Sunday, 10 May 2009

More about the Real Food Festival

Big Bro and I arrived at Earl's Court ready for action and with rucksacks to hand - not much of a crowd and only a few minutes to wait before entry at 4 o'clock. Almost the first thing we saw was Petal the water buffalo, having a sit down.

Petal's human companion told us that buffalo were creatures of habit, and like a strict routine. They only give 8 litres of milk a day, but it's a very high quality and good if you're allergic to cow's milk. Laverstock Park, the amazing organic farm run by former grand prix driver Jody Scheckter, has a large herd which provides milk, ice cream and mozzarella. Petal was surprisingly delicate and is a regular at shows. I returned here as we left to pick up some mozzarella and buffalo burgers.
The next thing to catch my eye was a mouth watering selection of Turkish delight, and I had a long chat with Graham who, with his wife Cirmen, runs Taste of Turkey. Graham and Cirmen are regulars at Borough food market, and he said their main business was olives. Graham tempted me with a kuru sele olive: these are made from dried and salted gemlik black olives. Absolutely delicious and not like any olive I'd tasted. A tub of those, please! Thanks to Graham for a great conversation.

These little beauties had come down from Scotland with their owner who runs a farm b&b.

Our next stopping place was the stall run by the lovely Anila. I've bought Anila's pickles and chutneys before, but I was transfixed by her shredded mango chutney. Last year, when I did an Indian cookery course with Ren, I sampled her mum's mango chutney, and it was so good I found it hard not to eat it straight from the jar. I tried some of Anila's, and boy, what a taste - the sweet sweet mango and a little kick of chilli. Sold. Anila told me she runs cookery courses from her home - something I'll be signing up for soon.

Big Bro was after some cheese - his son is getting into cheese in a big way. So our next stop was at Norbiton Fine Cheese. BB bagged some sheepy Berkswell and I bought some Doddington - a fruity nutty cheese from Northumberland. There was a further stop for some fantastic Spanish olive oil, then BB headed off, lured by the promise of pudding.

The siren call came from Burtree Puddings. Would we like to taste one? You need to ask?? A small bowl of sticky lemon pud emerged and BB and I raced each other to finish it off. Pud heaven. And there was a special show offer of three small puds at a reduced price. Rucksacks open again.

By now I was searching the show booklet to find Oliver's Perry - I'd met Tom Oliver at a slow food market on the south bank last year, and fallen in love with his perry, made in God's own county of Herefordshire, where BB and I lived for a while. We tracked the stall down and there was the man himself - one of my food heroes. Sadly, Tom didn't have any of my favourite dry perry, but he did have the single varietal Blackney Red. And BB quoffed a glass of the perry Tom had on draught. BB asked Tom what he thought of the 'pear cider' being marketed by one of the huge cider firms; 'at least they're not calling it perry,' said Tom. He said the big boys stuff was not perry at all - made from concentrate and nothing at all to do with Tom's magic brew.

We rounded a corner and were magnetically drawn to this stall, as were quite a few others, all commenting about Joanna Lumley and her fine fight for the Gurkhas. The Gurkha fine food company was founded by a gurkha wife - see the website for all the details. The chap who was looking after the stall offered us a taste of the veg curry and BB and I decided that it was right and proper to show our support (and get another yummy taste of the curry) by buying a jar of the curry sauce.

A few minutes later, Big Bro was demonstrating why he's the coffee geek of the family. We stopped off at the Grumpy Mule stand, and BB had a long and involved coffee chat with one of the founders. There was much talk of fruity overtones and filtering methods.
By now, serious shoulder and arm fatigue was setting in. We headed for the exit with bulging bags and slim line wallets. What a fantastic event - and we reckoned we only covered a quarter of the stalls. Marvellous food, passionate and knowledgeable producers - it's enough to make you feel optimistic about food in the UK. Next time, we'll go for the all-day tickets.

Big Bro stands guard over our bags at the end of the show


mangocheeks said...

Thanks for sharing this fran39. I always enjoy reading about new and local food producers. I was especially surprised to learn about the Gurkha Fine food. Very timely!

I was impressed to learn that your Bro son is getting into cheese, how old is he? kids are generally really fussy and only like cheddar on a burger.

fran39 said...

Agree about the cheese, Mangocheeks - Nat is 8 and Big Bro has successfully converted him to brie - I was teasing BB about this as he (BB) spent years eating only ginger cake and burgers when he was a lad...

mangocheeks said...

Obviously the young lad has a sophisticated palate : )

meemalee said...

Did you see Petal's human companion chomping a buffalo burger right next to her :)

I found a few gems at the RFF, but I felt it was a bit flaccid compared to last year

Bromyard Boy said...

Fran, we are really chuffed you like our perry and cider. Cheers from Tom.

fran39 said...

Thanks, Bromyard Boy and meemalee.
Tom's perry is what nature intended when she made pears.

The Ginger Gourmand said...

Hi Fran. Thanks for the comment on my write up ( Isn't it interesting how we all like different stalls?!