Now I know it’s a holy day. And Lent. (My goodness! Is it really still Lent?) All the same, I urge all you foodies, booze lovers and general fun-day-out-seekers to make the great pilgrimage to Buryfield. The Great Missenden Food Festival is in full swing this Easter weekend. Hurrah!
I took a spin down there this afternoon to see what I could see…
1PM. Lunchtime. It was clear that this was already proving a popular little event. The queue on the approaching link road was reaching something close to gridlock. OK, so not exactly hoo haa levels, admittedly (we’re in The Chilterns, after all) but enough for me to opt to abandon… *ahem*… responsibly park my trusty Peugeot near the village centre and make my way by foot. I never have been one of life’s most patient urchins. Gloriously sunny, as it was, I was glad of the stroll.
Live music played and the peaks of various marquees and pagodas were visible on approach. The thought that Summer is just around the corner hit me and made me feel a tad giddy. I contained the whoops and paid my entry fee (£4.50… not bad!).
The food festival hosts more than 100 exhibitors from near and far across the UK. The majority are housed in a marquee just inside the entrance, so that’s where I started to explore. Charcutiers, chocolatiers, cheesemongers, butchers, bakers, brewers, vintners and craftspeople from every corner of the food production world were represented by fine display stands. Each more enticing and delightful than the last. And our lovely local producers were out in force. High Wycombe based luxury tea makers Jolly Brew proffering a friendly cuppa. Curious Foods, from over the hill in Tring, bringing their nonconformist salami, quite literally, to the table (beetroot, quinoa and caraway was my weakness).
I never cease to marvel at the creativity and ingenuity of small independent businesses. Novel production techniques, dreamt up blends and flavours, inventive branding and packaging. All part of the labour of love that makes these products so much more desirable than the output of mass production we see abundantly on our supermarket shelves nowadays. I’d have done the weekly shop, had I been able to locate a trolly.
Dotted round the venue at various specially built stands were live cookery demos, BBQ cook-a-longs and culinary skills workshops. Simon Rimmer of Sunday Brunch fame and Great British Bake Off finalist Ian Cumming are both scheduled to demonstrate over the course of the weekend and expert forager Matt Normansell is there to give guided foraging walks too. The crowds were taking full advantage of the activities this afternoon. I personally was a little more preoccupied with hoovering up various titbits offered as samples and learning from one Gastro Nick, of a particular variety of Champagne, which is the tipple of none other than Lady Grylls (Bear Grylls’ Mum). I took two bottles. Well if it’s good enough for Lady Grylls…
Street Food Avenue was jam-packed with mouth watering lunch options. From exotic South African Bunny Chow (no cute bunnies harmed in the making) to gourmet grilled cheese and sourdough toasties, there was plenty to picnic on.
I made a last circle of the main food marquee and lingered over some crocodile steaks, before selecting some yummy sausages and chilalilli for our supper.
Great show, Great Missenden Food Festival. I’m clinking a glass of my Virginie T to you. (And that’s ‘T’ for Tattinger, by the by).
Have you any great suggestions for local fairs, festivals and events coming up? Please leave me a comment below and I’ll be sure to check them out!