Every spring the West Country’s finest food and drink producers flood to Exeter to proudly showcase their produce. At the Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink 2018, hosted in Northernhay Gardens and Exeter Castle, we got to meet hundreds of Devon and Cornwall’s food and drink producers. The marquees were filled with wonderful food from meat pies to sweet fudge, peanut butter to wild mushrooms; this year’s festival really did have it all. What made the day even better was the beautiful sunshine! It was absolutely roasting all day with not a cloud in the sky.
The fun carried on into the evening with the festival’s first ever Exeter Beats session. Ollie, my sister and I went on the Sunday and saw a David Bowie tribute band, David Live. For those who followed my Instagram story, you could see how good he was! He really did sound like David Bowie and even had all the mannerisms to go with it. The street food and bar continued throughout the evening and what I loved about the bar was that they were serving all drinks in re-usable cups. You could either take them home and use them again or return them at the end of the evening and get a couple of quid back. I thought it was great that the festival actively looked at reducing plastic waste this year in an attempt to become more sustainable.
Here are just a few of my highlights from the day:
Live cooking demonstrations
When we exhausted all the exhibitors and just wanted to sit down and relax for a bit, we headed to the cookery theatres where there was a whole timetable of cooking demonstrations going on. We watched Matt Mason, Head Chef at my beloved Jack in the Green, cook up a storm in the Darts Farm Teepee. He showed us how to make a simple chicken wrapped in pancetta, giving us loads of cooking and ingredients tips along the way. He then whipped up a scrummy looking Lobster salad for some of the Exeter Chiefs to try. This dish looked perfect for a hot summer’s day and will have to be one I try at home – maybe minus the lobster because you know, we’re not made of money! This dish would still be great just with some succulent prawns. Towards the end of the afternoon, we made our way over to the Cookery Theatre where Michael Caines was hosting a cook-off between Josh Eggleton of The Pony and Trap and Russell Brown of Creative About Cuisine. Both chefs cooked up a storm with Josh producing an asparagus and egg dish and Russell whipping up a bit of pigeon!
Obviously a big highlight was the wonderful array of food and drink. We’re so lucky here in the South West to have so many amazing food and drink producers, it’s what we are known for! The diet completely went out the window for the day as we filled our boots with the most delicious produce.
This was seriously the most delicious sausage roll I have ever tasted. This little beauty was from Little Jack Horner’s and was incredible. Mine was stuffed with Pork and Sage and encased with the most perfect, crisp pastry. The perfect lunchtime snack!
A much celebrated producer here in the South West is Quicke’s Cheese. Showcasing award-winning clothbound cheddar from Newton St Cyres, the kind gentleman on the stand allowed us to taste the classic cheddar, goats cheese and the smoked. I am a massive lover of goats cheese so just had to buy some. The cheese was only £5 and it came with a little pot of spiced onion relish which complements the cheese perfectly.
Ok so I nearly wet myself when I saw a peanut butter stand. Anyone who knows me knows I am obsessed with the stuff, honestly I go through tubs of it like water. Quite often, Ollie will catch me in the kitchen just eating it from the jar. Freda’s Peanut Butter from Cornwall make wholesome peanut butter using natural organic ingredients. I went for the classic peanut butter with a touch of Cornish Sea Salt which is smooth and delicious.
Talking about salt, the Cornish Sea Salt company were also at the festival. The salt is hand-harvested just eight metres from the Atlantic shore line in Britain. I love using good-quality salt in my cooking so bought a small tub of the original sea salt crystals.
I have to admit that I was excited to see Big Bakes Bakery in the tent. They make the most gorgeous and scrummy looking cakes including impressive cupcakes. We couldn’t resist and went for a Coffee and Walnut and Millionaire’s Shortbread cupcake. They were sooooo tasty and were not short of delicious butter cream icing. The sponge was so lovely and soft as well, not dry at all.
Think I’m a little piggy yet? Well we also went for a box of flapjacks from the amazing Flapjackery. The generous sizes and scrumptious looking toppings just drew us in. We got a box of three flapjacks to share between four of us: White chocolate and raspberry, salted caramel brownie and rocky road. All were to die for and I was so sad come a few days later when we had finished every last crumb!
Here are a few other foodie photos from the day:
As I’ve already said, David Live at Exeter Beats was great! It was a really lively, fun evening and he put on a great performance, playing all of David Bowie’s hits that had everyone dancing.
If you missed this year’s festival, make sure you grab tickets for next year’s one! I would definitely recommend it as it was a great day out full of delicious food and drink and amazing live music. Did you go to this year’s festival? What did you think? Tweet me at @SheWhoLives1 or leave a comment below!