It was a cold, rainy, miserable day yesterday when my housemate and I rocked up at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire, for the Great Food and Drink Festival run by All About Tourism. We paid £8 each to get in, and thankfully there wasn’t a queue so we could look around pretty quickly. We arrived at about 10.30am and it seemed like a few people are waiting for the rain to clear before heading to the festival.
We had a little look around the real ale bar but it was so cold we opted for a tea instead at one of the little tents. There was a funny sign outside the Ale tent that gave you the chance to create your real ale name. Mine was Waggoners Heavy Cock Wobbler. Please let me know yours in the comments!
My ultimate favourite part of the day was sitting front row for Gregg Wallace! I had to run up and get a picture with him.
Gregg showed us how to make a watercress soup with poached egg, which isn’t my cup of tea, but it looked beautiful. He also showed us how to prepare artichoke, which I’ve never cooked with. I found out that my housemate loves it so I might surprise her now I know how to do it. I had to ask him a couple of questions, the first being how often he gets the ‘buttery biscuit base’ song sung to him. Apparently he gets asked twice a day on Twitter whether he seen it given that it’s been out years! I also asked ‘if you could only cook from one cookbook for the rest of your life what would it be?’ His answer was a book by Claudia Roden, an Egyptian cookbook writer. She wrote a book called the Food of Italy, and her book is apparently incredible, with descriptions of the story of Italy and its people area by area.
When asked which cookbook he would recommend for inexperienced cooks he suggested Nigel slaters Real Fast Food.
When asked what he would do at a dinner party he replied with ‘Vitella Tonnato’ A veal dish with tuna sauce, that although sounds hideous is ‘delicious and delightful’, along with a roast beef or Lamb, a salsa Verdi and boiled potatoes. For desert he would do poached pears flavoured with Rum. He was a pleasure to listen to and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Here are some of my best picks from the festival:
They describe themselves as “down to earth farmers with mud on our boots” and say they’ve been growing organically since 1987, choosing varieties for the flavour and looking after the soil, wildlife and birds. They promise unrivalled flavour and never spray unnecessary chemicals on to their veg. They provide seasonal organic food boxes, with a generous range to choose from. They do an original veg box, with seasonal veg, potatoes, carrots and onions. Or a ‘less roots’ veg box with seasonal veg but without potatoes and light on the root veg. There are options for both vegetarian and meat eaters, with two or three planned meals. All you need to do is buy your meat, and boxes start from just over a tenner. The veg looked amazingly colourful.
I’ve already blogged about these guys, having seen them twice at other food festivals and farmers markets. I bought three of their Moroccan lamb pies, as I didn’t want to take every single one and have other people disappointed. But yet again I wish I’d taken them, I ate one of them last night for my dinner and it was delicious. Massive chance of lamb, in a beautifully seasoned gravy, and a golden pie crust. Yummy.
The Jamaican rum cake was so moist, and the rum flavour was amazingly potent. The chilli chocolate cake packed a little kick, but was so tasty and succulent. The fruitcake was unlike anything I’ve ever tasted, but as I’ve only ever tasted it at weddings I’m probably not the best judge!! Definitely worth a fiver for one of the best cakes I’ve ever eaten.
Based just outside of Newark this guy really knows his chilli! They were displaying a range of Rock salt, everything from curry to smoked to Rosemary to thai was on offer. My favourite was the curry that tasted like Chinese chip shop curry sauce. Every Thursday to Sunday for the next six weeks you can go to the farm and pick your own chilies, I’m definitely going to do this! I Love Padron peppers and it would be amazing to stock up so expect to see me there over the next couple of weeks.
This is a family run business based in the west country, and since 1997 they have been dedicated to producing the highest quality pickles, chutneys and preserves. The products are multi award-winners, and it’s easy to see why. The tropical fruit chutney with toasted pumpkin seeds was absolutely delicious, and I really enjoyed their sweet cider chutney. They also do an amazing passion fruit curd, that is so sweet. I would use it just enhance desserts. I think you could get away with putting a little bit at the bottom of a glass of Prosecco as well!
I bought two little bottles of gin from this stand, a beautiful rhubarb and ginger Liqueur which tasted exactly like the sweets I used to eat as a child, and a subtle elderflower gin that was just beautiful and screamed of summer. These are so smooth you can drink them neat but I’ll probably mix the rhubarb into some lemonade to make it last a little longer! I want to drink it very quickly! The bottles are beautiful, the artwork on the labels are stunning.
Based in Warwickshire their fudge is freshly made on the premises with only the best cream and butter and comes in a multitude of flavours. The Caramel rum & raisin, millionaires slice and Sea Salted caramel were by far my favourite. They were so sweet, and the colours were simply exquisite.
Tony was displaying some beautiful macarons and I bought a pistachio macaron, with a white chocolate ganache and flavoured with pistachio, and a alphoso mango Macaron sandwich with white chocolate ganache and flavoured with mango purée and white rum. The pistachio was my favourite. I just wish they had a violet one also as I would’ve bought the lot. They also had a beautiful range of chocolate that looked incredible. I bought a couple of dark chocolate, filled with a salted almond and caramel.
This Japanese street food van was run by Pete Hewitt, the Masterchef finalist 2015. This food was amazing. I opted for the pork bites which was a pulled pork croquette with Ssam sauce and pickled cucumber. The croquettes were massive, piping hot and so tasty and decorated with sesame seeds. They were deep-fried a lovely colour and really warmed me up in the rain. I also opted for the Tsukune, Japanese minced chicken skewers with a soy sauce glaze and Diacon. The sauce was unbelievable, sticky and sweet and salty. I hope we cross paths again as I don’t want this to be the only time I eat this amazing street food.
I really enjoyed the festival, despite the rain. The also run the Great Notts Show on 22nd to 25th September in the Old Market Square.