt all tastebuds.

Now in its 13th year, the festival continues to go from strength to strength, with a jam-packed programme that attracts visitors and residents alike and runs from today until next Sunday.

Each year the festival has a theme, and this year’s mantra is Crude Food. In a reflection of these credit crunching times, festival organisers are highlighting ways in which we can eat well without forking out too much.

So look out for events such as foraging for free fare and cooking with cheap cuts of meat.

Firm favourites such as the Gurkha Curry event and wine tastings sit next to new arrivals such as the Cooking With Coffee demonstration in the Parliament Street marquee at noon on Tuesday.

Hosted by Dean Court Hotel head chef Valerie Storer and Sadie Hopkins, owner of York Coffee Emporium, the pair will show how to use coffee as a flavouring in desserts and also in savoury meals.

French-born Valerie said: “Coffee is very important to the French – as a drink and as an ingredient in cooking. Mixed with certain spices it adds a rich dimension to the taste of many meals.”

Unusual flavour combinations will be on the menu too at Treasurer’s House which is running SconeFest! during the festival. Visitors to the tearooms in Minster Yard – open every day except Friday – can savour an array of weird and wonderful scones such as chocolate chilli, carrot and ginger with honey, horseradish and roast beef and Yorkshire Lavender.

There will even be a Marmite scone with Yorkshire potted cheese to try and white chocolate scone with raspberry jam. Visitors can even try one with a Roman twist: honey, sunflower seed and fig.

People are also invited to invent a new flavour of scone with the winning entry making its way on to the tearooms’ menu and the winner receiving a cream tea for two. SconeFest! will also appear in the main festival market place on Sunday.

In keeping with the festival theme, chef Ash Metcalfe will be turning store cupboard essentials and leftovers into delicious dishes as part of the Love Food, Hate Waste campaign run by York and North Yorkshire Waste Partnership.

The campaign aims to reduce the amount of food that people throw away.

Ash said: “The food and drink festival is a great place to highlight some of the tips that we use professionally to make sure we get the most from food ingredients in all recipes. Everyone loves food in some shape or form and it really is nice to be able to demonstrate how we can be passionate about using leftovers.”

Among the dishes Ash will prepare in Parliament Street every day from 10am-11am from Thursday to next Sunday will be Spanish tortilla, banana and sour cream pancakes, chicken, carrot and mint soup and smoked salmon paté.