Sunday, March 28, 2010

Love Food - a real community festival

One of the problems I have with food festivals is that they've ceased to celebrate local food. Too many are dominated by celebrity chef theatres and big tents, producers who have travelled half way across the country to dish up food you could eat anywhere in Britain. Endless chutneys and cook-in sauces - basically not a million miles from the average supermarket aisle.

I'm ashamed to say today is the first time I've got down to one of the Love Food festivals which are held every couple of months in Bristol but it won't be the last. It was a real community food festival with lots of small local food businesses: beer and cider producers, cheesemakers, bakers, foragers and farmers - pretty well all from the south-west.

Barring veg - which it would have been good to see more of - you could have done most of your weekend food shopping there and certainly your supper. I took advantage of a fantastic offer on diver-caught scallops from Lyme Regis Scallops to which we'll be treating ourselves tonight along with some great cheese from Trethowans Dairy.

But the best thing was the food you could eat at the festival which wasn't the usual dreary fare of burgers and bangers but a huge choice of goodies from artisanal cheese toasties (again from Trethowans), to tasty chorizo and halloumi and rocket rolls from the Bristol Ethicurean (below) to Agnes Spencer's Jamaican jerk chicken (above) which my friend Marti actually admitted was almost as good as hers.

The chorizo rolls for example were put together from Freedom Food approved chorizo The Bath Pig, rolls from The Thoughtful Bread Company and Mayonnaise made from Fussels Westcountry rapeseed oil. Admittedly the halloumi was from Sussex but you can't have everything.

There were families and friends, loads of kids running round, local chefs out on their day off - just a great day out with good food. And you can't ask for more than that.

Check out the Love Food Festival website for upcoming events. The next is on May 18th.



  1. While I agree that most food festivals miss the point and you see the same old circus of stalls which travel the country from one show to the next, the Ludlow Food and Drink Festival remains true to its roots. It was the first food festival when we started it 16 years ago and of course it has grown, from the Sunday produce market in the first year to a huge three day event based in and around Ludlow Castle. However, it still remains true to its original concept - to focus attention on, and give support to, the wealth of independent food shops and small food producer in the Marches region. We are still incredibly strict that exhibitors come from within that well-defined area and each year we turn away many applicants who may only be a few miles out of the region. The exception is that producers from our French and Italian twin towns come and show their wares and they add a huge amount to the atmosphere. We also reject anyone whose products do not meet our quality control standards.We have never used 'celebrity' chefs - no need - there is plenty of local talent, and food 'celebs' come anyway because they love it. Apart from a paid administrator, the Festival is run entirely by volunteers on a not-for-profit basis.

    An exciting bonus this year is that Richard Johnson has chosen the Ludlow Food Festival as the event at which the finalists in the first ever British Street Food awards will be judged.

    In addition to the Festival in September, there is now a spring event celebrating 'beer, bangers and bread'. There will be 130 real ales on draught from small breweries in Wales and the Marches

  2. I haven't been to the Ludlow festival Lesley but will now you've told me how it's run! And the spring event sounds a great idea

  3. Fiona - If you plan to come to either festival, do let me know beforehand and I'll make sure you get a ticket.