Sing it, “it’s the most wonderful tiiiiime of the year”! Eat Cambridge, a festival of local food and drink, made a welcome return after skipping 2017. Organised by Heidi White, the Main Event took place at The Guildhall on 19 May 2018 and kicked off two weeks of fantastic fringe events.
There were 40+ stallholders over two halls and 9 talks took place throughout the day in the Council Chamber. It was a full day of foodie fun and there was an excellent turnout despite sharing the date with the royal wedding.
I spent the day helping out so I was only able to briefly visit some of the stalls but I sent Paulo around with a shopping list! The photo below shows some of the products from our impressive haul. Yes, that is a 3-litre box of Pinkster gin!
Paulo also picked up a few things here and there for me to nibble on for lunch. I may have eaten all of the empanadas from La Latina Bustaurante – they were so good!
I offered to help out Alison Lusis of Ali’s Baltic Bakes who made her big comeback at Eat Cambridge, after having to take a break from making her delicious Pīrāgi, Latvian little yeast dough pies.
The savoury selection included Smoked Bacon, Onion and Black Pepper; Sauerkraut, Smoked Bacon & Caraway (Gold Star in the Great Taste Awards); Pīrāgi Royale (in honour of the royal wedding) with Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese & Dill; and Mushrooms in Sour Cream with Dill. The sweet options were Apple & Raspberry and Apricot & Custard.
Large orders were packaged to take home and there were warm ones that people could eat on the spot. The Pīrāgi sold like hotcakes and Alison was pleased to donate 10% of the proceeds to Hunts Community Cancer Network.
Here are a few of my photos of the day, most of them taken before the doors opened:
Artist, cook, baker, photographer and food stylist extraordinaire Stella Pereira spent the day capturing the spirit of Eat Cambridge. She has kindly allowed me to share some of her remarkable photos.
The Main Event set the tone for the two weeks of delicious fringe events that followed. These events, organised by local businesses, rounded out the whole Eat Cambridge festival by showcasing Cambridge’s independent food and drink scene. There were over 35 fringe events and I managed to squeeze in 9 of them. They were all fabulous – it really was the most wonderful (foodie) time of the year!
On 23 May I attended Ready Steady Cook Food Waste, a fringe event presented by Cambridge Sustainable Food. I enjoyed canapés prepared by FoodCycle Cambridge whilst watching three of the city’s top chefs create dishes from food that normally would have gone to waste. We even got to taste the food at the end of the evening.
Chefs Tristan Welch, Alex Rushmer and Rosie Sykes and their assistants prepared impressive meals. As they only found out their ingredients at the start of the show and had a mere 45 minutes to whip a variety of dishes, it was amazing to watch their creativity in action.
The audience then voted for the winning team. Congratulations Alex Rushmer and team Green Pepper!
The fun and interactive class was held at the newly re-opened Black Horse café/pub in Dry Drayton. The group was encouraged to help out in the cooking of two big Valencian paellas. The reward was eating the paella that everyone had a hand in making. We all learned a lot, ate well and went home with the recipe handed down to Paola by her Spanish mum.
An enjoyable and informative Beer & Cheese Tasting took place on 26 May at Calverley’s Brewery with local cheesemonger Hum-Closen. We learned about the history and production of beer and cheese. I never fully appreciated how well these two go together.
We enjoyed the following six pairings:
Killeen (14-month old goat’s cheese) with a Roggen style beer made with Bavarian yeast. It tasted like a Weissbier but without the wheat!
Kirkham’s Lancashire with a New England pale ale, a fruity beer with a bit of sharpness alternating with the salty creaminess of the cheese.
Comté with Chenpi, also known as “electric orange juice”, containing szechuan pepper for a numbing sensation on the tongue.
Camembert with Douple Dipper IPA, its bitterness confronting the cheese’s silky texture.
Stichelton (2 pieces aged 1 month apart) with a barley wine style ale and an Imperial Porter, respectively. The barley wine was sweet and the porter had chocolate and coffee notes.
I had the Double Helix Cup with Josephine Crémant de Limoux, Original Sin cordial (fig and lemon) and fig tincture, poured over ice. Paulo enjoyed the Cambridge Mule with Krepkaya Vodka, ginger lemon & thyme cordial, fresh lime juice and Carvalhelhos sparkling water, poured over ice. I would love to see more of Gimlet Bar in Cambridge!
We enjoyed five wonderful courses, each featuring a different cheese:
Crispy polenta with Fiore Sardo – addictive little balls of deliciousness.
Roast grape and Gour Noir bruschetta, topped with dill and hazelnuts.
Rabbit tortellini with peas and Kirkham’s Lancashire sauce. I wish I hadn’t finished my bread as I would have loved to mop up the rest of the creamy cheese.
Beef cheek with Giorgio Cravero 24-month Parmigiano-Reggiano crisps, a nice contrast of soft and crunchy textures.
Pear tart tatin with Gorgonzola Dulce ice cream – heavenly!
On 28 May, Bank Holiday Monday, Cambridge Markets celebrated the national Love Your Local Market campaign by showcasing the central market’s international street food stalls. The market is a real foodie spot all year round but it was nice for it to be highlighted in this way.
There is some debate as to where macaroni and cheese originated – England, Italy, Swiss Alps, USA – but no matter. We headed to Mac Daddy for our mac ‘n’ cheese fix. My dish, The Mac with herb crumb topping, was a tasty combination of creaminess and crispiness.
Paulo had The Mac Daddy with chorizo and herb crumb topping. It was absolutely delicious!
I spent the evening of May 30 at Fabulous Fanny’s Summer Party with Dr Sue Bailey in character as Fanny Cradock, one of TV’s first celebrity chefs. Fanny was assisted by her team, including husband Johnnie who obeyed her instructions and drank wine. She prepared an impressive (and hilarious) variety of retro party dishes, such as blue eggs, celery boats, liptauer cheese with pretzels, vol-au-vents, jelly à la lapin, French sausage rolls and those notorious banana candles.
We were invited to nibble on these creations whilst Fanny did a little presentation on her interesting and exotic life. Fanny talking about herself in the first person was really something and we got some insight into the events that marked her lifetime.
The burger restaurant closed for the evening and hosted Burgers & Bao over two sittings, offering a phenomenal 8-course menu with drinks provided by Thirsty. No burgers or bao, but a feast of original dishes full of flavours and textures.
The courses were as follows:
King oyster mushroom with roasted chilli and lime.
Cucumber salad – a proper one.
Salmon with shallot, peanuts, cape cherries and coriander.
Free range chicken with creamed corn and spring onion omelette.
Seared tuna with radishes, aubergine and miso.
Jungle curry with duck breast, kaffir, snake beans and pea eggplants.
Sticky rice with coconut, mango and sesame.
Chocolate, beetroot & orange cake with curd and a scoop of mascarpone ice cream by Jack’s Gelato.
On the last day of Eat Cambridge, Paulo and I attended a supper club hosted by La Latina Bustaurante in their famous double decker bus parked at Cambridge Retail Park.
The supper club featured a 4-course menu of delicious Colombian foods. Owners Catalina and Nelson gave a demonstration on how to make tostones from plantains.
We started the meal with a refreshing strawberry lemonade which was regularly topped up.
The menu was as follows:
Mini beef empanada and mini cheesy chicken arepa with quail egg.
Camarón frito (fried prawn) and a plantain bowl with salsa.
Coconut milk chicken, beans with tostones, white rice and guacamole.
Mini coffee mousse, cocada (a coconut sweet) and summer fruits cake.
The meal ended with espresso brewed with Colombian beans by XuéCam. The same coffee was used in the dessert. XuéCam’s coffee is excellent and you can find the stall at Cambridge Market.
We were given a goodie bag with yummy dulce de leche cheesecake as well as plantains so we could practice making tostones at home.
If you’ve read this far you’re either tired or hungry! I make no apologies… Eat Cambridge is a foodie’s dream and I’m looking forward to doing it all again next year. Roll on #EatCam19!
The events are based on my experience at my own cost. Although I helped out Ali’s Baltic Bakes at The Main Event and Romano’s at the Paella Masterclass, all views are my own. I did not receive compensation for this post.
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