Who doesn’t love a Food Festival?
Now that we’re into September the fabulous food festival season is getting underway. It seems to run parallel with harvest – that time when many of our crops are brought “into the barn” and we give thanks for the bounty of our countryside.
What better way to celebrate harvest that to get involved in one of the many brilliant food festivals all around the country over the next couple of months.
Beaumaris is always a good place to start – the jewel in the Anglesey crown, some would say.
We were there – it took place last weekend – 2nd and 3rd September.
After a fairly lazy start, we tootled over on Saturday late morning and got there for about noon. Parking (£4 all day) was easier than expected on the field between the town and the sea and the entrance fee of £5 gave us wristband access to and from the festival all day.
We resisted the temptation to buy a bespoke Beaumaris Food Festival canvas bag on the way in, which we later regretted. It would have been a useful place to stash all the bits and bobs we bought.
The obvious place to start was the ‘Producers Tent’ and it was nice to float straight in and not have to queue. In fact we only encountered 3 queues all day – the Illy Coffee van, the Churros tent and the Thai Curry Tent – all for obvious reasons.
The sign outside is an old one, but a good’un.
The ‘Producers Tent’ was a glorious hub of foodie heaven.
Olives, bread, cakes, sausages, garlic, wine, jams, cheeses, burgers, sauces – you name it, it was there. A lot of the produce was locally sourced with some coming from further afield.
Mr Bond has a radar for tasty cured salamis so our first stop was our old friends French Flavour who we’ve shared many a windy tent with at Christmas Fairs. After much deliberation, the final choice was a ‘Saucisson Sec aux Figues’ and if we hadn’t been going on holiday shortly, there might have been quite a few more to put in the bag we didn’t have!
If you have a penchant for all things sweet and sticky then Pant Glas Bach and their delicious range of preserves would have suited you well. A North Wales Award winning company – it ticks all the boxes for me.
Chocolate always draws a crowd and Ty Siocled Caernarfon were happily handing out samples to young and old.
I always enjoy seeing what cakes are on offer on these occasion. I’ll be honest – the choice of cupcakes was disappointing and certainly didn’t give me anything to worry about!
The Chelsea buns, a particular favourite of mine since College days, looked nice and squidgy and were selling fast. But it was the baklava that we went home with. Resistance is futile.
One of the first things were noticed was the preponderance of dogs. Not what you would necessarily expect at a food event! We counted most breeds, including a miniature dachshund to make us smile. and plenty of Heinz 57s. Some were perky hoping for titbits, some fed up and some fast asleep. The good news was if your canine got caught short, you only had to ask for poo bags at the office.
Lunch is always a difficult moment at Food Festivals -don’t you think? After doing 2 circuits of the “street food” area we were no nearer a decision about what to eat. Mr Bond headed off for the Thai Curry tent and came back with a pile of yummy looking freshly fried spring rolls with sweet chilli.
Overwhelmed with choice, and having munched on too many nibbles thus far, I opted for a liquid lunch with token raspberry which I’m counting as one of my 5-a-day whatever they say!
The Raspberry Bellini was a popular choice – mainly for the women, all over the Festival – so I was in good company.
Well done and thanks to The Tipsy Mare
This little chap on our table couldn’t speak a word of English and wasn’t sure about me, but was truly enjoying his strawberry slushy.
It was nice to see The Midland Tapas Bar in Beaumaris take a prominent pitch in the centre of the field and the paella was going like hot cakes. As regular trippers to Spanish Catalonia we were delighted to discover the Midland recently and enjoy some genuinely tasty tapas to remind us of sunny Spain.
The Festival was enjoyed by locals and visitors alike – a good sign that it’s born out of the community rather than helicoptered in without local support. The local Craft Beer tent was a popular hangout and not just for the blokes. Loved seeing these ladies of all ages catching up over a pint or two.
The surprise discovery of the day was the “freshly baked while you watch” Hungarian Chimney Cake.
I didn’t quite get to the bottom of what it’s made of but it’s sweet, doughy and very yummy. You could chose from a range of toppings which all looked nice. We opted for traditional – to get the original experience.
The very nice Hungarian lady handed me the freshly baked chimney cake in a brown paper bag with instructions to take care of it.
I managed to keep the chimney intact for the whole 45 minutes it took to get home and then it just disappeared very quickly. So I’m hoping the Hungarian bakers might visit North Wales again soon.
My overall impression was that we’ll definitely come again. It’s easy to find, good parking and value for money. The organisers have done well with marquees spaced nicely, community seating available and lots of bins. My personal choice is always for more locally sourced produced with North Wales provenance, but everyone clearly loved the choice of food available both to munch on the day and to take home.
The Conwy Feast is our nearest festival and we have attended quite a few times. Beaumaris is, of course, smaller but in many ways more enjoyable, with space and less crush. Whilst it was a busy day with lots of visitors, it wasn’t overwhelming, and it was easy to walk around and see the stands properly. There was a great choice and variety of food producers represented – many from Wales and super proud to fly the flag.
I am so happy to live in North Wales, a region that is becoming known as a “foodie mecca”. The more quality events that we can organise , the more visitors and potential customers will come. More small food businesses will get started, be well supported and flourish. That’s the kind of Wales I want to live in.
Make a note in your diary for next year – I promise you’ll have a great day out and if you can’t wait, there’s always the Beaumaris Victorian Christmas Fayre in December which is great fun.
And finally, when you come make sure you pay a visit to Janet Bell Gallery & Gift Shop on the High Street. It’s my absolute favourite shop in the world. In fact there’s 2 shops so it’s win/win.
That’s all for now