Festival Feasts 2012

I know there has been a slight radio silence from Eats of London over the last couple of months- since festival season begun my feet have barely touched the ground! I’ve been from one end of the country to the other (well, almost) enjoying myself and along the way, I’ve had some brilliant festival feasts. Festival food has had something of a revolution over the last few years. While Glastonbury caught on to the fact that food can be a wonderful part of the festival experience many, many years ago and has one of the most varied array of food stalls I’ve ever come across, there are still a number of festivals that haven’t figured out their crowd might want more than a greasy, overpriced frozen burger while they are stranded in a field.  Sadly, I haven’t quite been switched on enough to take photos of my festival food this time round but I’d still like to shout about a few of the things that have entertained my tastebuds over the past few weeks.

So, to start with, I’d like to get the 2012 foodie low out of the way as honestly, the disappointing one for me was Latitude festival.  In previous years, there has been several more interesting traders at the Festival Republic ‘middle-class’ festival in Suffolk but sadly a large number of the plots this year were handed over to what can only be described as bog-standard, corporate noodle and fish and chip stands.  To me, this makes little sense- Latitude festival prides itself on it’s wonderful mix of culture and arts and these days, food is so intertwined with our popular culture it seems an oversight to not make a feature of the food available and offer a wide range of choice, particularly to an audience who have a few more pounds to spend on their meals than your average Reading festival teenager.

There was one saving grace that is worth a mention however, and that was the great little selection provided by a group of food traders named Bumble, from Argyll up in Scotland. (http://bumbleargyll.com/?page_id=317)  Not short of a long queue all weekend, they offered a huge mix of dishes from succulent and substantial venison burgers, to cullen skink and delicious homemade macaroni cheese and all of these were made from fresh and well-sourced ingredients. They were most certainly a saving grace in amongst the crowd this year.

At both Secret Garden Party and Boomtown Fair however, it was a different story and I couldn’t eat my way round quick enough.  There were way too many individual traders to mention, including some of the usual London traders, some faces I only ever see at Latitude and some that (as far as I know) are completely new to the circuit but I’d like to highlight a few of the best, to look out for at an event near you!

Roaming Rotisserie/Roaming Raclette

While I’ve come across Roaming Rotisserie and their succulent chicken with roast potatoes before, this year they’ve added an extra offering to their stall- the Roaming Raclette. The second I saw this, I knew I had to try the mountain of authentic raclette cheese served over potatoes, bacon, frankfurter, cornichons, onions, peppers and chillis and it was one of the most satisfying meals I have eaten all summer, both filling and delicious. The rotiesserie side of their stall was sold out by 6pm on the Sunday of Boomtown, so if you spot them at a festival snap some up quickly before it’s too late, I’ve tried it before and I can assure you, it’s worth the queue!

Wholefood Heaven

On the very last night of Secret Garden Party I was lucky enough to stumble across Wholefood Heaven and instantly recognised their beautiful little truck tucked away towards the back of the site. Although I’d already eaten, I couldn’t reisst the opportunity to sample their award-winning Buddha Bowl, so shared a portion. The buddha bowl is made up of brown rice, wok-fried curly kale, massaman curry, new potatoes and a tasty kimchee and was a perfectly balanced and fulfilling dish- not only was it great for me after a weekend of mostly unhealthy food, it also tasted delicious and left a fantastic lasting flavour. It’s easy to see why this dish has been so popular and I hope to see Wholefood Heaven at even more festivals in the future.

Anna Mae’s

I am whole-heartedly putting my hands up and doing a u-turn on my first review of Anna Mae’s. In a moment where I was in need of good, cheese-based comfort food, I found myself making a beeline for their awesome stand at Secret Garden Party for a portion of their ‘Don Macaroni’ – their traditional mac’n’cheese topped with a healthy serving of pesto and bacon. My friends were a bit skeptical of this combination but every single one who tried it had nothing but good things to say. The combination was delicious, with the pesto lifting the stodgy cheesiness. The cheese flavour was much more intense than on the batch I tried the last time, so it was taste to see Anna Mae’s on good form!

Special Mention – Sourced Market

Finally, I wanted to give a special mention to the Sourced Market, who put on a special array of stalls at Secret Garden Party each year. They have everything from chorizo stew to panninis, katsu curry to cupcakes and all created by specialists. It’s great to see a festival picking up an established food market and making it a hub at a festival- why more festivals don’t partner with established foodies,I don’t know and is makes sense for everyone.

So now festival season is over and Summer is soon to follow, I’m back in London and hopefully back to sampling the delights available to us in the capital.

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