Eating in a field: Festival Feasts

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If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, or you’re indeed a friend or family member, you’ll probably know that about a fortnight ago my best friend and I were standing in a field about to watch the Killers sing to quite a number of chilly, like-minded souls. You may also know the saga of our last attempt at a festival and so how amazing it was to actually get to the festival and even more amazing to stay the whole weekend! If you don’t, it has taken a lot of work!

I am not a natural camper, I hate tents, I’m not keen on insects or grass in large quantities, I think I may actually be allergic to portaloos, I don’t like having the sore back, bottom and hips that come with 4 days spent sleeping in what Caitlin Moran accurately described as a ‘giant carrier bag’ or a campsite. BUT I had an amazing time and I have come away with THE list of what I need to survive a festival:

  • wellies and flip flops, a raincoat, sunglasses and a hat – sometimes it rains, in our case not for very long and not disastrously but it did get a bit damp and we were so grateful for our wellies. At other times, the sun beat down and I burned my forehead, so sunglasses, flip flops and a hat were invaluable. Then on the night of the Killers, the wind blew and blew and it was so chilly and so I was so grateful for my barbour! These are all things that I would remove other things to make space for!
  • a £30 loo pass from the amazing people at When Nature Calls – this is a thing of beauty if you’ve ever been to a festival portaloo. I’ll spare you the details but there is an alternative! The BEST alternative is hot running water, air freshener, flushing loos, handwash and a small van selling Earl Grey tea and that’s what you get for 4 days and my god, it’s so utterly worth it. The queue was never prohibitively friendly and the staff who ran in and out of each cubicle after every use cleaning them were so friendly and did such an amazing job. The best wristband I’ve ever had!
  • a ridiculously girly floral Cath Kidston tent – it may look like you could get hayfever from it but my trusty old Cath Kidston tent is pushing its 9th year and still in perfect working order. Bigger bully tents sway, snap and fall over in the wind but my tent has never even wobbled very far. In the rain and wind, it’s a comforting little haven and I can’t bear the thought of having to part with her one day.
  • baby wipes and dry shampoo – I’ve seen those queues for the showers and whilst the thought of not showering for a couple of days is pretty horrid, everyone’s in the same boat. Befriend large quantities of baby wipes and dry shampoo and you won’t be sorry. The amazing people from V05 came round one morning handing out dry shampoo and I don’t think I’ve ever flown out of a tent so fast to grab some. Lovely smelling and without the horrible white residue.
  • saving money on booze and spending it on food – now this is a biggie. Some people want to go to festivals and pickle their livers something rotten, and I’m not judging, I wish I could! But I can’t drink a lot and I certainly can’t face a hangover in a tent, luckily my best friend is similarly minded and so we chose to save our money by forgoing the special pop, drinking vast quantities of Diet Coke and making the most of the amazing selection of food stalls available throughout the site. Festival food has become a big deal, once upon a time people had a burger van and a felafal stand to choose from but nowadays the choice is endless and we could have stayed a week and still had something amazing and different every day.

So I thought it would make a bit of a change to tell you about some food I ate in a field. There was the obligatory pulled pork and jerk chicken, some amazing hot doughnuts consumed during Bon Jovi but some other treats that should you be going to a festival this summer, I think you should check out.

Kebabylon

So good, I ate from there twice. Grilled chicken, marinated in something delicious, amazing homemade salads, a red cabbage and carrot coleslaw, homemade houmous, homemade tzatiki, sweet chilli sauce. Oh My! Ant had the lamb kofta kebab, twice! It was so delicious. Hard to eat but wrapped in a huge turkish flatbread and so completely delicious. I think it was about £6.50, so utterly reasonable.

Pieminister

The incredibly famous Bristol-based pie company, Pieminister are often at open air gatherings and there’s a Pieminister shop in Oxford, you can buy them in supermarkets and quite a few pubs in Liverpool serve their amazing pies. I had a Peahock pie, ham hock, peas and mustard. I had this with mash (which was so smooth and delicious), minty peas, gravy and crispy shallots. We ate our pies on the coldest night and they went down a treat!

Hummingbird Bakery

I have always resisted the lure of the Hummingbird Bakery cupcake. I rather took against them when I made a string of disasters from their recipe book and recently, I’ve been a bit ‘over’ the cupcake thing but I saw the stand and then I saw the cupcakes and I knew I would have to try one. They were selling the vanilla, the chocolate, the red velvet and the carrot cakes and I tried both the chocolate and the carrot ones over the course of the weekend. O M G – they were light, fluffy, full of flavour, everything a cupcake always promised it would be before they became overdone and dull. I am now a convert.

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Special mention should also go to a noodle/rice place that did the best Cambodian pork dish that Ant has eaten since he was in Cambodia and a pad thai that made me weep tears of joy. I can’t remember the name though but Ant may be able to fill in this blank. Also wanted to get to the Jamie Oliver vans, which I know will make some people groan, but it would have been nice to have ticked that box! I really, really wanted a hot roast pork roll with apple sauce but we ran out of time and I had my eyes turned by the ‘Crab on Chips’ van, they had lobster on chips!! Next year, that will be my first stop!

I have also included for you a picture of me looking like a total prat in a hat. Because I’m generous like that…

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Simon Rimmer coming to Liverpool

Simon Rimmer, of C4’s Sunday Brunch and the hit restarateur of Manchester, has long been a great supporter of Liverpool’s food scene, currently working with Steven Burgess of Camp and Furnace on this August Bank Holiday’s Summercamp Festival.

simon rimmer

Yesterday brought the great news that he’s opening his own restaurant in the city as a part of the new Double Tree by Hilton hotel being developed on Dale Street. This will be Simon Rimmer at Layla Brasserie.

David Hughes, general manager of the hotel, said of the new venture “We are delighted to be working with Simon Rimmer and we welcome such a well-loved name on the food scene to our beautiful new hotel.”

Simon Rimmer, himself, added of his newest outpost “We are in the process of hand-picking the most talented and creative chefs in the hospitality industry who will join the team in Liverpool.”

Such exciting news..

The Watch House, St Mawes, Cornwall

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I have been having holidays in Cornwall since I was a small child and there are many places I love and would visit time and time again but to stay, the only place for me is St Mawes. A really lovely village on the south coast, relatively quiet in May and a more beautiful and peaceful place you’d struggle to find. Each May, Mum and I spend a week in St Mawes catching up on our reading, drinking gin and eating as much of the ocean as we can. We counted this year that we’d consumed: crab, lobster, prawns, red mullet, mussels, hake, whitebait, haddock, cod, squid, and probably some more. Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall will be furious! Half of the fun of our holiday is looking forward to the lovely treats we’ll eat and the places we’ll revisit. Our annual trips to some of our favourite restaurants, shops, beaches and towns are long planned in advance.

One of the smartest restaurants in St Mawes is the The Watch House on the corner of the harbour. Twinkly lighted and looking out over the river, this is one of my favourite spots in St Mawes. We booked for the Saturday night of our trip and then spent the day attempting not to consume batches of saffron buns and ice creams to save room for our supper.

We arrived shortly after 6.30pm and were sat at a lovely table upstairs looking out over the water. I think the upstairs is my favourite part of the restaurant, brighter, lighter and with what feels like a higher ceiling. The decor inside is brilliant white, with the odd bit of sailing kit. It’s lovely; fresh and chic. The staff are also brimming with enthusiasm and surprisingly resilient when dealing with the sniggery humour we inadvertently brought with us! It’s a long story but involves much giggling about the word ‘crabs’ – we really are children.

The wine list is extensive and Mum’s glass of sauvignon and my rose were both lovely and fresh. There’s plenty of water in jugs on the table and a delicious basket of fresh bread which we fall upon having had to forego all manner of buns and snacks!

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To start with Mum had the fritto misto with sweet potato and sage leaves and a homemade aioli. The aioli packed a wonderful punch and the tempura-esque sage leaves were a revelation. The only downside being that it was a little light on fish but it was lovely and beautifully presented in an enamelware dish. I had scallops, it’s pretty much a given that if there are scallops I will have them, these were delicately seared and served with a cauliflower puree which was subtle but delicious. The scallops were the perfect texture and tasted of the sea. Heavenly, especially with the fresh peas and watercress.

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For mains, Mum dithered about between lamb and fish and eventually settled on the fish pie. This came with the two mussels popping out the top like the sardines in stargazey pie, I liked this touch. The fish pie was lovely, a creamy herby sauce but extremely filling. I had the Devonshire Ruby Red steak and my word, if there was an amazing piece of steak prize this would win. I actually had a steak when we visited last year and I remembered what an amazing piece of meat it was. You can really tell that The Watch House care about where they source their ingredients from, not only are they fresh and local but of extremely high quality. The chips were some of the best ever consumed by Draycott women, and we’ve tested plenty, and the garlic/herb butter was thick and punchy.

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We decided not to have a pudding but to consume more ice cream on the walk back to our cottage. It was an absolutely delicious meal and in a lovely setting with great service. The bill came to about £70, but I actually can’t entirely remember.

Definitely looking forward to next year now!

Quick Blueberry and Lemon Muffins

I’ve been a bit absent recently, between covering extra shifts at work and a trip to the Isle of Wight festival, I’ve barely had time to read my emails. This last weekend I had the first weekend in months where I didn’t have any plans or had to go anywhere so I spent hours catching up with work (all varieties!) and with 8 loads of washing! Between the laundry and the note-taking, I thought I would whip up a super quick batch of muffins with some discounted blueberries I found in the shops.

This isn’t a wow-er of a recipe. It isn’t going to make the softest, fluffiest muffins you’ve ever found but it’s super quick and it’s quite store-cupboard friendly. Carless, I always find myself groaning when a recipe calls for buttermilk or ground almonds or anything more complicated than the corner shop can manage! I would recommend eating these warm, they were nice cooler but amazing warm. I would call this a breakfast muffin, ideal for whipping up a quick batch to complement a sunday brunch or to satisfy a sweet craving and delicious with a giant cup of tea or mug of coffee. The batter looks a bit odd, I think that’s the vegetable oil, trust it, it turns out ok. I had to add a bit more liquid, I’m not sure if that was because of the size of my egg. Trust yourself, if it looks a bit gloopy, add some more milk. I also always add lemon to a blueberry muffin, it’s a compulsion and I think it adds a lot. It seems to bring out the flavour of blueberry but if you don’t like lemon, you could always use vanilla.

When I have finally finished unpacking tents and sorting through baby wipes and sunglasses, I shall update some more of my recent adventures but in the mean time, make a batch of muffins and enjoy.

muffin

Quick Blueberry and Lemon Muffins

makes 12

  • 375 g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 125 ml vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 125 ml milk
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • the zest of one lemon
  • 300 g blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • granulated sugar, for sprinkling
  1. Preheat oven to 180C and line a muffin tin with muffin cases.
  2. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, lemon zest and caster sugar until mixed.
  3. In a separate bowl or jug, whisk the oil, egg, milk and lemon extract. Gently add this to the flour mixture until just combined.
  4. At this point, stir in the blueberries and mix until well combined.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 20-30 mins.
  6. Mine took about 25 minutes but start checking at 20.

Even the cat was tempted:

cat and muffin

Cornwall by Instagram

great weather follows me everywhere

great weather follows me everywhere

In the absence of an out of office message, I thought I’d leave you all with some photos of my time in Cornwall. I shan’t be around over the next week, I’ll probably be in a field somewhere but I shall see you when I get back…

holiday face

holiday face

all the supplies we need

all the supplies we need

dusk

dusk

where my heart is

where my heart is

roasty, toasty

roasty, toasty

the view in fowey

the view in fowey

holiday feet

holiday feet

lobster thermidor, yeah i did

lobster thermidor, yeah i did

the view from Portscatho

the view from Portscatho

walking down to Porthcurnick Beach

walking down to Porthcurnick Beach

lunch at the Hidden Hut

lunch at the Hidden Hut

Tide Out in St Mawes

Tide Out in St Mawes

Annual pasty on the way home

Annual pasty on the way home

Link-tastic Tuesdays.. Things I’ve seen around these parts..

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I would like someone to make me this cake: http://asubtlerevelry.com/typography-cake

What beautiful guides to European cities, I really want to go to Copenhagen now: http://12hrs.net/guides/12-hrs-in-copenhagen

I’d like these hanging all over the garden with candles for my next birthday party: http://www.thehousethatlarsbuilt.com/2013/05/diy-fruit-tissue-balls.html

I know this is a bit out of season but I really want to make one of these: http://miloandben.com/how-to-make-a-felted-egg/  and in the same vein, I need one of these badly: http://www.etsy.com/listing/123490220/charlie-needle-felted-owl-choice-of

Ryan Gosling and Jane Austen – want more? no, there is no more: http://janeaustenryangosling.tumblr.com/post/41864491448

This article makes me want to go back to Paris tomorrow: http://www.messynessychic.com/2013/05/30/5-secret-restaurants-in-paris/

I’ve just downloaded this to read on my Kindle. I love the Mindy Project and think it might be a little bit about my life. Try if you like Miranda and other funny, snorty ladies: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Is-Everyone-Hanging-Out-Without/dp/0091957176/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

I’m going to a 20s evening next weekend and oh, what I would give for this dress: http://www.joythestore.com/lou-sequin-yoke-pleated-maxi

Finally, this whole website is amazing but I love these coasters: http://riflepaperco.com/item/Canine_Coaster_Set_/249/c52

The cupcakes that Kelly and I made

Back in March, which feels like a terribly long time ago now, my friend Kelly and I took part in the O-Very Bake Off in aid of the NWCR charity, a great local charity that I like to support where I can. Their deets are here: http://www.nwcr.org/ Such exclusive judges such as Cherry Healey and the lady who won Masterchef were in attendance, and then as with all things the snow started coming down, not heavy enough to put us all off though.

Kelly and I decided we would do ‘rockabilly’ style cupcakes, both in tribute to her love of kitsch tattoos and also as a backlash to the sweet, girly cupcakes you see so many of. Kelly was dispatched to Lakeland to buy cupcake cases and food dyes and we had an evening of baking at my house. Due to a slight lack of concentration, it being about 10pm when we started and various other factors (namely a useless pair of kitchen scales), the cakes didn’t turn out taste-wise very well. However, what they lacked in moisture and flavour, they made up for in style and panache. We handmade the heart and bluebird toppers to sit on the cakes and Kelly handmade cherries, using that green stuff (?!! I cannot remember the name!) and glace cherries to sit on the other bath of cupcakes. We had decided previously that we would use records as a cake stand and so Kelly managed to create a 3 tier cake stand with the fittings from a normal ceramic one.

Below are a handful of photos so you can see what we got up to. We’ve obviously didn’t win but Cherry Healey tweeted a photo of our cakes and we got over a 1000 likes! We were also featured in the Liverpool Echo! We’re already plotting for next year and we will be bringing out the big guns.

cupcakes heart

i’m loving it

cupcakes swallow

is it a bluebird, is it a swallow?

cupcakes

awaiting their trip in the snow

cupcakes 1

excuse the cardboard box

cupcake 2

the finished article