It’s the highwater mark in Wales’ gourmet calendar.
When it comes to celebrating the tidal rush of great Welsh produce finding its way into some of the finest restaurants around, nowhere puts on a show quite like this charming market town.
Walking through the streets is a Falstaffian tease for the senses or, depending on your viewpoint and waistline – a hellish torture for weightwatchers and calorie counters everywhere.
Happily, the mood is round, glowing, good-humoured and intent on a good time.
Stalls leap from every nook and cranny promising delights worthy of Arabian Nights. Here you will find sellers declaring the advantages of glorious sticky toffee puddings as they battle for attention over the fresh, and oh-so-hot, chilli seller, before the next delights captures the eye.
There is so much to savour in this remarkable festival which straddles the town and its ancient castle, enveloped by the Blorenge and Sugarloaf mountains.
Dodging the crowds and the giant chef stilt walker we made it to the Priory to see Masterchef’s favourite Indian restaurateur Atul Kochhar serve up a lesson in curry making which will live long if only for the teasing , sensuous smells his cooking sent drifting over a spellbound room.
This Michelin-starred genius began at the beginning with a brief history of curry, explaining how wars were fought over the humble nutmeg.
Watching this masterclass made you realise the fundamental problem with the swathe of cooking programmes that dominate our TV channels.
You can’t smell the food.
As Kochhar sizzled his onions, curry leaves and chillies, the ears were the first sense to take note. The gentle bubbling and squeaking of food being fried in coconut oil.
And then the heavenly scent as the coconut milk was added to the sauce for his mackerel curry.
The masterchef spoke, imparting a wisdom that, perhaps, could stand as an alternative motto for the festival: “What is a home if it doesn’t smell of food – especially if it only smells of some citrus air freshener”.
Abergavenny, certainly smells of food – wonderful, glorious, please can I have some more Sir, food.
It is a great reminder of how we could live and how we could eat.
Food and drink created with love by artisans, who take pride in their craft and their produce.
It’s something we all need to remind ourselves of.
This is how food should taste – a galaxy away from the mulch and TV dinners we willingly slop on our plates.
Food should be a pleasure, a glorious celebration of the senses, and Abergavenny, with each and every one of its delicious little stalls, reminds us and our taste buds that pleasure is only a mouthful away.