MGG and I had a fantastic day out at the East Midlands Food Festival, and it was great to see that after what I thought was a quiet year last year, it was back on form this year. In fact, I would go as far as to say this is the best one so far. Of course, the sunshine helped, but generally great atmosphere and, importantly for those partaking, plenty of visitors.
It was good to see familiar faces, and to meet some new ones too. We went home with heavy bags, and the kitchen has got lots of goodies to be working our way through! Here’s what we enjoyed:
* Shaw Meats– I hope that the 7 hours it took to drive down from Cumbria proves to be worth it, as I am really looking forward to eating the products! I’ve got some amazing looking black pudding, and some parma style venison, which I’m really looking forward to trying. The fridge also has a strong smell of paprika, as we have some chorizo and also the Cumbrian Firecrackers to spice up an Autumn night.
* I tasted quite a lot of different teas from Revolution Teas (who again had had a horrid journey up at 6 hours!). The packaging is lovely, but this is not style over substance, as the teas are good too, even for this confirmed lover of a good cup of builders! I came away with the White Pomegranate Tea, which was fruity and refreshing, and the Southern Mint Herbal Tea, which is incredibly aromatic, and using Egyptian mint. The sampler single serves are very cute, and would make great stocking fillers, and also the little T-mini perfect for on the go travelling tea drinkers.
*Get there early if you want to taste the goodies from Hambleton’s Bakery, as by 12.30 they were nearly sold out during our visit. We’ve got some great muffins to toast over the fire, and some Honey and Nut Bread, which I’m told is perfect with cheese. Which is lucky, as Sparkenhoe were there too!
* We’ve had a lot of chillis growing this year, but not entirely successfully. Well, now we’ve got some plant feed from the Peperoncino stand, so hopefully better luck next year. And we’ve got Red Cherry peppers to try growing too. But they’re not just about the seeds, their sauces are worth investigating too.
* Whilst we’re regular customers of Riverford, I was interested in the meat boxes from Well Hung Meat. Starting at £79, this fantastic organic butchery will deliver a selection of great organic meat, and it will not only give you the basis for some great meals, but also save you more than the cost of the box. Definitely thinking of giving this a go.
* I may have mentioned before that I’m quite partial to a gin, and I quite enjoyed the Edinburgh Gin from the Spencerfield Spirit Co. Certainly, a sample gin and tonic made the rest of the show quite pleasantly hazy, but this is also a really nice, clean tasting gin. I can feel a tasting coming up against the SW4.
* The choices for lunch this year were overwhelming, but MGG chose pizza from Hot Rocks Artisan Pizza. Great choice, and also never seen a wood fired pizza oven in the back of a horse trailer before. But it turned out fantastic pizzas, and, of course being wood fired, incredibly quickly. Book them for events, but book quick. I heard them say that they are already getting booked up for next year.
I think if you’re going tomorrow, you’ll need wellies, but please get out there and support these great businesses and others besides.