It was bright. It was sunny. It was the day the Tour of Britain (cycling, for those not in the know) was coming to Norfolk. Tour of Britain, combined with the Norfolk Food Festival at the Norfolk Showground? It was like I’d died and gone to heaven.
Getting in was easy, no crowds, it was fairly early to be sure. But then it was only 10.30am, and the cyclists didnt arrive until 3pm……… So I had plenty of time. The main arena was stuffed with stalls and I was in my element. After a swift circuit I watched the delightful Richard Hughes The Lavender House (surely one of the best places to eat in England and certainly my favourite in Norfolk) who was making Empanadas but filled with a very un-Spanish FruitPig black pudding, apples and Mrs Temple’s piquant Binham Blue. I tell you they were divine. All made in an hour including the dough.
The the long leisurely trawl round the artisan stalls. Some women trawl for handbags and shoes. I do that aswell, but never more pleasurable trawling to be had, than searching for good local ingredients and provendors.
EthnicFusion had an amazing array of pakoras, lamb and vegetairan samosas and onion bhaji’s. That was lunch taken care of then! Samphire Foods are breeders of rare breed pigs and have a smallholding just up the road from me. Their pork pies were selling like hot cakes (sorry for the mixed metaphor) and according to Giles Coren are the best you can buy. Their smallholding is generally open one day a year in September and always worth a visit. Years ago Don Lear used to sell cars in Diss. I bought one from him once. But he has built up a fabulous business BhajiMan providing premixed spices and ‘recipes in a box’. I have been known to throw together onion bhajis in an instant using his brilliant mix of gramflour and spices. Gorgeous. He was doing a roaring trade – more than once I have thought what a brilliant business idea that is Don.
CrushFoods had a beautiful stall with their full range of cold pressed rape seed oils, dressings and grains and First Thyme had such a simple idea – cordials for kids made from chamomile, or raspberry or rosehip and hibiscus with no added sugar or preservatives. They looked so good I drank one myself. Gorgeous.
I could go on and on of course but not without mentioning my favourite stand Little Melton Gourmet Yogurts This stand was overwhelmed with visitors and it wasnt hard to see why. Gorgeous thick creamy yogurt, sliced through with passionfruit, or lemon curd, blueberry or honey, mango or pear. They sold out by the end of the day.
In between I watched the cycling. Of course the anticipation was wonderful, sadly Cavendish fell off at the entrance to the showground and limped home looking rather grumpy, battered and torn; and I saw the lean mean machine with is Wiggins, louche and willowy coming into the home run. Magnificent summer for cycling.
But why was Little Melton Yogurt my favourite? Well I had bought the (literally) last pot of passion fruit as I left for the car park. It was literally park. Gridlock. Easy to get in, getting out was more problematic. It took me 1.5 hours to exit the showground by which time I was famished. And very hot. So the gorgeous pot of passionfruit infused yogurt was sitting in my bag as,getting nowhere fast, I thrummed the steering wheel with my fingers, impatiently trying to ignore the lure of the cool, creamy, luscious delight. No use! After 30 minutes I had to have it – off came the lid. Damn. No spoon. In went the forefinger and I ate it all. In the glaring sun. In the queue of traffic. All by myself. Yummy!