I held off deciding what we would be eating over the Easter weekend because I hoped to find it at the Brighton and Hove Food and Drink Festival Big Sussex Market. I should have known, but for all the inspirational smells and tastes, the festival isn’t the best place to buy your grocery shop. It is, however, an event that makes you wish that you had room for five lunches and the cash to buy all your friends a carton of grow-your-own oyster mushrooms.
I’m not joking. The most novel stall I find at the market is that of The Espresso Mushroom Company who have devised a method of growing oyster mushrooms on upcycled coffee grounds. The company supplies their ecologically sound oyster mushrooms to a number of restaurants in Brighton including Moshimo, and they also retail neat grow-your-own kits that yield a beautiful crop in just two weeks. I might be a geek, but I think this is a really, really clever idea.
Having walked the length of the market once I feel my first choice of lunch, a pork empanada (£2) made by Tina at CanTina, is a good bet. Tina is an events caterer whose supper club is one of this month’s Stylist magazines’ ‘four of the best’. Her empanada and tomato chutney is excellent: nicely short pastry, soft, spicy meat and a really tangy sauce. Just this simple snack is a great advert, and now I would love to eat at one of Tina’s clubs.
I find it hard to resist the Sam’s of Brighton pulled pork, but I have to act fast to quell my daughter’s hunger rage, so I buy her a cup of their tomato and basil soup (£2). My daughter loves the soup, but trying to get it out of a polystyrene cup and into her eager mouth while the pair of us perch on a tiny wooden stool outside Small Batch Coffee is like a scene from a washing powder commercial.
Round the corner I pick up lunch number three: a lamb and salsa verde bap from Cotswold-based caterer Ross & Ross (£5). Now this is some seriously tender lamb that, for a few minutes at least, makes me forget about the biting cold and believe that spring is here. The Ross & Ross salsa verde, with capers, wild garlic, mint and gerkins is definitely something I will try cooking at home.
Aside from my many lunches, my ‘Easter weekend food shop’ comprises just a few treats. I am annoyed with myself for getting smoked fish again, but, baffled by the choice on offer at The Fresh Fish Shop, I walk away with a hot smoked salmon fillet and a tiny carton of potted shrimp. When a woman saunters past me cooing ‘his cheese is the best thing at this market,’ I succumb to buying a round of Saint George ‘Camembert type’ goats cheese from Nut Knowle Farm in Horam. The price of £5 seems steep at first, but it’s a purchase I don’t regret.
Like a wheelie-bin rattling with food wrappers, I head down to Victoria Gardens where I find many more tempting street food vendors, like La Chosa Mexican and Spade & Spoon English raclette. I am too full to contemplate trying any of it so I work my way towards the big white tent for a live cookery show. I sink into a meat coma in front of some calming cookery demonstrations from Jimmy Grey of Jeremy’s Restaurant and Carlos Dinapolis of Agua Dulce. And then, the realisation hits that I have yet to go to Sainsbury’s…
Brighton and Hove Food and Drink Festival ‘Spring Harvest’ runs until 3rd April
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