Obviously, being the type of person I am, I didn't turn down a single offer of a taster ( I certainly didn't need to buy any lunch!!)- and my oh my did I taste dome strange things!! Of course there were the cheese stalls offering up morsels of excellence, from soft ripe cheeses to vintage cheddars to the more aquired taste of blue cheese and a particularly lovely mozzarella stand from buffalo in Hampshire, which offered a fresh clean taste. I picked up some Perl Wen cheese from one of the many cheese producers, which is a mild but tasty soft cheese in the sort of brie/camembert style. I was tempted to buy some wonderful Parmesan on display, stacked high in giant wheels which made my mouth water just at the sight of these incredible wheels, alas, I didn't want to overload on cheese when there was so much else to be experienced!!There were also Jars as far as the eye could see, the humble strawberry jam as well as more experimental flavours like carrot and cardamom chutney. As well as this, there was a demonstration for plum jam which used lavender sugar for an extra twist, which inspired me to get collecing jars and make the most of the last of the summer berries and fruits!!
Some of the most impressive stands were the vegetables. Tables overflowing with mountains of carrots, corn tumbling down the slopes made by the multible cobs piled high, a wall of regal beetroot, it's deep purple jumping out at you as you meander past. A variety of lettuce shooting up from earthy beds, tempting me to rip off a bunch of leaves and make a salad that actually tastes of lettuce, rather than the watery excuse we're offered at the supermarket.
There were interesting 'pastes' to try from Bio-Grape, with flavours such as Chilli Shiraz and
Cabernet Pepperberry Paste. Set with natural pectin they were a curious product, I would have thought most appropriate eaten with cheese, as you would a quince jelly.
Another interesting stall was Kentish Cobnuts. I'd never tried cobnuts before, and was pleasantly surprised by the delicate flavour and crunchy texture of the nuts. Quite 'green' in flavour, (if that makes any sense!) and a texture much like macademias, they were subtle and would be fantastic in salads. Rick Stein even has a meringue recipe using cobnuts from the producer herself in one of his cookbooks, which was proudly on display on their stall!
More inventive ideas came fram The Organic Seed and Bean Company who produce flavoured chocolates. Of course they sell the usual plain chocolate, mint chocolate which is award-winning, and the fashionable chilli chocolate, but more interestingly they also make lavender chocolate - another award winner, lime flavoured, rose flavoured, and mandarin & ginger flavoured chocolate.
I was particularly drawn to the Bacheldre Mill stall, which had an array of different flours (hardly surprising I ended up browsing there for quite some time considering my newfound obsesion with bread-making!!) from unbleached white flour, to spelt, malted blend, rye, wholemeal, and something I'd never come across before; oak smoked flour.
There were some absolutely stunning bread stalls dotted around the festival, selling beautiful loaves of a variety of loaves. We picked up some fig and walnut bread, but I was also interested to hear how they make their seeded bread. I was told that they soak the grains and seeds overnight and then add them to the mix the following day to create an even more moist and soft loaf, which would hold it's moisture for four or five days. This is a tactic I must try!!
Perhaps less sophisticated, but by no means less alluring, was a stall called Mr. Organic. Run by very enthusiastic Italian men, whose sales tactic seemed to be being loud and excitable and flirting with the women, they produced tomato based products like ketchup, passata, tinned toamtoes and other tomato based sauces. Their tactics worked though, as we picked up a very modestly priced jar of tomato sauce, which I have yet to try, so I can't tell you whether their product lives up to their enthusiasm!!
But by far my favourite stall was a Welsh farmer from mid Wales, whose farm is just outside of Newtown in mid Wales - Welsh Farm Organics. Showing off beautifully dark joints of red meat, just asking to be roasted, and glossy livers perfect for making a pate, or simply pan frying and serving with fresh salad and a balsamic dressing and maybe a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts. Delicious!! Watch this space though, because as well as their very impressive meat (the cattle is Welsh Black if you're interested, an absolutely stunning breed), I was told that they have recently aqcuired another farm to start producing wheat, grains and generally use the land for crops. If their crops are anything like their meat in terms of quality and yum-factor, then that's definitely a producer worth keeping an eye on!
By lunchtime, I was completely unhungry after having filled up on morsels of cheese, dollops of jam on crackers, cubes of chocolate, sips of wine, mini hunks of bread, dips from every corner of the world, and much much more!! So instead of queuing for an age for a burger, (which although I'm sure would have been sensational, would definitely have been too heavy) I decided on a corn on the cob from that mountain I mentioned earlier, which was served brushed with butter (a choice of normal or garlic, I chose normal for the sake of those around me!) and freshly ground black pepper. And what a lunch!! Tender kernels which fell off the cob oh-so-softly and were so sweet you'd think they'd been dipped in sugar!! Delicious!!