I love a food festival – anywhere you can try it and buy it – and especially if it’s on my side of the Thames. The Foodies Festival at Hampton Court didn’t fail to deliver. Whilst the wind may have been whipping up, the rain held off and the sun did peek through the clouds and shine on the hundreds of food lovers enjoying what the various stalls had to offer. From thirty-year-old parmesan to brightly coloured rapeseed oil and of course, not forgetting the skilful salesmen flogging kitchen gadgets.
I have to confess that I succumbed and I have been coveting one for years . I left with a “show special” Bamix, £159.00 with a whole bunch of accessories – I got straight home and made myself cream from semi-skimmed milk – un-bel-ievable. But I’ll show you some of what that handheld wand can do in the kitchen in a later blog.
With quite a lot of alcohol on sale – from rum to ale to cognac – it was a shame I had the car but if I didn’t I could have had a very merry afternoon. The Mojito from Chairman’s Rum packed a fiery punch,without being too sweet, but hit me like a raging bull out of a gate and on an empty stomach probably wasn’t the best move. So then I had to eat.
The Jersey Rock Oysters were delicious – freshly shucked, a squeeze of lemon juice and Tabasco did the job magnificently of a starter.
A great concept – and one I’d not seen before – was a barbecue grill within a table. For those of you who have, maybe I should get out more! The company Cole Henley had some of their eight-seater barbecue tables in a tented restaurant (available from John Lewis but at a hefty £3100). Fired by propane gas, these beauties combine keeping the food hot while the conversation continues to flow. Raw meat and fish is delivered to the table and you cook it the way you like it. We tried the burger and pork sausages and the surf and turf. ‘Steve’s Salad’ (you’ll have seen the bags in Waitrose) provided the sides – a creamy potato salad, crisp green leaves, cherry tomatoes with a balsamic glaze. Simple, fresh and the perfect accompaniment. We ended up talking to complete strangers as condiments were passed from one end of the table to the other so a really sociable way of eating.
If anyone from Cole Henley wants me to “review” one of these little beauties for the summer I do have plenty of room in the garden! Wandering around in a large circle we passed stalls selling sausage-making kits, cupcakes, curry sauces, cheeses, meat and chocolate.The takeaway food stalls ranged from Portobello Market regular Churros to the stalwart noodle, burger and paella bars. The sausage stalls, as ever, looked very popular and there were plenty of complimentary nods after mouthfuls were eaten.
Many had come prepared with picnics and blankets but there could have been a few more seats for those who wanted a breather.
There were a couple of food masterclasses going on – one for food and the other drink – but you had to sign up for those immediately – there was a cheese tasting event being set up as we wandered past and it looked incredibly busy.
In the Chef’s Theatre, Gary Lee who’s senior head chef at The Ivy Restaurant, was taking a packed tent through a series of recipes.
My purse is considerably lighter, my stomach considerably fuller which adds up to a good day in my book.
I leave you with a series of photos, which I hope you enjoy, sorry if it’s you with your mouthful of food – it just captured the essence of the day.
The Festival continues tomorrow but if you can’t make it, they’re taking place all around the UK – the next one is in Bristol, the next London event is in Battersea Park on July 29, 30, 31.
Information and tickets can be obtained through their website – http://www.foodiesfestival.com/