Welcome back everybody!
We can honestly say, it’s good to be home! After a tiring week in Poland and a very bumpy flight back to Birmingham, Rita is safe and sound and happy to be back on the ground. Flying is for droids, as Obi-Wan Kenobi used to say, and we prefer to write our blog than to travel in a big tin can!
As promised, we continue with our review of the All Pay Flavours of Herefordshire Food Festival 2012. Previous entry was dedicated to the Farmers Market organized in High Town. If you’d like to read it, please click on the link below:
We are really excited to present you with the second part of the review. Farmer’s Market was a great place to start our culinary journey, but Cathedral Close was the main stage of the festival. Organizers erected 4 huge white pavilions that housed nearly 60 exhibitors, hostesses’ stands, information booths and presentation halls. With literally thousands of people going in and out, Cathedral yard has been turned into a truly magical place. It is important to mention that we were lucky to meet one of the special guests of the festival, famous cook and BBC’s “Steady, ready, cook” presenter, Tony Tobin. Mr Tobin was very impressed with the festival and vowed to return next year if invited again. Other guests included the cookbooks queen – Mary Berry (CBE), popular TV presenter Katy Ashworth and culinary writer Xanthe Clay.
Now, time for a bit of complaining. There was only one thing we didn’t like at the festival and we had to admit, it made our visit a little tiresome. We had nowhere to sit! Imagine yourself with a big tasty vegetarian burger, a bottle of mango juice and a bag full of sweets and handmade fudge. You’d need a table to put the food on and a chair to rest with a minimum of comfort. Sadly, the organizers forgot about a place where tired visitors could sit down. Cathedral Close has only 6 benches and all of them were occupied. One of the smaller tents was indeed turned into some kind of “cafeteria” but sadly the visitors with food were not allowed to sit there. We have been asked by the security guard to leave as we could not bring any food in. We have spoken to several other customers that were surprised and quite bitter about such rules, especially since it was a food festival and everybody were eating/trying out samples or carrying food with them. In 2011, a whole tent has been prepared for patrons. We understand about limited space – but let’s hope, next time the organizers will offer visitors a place to rest and enjoy their meal!
The Cathedral Close was divided into two small sections: main exhibition tents were located in the front of the cathedral and on the lawn around the entrance. Second stage was placed in the back of the building, near the Cloisters and Bishop’s Gardens and around Cathedral School buildings leading into the Castle Green.
We have spent most of our time in the main exhibition tent as the majority of companies had their stalls there, but we also met some very interesting people in the back yard of the Cathedral. Please, let us introduce you to our favourite food producers!
Denise Phillips Limited – fudge making genius
Address: 12 St Michael Close, Penkridge, Stafford ST19 5AD
Website: sadly none but you can contact her at 01785716390 or by fax 01785714636
It is hard to believe that you cannot find much information about Denise Phillips Limited on the internet! Denise Ann Phillips, the owner of company that bears her name, is an old fashioned businesswoman. She might not have a website and email, but local people quickly recognize her name. It’s nothing surprising, as she is a true legend among fudge lovers. You can meet Denise at almost every food festival in West Midlands and this is where she acquires her die-hard customers. We had to queue for 45 minutes to be able to buy something from her. No other exhibitor at the food market had such crowd surrounding their stall. Was it worth the wait? Of course! We have bought a whole bag of handmade fudge, toffee and chocolate truffles and they were the best we have ever eaten. Denise is a genius and you haven’t truly lived if you haven’t tasted her award winning sweets.
The Pudding Shop – traditional desserts for tea time
Address: Upton upon Severn, Worcester
More information: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Pudding-Shop/192484010785329
The Pudding Shop was established in Worcester in 2005 as a small family business offering traditional English desserts and puddings. In just 8 years, they became a thriving enterprise and a respected brand. Their steamed Christmas pudding received several awards all over the UK and in a consumer blind-taste test, it out-performed some of the British’ leading supermarket brands. The Bridges family still works in the heart of West Midlands and visits local food festivals or town markets. Rita bought a small Christmas pudding from them and it was literally devoured during the holidays 😀
Licky Lips Bakery – the land of wonder
Address: Hereford, contact number: 07802 523664
More information: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Licky-Lips-Bakery/161011130709209
We are inclined to believe that the idea for wizarding shops and vendors located along the Diagon Alley in Harry Potter series, popped into JK Rowling’s head while she was visiting one of the local food markets. Licky Lips Bakery stall at the festival could belong to the family of pure blood wizards and witches. Colourful cakes and endless rows of delightfully decorated cupcakes drew the attention of everybody who passed them by. The company is owned by two ladies, Sally and Kate, best friends who wanted to start doing business together. They both cook and bake and let us tell you, they know how to do it! We have met Sally at the stand and she had her hands full selling Hello Kitty lollipops, Christmas cookies and cupcakes. We are truly saddened that we cannot present you with any pictures of the lovely ladies but they turned out too blurry to use. The Bakery’s motto is “baking your dreams come true”. If you’d like a little magic in your life, contact Sally or Kate and they will gladly help you out! Rita and Mal would also thank Jess, Kate’s daughter for her assistance with this article. Jess is running the company’s official Facebook page so go and say hello 🙂
Jack Straws Countrystore – maker and supplier of wicker goods
Address: 6 Santa Maria Way, Stourport on Seven, Worcestershire
Founded in 1976, Jack Straws Countrystore continues the ancient tradition of basketry and wickerwork practiced in Coldswold/ Vale of Evesham for centuries. Sadly, they are the only one remaining supplier of traditional wicker, willow baskets, basketware and hampers left in the area. Rita fell in love with their hand made willow shopping bags (great alternative to plastic bags and very fashionable now) and their very original hanging piggy garden buckets. Jack Straws Countrystore’s workers not only attend local craft/food markets but also offer online shopping. Lovers of vintage or Scandinavian home designs will be delighted looking at their catalogue.
The Victorian Farm Food Co – Victorian food in XXI century
Address: The Rowe Farm, Condover, Shrewsbury, Shropshire,
More information: http://www.localtoludlow.org.uk/detail.cfm?companyid=361&typegroupid=3&page=Markets
In the last year and a half, we have been to many events and festivals organized in Hereford and in the neighbouring towns. When you think you have seen it all, The Victorian Farm Food Co proved us wrong. First thing we noticed after entering the back yard of the cathedral was a big wooden advertising board saying “Victorian Farm Butter”. A group of people surrounded a small scene with strange, barrel-like equipment on it. When we made our way through the crowd to the front, we saw a lady dressed in Victorian maid uniform showing the public a proper way of making butter. The lady’s name was Mary and she was co-owner of the company and a real star. She has spent her entire life on a farm producing food using only traditional methods. Her hands were moving so fast that we barely noticed when she made the butter, measured it with a special wooden pallet and packed it in company’s paper. She also entertained her customers with funny stories from the farm daily life. A teenage boy (probably her grandson) assisted her. In short – it was the best performance we have seen on the festival.
All right kids, we are nearly done. Before we announce that the end of our review has been reached, Mal and Rita would like to thank several people. The biggest thanks goes out to the organizers who did a splendid job and showed the world that Hereford is able to hold a food festival in the heart of the town and the city life will not be disrupted. We cannot wait to see another edition in 2013. Also, a big thank you goes to the wandering actors and entertainers who dedicated a lot of their time and strength to bring joy to those, who could not visit all sites of the festival. We would like to distinguish the Orchestra man and The Lady Cook (we wish, we knew your real names!) for their work with kids and disabled members of the public. You are simply awesome!
Lastly, we would like to thank The Country Flavours team for their kindness and superb customer service. They would not turn a late customer and even postponed their packing to help us find what we needed. You can see the owner with her daughter Grace posing for a farewell picture. Grace is probably the only girl in the United Kingdom who has velvet eyes. Yes, the same colour that made Elizabeth Taylor a star. We are sure, Grace has a great future in front of her 🙂
Oh by the way, the date for the Flavours of Herefordshire 2013 has already been announced. It will take place on Saturday 2nd & Sunday 3rd November for the second year in Hereford city. If you’d like to participate, please fill out the interest form available here:
See ya soon,
Rita and Mal