We are staring firmly into the porthole of English summer, the season to stuff your reddening face with burgers and gin cup, so I went to Glynde Food Festival this weekend to do just that. But what a refined affair it was! There was none of the hustle and bustle of the Brighton events I’ve been to this year. Just acres of grass dotted with happy picnickers sipping on English wine, and plenty of it.
My highlight had to be the talk on beer and cheese matching by food journos Andy Lynes and Patrick McGuigan of Brighton Food Society. I have been to a few food festivals this year, and to be honest I’m a little bored of eating chutney off a crumb of cream cracker. I was delighted, therefore, to be presented with a plate of five nuggets of cheese and five generous tasters of beer, for free. The cheeses we tried were from La Cave à Fromage in Brighton and top quality, it’s no wonder they also supply to the likes of The Fat Duck and Le Gavroche.
It’s a tough one but I think my favourite combination we tried is the pairing of Parmigiano-Reggiano with the Belgian ‘big boy’ Duvel, proving Andy and Patrick’s rule that strong beer goes excellently with strong cheese. I’m sure I didn’t take much convincing, but I left wholeheartedly agreeing with Patrick that ‘beer and cheese is a beautiful thing.’
The cheese talk was hotly followed by an introduction to home brewing from Nick Weston of Hunter Gather Cook. I’ve been enjoying Nick’s blog for some time now so I had already read a little of what he spoke about on Sunday, including his clever idea to use a deep fat fryer as a budget sous vide machine. Nick finds sous vide a quick and easy method of creating infusions from wild ingredients to make his own unusual flavoured vinegars, oils, and of course, alcohol.
Nick gave us a tidy intro to a whole range of summer plants commonly found in Sussex that can be used to flavour booze, a list too long to put here. The biggest revelation for me was the knowledge that I have a stagshorn sumac tree growing in my garden. Keane needn’t have brought me a bag load of the lemony spice used in Middle Eastern cuisine back from UAE, as it was almost literally growing under my nose.
I visited the festival on both days so I was hungry enough to try both the Sussex Lamb burgers from their Shepherd’s Hut and the barbequed lamb from The Smoking Beetle. Both lunches were tasty, although The Smoking Beetle, with their converted VW beetle and matching olive green camper, won out on food theatre.
I don’t know whether a week of cooking vegetarian dinners led to some cravings, but I also noted down the impressive meat to pastry ratio of Little Jack Horner’s quality sausage rolls, and I had to scoot by fairly quickly because I was also tempted to sign up for a Well Hung Meat organic meat box.
As you might guess from the name, the English Wine tent was the focal point of the festival, and I enjoyed sampling a glass of their Bolney Bubbly. There could be truth in what they say about English sparkling wine giving Champagne a run for its money. If you have a bit of money that is, as our home grown isn’t cheaper for the short distance. The other booze on offer at Glynde included Sussex beer from Hepworth and Co and Sipsmith, which I tried with Fever Tree as a refreshing frozen G&T.
So after a weekend of grazing on manicured grass, I left the beautiful grounds of Glynde Place feeling slightly sizzled, slightly sozzled and slightly better informed, now that’s at least one-up on your average English garden party.
Disclosure: Nosy. I was given free entry to the Glynde Food Festival but all meals and drinks were purchased by me.
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About Chloe King
I'm a freelance writer, designer and webby type. I live with my husband and daughter in the south of England. I like to cook and can throw a good party.
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