A long time has been spent writing this post. In fact this post started off life as a post in a third-party piece of blogging software that got added to over the week and then managed to become the victim of a mistimed OS upgrade, thankfully the photos were saved but the text is now long gone, historical bits lost to the God of Unsaved Work that we have all sacrificed bytes of bits and data to at some point in our computer using lives.
A week later, the festival is gone and the organisers are taking a well-earned break and us foodies are left with the taste for food festivals and a summer full of good food. We want more! We are also left with the memories of one of the busiest and bustling years for the Food Festival and certainly a very successful wake of punters left behind.
So Eating Exeter being the website that deals with eating everything in Exeter (good and bad), decided to pay a visit on the Saturday to the festival. Which, really, wasn’t a great idea as it was so so so busy. Record numbers through the gates meant that even getting to see a table or talking to one of the exhibitors was a monumental challenge.
But locally crafted Ale is a great thing, and The Festival Bar is an even better thing. With some liquid courage and the fact the day was getting on and most people were going home, we were about to hit the stalls with some vigour and really enjoyed every minute of it.
We took lots of photos, so a big thanks to Tori Dee of Tori Dee Illustration for being cameraman.
After passing through the gates, £7.50 lighter for it too, we realised we had to eat. The problem with food festivals with which you have an entrance fee, is that on top of the entrance fee you also have to buy food as well so the whole thing does start to become very expensive. But you do pay for the demonstrations, the venue and toilets etc. Once you realise the economics of setting up and running a festival like this, you realise that a fee is necessary to cater for stuff.
Somerset Ducks produce the most amazing Duck Burger which we had with a rich plum sauce. After we managed to grab one of these, it was a quick run to The Festival Bar to sample some of the many local ales on offer. My personal favourite was Hunters Brewery’s Crispy Pig with a light freshing Apple and Honey nose, this was a really refreshing light ale which lends itself to roast pork. Interestingly it was brewed especially for the Crispy Pig Hog Roasters, hence the name and the apple theme.
I spoke to so many people, tasted so many things and really enjoyed the whole experience. I was going to attempt to list everyone I spoke to, but given there are certain things I remember about the day and they have stuck, I am going to focus on the main highlights. First Highlight was Blueberry Brothers and their brownies.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the hottest thing you are likely to pass in to your mouth. The little card next to this said, ‘Go Steady’. I didn’t. I wish I had.
The third highlight was The Cherry Tree. We bought a jar of their Spicey Red Onion Marmalade which we have been enjoying most of the week with the block of Vintage Reserve Cheddar that we also bought from them. Some of the offerings on hand were absolutely delicious including my personal favourite, Chilli and Pineapple Chutney.
Then finally we had Handmade by Moo. More chutney/jam/relishes, but I love them so! This time I bought a mini-jar of Spicey Red Pepper Relish. Perfect size for endulging oneself.
The afternoon was finished off with a half pint of Avocet and a long sunny soak on the grass watching the crowds sink away.
Exeter Food Festival is an event which we are lucky to have in Exeter. It needs supporting, it needs to be promoted and local producers, growers, sellers and farmers all need our support. Supermarket’s do not need our support, although convenience means they do naturally when you have no other choice. I don’t give to charity regularly, but I do make sure I can buy at least something from a local producer now and again.
Soap Box Moment
Today (5th MAY 2013) The BBC reported that nearly one in five families are buying food on credit. This means there is a considerable chunk of the populous who are cutting their food bills back, drawing in the strings and making changes. It is unlikely that most of these people will be able to pay that little more for a locally produced item, and if the rest of the population start looking at seriously making cutbacks as economic hard-times get worse and worse, we could see things get even harder for local produce and independent producers. So events like the Food Festival act as a good reminder that there are people out there slaving away making a living from producing high-quality goods in a tough climate. Support support support.