Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Dartmouth Food Festival - Foodie Heaven

Dartmouth Food Festival was held over the 20th - 24th October. I helped out for a couple of hours, manning an information stall with the lovely Susie Bennett,

Susie runs an amazing B and B overlooking Dartmouth in Kingswear:
She's a charming, funny person and, by the sound of it, her organic breakfasts are out of the world and her house has views 'to die for'.  This is a smart (and really good value) place to stay when visiting Dartmouth.  I look forward to staying there some time.
Our information stand was cunningly placed next to Devonshire Teas who obligingly provided a sample of their wares.  They've been operating since last June and have a huge Twitter presence so it was good to meet them in person.  The tea was refreshing, well-balanced with a good flavour and perked me up on a cold October morning on Dartmouth Embankment.  The tea isn't grown locally, but they've created a 'Devonshire' blend that is perfect to drink whilst in Devon with scones.
I pottered around tasting some fantastically fresh crab and then ended up tasting salt at one my favourite food producers, Cornish Sea Salt.  They've branched out into flavoured salts (Smoked, Chilli, Onion, Garlic and Pepper) - my favourite being the smoked one.  He's a jolly nice chap!
The Luscombe girls were having a good time and I enjoyed their Lime Crush - it had a good kick and not too sweet (as I think some of their drinks like their raspberry lemonade are).
There were loads of top notch food demos going on. 
I watched Miranda Gardiner, author of Teaching Dad to Cook Flapjack, making crabcakes and I tasted them at the end.  She seemed a bit nervous, but she needn't have been as her style and cooking are inspiring and natural and the finished product was yummy.  I picked up her book, it looked wonderful (she takes her own photos too), but I'm trying really hard to buy no more cookery books as I have enough to last me a lifetime.  
 Mitch Tonks, now a prominent Dartmouth restauranteur  (I remember him refusing to open some oysters for me in his Bath fish shop, this has coloured my opinion of him!) was promoting his book, the sound quality was pretty bad on the PA system, so I didn't linger but hurried over the road, round the corner, behind the church, to the unpreposessing Flavel Centre.  My one (major) criticism of the Dartmouth Food Festival was that if you're going to spread out over several venues, please advertise the fact and provide plenty of signage.  For me, all the best local food producers were in  here and there were barely any punters to be seen!
One of my highlights in The Flavel Centre was Lahloo Tea:
Kate is passionate about working with small tea producers and creating the perfect blend.  She's based in Bristol and her products are classy and tasty too.  She mentioned that they're gracing the shelves of some high end upmarket retailers and restaurants - I can see why.  Enjoyed chatting to Kate and bought a set of heart shaped tins containing tea, a Tea Tasting Kit for £7,  all for me me me.  Treat.  The two teas I've tried so far have been great.
These were the divine homemade custard creams she was selling:
Next door to Kate was the Totnes-based Bean and Pod - what an awesome display of handmade goodies.  These are chocolates with a difference (Choclette, take note!).  Raw cocoa used (I think I have this right) from a small cocoa farm, sweetened with dates (no refined sugar) and studded with beautiful flowers.  Loved chatting to Lu and think she's doing something really different.
A close-up of one of the beauts:
And from Red Earth Kitchen (based in Kingsbridge) I bought a thick slice of delectable quiche chocka with butternut squash, gorgonzola and sage.  Delicious flavour combination and a very satisfying, good value lunch
Dartmouth Food Festival was a free event and had a lovely atmosphere.  The Exeter one is bigger, better and you have to pay to get in.  This one suited Dartmouth and it was great to meet some new local food producers.


Anonymous said...

Good Blog Post!, I sadly missed this as I had an operation in hospital, was very very annoyed.

Any other good cake/chocolate makers on show?


Angie said...

Thanks for giving us a quick tour. I have the same trouble as you with cookbooks: far too many and can't resist a good one. And I don't know about you but I STILL find myself poking about in the same old ones for recipes! Don't they make good bedtime reading though?

Choclette said...

Thanks Kate, good to have a trip around the Fest. Sounds a lot bigger than the Truro one. Thanks for the heads up about Bean and Pod. I had a quick chat with them in Totnes once, but didn't actually try any - better had next time. Thanks for the link. Just shows bad customer service will out (Mitch Tonks) - good for you for highlighting it.

Grazing Kate said...

Matthew - yes, were lots of good bakers there - Manna from Devon, Cookies with Love and I had a really naughty bit of Rocky Road from Cafe Alf Resco. All good!

Angie - yes, those wonderful food books...I've just filed away all my snippets and cuttings from food mags, friends and newspapers into three large A4 folders and am having a lovely few weeks working my way through them. I feel somewhat liberated from the cookbook for a while. Dangerous to read them in bed - you fall asleep with your tummy rumbling!
Choclette - actually the Dartmouth fest was smaller than I anticipated, having got used to the Exeter one, but it had a great atmosphere and plenty to sample. I loved what Bean and Pod were doing but they were too healthy for me and my kid - too much emphasis on healthiness took away from my inner glutton's enjoyment of the perfect melding of fat and sugar!

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