Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Chester Food, Drink & Lifestyle Festival

Last Saturday morning, I took a cup of tea to bed for a little Easter holiday indulgence and caught up with some Tweets. To my delight, I discovered that I had won 2 tickets for the Chester Food, Drink and Lifestyle Festival which was on from Easter Saturday to Easter Monday. Not only had I won tickets but they were VIP which of course appealed to the diva aspect of my good self! This included free fizz and lunch so of course I was a happy (Easter) bunny. Thank you Foodlink Cheshire!

Cheers Foodlink Cheshire!
So Mr V, me and the 2 Whippets set off ready to sample some local delights. And turned back once we'd arrived - apparently dogs were only allowed in the carpark (?) so we did a de-tour to Delamere Forest instead.

So Easter Monday was our day at CFDL sadly sans les chiens. It was cold and cloudy but spirits were high as delicious aromas wafted in the air luring me to the various stalls stocked with scrummy produce both local and from afar. I was in turmoil over whether to have Jamaican curried goat, venison burger or pulled pork. I closed my eyes, took a sip (ok, glug) of fizz and followed my tormented heart.

Pulled pork won and I wasn't disappointed. After being slowly cooked for 12 hours it was succulent and full of flavour and the smokey bbq sauce gave it the edge. It was from a company called Castro which sell South American street food. There was a bit of a queue so I wasn't able to chat much but I'm pretty sure they're based in Liverpool judging from what I've read.

Succulent and melt in the mouth
Sadly both were not for me
Mr V and I had a good mooch around and it was great to see such a diverse range of stalls from local Cheshire cheese and meats to Italian sweets and Asian street food. There was smoked garlic, flavoured butter, sausage rolls, amazing sauces, chutneys, preserves, pretty cupcakes; my senses were overwhelmed and I wanted EVERYTHING.

Pretty Preserves
Of course that wasn't possible so I had to prioritise. I went with one thing in mind; to get something delicious for my evening meal but something quick as I had tasks and chores to attend to. Award winning Cheshire based Pig & Co were giving out samples of their sausage and WHOA!! Blow me down, they were amazing. Called "Lucky Dippers" they were a marvellous concoction of pork, maple syrup, chocolate, chilli, coriander, chilli, pineapple, lime juice and a whole host of other bits and bobs that were leftover. A winner in my eyes.
Best sausages EVER

To accompany these bad boys I chose Uncle Roy's Moffat Chuckle mustard relish and served it all up in warm crusty baguettes and caramelised onions. Heck they were something else. I've had gorgeous sausages but these were so different and unusual with a unique sweetness. I almost cried when they were finished. Apparently they've been going for a year and they had all sorts of porky concoctions on offer check out their website.

My heart was fat with joy when I stumbled upon a few homewares stalls. I won't focus on this too much for the sake of boring you with the longest blog ever but get on this vintage picnic set.

How gorgeous?
After buying a slow cooking recipe book I then mooched over to the the Dough It Yourself stall curious by the crowd surrounding it. I must admit I didn't think I would bother buying pizza bases but I tasted a sample featuring the most delicious Bianca sauce (garlic, rosemary, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper) and the purchase was made in seconds. I bought wholemeal and seeded bases along with the sauce. This will come in a treat perhaps on a Friday night when one desires a less labour intensive kitchen experience. So I'll keep you posted.
The transaction had to happen

Delicious pizza base sauces
The experience ended on a high with chef  Andrew Nutter's cooking demo. I've been to his restaurant before (amazing) but I've never witnessed him cooking either on TV or in person. Apart from his awesome skills, his banter was great and he seemed like a bloody lovely bloke above all else. I was a bit over excited on the crowd participation front whooping and hollering (I'm so un-British and much more suited to the US of A style).

Chef Nutter and the cool Ryan
Mr Nutter showed us how to knock up a chocolate Brownie Torte with fruit brulee which was browned and flamed with a single match and while it was in the oven showcased a "posh pasty" of leftover lamb mixed with feta cheese and coriander and wrapped in puff pastry (I know!) and the main course was sea bass, scallops with spinach and Bury black pudding.

Badass - His dessert was the Nuts!
Posh lamb pasty. It's no Greggs!
The main course

Apart from the impressive cuisine one of the coolest things was that Andy (casual aren't I? In my mind we're mates now) was accompanied by 16 year old Ryan who works at his establishment. At 16 I would have cacked myself being on a stage helping a top chef in front of an audience but this chap was as cool as my glass of fizz. It was fab to see a young person so confident and passionate and I think he'll do well in his career. At the end of the demo the dynamic duo let me take a few snaps and I got in on one. However I was unaware I had bbq sauce on my face post pulled pork scoff. Mortified.

Me and the chaps. Spot the bbq sauce

That wrapped up the day and I left with my belly full and my brain whizzing around with ideas. The main thing for me was that all of the stalls and companies there were all making a living from one of the best basics and necessities of life; food. I always feel inspired by these people. Hats off to them and long may it continue. It was a cracking day.

My Goodies

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