A few weeks ago I was absolutely delighted to discover the Essex Festival of Food & Drink literally ten minutes drive from my house. Having found out about it all very last minute from my cousin who had been last summer, I didn’t really know what it was all about and was expecting to find a small local farmers market type event. How wrong was I?! Cressing Temple Barns played host to the event with countless stalls dishing up delicious food and selling specialist produce with live music, a Pimms bar (what else on a sunny Saturday in July?) and a marquee with live demonstrations from special guest Paul Hollywood.
The two enormous 13th century barns, originally built by the Knights Templar, and their grounds were an ideal venue for an event such as this. Both barns housed indoor markets selling everything from fudge and liquorice to chilli sauce to Mediterranean produce to professional cookware, while outside burgers & hotdogs, burritos, spicy chicken wraps, popcorn and ice creams among many delights were being dished up to hundreds of hungry people milling about on the lawns enjoying the sunshine.
My sister in the barn grounds
I had a chicken tikka wrap for my lunch at the festival. An absolute joy, the chicken was so tender and the sauce delicious but not too overpowering. The portion size was huge! I never knew you could squeeze so much meat into one wrap, and teamed with lettuce and a cooling mint dressing I could have eaten several of these, it was delicious.
One of the highlights of the day was discovering Tom’s Fudge in one the barns. Originally set up by three uni mates in Loughborough, the boys still make everything in their home kitchen and have come up with some really innovative flavours including Cherry Bakewell, Rolo and Eton Mess, alongside the usual classics. I tried the Cookie Dough and the Baileys and both were equally delectable. I’ll definitely be ordering a few treats from them in the future.
The real star attraction was of course Paul Hollywood and his baking demonstration. A huge fan of The Great British Bake Off, I was so excited to see him make his infamous plaited loaf… how does he do it so quickly?? We also got to see him make a stilton and grape flatbread from the same basic bread recipe. I’ve not yet started experimenting with bread making, but it’s something I’m really keen to have a go at especially when Paul makes it look so easy! I might give his simple cob loaf a go.. I’ll let you know how I get on with it!
The day was naturally finished off with an ice cream, I went for a white chocolate tub with lumps of chocolate in it… yummy.