Monday, April 28, 2008

The Real Food Festival, London


Another food festival to add to the growing calendar. I liked it. I’ve been to a lot of food festivals in the last couple of years and I’m often disappointed, because the big boys always seem to crowd out the little producers, and it’s nearly always the latter that I find most interesting.

This time the stallholders were handpicked by an advisory team with impressive credentials, and attendance was subsidised. You can tell immediately if the person on the other side of the stall has had any involvement in the production of the thing they are selling, and these people were there in abundance.

There were Master Classes from chefs like Barney Haughton from Bordeaux Quay in Bristol – everybody learned how to make ailloli – and tastings aplenty. I got there at 10.30 in the morning and by 11.00 I had eaten cheese, oysters, chilli chocolate chip cookies, red wine, an ice lolly, rum and olives. Oh and a monster brownie. I had to have a little sit down and an Alka Seltzer.

With wood shavings on the floor which reflected the light and made the cavernous exhibition centre feel like the biggest farmer’s market in the world, and hundreds of quality stalls it was certainly a foodie’s delight. The arrangement of stalls, however, with stalls all grouped together according to product, will have disappointed some producers. And with all that free tasting the people who were there to sell snacks may have felt a bit left out. Four days of festival and a setting up day means that people were away from their businesses for a long time and the first couple of days were badly attended. I think a lot of producers may stay away next year, which will be a pity as the advance publicity will be better. But the quality really was good and that is something that the more regional festivals could learn from.

3 comments:

Toffeeapple said...

It sounds as if you had a good time there, June. Where, in London, was it? Was it a big event? I ask because I'd love to go to these things but can only walk a short distance. What a thrill to be able to eat your way around a gathering like that. Did you have a favourite stall, something that you'd seek out again?

June said...

Gosh toffeeapple, what a completely useless correspondent I am! If you click on the title of the post it will take you to the Real Food Festival website and you can read all about it. It was at Earls Court and there are steps to the entrance although I'm sure there must be other entrances and facilities. Lots of places to sit down inside. My favourite? I particularly liked Flavours of Spain.

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