On Sunday I was in foodie heaven!
The whole day was a SMORGASBORD of tastings and drink samplings, wonderful smells, great conversations with local traders and a real feast for the eyes! I sampled: toffee vodka, damson gin, spinach and ricotta bread, olive oil, peanut butter fudge cake bar, chicken paella. I washed it all down with a fruity Pimms! Not a terribly refined mix all in one go, but nevertheless enormous fun and hugely satisfying!
My highlight was Alana Spencer’s of Narna’s Chocolate wonderful peanut butter fudge cake bar. Seriously, this thing was melt-in-the-mouth peanut buttery smooth! It was so good I could happily eat one of these every night of the week forever. Apparently Heston Blumenthal thinks so too, as Alana and her scrummy bar are appearing on Heston’s Great British Food this Thursday 9pm Channel 4. Go Alana!
Another highlight was the delicious La Patisserie Macaron.
Incidentally, the word macaron troubled me a little at first, as I had always believed the correct spelling (and pronunciation) to be macaroon. However, I stand corrected! Macaron is the true French word, and actually a different species entirely to its less attractive cousin the macaroon. There is a very entertaining definition on this you can read here.
Based in the New Forest, La Patisserie Macaron presents its delicate little macarons like tiny pieces of artwork. It was simply beautiful, almost too pretty to eat!
There were many delicious drink producers at the festival (yes, even the non-alcoholic types!) and one that stood out was Yarty; handmade, artisan cordials using locally sourced fruit from Hampshire and the Southwest. Highlight flavours include rhubarb and ginger, raspberry and English elderflower and lemon and lemon verbena. I’m stocking up for summer drinking!
Particularly exciting was discovering a local English sparkling wine producer right on our doorstop here in Dorset. Langham Wine Estate is set in a beautiful countryside spot with the same soil structure as found in the Champagne region. This sparkling wine is as good as it gets; it’s won awards and even more importantly, my lovely friend Liz loved it! In summer, they are opening for vineyard tours. This is something I have always wanted to do in France, and now I can and within only a half hour drive from home! Book me in!
Next, to garlic.
Garlic is one of my favourite cooking ingredients. I love it in abundance in almost all my cooking. Just the sound and smell of it sizzling in olive oil or butter is enough to make my mouth water. Step forth, The Garlic Farm from the Isle of Wight! This stall was seriously bustling. Although we only arrived in the early afternoon, half the shelves had been cleared. It was easy to see why; gorgeous packaging, garlic-stuffed olives, antipasti cloves for snacking, garlic chutneys, sauces and pestos…the list goes on! Never before has garlic been so appetising, or versatile!
At every corner of the festival was another feast for the eyes (and stomach!) Piles of warm, freshly baked artisan loaves, authentic Italian cheeses and oils, tasty morsels from Christchurch’s Cheese and Alfies and beautiful pies from Ringwood’s Crow Farm Shop.