If you were one of the 43,000 who visited this year’s Cornwall Food & Drink Festival in the last three days you’ll know that Cornwall’s food and drink, and all the industries associated with it, are pretty special.
The food and drink pavilion wasn’t filled with homely-but-a-little-amateurish WI type sponge cakes, and jars of jam and marmalade; or in the other extreme, with expansive corporate sales pitches from big food businesses. The catering offerings weren’t greasy chips and burgers or limp ham rolls and the top chefs weren’t brought in from other regions.
The reality, in fact, is so good: the quality, integrity, and passion; sometimes you have to pinch yourself, that what you are actually seeing is just the top rim of a proverbial horn of plenty.
Limited only by the space available on Lemon Quay, you can bet there are dozens and dozens of other food retailers, producers and chefs putting their names down now to be at next year’s festival. Tired and exhausted, they may be, but the twitter buzz is already showing evidence of festival withdrawal symptoms.
One of the best aspects is the sheer friendliness. You don’t pop into the festival for a few minutes to see what’s going on, you lose yourself in it for hours. Bumping into old and new friends, the pleasure as much in the dialogue as the sampling of great foodstuffs.
There’s one event (I’m now going to strongly advise you book and pay for now for they’ll be many others trying to elbow their way to a place at a table) is the Magnificent Seven Dinner (or #Mag7 if you are a ‘tweeter’). This is the ultimate in pop up restaurants, held in the festival marquee the night before opening, in which all the dishes cooked from Cornish ingredients by the seven best chefs in Cornwall. Where else can that kind of thing happen?
I didn’t go and listing to the exuberant twitter talk felt more determined to catch the other fringe event – Champions’ night.
“I won’t be late,” I told the kids, “be good for Grandpa” who’d been good enough to be the responsible adult at home. It sounded like some early evening drink and nibbles, the prequel to a proper dinner or a lazy settling back home again in front of the telly. How wrong could I be? Continue reading