Local Food Festivals
Last week I spent Saturday at the East Midlands Food and Drink Festival at Brooksby Hall near Melton Mowbray. This is the fourth year in a row that I have attended this event and it never disappoints. Though probably not the ideal day out for vegetarians – there’s always an abundance of unusual and / or organic meats – there’s something to suit every palate and enough free tastings to more than makeup for the entrance charge (£7.50 this year).
I am a self-confessed “foodie”, I like nothing better than experimenting with unusual ingredients, trying new foods and visiting restaurants, so food festivals are heaven for me. A day of wandering around, taking in the delicious smells, trying flavoured oils, chutneys, an astounding variety of cheeses and washing it all down with wines, fruit-infused gins and speciality teas always captures my imagination and in the weeks following I tend to pile on the pounds as I get creative in my kitchen. I am a firm believer in supporting local produce and businesses and thus, the companies listed here are Leicestershire-based, but they all have an online presence and may deliver further afield.
This year, several products caught my eye and my appetite, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to anyone.
Bobby’s Restaurant – http://www.eatatbobbys.co.uk
Delicious Indian vegetarian food, the amazing smells coming from this stall enticed me upon arrival, having skipped breakfast in favour of leaving home early. (Not something I would ever recommend). £4.50 later and whilst the boyfriend and our housemate tucked into their burgers, I feasted on Paneer and peppers in a deliciously sweet, spicy sauce (sadly the name of which escapes me now) and a tasty Puri to mop up the remains with. The balance of flavours was perfect and I will be certainly be booking a table next time I have cause to be in Leicester.
Peppercorn Catering Cupcakes – http://www.peppercorncatering.co.uk
After my slightly unorthodox curry breakfast, I craved something sweet, so when we passed a stall piled high with exquisite cupcakes I was unable to resist! I bought a rose cupcake, described on their website as “A sumptuous sweet sponge topped
with white chocolate frosting” and it certainly did not disappoint. A moist, sweet almost creamy-tasting sponge with just the right amount of vanilla, with a rich yet deliciously light topping that complemented it beautifully, I was in cupcake heaven! I can also confirm that they really are as beautiful in real life as the website photos suggest. My housemate, a man who does not mince his words, described the chocolate ones as “almost chocolate mousse-like and well worth the money”. Praise indeed coming from a man who when faced with most foodstuffs, declares them ok, but not as good as his mother’s. Next time I have something to celebrate, I’m ordering a box of 12 just for me!
Tipsy Fruit Gins – http://www.tipsage.co.uk
I get a lot of comments for my love of gin and tonics. People tend to associate the drink with depressed housewives and certain Eastenders characters, but I originally started drinking it because I enjoyed the way the tonic glowed under UV light.
Tipsage take gin to a whole new level of deliciousness. Their gin liqueurs are infused with fruit and really take on the flavours. I am a huge fan of their Damson gin in particular, I find it’s rich sweetness with a slightly tart edge perfect for an after-dinner tipple. This year however, I purchased a bottle of their new product – Lime Vodka. I am exceedingly impressed. On it’s own it’s tangy and invigorating to sip, and is perfect with one cube of ice. Mixed with tonic however, it tastes like the best limeade in the world, sweet enough to be easy to drink, sharp enough to remind you to drink slowly – the perfect summer drink even though it’s a cold, dark autumn day in the UK right now.
I would recommend food festivals as the perfect day out to anyone who sees food as something to be savoured and enjoyed. Sometimes in this age of supermarkets full of low-price food imported from all over the world, we forget how many delicious treats are created and can be bought right on our doorsteps.
What’s your favourite local foodie treat?