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!

Southbank Centre Real Food Market

We were in London the weekend just gone for a friends birthday and stumbled on this amazing little food market while wandering around Waterloo station before catching our train home.

The market is just outside the station on the way to South Bank and we were so surprised to see it! It was really busy when we visited (about 12.30pm on Saturday) and we immediately jumped in to start exploring the stalls. It needs to be mentioned that we were both pretty hungover after taking full advantage of London’s generous drinking opportunities and the discovery of a food market was perhaps more enthusiastically received than it would usually have been.

Grow your own mushrooms! Amazing!

After sampling some rich, aged balsamic vinegar and various types of cheese and bread, we stumbled on this wondrous sight – Arancini Brothers. I have seen arancini on so many food blogs recently but I’d never had the chance to try them so I was beyond excited to see this stall! For those that don’t know, arancini = fried risotto balls. Yum!

You can see the arancini waiting to be fried to dizzyingly crisp heights on the right here –

Ben was overjoyed by the prospects of this stall and immediately gave the guy (an Arancini brother?) his order – two arancini in a salad wrap. The guy set about making his wrap and we watched in stomach-growling fascination.

For an extremely reasonable Β£3.50 Ben got a deliciously fresh wrap crammed with two arancini and accompaniments of cucumber, tomato, sliced apple, crispy onions, chilli tomato chutney and homemade garlic mayonnaise. Upon receiving the wrap he clutched it to his bosom, visably drooling as I dithered about what to order for myself. I decided to just go for the two arancini on their own, which came with the tomato chutney and garlic mayo for an even more reasonable Β£1.50. They came very thoughtfully presented in a little bamboo dish with generous lobs of the sauces and a wooden fork for easy eating, always a bonus in my eyes. We thanked the Brother profusely and scampered over to a nearby table to stifle our hungover stomach lurches with our snacks.

Arancini Brothers arancini are seriously good. They were hot throughout; crispy on the outside and sticky and soft in the middle. Each ball had a generous amount of breadcrumbs on the outside, providing a perfect contrast to the gooey cheese in the centre which was flavoured with flecks of spring onion, garlic and chilli. Both the chilli chutney and garlic mayo were delicious too and to be honest toward the end I was using the arancini more as a vessel to get the sauces into my mouth. Mmmm. Ben’s wrap was gone in a matter of minutes and he announced in a sorrowful voice that he wished he’d got the large, which came with 4 arancini. We have learnt from our mistakes and will be ordering much higher quantities next time.

We seriously debated going back and buying additional fried items but we had a train to catch and wanted to see what wonders the rest of the market held.

This focaccia looked and smelled incredible. We were offered a lot of samples from the various stalls as we wandered round, the atmosphere was really friendly and jovial and you could tell all the stall owners were really passionate about their food. Always great to see!

This garlic that made up this paste was roasted for a full 5 hours! I tried a sample and the flavour was so intense, I felt like I needed a sit-down! I really love garlic and I wish I’d bought a jar, we’ll have to go back so I can.

Once I’d eaten my sample of slow roasted garlic it was unfortunately time to head back to the hustle and bustle of Waterloo Station. I felt like we had travelled miles away when we were wandering around the market; the enticing smells, relaxed atmosphere and sounds of laughter and music made me forget I was in Central London and for once, the wait for a train was a pleasure rather than a chore πŸ™‚

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!