It takes a lot for me to even consider camping. The promise of a huge variety of great food, not to mention demonstrations by some of the greats of the food world was pretty much what it was going to take. Which is how I found myself lugging a tent across a ploughed field in Suffolk on Friday afternoon, ready for Harvest at Jimmy’s.
Now that I’ve had a night back in my own bed, and lots of running hot water to hand, then I’m probably in the right place to think about the many highlights of the weekend. No particular order, but these were what made the privations of camping worthwhile!
* Best demo – for me, this is really hard to pick, so I’m going with two. Paul A. Young was fantastic on the main kitchen stage, really engaging, and two fantastic recipes. His brownie with caramelised apple and Wensleydale sounded incredible, inventive, and delicious, but sadly I didn’t move quickly enough to get a taste. Will be trying to recreate, and to see if his secret ingredient in brownies really does work. Then there was Edd Kimber’s demo in the Chefs Unplugged tent, which was about as different in terms of atmosphere, as would guess there were less than 30 of us (including Paul A. Young and Tom Kerridge) and we got in there to taste the sour cherry and chocolate cookies. Recipe for which you can find in his book, just out last week.
* Best breakfast – a choice to be made here, given that we had breakfast in the restaurant at the farm shop, which meant access to proper loos and running hot water. But I’d have to go with breakfast from Climpson & Sons. Firstly, their bacon was properly cooked and crispy, whereas in the restaurant it looked like it had been done in a steam oven. Bit poor really, when you consider one lot was cooking outside. Their scrambled eggs were perfect, no microwave involved there, and the halloumi and mushroom veggie version was delicious. Bircher muesli was incredibly tasty, and filling, all topped off by a perfect flat white. Worth every penny.
* Best for kids, food orientated – whilst MGG enjoyed making quesadillas at the Kitchen Academy (although came back indignant at their use of Tesco tortilla wraps, as any foodie kid might), what she loved most was Stefan Gates’ demo on the main stage. How can you compete with bum sandwiches, freezing cheese and exploding custard powder?
* Most unusual brownie – Cafe Môr’s beach brownie with laver bread, which they recommended to Paul A. Young after the conversation about salt bringing out the taste of the chocolate. Thankfully, it did, as opposed to just bringing out the taste of seaweed. Congrats to the team there as well for winning the British Street Food Award.
* Best ice cream, ever – definitely goes to Ginger’s Comfort Emporium. I thought Wheelbirks was good, but this was even better, even creamier. This Monkey’s Gone to Heaven is not only a great name but a great blend of roasted banana, salted caramel and peanuts. Dark and Stormy had a great lime zest kick to it (not to mention the rum) and Marmalade and Toast ice cream is the new way to eat those items.
* Best for foragers – definitely the foraging walks with the team from Food Safari. Although MGG only came back full of how to make a pea shooter from elder branches. Still, useful life skill!
* Most welcome carbs – goes to Chicken Teriyaki noodles from Notso Sushi, great post tent erecting recovery food!
* Biggest sound letdown of the weekend – whoever miked up Yotam Ottolenghi needed to come stand out front. Incredibly hard to hear him, and would think from the welcome from the crowd this was someone that everyone was really looking forward to seeing. We’d have just liked to have been able to hear him properly as well. That, and taste the food!
* Biggest tip for future Great British Bake Off contestants – Mary Berry is a sucker for white chocolate, as is her husband. She hides it in a tin marked dog food at home. Now he knows.
So, lots of great stuff went on, and apparently there was some music too. I don’t think anyone was impressed at all with the camping, the lack of water pipes, not to mention the water running out in the showers. Perhaps that’s normal for festivals, I wouldn’t know, but those with a lot more experiences than me seemed to think not. Which is not great given this is not the first year it has run. But now I’m home, I can forget those things.
My biggest thanks of the weekend though goes to the kindness of strangers, particularly to Eamonn who came to my rescue when it was just MGG and I to put up the tent. Without him, it would have taken a whole lot longer, and for that help I am forever grateful.
Going next year? Possibly, but only if I don’t have to camp!