As you know, I love food (not to mention a soft spot for James Martin) so you can imagine how excited I was to get tickets for the Essex Festival of Food and Drink last weekend. As well as loving food, I have a passion for fresh, local produce and small artisan businesses so it was lovely to chat to these people about what they do.
The event took place at the lovely Cressing Temple Barns. Worth a look round if you get chance. We found a walled garden just before we left! So we spent several hours strolling around the show, tasting many products, including – artisan cheeses, local wines, quality sausages, hand-made macarons and cakes, herbs and spices and chocolate. I know what you are thinking…..that list doesn’t sound very healthy! I do truly believe in quality over quantity. Some of this stuff is so well produced that I’m more than happy to include it in my diet instead of mass produced, far travelled supermarket options.
Here are some of the stands that caught my ’15 years in nutrition’ eye…
A small nursery located in the North Essex countryside. They had a huge stand outside displaying a huge selection of culinary, medicinal and aromatic herbs. My friend was amazed at how many different varieties of mint they had. All of the plants looked really healthy and there where quite a few that even I hadn’t heard of. It really makes you want to take them home and grow your own.
I was really pleased to see the ‘Love food hate waste’ roadshow. Something close to my heart that Recycle for Essex are supporting.
This was a very busy stand. We had to wait for a while to try a few samples. Fairfield Farm based in the Colne Valley north of Colchester, have been growing potatoes for many years. Their crisps are hand cooked and all other ingredients are sourced from around Essex and Suffolk. They have recently added vegetable crisps (I can highly recommend the parsnip with black pepper and honey) and lentil bites. The lentil bites are high in protein and lower in fat than a standard crisp. Big thanks to Barry who looked after us and sent us off with a few bags to take home.
For me one of the most inspiring stands was PoshLots
They offer a community of private allotments based in the Essex & Hertfordshire Area. They have over 60 exclusive privately rented allotments, which are readily available from Spring 2018 for all growers, be it beginner or advanced. Talking to the guys on the stand, you could quite clearly see how passionate they are about what they are doing. “A new way of thinking, living and embracing nature”.
We met some lovely ladies at Muffin Makery
Their muffins were beautifully presented and they specialise in vegan and ‘free from’ varieties. We sampled a gluten free mango cake which tasted great.
Last one I want to mention is Pimento
This is actually a French product but I love the story behind it. A cross between ginger beer and ginger ale, Pimento was created by a Parisian who had decided to give up alcohol and who was looking for something to replace the burn and intensity of a strong drink. It is a non-alcoholic ginger drink with a chilli kick and packaging that looks just like a European beer. Tastes great too!
In between all the sampling and chatting we squeezed in the James Martin cooking demonstration. What can I say? Highly entertaining….he had everyone in stitches and all of the ladies swooning. (My-self included!) He made gin & tonic battered fish and a cheer went out every time Maldon Sea Salt was mentioned – I can’t get much more local than that! Slightly worried about the huge quantity of butter and double cream James uses in his cooking though! But all in all the Essex Festival of Food and Drink was a great day out.