Rather than walking miles as I rather foolishly did last time, my friend Janette, drove us to the venue which was taking place in one large hall and a courtyard area outside for refreshment stands. More about what I call 'the courtyard' later. There was a nice variety of local producers from across the East Midlands and the selection of stands and their produce was very well thought out. |There was a good variety of stands and this made for a an interesting and exciting visit.
I revisited some of the stands featured in the previous blogpost and found some terrific new ones. There were lots of tasters for food and wine and everything looked very tempting indeed. As always I was particularly attracted to the meat based stands and thus sampled and naturally, bought some, deliciously fresh, almost sumptuously warm, direct from the processing, black pudding from the George Stafford black pudding stand. www.georgestafford.co.uk. It was yummy guys and I can't wait to have it in my full English breakfast tomorrow before I go to work! That is if it lasts beyond supper time!
The venue was a good size and it gave the visitor a decent view of what was on offer and even though it was nicely busy, one wasn't shuffling uncomfortably around NEC style; unable to get a chance to see the stands properly and talk to the enthusiastic producers. At Donnington it was much more open and variable! My only gripe was that the courtyard area which housed the hot food refreshment stands (mostly cooked meats based) was only signposted by a banner above the door that led into the courtyard space. Maybe for the future I would suggest better signage and proper tannoy announcements about the opportunity to purchase the meticulously prepared hot food. It takes hours to roast a whole pig and it can be delicious. Custom is needed though not only to savour the yummy crackling and mouth watering freshly cooked meat of the roast pork but also to encourage the providers to return again next year. At the recent Lincolnshire show the placement of such stands was very central and everyone had to go through this area in order to reach the other spaces. This arrangement made for a full on foodie experience and the customers hungry for more! Hungry customers that are satisfied spread the word of their experience and come back for more!
Anyway, this time, I went for a gorgeous hot BBQ steak cob marinated overnight and with a simple salad and a home-made pesto dressing. The two guys, David and Stu were very interesting to listen to and make a fab rib eye steak cob. If you go tomorrow do visit their stand (The Duke's BBC Co) or check out their website at www.thedukesbbq.co.uk.
My friend Janette also suggested that more vegetarian options may be considered for the refreshment area although she was very pleased, nay, delighted, with the pizza guys who made her a veggie pizza from scratch. I tried a few slices and it was very good! I almost felt guilty taking a few volunteered slices from her paper plate. But NOT TOO guilty!
For those interested in vintage kitchen wares or even vintage vehicles this food and drink fair offered lots to be snapped up and snapped (photographically). I posed decadently by the lacy 1950s pinafores and hope the picture is never published! All part of the fun of the day!
Not only were there the fab food stands and food related stands but there was a visit and eagerly anticipated demonstration from Paul Hollywood from The Great British Bake-Off fame and another very entertaining session from Rachel Green both of which graced the Cookery Theatre. Lots of fabulous tips to survive the holiday season! The was lots of inspiration from the Creative Christmas stage too!
For some quality producers I would recommend checking out these sites Bellota Speciality and Fine Foods. Bellota's cured meats are to die for! I tried a few and was salivating between each tiny trial piece. What is it about cured meats that I love so much!? I think it is the care that goes into the processes and the climate in which it is produced and the deep palate pleasing taste. A lot of their products are produced in remote mountainous regions which benefits the cured meats both
climatically and in temperature. Also for cheese lovers the very best of cheese can be found at a wonderful Derbyshire based establishment www.hartingtoncheeseshop.co.uk. (tel: 0129884935).
As Janette and I were arriving - things were feverishly hot as the regions best bakers of all ages were battling it out creating home made cakes, tasty sweet and savoury pies and gloriously decorated cupcakes all with the hope of collecting fantastic prizes from Renshaws and the main title of Donnington's best baker!
After the event Janette and I went over to Ferres Centre for Arts and Crafts near Melbourne (Derbys) for a cuppa and some delicious Bakewell Tart. The tea shop space has been extended since the last time I visited but was still as popular as ever but retained its quirky array of a myriad of old teapots above the diners. We had a pre-Christmas mooch around the arts and crafts elements of the historic centre and I purchased a fun cow based card to send on to my butchery friends at JT Beedhams. Next year it is planned that I am going to them to do a day of sausage making! Bring it on!
Merry Christmas Everyone!