From Bath Food Festival to the WWW

A few Sundays ago, myself and a gaggle of bloggers went off-piste from our usual London food haunts to go and see head chef of the super-swanky Bath Priory Hotel, Sam Moody, cook up a storm at The Bath Food Festival. For the fork-wielding crowds he prepared a perfectly al-dente, rich seafood risotto, and the tenderest, most delicious beef fillet I have ever tasted. I tend to regard the description of anything other than the spread itself being ‘like butter’ as mere hyperbole, but that seems the only appropriate way to describe the meltingly mouthwatering piece of meat Sam served. It’s a long way to travel, but I’d return to the South West for more of that man’s cooking. (Check out One Million Gold Stars for brilliant pictures of the dishes)

But of course, there was more to the festival than al-fresco meat searing, with food stalls galore selling everything from ice-cream to oils. Thanks to to world-wide-web, a food festival becomes more than a greedy jaunt, but a place to discover a variety of sellers that will keep on giving. Here’s my favourites from the day:

Chilli Pepper Pete

Chilli Pepper Pete’s stall had a fine array of spicy goods, including powerful sauces and an impressive selection of dried chillies. For wimps, there was a piri piri sauce infused with a fruitiness that just about countered the heat, but the real star of the stall was Dragon Slayer, categorised EXTREME. It was good. Even if it did give me a mouth blister.

The Dragon Slayer however, is nothing compared to, Satan’s Shit, so hot, the website declares, ‘If you buy this product you release us from any responsibility for damage it may do to your system’. They weren’t giving out samples of this for fear people wouldn’t be able  to take it, but if they were, I would have taken on that sauce. I would have won. I lamed out with some piri piri oil and a Mexican Lime and Yucatan Habanero sauce in the end, which have been adding a pleasant heat to my cooking since. I will definitely return to the Aladdin’s cave that is the website in the near future.

Cotswold Gold Extra Virgin Rapeseed Oil

I’m a little ashamed to say that one of the main reasons I was drawn to this stall was the double entendre escaping the mouth of its attendee. Immature, I know, but you try keeping a straight face while some posh guy tells you he ‘produced ten tonnes of rape last month’. That aside, it has lower saturated fat than olive oil, has a light enough flavour to remain a mere receptacle for stronger components of a dressing and has a high burning temperature which makes for a crisper roast potato. To top it off, it’s produced in an environmentally friendly way, using traditional methods in the cotswolds. Win.

Worthy Cheddar

I like to assume that the exquisitely creamy, pungently flavoured Worthy Farm (of Glastonbury fame) Cheddar is made by the fair hand of Michael Eavis himself, wearing a gnome’s  hat.

Wessex Pantry

When old people say things like ‘how pies used to be made’ (a common old person utterance), I reckon the dense, flaky pastry, and moist nuggets of gamey meat in these Wessex Pantry pies is ‘zactly what they’re banging on about. I can imagine ordering up a load of these around Christmas to eat cold with chutneys and red wine. Amazing.

Manjira’s South Indian Pachadis

These South Indian, pesto-like concoctions, available in tomato, onion, ginger, tamarind and garlic varieties are actually pretty simple, and I did feel like I could have maybe made it myself. They were so packed with flavour though, that I thought it was worth parting with £3 for a jar, and since I have been throwing the chilli and coconut infused garlic one into pretty much everything I have cooked recently, it was obviously worth it, and I would definitely buy the rest.

You might get a face-full of free samples to try when wandering around a food festival, but why even leave the sofa when you can have a whole farmers market at your fingertips with our old friend, the internet.

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