Foodies Festival 2013

Another year, another wonderful day out at the Foodies Festival!

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This is the third year in a row we’ve been to a Foodies Festival! Last year we went to Brighton and in 2011 we went to Hampton Court Palace for the first time and absolutely loved it.

This years second May Bank Holiday (seriously, what was all that about?) loomed quickly and without warning and I completely ran out of time to arrange any fun activities for us. We’re a bit skint at the moment as 90% of our disposable income is whisked away into our Florida savings account every month, so we aren’t left with very much. Obviously I’m not complaining about this as a Floriday is the number 1 thing to save for, in my humble opinion, but it does leave us with very little leeway for doing anything else the rest of the year. (In case you’re wondering, the other 10% of mine goes on ribeye steak and Ben’s probably goes on Strongbow.) So the Bank Holiday was stretching out ahead of me, three looooong days of sunshine, with the slightly depressing knowledge that we had absolutely nothing planned. We managed to scrounge together some friends on the Saturday and had a very enjoyable day but Sunday dawned with nothing planned and I was still keen for some proper Bank Holiday fun. Straight onto Twitter and Facebook it was then and by 10am I’d found what I thought was the perfect solution – Foodie’s Festival was tweeting a link to their ticket website! However, 10am was a smidge late to be getting up, getting ready and driving to London for the day with enough time to make the most of the tickets. Sunday was promising the better weather but Monday was looking a lot more feasible for us so we plumped for that. Two tickets were purchased at a 2 for 1 rate thanks to my extraordinary ability to find cheap tickets for events online and we were all set!

We had a really lovely day at the festival and I was so glad we’d got cheap tickets. The weather was gorgeous, the crowds were at an acceptable level and most importantly, there was an absolute ton of free food. Winner!

I took my new SLR like a real food blogger to document the day. Here are some highlights!

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Car slash bar. Can’t go wrong. Unfortunately I was driving so couldn’t partake in any alcoholic beverages but Benj, bless his soul, took one for the team and forced a few down.

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He looooooved this Dorset Cider. I loved the rudimentary signs!

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One of the many, many cheese tasting stalls. You could tell which ones were most generous with the samples by the amount of people swarming around in the front like milk-starved puppies.

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Raclette! Always wanted to try it but never have! It looked delicious but I just wasn’t feeling the price tag. Anything that involves meat, potato and melted cheese is a sure winner though, no?

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This was the tagine stall. There was a mixture of stalls selling products and offering free samples, versus the actual food vendors who were just selling ready-to-eat food. I loved them both equally, in different ways. We chuckled at this one as it was painfully obvious which of the massive pans of tagine were vegetarian! Bless them for trying 😦 I told Benj to get some because I felt bad for the guys cooking it but he wasn’t feeling it.

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One of the many, many, MANY oil stalls. These were my absolute favourite genre of stall; I could quite happily just eat bread and oil/balsamic vinegar for the rest of my life so I was a happy bunny whenever we stumbled upon one of these. Ben, on the other hand, was pretty much over oil by about 3/4 of the way through the festival and said he might be physically sick if he had any more. Oil fatigue. It happens.

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This was the English Provender Company stall and we got really excited when we realised we actually had some of these chutneys in our fridge! We’ve tried the caramelised onion one and the fig and pear one at Christmas and we loved both, so delicious! Chutney was probably second after oil in terms of market saturation at the festival but again, I’m a big chutney fan so I was all over it.

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We were passing the Baking Theatre at about 12pm and I dragged Benj to a couple of seats after realising the next demonstration involved savoury baked goods! We aren’t really sweet people so I wasn’t expecting to get involved with the Baking Theatre but I could not pass up the chance to get involved with savoury food. Excitement levels were quite high as we waited for it to start and I excitedly whispered to Ben, ‘it’s like Food Network right in front of me!’

Our demonstration was run by a really lovely lady called Christine Videl who owns Made In Provence, a company that sells jams, chutneys and other traditional produce, handmade by local artisans in a small area of Provence near where she grew up. Christine cooked cheesy twists, strawberry and rosemary pavlova and rosemary biscuits in the short time she was in the theatre. I loved listening to her stories and seeing her prepare the food and the smell of the cheesy twists baking was just incredible! I thought the demonstration was really well set up too, with TV screens behind Christine showing her work surface so we didn’t miss anything. I was impressed by how quickly she whipped up the three items and we will probably recreate the cheesy twists at some point; shop-bought puff pastry, gruyere cheese and olive tapenade were all united in about 4 minutes to create a really rather majestic savoury nibble. We were invited to try the recipes Christine created and it was a bit of a bunfight but I managed to snag the last piece. Result!

We ended our day with a little sit down on the lawn near the front entrance of the festival, where they had bands and singers performing on the stage.

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Although I wasn’t technically meant to be spending any money, I really am powerless in the face of posh food and money seems to be no object when it comes to trying new and exciting culinary treats. Here are the goodies we purchased throughout the day, lovingly arranged on our kitchen counter when we got home.

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From left: Chan Cham hot sauce (Ben’s contribution) BLACK TRUFFLE OIL, garlic oil, Joe and Sephs Feta and Italian Herb popcorn (!) and our evening snack, the oils arranged on a plate with olives and pita.

Can you tell from my description which item I was most excited for? Tough, isn’t it!

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I’d never tried truffle oil before but I’d aaaaalways wanted to and I was so excited to see it on one of the oil stalls. I dipped a cube of bread into the little dish and pretty much died and went to heaven. I’d never tried anything like it, what an incredible taste! I bought a tiny bottle of it for Β£5 which I thought was quite reasonable as it will last a long time. I chatted to the guy for a while about the different uses for the oil and he recommended a few drops in mashed potato which sounds fantastic! I do need to buy a potato ricer before I try that though, lumpy mash with truffle oil!? Sacrilege!

We had a fantastic day at the Foodie’s Festival and will no doubt be returning to one of the locations next year. We’re actually off to London tomorrow for the V Delicious Vegetarian exhibition (exciting!) and the FF is on Clapham Common! Tempting to pop in for a few samples but hopefully the V Delicious exhibition will keep us busy πŸ™‚

Foodies Festival – Brighton

One sunny afternoon in May, myself and Ben had the pleasure of attending the 2012 Foodies Festival, on Hove Lawns in Brighton. It was an unseasonably warm day, and strolling around tasting food and drinking wine was pretty much my ideal scenario. We visited the London Foodies Festival last year and had a really lovely day so we were hoping for a repeat experience!

We arrived about 1pm and started exploring all the different stalls and stands. On first glance it seemed to be smaller than the Hampton Court one, but we soon realised it stretched down the Lawns a lot further than we thought and there really was plenty to see.

We immediately saw a stand we wouldn’t be able to bypass. It was probably the loudest stall in the festival, with two Jamaican guys loudly singing and shouting about the product. Which was…rum filled coconuts!! I’m not even joking.

I love Ben’s hair in this photo. Unfortunately it’s not actually this Elvis-esque, it was just fairly windy down on the seafront.

Each coconut cost an eye-wateringly 8 which I was finding quite difficult to come to terms with, until I saw the amount of rum we were given! The guy very cleverly sliced the top off the coconut and twisted the knife so it created a ‘lid.’ He then stuck two straws in it and handed it to us to ‘make room for the rum”! I love this guy! We sipped some of the liquid and it really was the most intense, fresh coconut taste. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to put rum in it because it tasted so amazing! But Ben was having none of that and handed the coconut back to the man who poured a VERY generous slug of rum into it. He asked Ben if that was strong enough and handed it to him, who quick as lighteneing said ‘a bit more wouldn’t hurt!’ Oooh he’s a cheeky boy. So we then got another slug of rum. It was super strong but you could still taste the lovely coconut juice. Great way to kick-off our afternoon of eating and drinking!

We finished our coconut in approximately 30 seconds and began our logical walk around the stalls, planning to see every single one and sample anything we could!

There were a tremendous amount of samples available which was fabulous and we were able to try lots of new and exciting food items we may not have bought or ordered in a restaurant.

One stall we visited no less than 3 times was the lady selling freshly squeezed lemonade. Ben got one first and I scoffed at him because it was non-alcoholic and one of the reasons we went to the Brighton festival rather than the London one was because we could get the train so I could have a drink! However, the sun was beating down on us, it was absolutely boiling and my need for liquid refreshment was becoming a regular thing. So having tried Ben’s lemonade and experiencing the wonder for myself, I doubled back and bought one. And then another one an hour later. The lady had an old-fashioned lemonade press and I chatted to her for a while about where she got it from as I decided I needed one in my life! Unfortunately it seems she had it specially made and shipped over from America so I’m guessing it’s not in our price range. The lemonade was fantastic though, consisting of freshly squeezed lemons, sugar syrup and ice. Amazing!

This stall was selling the most amazing combo salad dressing / marinade / dipping sauces! We dipped some french bread into a couple of the varieties and immediately placed an order for both bottles! I bought the lemon and black pepper and Ben got lime and ginger. I’ve used the lemon and black pepper one as a marinade on barbecued chicken and it was delicious. Good buy!

Now, this next stall was one of the highlights of the day. It was a guy called Pete who specialises in hot chilli sauces. Hence, Chill Pepper Pete. Genius!

Pete was flaunting his wares and offering the crowd samples of the various levels of hot sauce. Ben is a bit of a chilli-head and if there is the option to add spice to an edible item, he will take it. He went for the hottest sauce, ‘Devils Blood.’

This was moments before it all kicked off. I’ve never seen him react so violently, or so quickly! His face immediately went a concerning shade of maroon and his eyes started watering profusely. I was quite alarmed and guided us away from the chilli sauce stall and over to a free spot of grass where he could regain his composure. Trouble was, the chilli sauce was clearly still reacting quite dramatically with his body and he didn’t fully recover until a good half hour later! He kept saying ‘my tongue is still on fire. still, on fire.’ Bless!

He needed something to soothe his burning face and an ice cold sorbet seemed like it would do the trick. He got a scoop of raspberry and I was very impressed as it matched the shade of my nail varnish perfectly! Which warranted a photo, obviously. Girls, eh!?

We finished up our stroll around the stalls, picking up samples here and there, notably this little lovely which was a cheese and spinach empanada! Delicious.

We then decided to make the effort and check out the star of the day, Mr Lloyd Grossman himself, who was doing cooking demonstrations throughout the day in a marquee in the middle of the festival. We tried to book seats for the event when the booth opened at 1pm but the queue was snaking round back through the entrance so we left it. When we walked past just before the demonstration was due to start, there were free seats! Score! I was so excited to see the legend that is Lloyd Grossman that I took a ton of photos just of him, before the cooking had even started. I will share just one, for your viewing pleasure. He was wearing a stunning hat!

The cooking was done by what seemed to be Lloyds right-hand man, a lovely guy who was genuinly passionate about Lloyd’s range of supermarket products. He cooked spinach and ricotto gnocci and mushroom risotto, both of which we got to taste at the end and were declared delicious!

As the cooking demonstration came to an end we made our way out of the marquee and back to the stage to check out what was happening. As we got closer I nearly wet myself as I could see a figure on the stage who had the potential to make this Foodies Festival one of the best days of 2012!

MARILYN MONROE!!

Or, a lady who looked a LOT like her and was an excellent all-round performer. She sang, she danced, she chatted with the crowd and got everyone singing along. She was brilliant! She was also joined on-stage by none other than ELVIS PRESLEY who performed some songs with her and also did his own set. The atmosphere was brilliant and I was absolutely loving life – if you haven’t guessed I absolutely love all things Elvis and Marilyn so it was such a treat to see these two tribute acts…especially when I wasn’t expecting to!

We grabbed some snacks and drinks and settled down to watch the show.

Strawberry and Lime cider! A must-have.

This was Ben’s snack of choice! A delicious grilled halloumi salad from a stall specialising in exciting and unusual salad combos. Β The lovely recycled cardboard box was stuffed with a plethora of yummies including edamame, watermelon, cous cous and seeds. He really enjoyed this and it was the perfect antidote to his hot-sauce hangover.

I was absolutely stuffed from all the nibbling and lemonade-downing I’d been doing so opted for a lighter choice – satay chicken skewers. Anything that is essentially marinated in peanut butter is a winner in my book so these went down a treat.

This was our view! It was such a gorgeous day, we were very lucky.

Finally, the cherry on the top of my day…I got to meet Marilyn!!

Perfect summers day – great food, great drink and fabulous entertainment. We will definitely be attending the Foodies Festival again next year!

Foodies Festival

On May Bank Holiday Monday this year, my boyfriend and I were kindly gifted with free tickets for the Foodies Festival at Hampton Court in London. We decided to go in spite of the predictably awful Bank Holiday weather forecast and were so glad we did as it turned out to be a surprisingly glorious hot and sunny day!

We Β were hoping there was going to be a lot of free tasting opportunities and we really were not disappointed. We ate an obscene amount of food this day and I am almost ashamed to post about it! Almost.

So, our day started by a browse through the Harvey Nichols tent which held lots of stalls all offering different kinds of foods. First stop was the cupcake stall where I went a little snap-happy due to the extreme cuteness of the sweets!

Mmmm, delicious right? I wasn’t feeling the sweet at that moment though and fancied something savoury to start with so I said I’d go back and buy one later…but I never did! Hate when that happens.

We’d already tried quite a few samples in the Harvey Nicks tent including some shots of flavoured alcoholic espresso drinks which were lovely but I needed something more substantial! So, we went in search of a tasty savoury treat for me to kickstart my eating. There was a chinese stall selling snack items for a bargainous Β£1.00 each so I got one chicken satay stick with extra satay sauce on the side, and one BBQ pork skewer.

These were both really lovely but the chicken had the edge as the added satay sauce was amazing! The pork could have used a sauce of its own as it was a bit dry…but I forced it down!

Pretty much straight after this we passed another Chinese stall and I just couldn’t resist getting another snack! This time we got four vegetarian spring rolls to share.

These were really good too with a crispy, flaky outside and a hot, mild filling of crunchy vegetables and beansprouts. We could choose two dipping sauces and I chose the satay sauce again while Ben chose sweet chilli. We paused for a second on the grass to eat our little snack, taking in the sights and sounds of what was turning out to be a fabulous day!

We continued around the stalls, trying each and every free sample we could get our hands on. Some were a lot more generous than others and we found a few stalls that we repeated due to their portion sizes and yumminess! We were particularly keen on the stalls that were selling different kinds of chutneys and pickles as they were generous with their samples and it was so fun to pile all these flavours of chutneys onto crackers and bread, not really knowing how it was going to taste! I had a couple of bad experiences with mega spicy stuff but on the whole it was tasty!

By this time I was ready for some proper lunch so we headed over to some of the stalls on the far end of the field that had caught our interest earlier.

To start with I got a large battered shrimp (Β£1) and some crispy Chinese style chicken (Β£3) from the Chinese stall. The shrimp was AMAZING, hot and fresh with a drizzle of sweet and sour sauce on, delish! The chicken however…not so much. I think it had been cooked a while earlier because it was so dry and tasteless…ergh. I was really disappointed and only ate a couple pieces. So, I had to cheer myself up with something else!

 

To cheer myself up, I headed over to the sushi stall we had passed earlier and got a serving of Avocado Rolls which were really good and definately helped improve my mood after the dry chicken!

 

While I was messing about with a 3 course meal, Ben was busy ordering a falafal platter from one of the stalls that we’d noticed had a lot of activity around it. And, he was very pleased with his purchase! He ended up getting a huge plate of falafal with loads of crunchy veggies, thick, flavourful tomato sauce and a few pieces of flatbreads on top. I think this was all for Β£3.50, such a bargain!

Throughout the day, Ben was also sampling the various alcoholic delights that were abound in the festival. He took a shine to the awesome Mojito stand that was run by two guys in a converted truck/stall with reggae music blaring out – easily the coolest stall that day!

The mojitos weren’t cheap, but hey, you get what you pay for and he got a lot of bang for his buck in terms of alcohol – the mojito was mega strong!

After making sure we’d checked and double checked (and triple checked!) all the stands, we began to make our way out of the festival (getting briefly annoyed as I walked past the sushi stall to the sounds of “half price sushi!” grrr) and back to the car, just as the heavens opened on what had been a perfect summers day. A lovely way to spend a sunny Bank Holiday, we will definitely be attending the next Foodies Festival!