Siesta Fiesta, the Spanish-themed festival of food, drink and entertainment, was held on 18 May, 2014 on the beautiful grounds and gardens of Childerley Hall. This official fringe event for Eat Cambridge 2014 was a huge success. In partnership with Cambridge Wine Merchants, the event was extremely well organised and even provided a complimentary shuttle service from Cambridge to ensure everyone could attend (via Airport Lynx).
The courtyard featured several stalls as well as street food vendors. Tables, chairs and even bales of hay were provided for enjoying the food and drink as well as live music and flamenco dancing.
Premium wine distributor Gonzalez Byass had a large presence at the festival and represented several brands, such as Beronia (the Rioja Reserva was delightful), Tio Pepe (complete with sherry wanged by a vanenciador), Vilarnau (I highly recommend the Rosé Cava) and The London No. 1 gin. I had the pleasure of meeting vivacious Alison Easton, Senior Brand Manager for Gonzalez Byass as well as the very helpful Alan.
One of the festival’s memorable moments was paella cooked over a wheelbarrow by Rachel McCormack of Catalan Cooking. Rachel is a Catalan food expert, having lived in Catalonia for many years and holding popular cookery classes in London. She is also a panellist on BBC Radio 4’s The Kitchen Cabinet, hosted by Jay Rayner. Rachel is based in London so it was a real privilege to have Rachel in Cambridge and I hope she will make some return visits here! It was fascinating to see how all of the paella ingredients came together in a massive pan placed over hot coals in a wheelbarrow. The result was absolutely delicious!
Food and drink stalls included Steak & Honour, Lord Conrad’s Brewery, The Spirited Mare, Jack’s Gelato, Pata Negra, Warming Your Cockles Coffee Co., Urban Street Kings, Gonzalez Byass, Rachel McCormack’s Catalan Cooking and the Beronia Txoko Club, featuring tapas and Beronia wines.
Burger van extraordinaire Steak & Honour served a Spanish-inspired burger in keeping with the day’s theme. Intriguingly named El Toro, the burger consisted of riverside beef, brioche bun, chorizo, manchego, baby gem, pickled pear and almond mayo. Created by Leo Riethoff, who has an impressive background working with some of the country’s best chefs, it’s no wonder the El Toro burger was a culinary delight. Even Steak & Honour’s regular menu features the best burgers you will ever taste, so keep an eye on Leo and Charley’s Twitter pages and find out for yourself!
The Spirited Mare’s bar in a box (a charming horse trailer, that is) also kept up with the event’s Spanish theme and served delicious drinks such as sangria (even offering a ‘virgin’ version) and cocktails (I had the Cava with fresh grapes and strawberries… tasty and refreshing!).
Jack’s Gelato excellent handmade, organic ice creams and sorbets featured some Spanish inspirations such as “Sherry Sherry” and “Pedro Ximenez and Chocolate”. They were absolutely divine and perfect for such a beautiful, sunny day!
Lord Conrad’s Brewery is located in Dry Drayton so you couldn’t get more local than that! The stall was represented by the affable ‘Lord’ Conrad himself (Jon Neale) and featured an impressive selection of ales and ciders. My boys (husband Paulo and our friend Ali) tried the Zulu Dawn and Slap ‘n’ Tickle dark and blonde ales, respectively. They were the perfect accompaniments to their burgers. Later on in the day, we enjoyed some of the ciders supplied by Lord Conrad, such as strawberry and elderflower.
Siesta Fiesta ran from noon to 6pm and the day just flew by.
The vendors, stallholders, performers as well as Childerley staff and volunteers kept the day running smoothly. Everything was impeccable… a testament to everyone’s hard work and organisation.
There were people of all ages at Childerley and I could see that absolutely everyone was enjoying the day in their own way. I spoke to several people and they were all amazed that such a beautiful place existed. There were even guided tours around the stunning gardens. I did not have the opportunity to participate in the Fino and Sherry tastings and masterclasses in the Tudor chapel. However, I had a peek at the room being set up in the chapel and it was lovely.
This was the first time Childerley participated in Eat Cambridge and I hope there will be many more food and drink events to come at this wonderful location!
The owners, managers or staff did not invite me to visit this establishment and were unaware that my experience would be the basis of a written review. It is based on my experience at my own cost and I did not receive compensation for my review.
Unless otherwise noted, I am the legal copyright holder of the content and images on this blog. Please contact me for permission if you wish to use, reprint or publish any material. Some of the photos in this post are courtesy of Ali Palizi.