Tuesday, 13 May 2014
Marlborough Food and Drink Festival 2014
There are plenty of food festivals in the South of England which start happening in spring and last all the way up until Autumn. I have discovered these festivals long ago, and look forward to summer time with an aggravated anticipation because we all know I love good food, drink and a friendly atmosphere.
I attended the Marlborough Food and Drink Festival which took place on the 10th and 11th May which is only a stone throw away from where I live - would be a crime to miss it really. Some food festivals, like this one, charge a small admission fee which happened to be £7 for the Marlborough Food and Drink Festival, and you gain entry to a whole day of activities based around delicious foods, wine tasting and shopping gazebos.
We turned up rather early to this fest as depending on location parking can be a problem - not this time! The festival opened at 10 and we arrived just after, so we go a good chance to walk around the parameters before it got ridiculously busy. The Marlborough Food and Drink Festival was located on the Marlborough Common, common sense would have it for people to ideally bring their wellies at this time of the year when the UK weather is simply unpredictable, but I opted for brogues which at the time was a 'sensible' idea. By about midday after several quick showers the ground turned to something reminiscent of a mini swamp and the staff threw hay on the floors to stop the mud from taking over, which in my eyes only gave the atmosphere a more rustic feel, however I will just start the post with advising you that any festival based on a field before June/July time will require appropriate footwear like wellies or boots you are comfortable getting muddy.
We stopped off at the Bush Farm Catering stall where me and Liam came across a Bison Burger and if that doesn’t make you drool (unless you’re a vegetarian who generally doesn’t get excited by meat) then I’m not quite sure what will. The burger was so meaty and flavoursome – imagine beef on acid, soft and bulky in texture and so, so delicious. This burger didn’t need much on it except for the salad and perhaps a sauce of your choice, but not so much that it drowns the taste of the bison.
We then proceeded to the large tent where all the food shopping took place – it hosted a large variety of organic produce from both local and national retailers, authentic foods from countries like USA, France and India and even some extras like posh knives for the kitchen or handmade pottery. Quick tip: take a lot of cash. These festivals hardly ever accept card so make sure you have enough cash to eat and drink with, and also take home some goodies from your day.
Some stalls have really caught my eye like the rapeseed oil products which is a brilliant alternative to olive oil and tastes delicious when flavoured with lemon, chilli or smoky flavour; the variety of cheese stalls which included rustic, aged cheeses like Parmesan and blue cheese as well as new and adventurous flavours like curry (I know, whaaat! But it kinda worked); the anything-you-could-ever-want salami stalls where I picked up the most amazing French saucisse (which was eaten within less than an hour in my household); the Kernow chocolates where I discovered SEA SALT AND CARAMEL which is amazing and I want to eat so much of it; Pyman Pates were another favourite of mine and we bought a duck and cognac beauty and most of all I loved the Truffle Hunter stand where we bought a black truffle and porcini salsa and a white truffle butter. Oh my jeez the lord – those two are delicious, like so delicious that I just can’t.
After the shops, where you can conveniently leave the items you’ve bought and pick them up before you leave the food festival, we decided to grab a drink from one of the cider stands. At the far end of the festival, we came across an area with a live band and several refreshment marquees and decided to go for a still organic cider – make mine a medium dry. By this point, you will naturally be hungry again due to all the excitement of food purchasing and also to line the stomach before trialling several ciders and wines, so it’s advisable to grab some munch. Liam and I halved a delicious BBQ pulled pork burger from the stand near our bench and also a zebra burger from the Exotic Meats company! So zebra meat is quite tough and herby – there was a spicy sauce and salad to go with it and I can’t help but feel like maybe the spicy sauce as there to add a little bit of flavour.
We ended the day by visiting one of the free wine tastings which happened to be the Bordeaux Wine talk presented by Laura Clay where we learnt that Bordeaux doesn’t HAVE to be red or expensive! Bordeaux produces white, rose and desert wine among some of the smoky, dry flavours of its renowned red wines.
The Marlborough Food Festival also hosted a number of chef demonstrations in the main marquee, however I’d recommend that if you want to see one of those talks you've got to write down the time and get there at least 15 minutes before the demonstration starts.
Although the Great British weather was true to form and we had showers along with wind strong enough to carry a small child, there was sunny spells on the Saturday and the fantastic food, drinks and atmosphere really made up for any lack of decent weather. If you guys know of any food or drink festivals happening around the south for me to visit this summer, comment in the box below!