Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Food Festivals Galore

Goodness. Not one but TWO food festivals in a week!

We didn't get to have lunch with The Builder's parents last weekend. Mick had a very unpleasant chest infection. It was so bad that Gwen said that she had rather thought on the Friday and Saturday that he might not still be with us by Sunday. Happily he was, but not in any state to go out. So we rethought our plans.

First, we had to go into Salisbury to sort out a replacement for his phone. He's now once again connected to mobile telephony, with a free insurance policy which covers him for accidental damage. At least, it covers his phone! Probably not worth actually paying for insurance for it, but free is worth having - he can inadvertently throw it under any number of taxis now!

Rumour had reached our ears of a food fair in the market square. We had a bit of time to kill so wandered in to investigate. It was lovely - just like an ENORMOUS farmer's market. Wonderful meat and fish, yummy breads and rolls, English wines and cordials. Busy enough to feel buzzy but not so busy that you couldn't move. Had a lovely time. And filled up my shopping bags. And, eventually, the freezer!

We had lunch in the Yew Tree in Odstock, the next village along from Gwen and Mick's. We'd booked a table in case they could join us and figured we might as well use the booking - after all, we had to eat somewhere. Then we trundled along to visit them. Mick was looking all grey and sad and sickly, though he did perk up as our visit progressed. Gwen was a bit sad when we said we ought to go. I can see that it must be a bit dull being at home with someone with a nasty chest infection. Not only is he confined to the house, but so perforce is she, effectively. Unfortunately, it's quite a long drive from Salisbury to The Sidings and we didn't want to be too late home. We'll have to organise another run down soon.

So it was, then, that we left this Saturday morning for the York Food and Drink Festival with both freezers more or less full and my wallet more or less empty. We'd booked to go about a month ago, not realising that food festivals would come out of the woodwork in the interim. However, the B&B was booked and we were all geared up for it, so off we went. It's not far from us to York and we don't usually stay - it's an easy day trip. It seemed a bit extravagant to make a weekend of it - but if you're going to a food and DRINK festival you don't want to be driving home. And the trains aren't stopping at Chesterfield over the weekends at the moment - some work they're doing on the lines. There are alternatives, but they take up to five hours (it takes an hour and a quarter by car!). An overnight stay it was, then.

The B&B has just taken delivery of week old twins. Grandma is in charge while the twins and their parents sort themselves out!

The festival was fantastic. The big market square in Parliament street was packed with stalls and things. I've bought the Christmas ham and the Christmas salmon (£10, or £12.50 if they filleted it for you - I had them fillet it and give me the bones and head as well. I now also have the stock for the Christmas bouillabaisse!!) I've got artisan sausages and cheeses, chops and lamb mince, all sorts of very yummy things. We had lunch in the Lendel Cellars (where we have eaten before). They weren't being all that efficient - the timing of the last weekend of the (10 day) food festival coincided with the end of Freshers' week and the arrival back of the returning students. Wave after wave after wave of groups of students and groups of foodies rather overwhelmed the poor kitchen staff. Lots of people gave up, reclaimed their money and went away. Our lunch was well worth the wait - but we only waited because we didn't actually have any plans for the afternoon, other than wafting around food stalls. We ambled around the actual market square (not part of the festival but always an interesting potter) and wandered about the shops. My Christmas present shopping is going well too - if unconscionably early!!

If you should find yourself in York overnight and are looking for somewhere to eat, the Waterfront Restaurant on King's Staithe does absolutely wonderful steak and seafood dishes. Our great pleasure in our dinners was only lessened by the twat at the table next to ours pontificating to a couple of bewildered and bemused listeners about all sort of thins (primarily business related) in Australia. He assured them he was a regular visitor. Didn't sound like it to me. I oh so wish I'd been wearing my kangaroo jumper - which I did have with me but which I had left back at The B&B. The Builder wouldn't let me push him into the Ouse and diverted me with ice cream and chocolate syrup!

I hadn't thought to take the program for the festival with me and although I knew there were events happening around the place I wasn't sure where they were. I had a feeling, though, that some of them were around the Yorkshire Wheel at the Railway Museum. So we went to investigate after our hearty breakfast on Sunday. Got there at ten, just as things were opening up and decided to start the day with a trip on the wheel. It's not anything like as big as the London Eye and has little pods rather than huge capsules for travellers to sit in. Even so, I don't think people who are nervous of heights would be too troubled. You are beautifully enclosed and there is no danger at all of falling, flying or toppling. The weather was beautiful, if a trifle cold, and the views were amazing. It travels faster than the London Eye, but you get several revolutions so you can look at things you missed on previous revolutions. Really enjoyed it.

Never did find the exhibitions and events I thought were at the Museum. Eventually, on looking it up today, realised that they were at the Eye of York, which is not the wheel (as in the London Eye) but on the other side of the city near Clifford tower. Oh well. No worries. We did a second riffle through the market stalls, collected the car and came home.

There was something of a problem stowing away all the shopping. Eventually, armed with a gin and tonic, I took all the drawers out of the freezer, put everything on the floor (Marlo was convinced this was a special jigsaw puzzle just for him! Though it was perhaps a bit cold for comfort) and packed things back in V E R Y C A R E F U L L Y I N D E E D. It does all fit. Just.

I've made stocks and soups and things. We had home made pizza for dinner last evening. I've got a pork hock for tonight. Oh - and during the week I tried my hand at making potato crisps/chips. They were very, very nice. I've acquired a parsnip to try parsnip crisps now.


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