Last weekend was my favourite of the year as it is the local food festival. 2 whole days of yummy gorgeousness and this year I was joined in my endeavours by some of the fabulous ladies from @sundaybakeclub (a twitter group for amateur bakers who each week compete for the coveted golden spoon on a different baking challenge theme). After a bit of ‘Is that X?’ trying to recognise people from avatars we all me up and had a wonder around the festival.
The festival itself is a glutton’s paradise but in previous years it has felt a little too skewed towards instant food. While food to eat on the spot dominated again, there appeared to be more of a balance. There was certainly a very wide selection of cake and cheese stalls offering free samples, what more could any man want. (Yes I know Ben Cohen is always a trump card but sadly that isn’t very likely and I’m already taken). Star cheeses for me were the Double Barrel from Lincolnshire Poacher and the Orange and Whisky cheese from Nibble Nose. Links to their websites are below in the Links section.
One of the parts I really enjoy of the festival is that it showcases the amazing amount of local food orientated businesses in the town and surrounding area. From Aubrey Allens butchers (with the quality mark of by royal appointment) and Woodhouse farm’s beautiful Pork offerings (really gutted they did not have any of their black bacon as honestly the best bacon I’ve ever tasted), to the fabulous independent bakeries, Bread&Co, Sweet As, and my absolute favourite Blueberry Hill. Honestly it is worth coming to Leamington just for a slice of their pecan pie! Although I must admit that I was a little disappointed some of my other local favourites were not there, Big Fat Olive Co for their infused olive oils and The Cherry Tree and their amazing preserves. (I would definitely recommend the passion fruit curd and so would the husband as I will walk into the kitchen and find him eating it with a spoon straight from the jar.)
One company I really want to recommend is Sciolti chocolates. I may have gone a little overboard as Fiona (a former local) was happily chatting away and plying me with samples and my will power around chocolate is slim to nil at best. I came away with the following chocolate bars:
- Vanilla White chocolate (2 bars)
- Milk chocolate, Cocoa Nibs and Sea Salt (2 bars)
- Salted Pistachio and White Chocolate
- Hazelnut Praline with Dark chocolate
The vanilla at first glance looks nearly grey but please do not be put off, the colour is due to the immense amount of vanilla seeds within and it is absolutely amazing. But the ultimate taste sensation has to be the Cocoa Nibs and Sea Salt. The cocoa nibs manage to provide the chocolate intensity of a premium dark chocolate but without the bitter aftertaste due to the milk chocolate. The salt intensifies the flavour even more and before you know it you have gone through an entire bar in an incredibly short but blissful time.
To round off the day the ladies and I went to Leif Tearooms and Piano bar for afternoon tea. While I was a little disappointed in the cakes this time compared to my previous visits, the sandwiches and the scones more than made up for it. You certainly get a lot for your money and the tea is fabulous. They even have a whole menu devoted to the different blends and I adore their White Monkey.