The Real Food Festival was a 4-day food heaven extravaganza. It was better than I hoped it would be. Imagine Borough Market but a whole lot bigger! In fact, a selection of Borough Market producers were there, along with hundreds of others from around the UK. The best thing about our visit was the opportunity to talk to like minded people – people who love good food to the same degree and are willing to talk about it for ages. I found a place where you don’t have to hold back on the food-talk for fear of people getting bored.
The variety and quality of the produce was outstanding and as someone has written on the graffiti board (top photo), ‘I left with my own body weight in food.’ Well, not quite, but we did buy a lot, it was hard to resist. A highlight was definitely the donkey salami, yes – donkey! The seller was so excited when we tried it and liked it that he said, ‘yes! proper human beings!’ Proper human beings eat donkey – now you know. The flavour is strong and it tastes like donkey (bear with me), it’s like you always knew what it would taste like – it tastes a bit like the smell of a donkey but in a nice way.
We also picked up some Atlantic sea lettuce (great for my new adventure with sea vegetables) and some exciting spices. The long peppers (they are catkins) in the left of the photo are apparently like black pepper, you crush them up and they are stronger and more aromatic. We also nabbed some dried limes (add to soups or curries) and a Japanese seasoning called Schichimi Togarashi which contains among other things, chilli, sansho, nori, orange and sesame (here’s where you can get it).
We ate well as we browsed too, samples galore. To settle our rather sensitive stomachs (too much wine), an olive, tomato, vegetable-stuffed bread – like a calzone but shaped like a pizza slice (From DeGustibus). I also could not resist a scotch egg – the best I have ever tasted. The seller (I wish I had the name) said that his wife made them. She is a very talented lady and he is a very lucky man. We also treated ourselves to some oysters, duchy specials. They were gigantic! The lady selling them was lovely too, recommending them as a first class hangover cure. We can reveal that she is correct. In her words, ‘it has the opposite effect than you expect, they completely refresh your mouth.’ I also nabbed a ‘liver cure’ juice – beetroot, apple and lime, just to make sure. The earthy flavour of beetroot was just right.
The garlic relishes and mayo are from The Garlic Farm on The Isle of Wight. We chose a ‘Vampire Relish’, a gift for a friend, a rhubarb-garlic chutney which is totally inspired and some ever-reliable garlic mayo. So, now for the cheeses. We chose a raw goat’s milk cheese which was soft but dense – creamy and really goaty with a peppery finish. As it warmed up on arrival back home, it started to ooze slightly at the bottom which pleased me immensely. The unpasteurised ewe’s milk cheese was strong, nutty and creamy and had a sharpness, a bit like that of a blue cheese. It was fantastic with the rhubarb chutney.
We ate a bit of everything for dinner last night, tonight and most likely tomorrow too. I think some of the best meals are made in this way, lots of bits and bobs all with a story and some good memories behind them.