Today was THE best day! When we got up this morning the sun was shining (actually a regular occurrence now, FINALLY), so Nicole, Daryl and I decided to head into town for the South West Festival of Food and Drink. It was held in the grounds of Exeter Castle and the surrounding Northernhay Gardens, which somehow I’ve never been to before, but what a gorgeous setting! It had views all over Exeter and the hills around it, which, on a gorgeous day like today, are absolutely stunning.
Our first port of call – and the place we spent most of the day – were the Food and Drink Pavilions. Nothing could have prepared us for the sheer size of these tents: there were two, absolutely stuffed with stands from various local food and drink vendors. Naturally, we kicked things off with some sparkling cider champagne, from Ashridge (conveniently placed right by the first entrance). We sampled both kinds, regular apple and apple and blackberry, and settled for apple and blackberry. At £2.50 a glass it was a right bargain!
Then it was time for the real exploring to begin. We sensibly decided on a system of working allllll the way up one side and then alllll the way down the other, and made our way through each tent sampling everything we could get our hands on. As well as a whole lot of chutneys and a surprising amount of chillis (we tried one chilli paste/dip thing that was so hot it made our noses run) there were some seriously impressive cakes, macarons and fudge to be had:
These were from the fabulous Frandie Macaron, at the beginning of the day. I bought a bag of “Maca-wrongs” (broken shells) and vowed to come back later to buy some. When we did, a couple of hours later, almost all the flavours were gone (boooo!), but I bought a ginger, white chocolate and cardamom one that I just polished off and which was DELICIOUS.
LOOK AT THAT CAKE! This one was the Get Cupcaked stand, and again, when we came back in the afternoon, almost everything had sold out!
Olivers Bakery, based in Crediton – can’t find a website for them!
I can’t remember the name of this fudge shop which is so sad because it was fab! SO many flavours (including marmite…what?!). I tried the banana crunch and it was fab, I expected it to be vanilla fudge just with banana in it but the whole thing actually tasted like banana – yum!
This was Cakeadoodledoo, and this, the lovely lady told us, is a concoction made of pink wafers, chocolate, syrup, butter “and all that good stuff.” She also told us they have a shop opening in Exeter very soon (next week I think) so I’ll definitely be checking that out!
Having sampled as much as we possibly could, we decided to grab another drink and something proper to eat. Nicole had had her eye on a particular burger stand, where she got a lamb burger with mint sauce, and Daryl went for the traditional beef. I decided to get all adventurous and got a duck burger, with plum sauce, from the stand next door. I didn’t take a picture as it didn’t look all that glam, but we took our food, got some good old Devon cider from the festival bar, and went and sat in the sun. There was live music and a fab atmosphere and it was just so lovely!
After lunch was perhaps the best part of the whole day: THE PIGS! Hidden right at the back of the festival was a little pigpen filled with one enormous mummy pig and about ten ridiculously adorable piglets. We fought some kids out the way (not really) to get some pictures:
After all that piggy fun, it was time for another quick trip around the pavilions and then we headed up through the castle grounds to the other bit of the festival, which to be honest we only found by accident – we nearly found ourselves in a queue to go back the way we had come! But anyway, in the castle courtyard was more fab food, a hog roast, more live music, and the bit I had been most looking forward to: the Cookery Theatre!
We stood at the back for a bit with another half a cider (oops – this time strawberry for me, and it was yum) and watched Darrin Hosegrove and Rob Dawe from the Ashburton Cookery School, alongside Mr Michael Caines himself (note – not Michael Caine, who is v different). They were really really funny, it was like watching a live Ready, Steady Cook and made me want to become a chef!
By this point it was late afternoon, so there was just time for another glass of cider champagne and another little wander. By this point we were pros at zigzagging between all our fave stalls! I took a cheeky selfie – had to document my Food Festival presence – and some more pictures of the gorgeous scenery before we headed home!
Overall this was SUCH a good day and, at just £7.50 for an adult day pass, I would highly recommend the Food Fest to anyone with any vague interest in eating or Devon! I am almost tempted to go back tomorrow except my stomach probably can’t handle any more brownie, fudge or cupcake samples…