Foodies Festival @ Battersea Park

This years London Foodies Festival was in Battersea Park. We arrived just after 10 am, the tickets and web site (initially) showed that as the event start time.   Our plan had been to get in early before the crowds.  However the festival was not able to start until 11 am due to some sort of mix up with the local council – not a good start.   So we killed some time in the parks cafe (definitely not a foodies destination) and returned to pick up entrance tickets for some of the events in the Chefs Theatre, Food Theatre and Drinks Theatre, only to be advised we could only get tickets for the earlier events and not those later in the day, we had to come back to the Registrations tent nearer the start times to get these tickets  – a totally impractical option. On entering the festival area we passed the Pimms Tent with its cute “Its Pimms O’Clock” picnic blankets laid out on the grass, and found ourselves accepting an invitation to try some of the Coeur de Cognac in the comfort of the Remy Martin Pagodo.

The festival was not especially large, the one at Hampton Court last year felt larger and had seemed more specialist food oriented.   We ended up sampling a couple of rums – a coconut one (Koko Kanu) from Jamaica and a lovely smooth Arehucas Honey Rum from the Canary Islands.  Then after a long chat with Chocolatier Fiona Sciolti who was presenting one of the afternoon sessions we had originally planned to go to, we headed down to the Chefs Theatre for Jun Tanaka’s cookery demonstration.

That went well, with Jun Tanaka producing three dishes in less than 40 minutes. Afterwards we were certainly ready to have something to eat.

The food on offer was not that inviting – except for the rather nice charcuterie plates being served up in the Harvey Nichols Foodmarket Marquee which we spotted after we had eaten (isn’t that always the way!).

We did find some gems though among the exhibitors, like the beautifully presented cake selection from The Little Round Cake Company and the huge selection of speciality breads from McCarthy’s.  The highlight however had to be Mr Ducks Delicacies at the 1Chef4u stand where we sampled some lovely smooth and sumptuous Fois Gras and some delicious Duck Rillette.

The next session we attended in the Food Theatre was totally disorganised with real confusion over who had tickets and who did not, since some were collected on the door and other collected at the tables. So that sort of put us off attending any more events.

Having already been round all the stands once, we decided  to call it a day and returned to the 1Chef4u stand to buy some of the lovely duck delicacies, picked up some bread from McCarthy’s and a chilled bottle of Bochet-Lemoine Champagne and headed home to have our own picnic.

The festival this year I have to say was not a patch on the last Foodies event I attended. Indeed the most enjoyable stands were selling goods that I could just as easily have found at a decent Farmers Market (or in the case of  Mr Ducks Delicacies on line), rather than at a ticketed event.  It’s definitely was not worth the £15 full ticket price or even dare I say the two for one deal. So I am afraid this is one event I probably won’t put on my calendar for next year. Sadly this is not the only food and drinks festival I have been disappointed with over the last year or so, Taste of London, Toast – New Zealand and La Dolce Vita did not hit the mark either.

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Foodies Festival @ Hampton Court

Spent most of bank holiday Sunday at the Foodies Festival in Hampton Court.  They are set up at  different locations throughout the year.  There is going to be one in Edinburgh for example during the Edinburgh Festival in August. Foodies focuses on seasonal food and drink, specialty and local produce and local restaurant talent.

The weather was good, always a real bonus at this type of event. The show itself is not as big or as well attended as Taste, but I have to admit I prefer this one. Very few queues,  space to see what you want to see, easy access to tables and chairs.

We attended several sessions at the Chefs Theatre, including  the one from Gary Lee of The Ivy, who made a real point of stating that he was not a celebrity chef.  The highlight here though, had to be Katie & Giancarlo Caldesi of Caffe Caldesi. Katie had been on Saturday Kitchen the previous day and there was some hilarity as she compared cooking with James Martin to cooking with her husband. The BBC missed a trick not having them both on together. They are a great double act.

There were unfortunately not too many top restaurant stands.  Benares was the most high profile one. However there were some very good small stands.  They included Lauden, one of my favorite chocolatiers, Doughmasters who made lovely club sandwiches using bread that was baked while you wait (not something you see often) and a stand selling Whoopie Pies – the trend following on from Cup Cakes,  I had a maple syrup one, delicious.

On the drinks front, Joe Wadsack at the Cordorniu wine presentation was very good. He is a real raconteur. The El Dorado Rum tasting was fun and the champagne supplied by Eminent Wines (pictured), much to my surprise, really cut through a spicy Jamaican Pattie I had just eaten. So yes maybe good Champagne does go with everything.

Will definitely try and do this event again next year.


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