Cambridge’s local food and drink scene was celebrated with another successful Eat Cambridge festival, organised by Heidi White with the help of her team of volunteers. The Main Event kicked off at the Corn Exchange on 7 May 2016, leading the way to a series of fantastic fringe events over a two-week period. Eat Cambridge is a foodie’s dream and I tried to attend as many events as I could.
I started off by volunteering at The Main Event. Heidi put a lot of work into organising Eat Cambridge and I thought the best way I could show my support was to volunteer and help out that day. There were about 40 stallholders, all local independents, showcasing their fabulous food and drink products.
As Resident Foodie for Cambridge Artisan, who launched their monthly subscription boxes that very day, I made sure to pass by their stall and wish Rob, Charlotte and Amélise good luck! They are dedicated to showcasing the best of East Anglia with their gift hampers and subscription boxes. I have the enviable task of taste-testing and endorsing their handpicked local products. I’m happy to volunteer my time (and taste buds) to this great venture, run by lovely people. I even got photobombed!
I was delighted to see many of my favourite producers as well as meet new ones. I didn’t have the opportunity to visit them all as I was helping with the coordination of the talks and workshops. (If you were there, those were my dulcet tones over the tannoy announcing the talks and demos).
The Gog held two butchery demos, led by butcher extraordinaire Miles Nicholas. In addition, six talks took place in The King’s Room during the course of the day:
- Seasonal Eating at Pint Shop with Development Chef Rosie Sykes.
- The World’s Best Artisan Cheese Makers with The Gog’s Miles Bradford, joined by Neal’s Yard Dairy and makers of Stichelton and Kirkham’s Lancashire cheeses.
- Recipe for Success with Pinkster Gin founder Stephen Marsh. He made pink martinis for everyone!
- Food Waste in Cambridge with FoodCycle Cambridge Hub organiser Alex Collis.
- First Bite: How We Learn to Eat, with local writer and historian Bee Wilson.
- The Last Word with Tim Hayward, co-owner of Fitzbillies, food writer and broadcaster.
It was the first year The Main Event was held at the start of the whole festival and I think it worked really well. It was the launch for all of the great fringe events that various Cambridge businesses and organisations planned over the two-week period.
Over 40 fringe events took place and I managed to attend 8 of them. I would have attended more if some of the events didn’t overlap. Yes, there was that much good stuff! This is a round up post so I will briefly touch upon each of the fabulous events.
On 10 May I went to the Producers’ Dinner at The Rupert Brooke, organised by Grub Club Cambridge. Their events are great social networking opportunities for food businesses and food lovers (I wrote about their events from a foodie perspective here). The gin-themed evening included a talk by Pinkster’s Stephen Marsh as well as a welcome G&T and a three-course menu:
- Starter: Pinkster-cured salmon;
- Main course: juniper & Pinkster-cured duck and pickled blackberries balsamic;
- Dessert: grapefruit curd, arlette pastry, Pinkster berry sorbet and gin & tonic espuma.
On 12 May, The Wandering Yak (a street food truck offering vibrant Middle Eastern inspired vegetarian food) held a pop up at The Blue Moon pub. It was superbly organised! We started off with delicious dips and hand-made pitta bread.
The main course looked, smelled and tasted delicious! This veritable feast for the senses included saffron scented Persian aubergine tagine with za’tar baked feta, lime & ginger sauce; rice and lentils (mujaddarah) and choban salad.
The pièce de résistance was an amazing (and I do mean AMAZING) pomegranate & orange almond cake with honeyed yogurt. Bravo!
Somehow, amid all of this I managed to host a fringe event in my home on 14 May: the Cambridge Eat Up! Pot Luck Lunch, which you can read about in great detail here.
The Eat Cambridge Food Debate took place on 15 May at the Cambridge Union. Chaired by food scientist Dr Sue Bailey, the debate explored the relationship between art and science where Cambridge’s food scene is concerned. The panel of experts made some excellent points.
The topics flowed so it was more of a discussion than a debate, with much participation from the audience. The panel consisted of Vaiva Kalnikaité (Dovetailed), Tim Hayward (Fitzbillies), Dr Marie-Ann Ha (Anglia Ruskin University), Alex Rushmer (The Hole in the Wall), Ben Aveling (Radmore Farm Shop) and Joe Kennedy (BlackBar Brewery Shop).
On 19 May, Childerley presented The Gin Chronicles, a live studio broadcast of a radio comedy show by Interrupt The Routine’s Misfits of London. It took place in the beautiful setting of Childerley Long Barn.
The ticket included a Cambridge Distillery Dry Gin & Tonic, with the option to buy more at the bar. I bought a G&T from Cambridge Distillery’s Japanese Gin with apple garnish. I liked it so much a bought a bottle to take home.
Before the performance, we also had the option to feast on Provenance Kitchen’s excellent menu. They offered restaurant-quality street food from their vintage Airstream. Paulo and I shared a few dishes as they all looked so good. We started with wood fired asparagus with freekeh, pickled radish, kohlrabi, harissa yogurt and spring dressing, served with yogurt flatbread.
Our main course was a very delicious gin citrus baked lamb shoulder with freekeh, pickled radish, kohlrabi, harissa yogurt and spring dressing. We got a generous side order of crushed potatoes, broad beans and spring dressing.
Once we settled into our seats in the barn, Will Lowe of Cambridge Distillery took us on a gin journey with a brief presentation on the history and mystery of Juniper.
Misfits of London’s performance of The Gin Chronicles was absolutely brilliant. It was hilarious and the audience was encouraged to participate in the sound effects. You can view some fantastic photos taken by Anna of The Best Sunday Lunch here.
Intermission included the option to buy more G&Ts, gin sorbet and rhubarb gelato by Jack’s Gelato and a dessert by Provenance Kitchen.
A Day @ The Gog took place on 21 May and featured tasters of chilli con carne cooked in The Big Green Egg, cute little tractor biscuits for children to ice and samples from some excellent food and drink producers.
It was good to see Rachel of Silver & Green and I stocked up on plump fresh olives (garlic stuffed olives and sweet basil olives) and balsamic onions. I also took home a few of Silver & Green’s handy pouches filled with olives (rosemary & garlic, pitted kalamata and chilli pepper).
It was my first time tasting Saffron Bee’s chutneys and I was really impressed. I took home all four of their tasty chutneys: Spiced Apple, Tomato and Chilli, Caramelised Red Onion and Beetroot & Orange. It was a pleasure to meet the lovely Bee in person as well as her husband Dan. It’s a real privilege for me when I can speak to the producers themselves and hear all about the work, passion and commitment they put into making their products, and Bee is no exception.
The ever popular foodPark NIGHT MARKET was held on 21 May from 5pm to 10pm at Gravel Hill Farm, off Madingley Road. It featured more traders and bars than ever before.
There were ten foodPark traders (Guerrilla Kitchen, The Wandering Yak, Holy Schnitzels, Fired Up Pizza, Jalan Jalan, Tin Kitchen, Buffao Joe’s, Steak & Honour, Rösti Strasse and Churros Bar). Plus there were an additional four guest traders (GoGo Gogi Gui, SmokeWorks, Now Now South African Food and Jack’s Gelato). Drinks (including non-alcoholic ones) were available at The Juice Box, Jolly Good Beer, The Spirited Mare and Cambridge Wine Merchants).
The light drizzle didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits. Queues moved quickly and we enjoyed the fabulous street food. Music by foodPark’s resident DJ Two Deck Charlie as well as The Hot Lights added to the chilled out ambience.
Here are some photos I was able to take during the event, when my hands weren’t holding delicious food and drink.
The foodPark NIGHT MARKET doesn’t only take place during Eat Cambridge, so keep an eye out for the next ones. There will be a few taking place over the summer when the weather is ideal and the sun sets later in the day.
It took place is a stunning disused church in Swaffham Prior. I wrote all about this fantastic event in more detail here.
I’m already looking forward to next year’s Eat Cambridge festival. It really does feature some of the very best food and drink that Cambridge has to offer. As a passionate foodie, I’d like to extend a great big thank you to Eat Cambridge organiser Heidi White and all of the businesses / organisations that worked so hard to create such enjoyable fringe events.
The events are based on my experience at my own cost, except The Main Event (press and volunteer) and Sunday Best (invited). All views are my own. I did not receive compensation for this post.
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