Devon LivingIssue #07
We reflect on the tantalising tastes of this summer’s food festivals and look forward to whatís to come over the next few months.
Through this feature we explore the best of Devon’s foodie scene, with a quick fire round up of all the mouth-watering food festivals that have taken place over the summer and a look forward to what’s in store for the coming months. If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that good food has the ability to tantalise our tastebuds and send us into a state of food induced bliss, or as my family fondly refers to it – a food coma. From county shows to food carnivals and everything in-between, peruse these pages at your leisure and discover Devon’s delectable foodie feasts, spice bonanzas and spectacular spirits.
On 11th August we witnessed a culmination of the world’s finest gins at The Great British Gin Festival in Exeter. This event is an unforgettable experience for all lovers of Britain’s longstanding favourite tipple. Upon arrival guests receive a gin glass and gin bible to guide them through the tasting experience, where you can choose from over 100 different international gins! Entertainment includes cocktail demos, live performances and talks creating a sophisticated festival atmosphere, accompanied by a truly sophisticated tipple. (www.ginfestivalsuk.com)
Devon Fire And Spice Festival took place a week later on the 18th and 19th August at Powderham Castle, providing visitors with a flurry of flavours and proving that seasoning really is a chef’s best friend. Set between the castle ramparts and Exe estuary, this fiery weekend focuses on hot sauces, spice rubs, chilli plants, barbeques and smokers. Organiser Miles Halton tells us: “It’s not just about the heat of the chillies or being able to grill a sausage outside, it’s the flavour that counts.” This fantastic event combines the beautiful setting of Powderham Castle with live music, local beers, amazing street food, cooking demonstrations, and an exhibition by the South Devon Chilli Farm.
We welcomed the 1st September with the UK Rum Festival held in The Great Hall at the University of Exeter. Featuring white rum, dark rum, gold rum and flavours of rum you’ve never even heard of, cocktail enthusiasts and spirit sippers enjoyed a rum tasting session, street food vendors and a Tiki Room Experience where they were treated to a Tiki mug and cocktail as well as being guided through the renowned history of Tiki.
Then on the 2nd September, Clovelly hosted its Lobster And Crab Festival, giving visitors the chance to choose from a variety of crab and lobster dishes cooked on the quay or at the Red Lion Harbour Restaurant. Live music and cooking demonstrations kept visitors entertained as well as a selection of local food, beer and craft stalls. The event takes place in aid of the National Lobster Hatchery in Padstow, and during the festival the charity exhibits baby lobsters before releasing them into the sea at the beginning and end of the day. (www.nationallobsterhatchery.co.uk)
Abbfest returned to Isaac’s Field in Ipplepen on the 21st and 23rd September. Nestled within stunning countryside, Abbfest has it all – craft beer, mouth-watering food and entertaining music. We particularly loved the Meat59 (www.meat59.com) street food stall, allowing visitors to bite into a homemade burger – laden with relish and lovingly pressed between freshly baked bread, there really is nothing better! Celebrating the very best of Devon’s culinary offerings as well as featuring talented and exciting chefs, the event also included a children’s cookathon on the Sunday.
Nourish Festival also took part on 1st September. Set in the heart of Bovey Tracey, it’s a weekend of events designed to feed the body, the mind and the senses, filling the town with some of the best producers of food, drink and craft in the south west. Over 60 food and drink stands lined the length of Fore Street, all enjoyed alongside the outstanding programme of classical music that Nourish provides.
Now to explore the upcoming foodie feasts…Commencing with the Taste of Teign event, which takes place from 22nd until 30th September, this year, Taste of Teign joins forces with the town’s first ever Sea Shanty Festival. Picture this: a pint of craft beer or cider, a steaming bowl of mussels from the Teign and the evocative sound of Sea Shanties to warm the cockles of your heart. Last year this growing festival attracted national attention and this year, by combining great food, drink, and now with music thrown into the recipe, the menu for 2018 looks like it’s going to be even more mouth-watering.
As we head into autumn, the comfort of good food becomes even more irresistible, so make sure to visit the Powderham Food Festival from 6th until 7th October to satisfy all your foodie desires. Like the Devon Fire and Spice Festival, Powderham Food Festival is set against the backdrop of Powderham Castle and the two-day autumnal foodie event is set to be bigger and better than ever before. Devon Broadcaster, Judi Spiers will be hosting the cookery theatre across the weekend introducing a great line-up of popular chefs and over 170 food, arts and crafts exhibitors will line the grounds of the castle, providing all things edible, drinkable and delectable.
Combining great food for a great cause, head to the Family Food Fair at the Donkey Sanctuary on 13th October. One for foodies and families alike, the event showcases some of the best food, drink and talent our region has to offer. Food is Fun will be on hand to entertain (and educate) little ones with cooking activities. And you certainly won’t go hungry, with freshly prepared, wholesome dishes also provided in the sanctuary’s new restaurant – The Kitchen.
Next on the line up we have Dartmouth Food Festival taking place from 19th until 21st October, described by The Telegraph as “a heady mix of celebrity chefs, parties, food markets, tasting shacks and demonstrations.” The annual event is located in the picturesque harbour town of Dartmouth and includes popular chef’s demonstrations and ‘Eat Your Words’ seminars, as well as pop-up restaurant events such as those at Café Alfresco (www.cafealfresco.co.uk). The ‘Eat Your Words’ seminars allow you to join food experts, writers and chefs as they discuss new ideas and fresh challenges from the world of food and drink.
Clovelly Herring Festival follows on 18th November. The fishing village once depended on the harvest of herring but sadly, the days of massive catches are long gone. However, the village continues to celebrate and promote this tasty, nutritious fish and during the festival, you can expect talks from maritime and historian writer Mile Smylie who will be transforming herring into delicate tasting kippers in his smokehouse. (www.clovelly.co.uk)
What better way to commemorate the lead up to Christmas than to experience Exeter’s first ever chocolate festival on 25th November? Organised by Nicola Knight, Exeter Chocolate Festival celebrates the artisan chocolate makers who have been popping up across the country. Nicola tells us: “I’m excited to introduce the south west to the world of craft chocolate.” The programme will include chocolate tasting sessions, a cacao-ceremony, talks and chocolate making demonstrations with Jim Fisher from the Exeter Cookery School. (www.exeterchocolatefestival.co.uk)
Finally, December brings with it the promise of a culmination of foodie feasts, markets and food stalls during the tantalizing lead up to Christmas and the Buckfast Abbey Christmas Food And Craft Fair on 1st and 2nd December is set to be a spectacular one! (www.buckfast.org.uk)
So there you have it, a delicious round up of all the most delectable foodie feasts that we’ve witnessed this summer and a mouth-watering taste of what’s to come over the next few months. Hopefully that will be enough to keep you satisfied and leave you wanting more when the food festival season approaches again next year. Until then, happy eating!
IF YOU’RE INTO SEAFOOD
Keep an eye out for the Plymouth Seafood Festival (this year’s took place on 15th and 16th September), a celebration of high quality locally sourced and sustainably caught seafood.
ALSO IN SEPTEMBER
Benís Farm Shop showcased the South Devon Chilli Farm’s products in its stores in Staverton, Totnes, Exeter and Yealmpton on 16th September. (www.bensfarmshop.co.uk)
SOURCE TRADE SHOW
The Source Trade Show is taking place on 6th and 7th February and is a B2B trade show at Westpoint in Exeter, allowing those of you in the food industry to network with other businesses and discover the latest speciality foods, quality drinks and profitable catering avenues.
FOOD FESTIVALS GALORE
Make sure to check out these festivals too:
The North Devon Show:
Holsworthy Stratton Show:
Ashburton Food & Drink Festival:
Collumpton Food & Drink Festival: Cullyfoodfest
The Great Food and Drink Show: