The Big Feastival
The Big Feastival is right on the curve for good eating and music. Not surprising really when Alex James, pop star turned cheese maker and food presenter, and almost veteran chef Jamie Oliver are the two key bods behind this festival. In its second year the Big Feastival has done a good job at attracting good music acts plus there are plenty of good things to fill your belly with.
I for one, as well as salivating at the thought of munching through some good food, was really looking forward to throwing some shapes to Basement Jaxx.
The first thing we noticed on arrival was the very middle-England feel. Situated in the heart of the Cotswolds, it was always going to attract a certain audience but I don’t think we expected quite so many Hunter wellies and pink Crew Clothing shirts.
The general atmosphere was relaxed and friendly and evidently family friendly with kids’ clothing shops and fairground rounds for them to nag their parents to go on; I have to admit I also had a hankering to go on the helter skelter. There was also a little farm, with loads of cute and cuddly animals to go #aahhhh’ to and a straw play area for children to throw and roll around in.
We chose our spot and downed our chairs next to the Wyld Wood Organic Cider bar which turned out to be a good decision as this became our main beverage of choice for the afternoon.
First on the list of things to do was grab lunch. With a plethora of food stalls to choose from, lunch became an endless supply of things to munch on – here are a selection of great flavours we found whilst we enjoyed chilling to some good tunes.
Kirtsy’s Kitchen - Scotch egg
You may think a Scotch Egg could never reach the dizzy heights of a top three flavours at a food festival. Well Kirsty's meat enrobed eggs are super special. There were a variety of choices but it the black pudding version that egged it for me. A masterpiece - crispy breadcrumbs, a succulent and flavoursome meat layer meets you before you are treated to a velvety soft egg yolk. The best you’ll ever have.
Ross and Ross Foods – Ham hock and parsley terrine
I've raved about other Ross and Ross products before, to note their slow roast lamb and salsa verde street food I ate at the Witney Festival of Food and Drink. It's the turn of their ham hock and parsley terrine. With a prominent yet subtle parsley flavour running through the tender pressed meat this was all good in my book.
Brindian - Slow roast pork belly
I’ve not thought about using Indian style spices with pork belly before. So thanks to Brindian who have; their range of street food uses quality meats from Hampshire and goes all fusion. I tried there pork belly which is rubbed with ghee, cinnamon, garlic, chilli and ginger before being slow roasted for five hours. Served with salad, chilli and a flat bread, the spice cut through the fatty goodness of the pork belly and the refreshing salad made it a nice light meal.
Paellaria – Chicken and chorizo paella
A delicious, well-flavoured paella using authentic ingredients (so they say!). Generous smattering of chicken breast & sizeable juicy chinks of chorizo. Excellent portion size made it great value for money. Well worth the humongous queue!
Grand Marnier - Espirit
The future of festival cocktails! Clever marketing led me to find out what on earth people were drinking from those red balls. On finding the Grand Marnier bar, my eye was caught by the Esprit: a long cocktail adding elderflower & soda to a liberal measure of Grand Marnier, served over ice with slices of fresh fruit. All cleverly served in a plastic red transparent ball which served as a shaker and a clever spill-proof & - crucially - wasp-proof - drinking vessel!
Lord Poppington's - Chilli & lime popcorn
Popcorn with a twist! I've long been a fan of popcorn as a (fairly) healthy snack and I wasn't disappointed with the zingy kick that their chilli & lime flavour provided.
Kirtsy’s Kitchen - Scotch egg
The most delightfully tasty scotch egg I've ever tasted. The non-uniformity of the shape shouted handmade and a bite into the egg revealed a perfectly cooked, smooth yolk. It's also worth noting that the black pudding wasn't too rich and didn't overpower the other flavours.
Hooper's - Ginger Brew
The Wyld Wood cider that I consumed for most of the day was both tasty and convenient (it was right next to our "pitch" but the flavour of Hooper's Ginger Brew was even more refreshing in the afternoon's sunshine. The brew had the warmth you'd expect from a ginger beer but was kept light with hints of lemon and lime. A nice alternative to the usual cider and beer options!
The Artisan Food Market
Like a farmers market on steroids, the food market was an amazing place to lose yourself in a flood of tasting opportunities; cheeses, oils, pate, cakes, fudge. There was plenty to tickle your taste buds but the climax for me was walking away with a sweet treat for the afternoon. The Salted Caramel Brownie from Fair & Square Chocolate Brownies was a generous slice and wonderfully moist.
I am ashamed to say that despite the wide choice of food available I only tasted Higgidy Pies and not once, but twice during the day. My logic for this lame selection choice is this:
- There weren’t many choices for ‘meal’ eateries – loads of food suppliers but for the volume of consumers very few places to grab a ‘meal’. This resulted in the most humungous of queues and for someone who doesn’t queue and was hungry those places weren’t an option.
- I have recently and rather inconveniently developed an intolerance to yeast – virtually every other stall had bread based element to their meals.
Hence my landing at Higgidy Pies twice. Not only was the queue much shorter than other food stalls, but they offered mashed potato – always a winner and there wasn’t any yeast in sight. And to be honest it was one nil to me; I ate quicker and both the chicken pie first time round and the slow cooked beef in red wine sauce second time round were delicious. So, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah to all you queuers.
The food market section was great with plenty of things to taste, eat and purchase; there was a great buzz and a good flow of people. But as Mrs Richinflavour has already touched on, the queue issue was around the outlets selling meals; we all came to the conclusion there wasn’t enough of them.
After standing in line for an eternity, Mr Wymer came back disappointed that the waiting time for a bison burger was just too long for a hungry man, so had gone for a distinctly average sized ostrich burger that failed to excite and at £7 not particularly good value.
Having been at Carfest at Laverstock Park Farm the week before, it was hard not to compare the two festivals. Carfest had three times as many street food outlets and an array of food stalls that was easily comparable to the Big Feastivals. The food queues at Carfest were never much longer than 5 minutes and the organic burgers and other meals we ate were all excellent. I’m sure with a little less pressure the street food venders at the Big Feastival could have concentrated a little more on quality rather than dealing with the frenzy of hungry people.
We had a fantastic time and as you will have read we tasted plenty of tasty treats. Along with some great food The Big Feastival also got me up and dancing. Norman Jay whipped out some classic house tunes, which I and the other thirty-somethings in the audience definitely appreciated; the sea of dads with toddlers on their shoulders was great to see. Dodgy got me singing along and Basement Jaxx were awesome and the perfect end to a great day of music.
The Big Feastival was exactly what it said it would be; a great family festival. It pulled out some fab musical entertainment and in fairness there was a wide array of tasty food. Perhaps next year though they could look at getting in more places to grab a feast as the name suggests.