Bank Holiday Monday was typically English in terms of weather. A few sunny spells, otherwise cloudy with occasional drizzle. We’d arranged an afternoon out at the Hampton Court Foodies Festival. I generally like this sort of thing, but I’d found out that there were a series of events organised by the same people…and that made me a little apprehensive. I am clearly a bit of a foodie snob because I went with the idea that this would be the food fair equivalent of a chain restaurant. And, to some extent that was the case.
Thats not to say it was an unpleasant experience…although I have a few pet peeves from the afternoon. The event was busy, a reasonable number of exhibitors and lots of visitors. There was something of a pervading cupcake theme, from cute sparkly things through to the rather bizarre but very tasty ‘curry and cupcakes’. For me the highlights were our lunch of barbecue roast asparagus, beef carpaccio for me and slow roast pork belly bap for my friend, the Remy Martin Coeur de Cognac stand, a REALLY fresh Rock Oyster for £1.50 and the Montezuma chili chocolate. Some of the exhibitors had been at the Real Food Show a few weeks earlier and there seemed to be less variety than there, although a lot more ‘foodie fast food’ stands which made the event feel a bit like a picnic in the park.
Pet peeves…well there were NO loos. I’m sorry guys, but at a public event with a few thousand visitors an hour you need to lay on something! I’m surprised the organisers were given permission to set up without making adequate provision! My other (minor) irritation was that the chefs demonstrations and wine tasting events were ticket only and there were long queues to buy your tickets. It was £15 just to get entry to the show…and to someone more used to the food festivals on the continent and in the West of England, paying extra and also having to waste time queuing for tickets was just a bit of a spoiler.
As I mentioned earlier, we both really enjoyed our lunch, from the Wild Garlic stand. Wild Garlic is a restaurant in Guildford that has reasonable but not overwhelming reviews so it was good that my friend was sufficiently impressed to start planning her visit!
For me, the highlight was our ‘free cognac tasting’. Remy Martin had gone to the trouble of setting up an elegant and comfortable stand and we were seated, then served with a small measure of Coeur de Cognac and some hand made sweets. I don’t normally like Cognac, but this was smoother and subtler than normal Remy and we were both sufficiently impressed to buy a bottle each. So, perhaps the extra effort paid off?
We DID both enjoy the afternoon, but with the caveat that it wasn’t really a ‘gastro’ experience. And, please could someone order better weather for next year!