The Real Food Festival

You may be aware that I also blog for The Real Food Festival website where I’ve been posting about some of the producers. The 2009 festival may be over but the blog will keep running, although now it will be more recipe focused. I’ll love you forever with a cherry on top if you take a look now and again. There will be a larger set of pictures on the RFF blog soon but for now here’s my favourite bits.

The prize for the most animated market stall most definitely goes to the guys at Gaby’s Hot Stuff. Top marks for the music, dancing and banter. Their chilli sauce (below) is certainly ‘lively’ on the palate too. My friend and I dived in enthusiastically. Silly really, considering we should have learned our lesson the day before when we literally laughed in the face of a man who asked if we could ‘take the heat’. Turns out we couldn’t. It nearly blew our heads off. Eyes watered, tongues burned and there was sucking of air through teeth.

We later roped our mate into trying it too, knowing full well what he was in for but allowing him to carry on for our own entertainment. The look on his face afterwards though filled us both with remorse as we re-lived the pain vicariously. He left us to find his fiancée soon afterwards.

I did buy a bottle of the super strength stuff even though it packs a hefty punch, because it also has the most incredible fruity scotch bonnet flavour. I actually bought it for my boyfriend but I am the one who’s become addicted. I’ve eaten it with eggs, chips and I might as well admit that last night, I actually ripped the corner off a loaf of bread, just so I would have something to dunk in it to get my fix. If you’ve got a problem with chilli sauce like me, then how about trying this little game for jinks, courtesy of the chilli men themselves; next time you are feeling the burn, try putting the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth and holding it for as long as possible. When you really can’t take it any more, release and savour the ensuing endorphin rush you chilli freak.

Now on the hunt for something to cool and soothe, we turned our attention to oysters. These Jersey Oysters were an irresistible bargain at a mere 50p each, which is why the guys above were constantly opening them, poor shuckers (sorry). I promptly ordered six and waved goodbye to the fire plus the last lingering effects of over-indulgence the night before. Oysters are one of the best hangover cures going in my opinion, just make sure you get the most of their delicious sea flavour by giving them a good ol’ chew.

Cheese is also an excellent soother of palate and among the many on offer I found the Laverstoke Park Farm fresh buffalo mozzarella the most interesting. Made in Hampshire, it has an excellent flavour which kind of explodes in your mouth in a milky burst. Slightly unusual in texture, it is firm and almost grainy although not unpleasantly so.

I had to stop by DeGustibus too – for the entertainment as much as the bread. The guys here are super friendly and always up for a bit of banter. Take Jim (above) for example – if he’s not waxing lyrical about the latest loaf or cake from the DeGustibus kitchen, he’s having a laugh. Kneading clearly gives you great biceps.

This young chap from was also in fine spirits. He seemed slightly surprised (or possibly scared?) by my excitement at finding he had Brew Dog beers or perhaps he just doesn’t get that many female customers. Don’t worry though sisters, I’m representin’.

I also packed some Halen Mon smoked salt and a bulb of smoked garlic from French Flavour into my bag nestled next to a jar of excellent aubergine pickle from Cafe Spice Namaste (above), which gives me a great excuse to make a curry this weekend.

As much as I had a good time filling my belly and emptying my wallet, I’m sorry to say I didn’t catch any cookery demonstrations or tastings. Although, you can probably tell from the pictures that I most enjoyed talking to the producers anyway. The RFF recognises the value of the small producer, subsidising them – enabling many to attend that could not otherwise afford it. The benefit for the customer is that we get to taste the difference in something made with a bit of love and for that reason alone the festival made me a very happy lady.

Category: Food Events, Lovely Food Producing People, Markets 11 comments »

11 Responses to “The Real Food Festival”

  1. Charmaine

    Great post Helen! I’ll be checking back on the RFF blog for recipes. Wish I had stuck around longer, but my wallet would have hated me for it…

    Charmaines last blog post..East side love

  2. Sharmila

    I really enjoyed going on Saturday, and managed to spend a fair bit of money. Favourite things were probably the Connemara Smokehouse smoked salmon. Really beautiful, and light years away from the smoke flavoured pink jelly you get in the supermarkets. On top of homemade soda bread, it was proper yum!

    Sharmilas last blog post..Pork mince is your friend

  3. Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen

    I love these posts of yours Helen! I always feel like I am right there with you! That hot sauce sounds amazing, I am into the hot myself and find I get addicted to the chili freak too! ;)

    Jenn AKA The Leftover Queens last blog post..The Ginger People: Ginger Snaps and a Contest

  4. aforkfulofspaghetti

    Sounds like a real blast! Loving the sound of that chilli sauce. You should be doing their PR for them… ;-)

    aforkfulofspaghettis last blog post..signs of life…

  5. Alex

    Loving the pic of the parmesan – it looks like a chunk of quartz, hewn from a crystal cave! Did you try it?

    Alexs last blog post..Agresto

  6. Shermin

    Hi Helen,

    i always really enjoy reading your posts. The market (and your description ;-)) sounds really great and yummy.

    Greetings from Berlin

    Shermins last blog post..Jubiläums-Dessert-Buffet: Schokoladenbrunnen-Orgie mit wahnsinnig leckeren Dingen

  7. Gourmet Chick

    Lovely pics from the festival Helen – when I look at everyone elses photos I realise how many great stalls I managed to miss – mind you I was onto the Jersey oysters although they seemed to be free when I was there?!

    Gourmet Chicks last blog post..Cay Tre

  8. meemalee

    Aha – I finally found someone who went to the same stalls as me!

    I loved the guys at Gaby’s Hot Stuff – I bought a bottle of the Loco Chilli Lime :)

    meemalees last blog post..Random: Pizza and Pearls – Credit Crunch Special!

  9. Lizzie

    The hot sauce was insane. My poor, poor tongue! Great pics.

    Lizzies last blog post..Eating Eurovision: Lithuania

  10. Helen Yuet Ling Pang

    A lovely round up of the festival! I didn’t (thankfully) spend as much as I thought I might, but certainly had fun chatting to producers. And I’ve just had my first cup of jasmine pearls from Solaris Botanicals!

    Helen Yuet Ling Pangs last blog post..How To Make Japanese Zaru Soba

  11. Kavey

    Seems like a lot of people weren’t too impressed with the festival but I think it depends on how you approached it.
    Firstly, it probably helped that I went on Friday, which wasn’t crazy busy.
    And secondly, for me, the best bit about it was having some really great conversations with some of the producers. It meant I didn’t get to every single stall (despite spending a whopping 7.5 hours there) but those I talked to I felt I came away understanding and appreciating their products all the more.
    Also bought some lovely produce not to mention some very kind gift samples too.
    Oh and I didn’t bother with the talk or demos either.

    Kaveys last blog post..In the Audience for Market Kitchen II

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