Do you know when have such a good (and tasty) time that you don’t really know where to start explaining it? This is what The Big Feastival was for me …ok so you all know I’m a food nerd but wowzer this food/music festival has just fuelled my foodie passion and I really really hope at some point I will be able to do food related work full time – eating, writing, cooking what could be better?
I was Very Very lucky to receive an invite to the perfect festival combo .. Gastronomical delights and top tunes organised by the legendary Jamie Oliver and cool cat Alex James. The invite came just the day before the festival kicked off so an incredibly busy day of packing and hotel hunting and we were off to beautiful Oxfordshire and Alex’s farm where he makes his wonderful cheese.
On arrival at the festival site we were greeted at the gates with free biscuits from Fudges bakery..what better welcome hey? I’ll explain more about Fudges later as there products are so darn good. The first few hours were spent exploring the site, trying samples of the best food in Oxfordshire as well as treating ourselves to Barbacoas Pulled pork (for Andrew) and The cinnamon clubs Tandoori spiced black leg chicken kathi roll with green coriander chutney for me ..bit of a mouthful but extremely tasty.
Dishes on offer from The Cinnamon Club:
We then went on to watch our first chefs demonstration of the day at The Big Kitchen sponsored by Electrolux which was none other than Jamie Oliver and the marvellous, flirtatious Gennaro Contaldo. It was incredible to watch some talented chefs up close and to see their obvious passion for what they do. The demonstration was hilarious as the duo have such a cheeky bantering friendship and we were even lucky enough to get a pic with Gennaro:
The rest of the day was spent eating more samples of delicious cheeses and mouthwatering truffle oils and going to more demos including Mark Sargeant who is a really fun chef to watch as well as another by Gennaro Contaldo and Jamie Oliver.
Although there was music on the main stage all day long including The Noisettes and Paloma Faith it was pretty much just background noise for us as our real focus was on the food but it did create a great atmosphere and there was a large crowd at the main stage all day long. We finished off the evening with some more food sharing Porchetta and polenta chips from Jamie’s Italian and Rajasthani style Herdwick lamb and corn curry with pilau rice from The Cinnamon Club..both were incredibly good.
We also met Valentine Warner but unfortunately arrived just a little too late for his demo 😦
We decided to call it a night then as Izzy was getting tired and trundled on back to our b&b in Bampton.. Now don’t go thinking we are too posh to camp! We would have loved to but it was full so a b&b it was!
The next day we headed to the site as it opened to make the most of the beautiful day. I think we somehow managed a very impressive amount of freebies and samples without even trying!
We tried so many different pies from The Piglet Pantry (who sell award winning pies don’t ya know..)And they were all so good that trying to decide which ones to buy was very difficult! We somehow managed and Andrew had a chilli n cheese combo whilst I tried the gammon and leek.. Both delicious. We bought seasalt chocolate from Seed and Bean which was delicious and we also tried seasalt fudge – can you see a theme? Ha. We had (well I had) cocktails from Vestal Vodka and Makers whisky which were beautiful and we tried crab from Cafe Mor .. Which is a big thing for non seafood eaters like us but they were from Pembrokeshire and voted best street food of the year so it would have been rude not to try and you know what it was pretty nice!
For all you non foodies out there the second day did include some pretty spectacular music..Texas and Razorlight to name just two and also lots n lots for the kiddies including a dance session with Adam Garcia! I do believe more of the Adam Garcia fans were of the adult female kind than the children but it was a good excuse hey.
Anyway back to the food and possibly the high point of the festival for me as we strolled down the field we saw a bright yellow Robin Reliant and a few photographers clustered around.. Nosy as always we stopped to look and with remarkably good timing as five minutes later around a few hundred other people joined us but you know what I was right at the front ..yay for an impromptu cooking demo by Jamie Oliver. Woop. It was fabulous to be up close and watching the man in action literally within splatter distance of the food. He was a cheeky charmer and had the crowd eating out of his hand especially when he began to give out plates of the food. I was lucky enough to get a falafel wrap passed to me directly and Andrew had a bowl of the veggie curry. Both were obviously amazing.
The last two demos we saw were by Paul Young ( master chocolatier) and The Weber Grill academy. The chocolate ganache created by Paul was delicious and I picked up lots of tips ready for my first attempt at making chocolates. He also had a lovely pic with Izzy:
The Weber demo was also really interesting and wow we really want a Weber now. Beer can chicken and blackened peppers were on the menu and again lots of BBQ tips.
I could probably talk for a few thousand more words about the food we ate and what we saw at this wonderful weekend but I’d probably start to bore you so I’ll leave you with a brief summary of my favourite new food/drink producers:
Vestal Vodka – beautiful, crisp and pure vodka cocktails. Seriously good.
Samuelsons of Witney – proper strong lemonade. I tried sparkling blackberry and it was tongue tingling.
Scheckters – 100% natural organic energy drinks. Kinda like redbull but without all the rubbish they pump into it. Tasted pretty nice too.
Eager – fruit juices for adults and kids which are healthy and taste good too. I hope these are available to buy readily in a few months for Izzy.
Fudges biscuit makers- ahh these were incredible. We have had the crackers with cheese to snack on,the biscuits dipped in tea and the straws well whenever we feel like it 🙂
The English Provender Co – these chutneys/condiments aren’t new to me as they are stocked in all major supermarkets but I did try some new flavours from them which I enjoyed.
Fair&Square chocolate brownies – we had a seasalt brownie which was scrummy.
Isles of Scilly handmade fudge – this fudge was probably the best I’ve tasted. I’ve tried lots.
Karantania Deli – delicious bakery bits.. I tried a butternut squash/feta combo and it was dreamy. Their food is also incredibly pretty.
Seed&Bean – extra dark chocolate. The Cornish seasalt is addictive.
Greedy Goat icecream – guilt free goats milk ice cream.. I tried basil and lemon. Refreshing and different.
The flour bin – now I am yet to try using the flour but I tried the bread made from the flour and it was amazing and I’ve smelt the malty goodness of the flour so I’m excited to try!
There were so many more producers and stalls that we loved but these were our favourites and included food we actually bought rather than samples.
All in all it was an amazing weekend and one I hope to repeat next year 🙂
Early bird tickets are on sale now: The Big Feastival