Well done all those who made it along to Foodies on Saturday when the sun shone high in the sky and there was not a drop of rain to be seen. This however was my happy companions making their way along to the best outdoor Food Festival in town. I am sure many folks elected to stay at home in front of the fire but we were not to be beaten by a piddling hurricane – bloody Bertha!
We were lucky enough to have VIP tickets again this year which meant a seat under canvas – never has this been more appreciated. Slightly hungover and very wet, the first task bar none was to find some lunch and retreat back to our undercover haven to pig out. There is always so much street food to choose from . From fine dining – Mark Greenaway was serving up delicious pork belly – to big curly chips on sticks and everything in-between. All corners of the globe seemed to be represented – Thailand, France, Germany, Mexico and the Seychelles to name but a few.
My country of choice was Thailand. Quan Thai restaurant were cooking up two lovely warming curries (green and yellow) and a big steaming pot of chicken pad thai. I find green Thai curry pretty hard to resist and so a quick choice was made. The lunch choices in our happy camp included a rather majestic looking steak baguette, Chinese noodles with spring rolls, a punchy chorizo and beef chillie and chips and ketchup (for the girls – good lord!)
My curry, served up with rice, was roasty toasty and tasted fantastic. It was restaurant quality Gaeng Khiao Wan Gai served in a dry tent and paired with a free glass of bubbles. I began to feel slightly more inclined to venture out and about to forage for fabulous new finds.
Having sent two very wet children home with Papa Pettinger, the remaining three set about exploring. Despite the dire weather there were some stellar finds.
KWANS KITCHEN products are handmade in small batches in their Beijing Beijing Restaurant in the Scottish Borders. They contain no msg, artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. This is technically not a ‘find’ for me as I have used their marvellous products before. We sought them out as we had run out and needed a Kwan fix. Their products include a Szechuan oil, black bean and garlic sauce and a salt and pepper spice as well as their spanking new sweet chilli sauce.
Kwans Kitchen flavours are very intense and authentic and it is really simple to transform a simple piece of fish or meat into something stunning with their help.
I take couple of salmon fillets and rub them with the salt and pepper spice (just a little bit) then I spread a few teaspoons of the garlic and black bean sauce over the top and pop in the oven for 15 minutes. I then drizzle a little of the Szechuan oil over each fillet and pop back in the over for 5 minutes. The result is fantastic. I serve this with fried rice mixed with spring greens and soy sauce.
STELLA ARTOIS CIDRE RASPBERRY
One glass of bubbles was not enough and this was just what was needed. A generous sample of the newly launched offering from one of the UKs best-selling cider brands – Stella Artois. The new kid on the block is a raspberry cider which “has been carefully crafted according to a unique Belgian recipe, which uses hand-picked, crushed raspberries to deliver a sophisticated fruit cider with a refreshing, crisp taste” And that is exactly what it does. The only downside was the wee stamp on your hand which limits you to one sample, I rubbed it, it was going nowhere. I will need to head to the supermarket to stock up on this as alas I didn’t feel my soggy paper bag would stand up to a bottle of cider. It would be an absolutely gorgeous addition to a sun filled afternoon in the garden, served ice-cold with perhaps a punnet of raspberries on the side. Look out for it in your local supermarket.
GRANDMA CHAPMAN’S BLACK BUN
What is Black Bun? I had no idea. Turns out it is a fruit cake which is completely covered with a thin layer of pastry. A bit like a great big fat Garibaldi but much much better. This Scottish delicacy was originally eaten on twelfth night but is now a traditional first foot gift on hogmanay. It is a heady mix of fruit, citrus peel and spices (noteably pepper). It is rich, comforting and best of all you can kid yourself that you are getting a few of your five a day (sort of). Grandma Chapman’s Black Bun was irresistible and found its way into our soggy shopping bag. Perfect to accompany a cuppa on these increasingly autumnal days, alternatively it will be lovely warmed up with a good splash of custard. They also produce Clootie Dumpling which is possibly one of my favourite treats ever. Instead of a birthday cake my fabulous granny used to make me a big clootie dumpling, which would be eaten with liberal amounts of custard and the next day it would be fried up for breakfast – absolutely delightful.
Flavour Magic produce infused salt and spice blends. It’s the spice blends that were on show at Foodies and they were fantastic. Using flavours from Mexico, Morocco, Tunisia, Portugal and Japan – they really give you a chance to taste your way around the world.
They are sold as great marinades for meats, vegetables and fish but to be honest some of the blend mixed into mayonnaise or yoghurt would make a fantastic dip for crudities or crisps. I lingered long enough to taste all of the fabulous punchy spices before deciding to call time on my Foodies experience for this year.
Ordinarily I will spend an entire day at Foodies. Soaking up all of the magnificent smells and flavours whilst lolling about on the grass with a chilled glass of something and enjoying the weather. But we live in Scotland and there are no guarantees when it comes to weather.
So this year It was a quick couple of hours for us before slinking back home for a hot drink and some fudge. The range of producers were as ever amazing and the workshops looked really interesting BUT I am rubbish in the rain and wind and my enthusiasm waned quickly. Hopefully I will choose the sunny day next year.