After a few days of a changeable climate (I’ve never seen the English weather jump from brilliant sunshine to howling storms so ridiculously quickly), the weekend of The Essex Food & Drink Festival had arrived, and the day began, like most had in the past week, with brilliant sunshine and promises of fabulous weather to come. Packing wellies and a brolly (you can never be too sure), Emma and I headed off towards Braintee for a day of stuffing out faces, thanks to The Essex Chronicle, who provided us with press passes for the day.
Grabbing a programme we headed to the first demonstration of the day by fellow Southend gal and Bake Off finalist, Ruby Tandoh who was whipping up her very best lemon tart. Watching on a screen, the audience could follow Ruby’s every move, learning lots of hints along the way.
A few tips from Ruby:
Infuse basil with the cream to create a unique punch to the tart
Roll out your pastry onto baking parchment rather than straight onto a wooden surface. This stops the pastry from sticking.
Be sure to bake the pastry of the tart first a little – this will help avoid the infamous ‘soggy bottom’.
Once finished the heaven’s opened, and sod’s law I’d left the brolly and wellies in the car, so it was time to huddle in one of the indoor arenas. The perfect excuse to try lots of tasters, which boasted the best in local produce.
But just as predicted, the sun crept out again, banishing the storms and leaving us with a rather healthy glow. Working up an appetite (although snacking on all the samples had filled a hole), we rung rings around the site trying to decide where we’d dine for lunch. Having to find gluten free did limit my options, but we found a grill that served steak (why not!), whilst Emma munched on a burger, disappearing before I had the chance to take a photo.
Some of my favourite finds from the festival were:
- Munchy Seeds – gluten free nut, seed and cereal pots made interesting.
- Donostia Social Club – beautifully presented caterers. Unfortunately not gluten free, but just look at those morcilla with quail’s eggs! Yum.
- Margaret’s Frozen Yoghurt – Emma opted for a raspberry frozen yoghurt, which magically saw frozen raspberries added to a ‘Mr Whippy’ style machine to produce a pretty pink creamy dessert. Perfect for the heat, which by now was becoming quite intense.
- The Muffin Makery – we bought four muffins for £7 to take home, opting for Oreo, Chocolate Gnash, Apple Crumble and gluten free (hooray!) Raspberry and Peach. These muffins were HUGE and an impressive range of flavours.
A big thanks to The Essex Chronicle and organisers of The Essex Food Fest. I’ll be sure to head back next year!
You can follow The Essex Food Fest on Twitter: @EssexFoodfest