A festival about food (and music) was always going to be right up my street, but The Big Feastival was even better than I was expecting today.
In the middle of nowhere - well, in fields in the pretty Cotswolds countryside - The Big Feastival is the brainchild of Jamie Oliver and Alex James. It started last year, but the three day event was apparently bigger and better this year. It was definitely big.
The Big Feastival is all about food and music, which is a great combo in my opinion. Over the weekend, loads of the top chefs gave cookery demonstrations and signed books, including Tom Kitchin, Rachel Khoo, Gizzi Erskine and of course, Jamie Oliver, and there was music from Basement Jaxx, Rizzle Kicks, Lianne La Havas, KT Tunstall, The Feeling and more!
Now it's safe to say I'm not much of a classic festival gal (mud + tents = not my cup of tea. Mmm tea), so I was never going to pitch up for the weekend like so many others. The glampers, on the other hand, I would've happily joined.
|Georgie and me at the Feastival|
Unfortunately, however, the awful traffic meant that not only did we arrive bursting for the loo, but also very nearly late for our cooking class. Oh, yes, we were lucky enough to have been given two places in one of the Electrolux Chefs' Secrets Cooking Classes with Michelin star chef, Tom Kitchin. We were very excited. Yet slightly stressed about missing it. That would have been tragic.
So, after parking in a field, we ran down through a few more fields and into another field to the Big Feastival entrance. Luckily there was no queue either to get in or for the loos inside. That was brilliant. It was all brilliantly organised actually.
Once inside, I was somewhat amazed at how huge the whole event is. I tried to take it all in as we sprinted through to the appropriate tent for our class. Luckily, we arrived just in time. Embarrassingly out of breath, yes, but that just shows our commitment to the
Over the course of the weekend, all the top chefs were giving cooking classes to lucky groups of ten or so at a time. In a state-of-the-art kitchen. In a tent. In the middle of the field. I cannot deny it, as we stood behind our counter, excitedly wearing our aprons, I felt like I was on the Great British Bake Off. Except there were lots of people watching right there, which was slightly nerve-wracking.
It's safe to say Georgie and I aren't the most experienced chefs, but we had a brilliant time. Were we a bit more jokey than the rest of our fellow cooks? Um, yes. (We may or may not have taken selfies.) But you've got to enjoy it, haven't you?
With the amazing Tom Kitchin - having that surname, you've just got to be a chef, haven't you? - on a raised platform at the front (with a handy mirror above showing us what he was doing) and helper chefs strolling round, we were taught how to make our very own Michelin star dish.
We had all the ingredients conveniently laid out in front of us and a very snazzy touchscreen Electrolux hob (they sponsored the whoooole Feastival) to work with, we were ready to go. First, Georgie chopped some carrot. She nailed it, totally profesh chef style.
Next, I seasoned and fried our lamb chops in some oil and then took them out to rest.
We fried some bacon, added the carrot and some butter and let it all sizzle beautifully.
Next, we popped in some peas, poured in some stock and stirred through our chopped lettuce.
We let it all cook together, added some butter and left the sauce to thicken for a moment. Tom said those of us not on a diet should add some more butter. We added more butter.
|Our finished dish. Not too shabby, eh?|
Despite having just munched our Michelin-Star-worthy meal, Gizzi's creations had certainly made us feel somewhat peckish, so we decided to head off to explore the grounds. And where better to start than the main food market area?
Oh my, it was amazing! Foodie heaven. On a plate.
Have you ever been to one of those posh farmers' markets? Well it was a little like that, only way bigger and way better. There was everything from freshly-baked breads and cakes, to cheeses, yoghurts and ice cream.
We were offered cereal bars and porridge, but also whisky and wine, and everything in between. And I really mean 'offered' - there were free samples of EVERYTHING. It was poor student heaven. Naturally, Georgie and I made the most of it. If I was rich, I would have spent so much money.
|Eating some yummy yoghurt|
One of my favourite discoveries of the day was the Strawberry Company. I particularly like this pun of theirs - 'specialists in the strawberry field.' HA! (Tell me I'm not the only one who finds that marginally hilarious?)
Run by three charming young men, The Strawberry Company specialises in everything strawberry-y. (That really should be an adjective.) Now, avid blog-readers will know I'm a big fan of the humble strawberry, so you won't be surprised to hear I was keen to see what they had to offer. I definitely wasn't just drawn in by the free samples. Ahem.
|Georgie and I with our new strawberry friends and Emilie Garrould from the BBC Good Food Show|
Georgie and I also really loved Global Fusion Bakery. Their loaf cakes and bread were so very scrummy, and, somewhat amazingly, completely vegan. You wouldn't guess it from tasting the cakes (from the best banana bread of my life to the champagne strawberry cake I bought for mama), and the lovely man behind the counter told us that they don't make a huge deal about being vegan because it actually puts a lot of people off. Interesting, eh?
The sun was shining, and we carried on exploring. There was just too much to see! The main acts weren't taking to the stage until the evening (I'm going to be honest with you, we were far more interested in the food, don't judge us), so we strolled round the rest of the bustling, bunting-clad fields, sampling scrummy treats as we went. We did catch a bit of Mark Owen though, and I'm sure he did sound good, but I was singing along to Four Minute Warning slightly too loudly to hear. Oops.
As well as the market area, there was a street food zone, where one could purchase an array of tempting dishes, from paella to churros with chocolate. There was also a 'BBQ your own meat' area. It was random. Why have someone else cook the meat you paid for when you could cook it yourself, eh?
I really enjoyed discovering all the independent foodie companies in the market, but there were also lots of chain brands at the Feastival - Vita Coco, Pimm's, The Hummingbird Bakery and Nairn's Oatcakes to name but a few.
|Free fruit in the kiddie zone|
I felt a little bad about all the animals in their little areas but hopefully they were well looked after, and good golly, they were all cute. LOOOOOK:
There were lots of shops to peruse if one wanted a food break (PAH lightweights), from Joules to little vintage boutiques. Naturally we had a little browse, but we're not going to pretend we were there to buy clothes or jewellery.
The whole vibe at the Big Feastival was fantastic, and it was all a lot of fun. I think Jamie Oliver and Alex James did a fab job with it, and so much of that came down to great organisation. It always does, doesn't it? People, there were cash machines and a phone charging point on-site. IN THE MIDDLE OF A FIELD.
Thanks so much to Electrolux for kindly offering me the tickets and giving us a great day out. We are happily and thoroughly stuffed.