Monday, 1 July 2013

Great British Food Festival

After a couple of weeks of doing nothing but poke obsessively at Fangs (due to current bad mooseness I’m on all hands-on-deck mode in a classic obsessive need to DO ALL THE THINGS) and poke obsessively at work and occasionally poke obsessively at various other projects (which also somewhat explains my not entire presence here or on twitter which may continue for some time), Beloved decided I needed a break and booked tickets for the Great British Food Festival; a nice day out where I could indulge all my foody leanings.

See, he can be a good one when he chooses.

Ok there were hiccoughs. No.1 was his insistence that the festival is pretty close until our Satnav informed us that the site, Shugborough Hall, which is in Staffordshire, aka FREAKING MILES AWAY. This meant getting up at yefuckinggods o’clock on a Sunday morning. (Also worth noting, yes Staffordshire is a pretty pretty county and yes those olde timey hump-back bridges are pretty – but single lane blind humpback bridges allowing 2 way traffic is a whole new form of quaint and picturesque terror).

The Good:
Food! There were so many food stalls with so many things cooked and just begging me to try! Food of all kinds, lots of local produce, lots of different cooking styles, a few odd exotics (kangaroo?). You could walk around buying and eating stuff and trying all the wonderful things. If I had even the slightest complaint, it’s that too many of the stalls didn’t embrace the idea that we want to TRY ALL THE THINGS and needed to sell food in smaller portions

Price! Ok it wasn’t cheap – certainly not the drink (but zomg! Scrumpy slushies! REAL scrumpy! And crushed ice!) – but nor was it price-gougy ridiculous that you often expect at these things (except the lemonade. I don’t care if it is home made from diamond encrusted lemons and limes, £3.50 is silly).

Produce! Ok there was the craft fare clinging to a corner (who goes to those things?) but other than that there were lots of butchers, brewers, wine makers, cheese makers, bakers et al providing a gazillion free samples of truly awesome yumminess; including some amazing infused oils and a rhubarb and Custard cordial. Rhubarb and Custard drink that is just so good. Some of these stalls were good enough that I didn’t just eat samples and buy stuff, but made a note of the company so I can find the nearest supplier (Snowdon cheese? Your whiskey cheese owns my Soul!)

Cooking demonstrations, a local chef gets up on stage and cooks and shows us how; these probably needed a bigger tent because they were popular. We caught 2. The first was really excellent – funny, clever and informative. Ok what he cooked wasn’t complicated, I’ve done it before, but he had ideas and techniques and hints that I hadn’t.

The second one was also pretty fun to watch – but he was far more ambitious and not nearly as good at explaining what he was doing or why (like the first chef would tell us what oil he was using and why). It was hard to keep track since he did 3 dishes simultaneously and he rather liked more obscure ingredients (and don’t you just hate chefs who can’t cook a meal without special braised antelope horn or mermaid pubic hair?) He seemed much more interested in promoting himself – to an extent where I was rolling my eyes and muttering at the guy to get over himself. Still it was good to watch and fun.

The Bad:
There was a shuttle bus taking you from the car park to the site, but it wasn’t clearly labelled. More to the point, no-one was warned that the site is actually an incredible hike over 10 squillion fields. A sign would have been nice “Here is the bus. If you don’t want to take the bus, have 3 hours to waste and are experienced in cross country hikes – by all means walk”.  The walk is especially fun because there are hedges that block vision, and each time you reach one you THINK you’ve made it – and then there’s another field in front of you.

SHADE! It was probably the hottest, sunniest day of the year yesterday* and the only real shade available was in crowded tents displaying things which were even hotter than the outside due to the crush of people. There was a lot of seating (and more places to sprawl on the grass) but it was all in full sunlight. I’m amazed there weren’t people dropping like flies from the sunstroke

Crowds! ZOMG SO MANY PEOPLE!** (To be fair, lots of people but few queues or blockages)

Live Music! The singer was… moderate. And, being of moderate talent, he should really really really leave Adele’s songs alone.

I am willing to declare this day a success, but now I need to sleep for a month. And eat all the things.

*Beloved is currently unable to MOVE from sunburn. And he even, for once, acceded to my demand that he must must must wear suncream. And that there is no way his Scandanavian skin tone was ever, ever going to tan; sunlight was not something his genetic line has ever been exposed to. But even with precautions he’s suffering today. Even I’m feeling warm along my arms

**Which is why I am currently unable to do almost anything because I had a full blown ZOMG CROWDS splodey brain which is bad and I will talk about elsewhere because I don’t want my bad brain chemistry overshadowing what was a good day and a good thing