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.
Stella Pereira is a true artist in every sense of the word. Her artistry is well known in Cambridge and the media, particularly her stunning Instagram. Stella’s artwork and culinary creations are inspired by the changing of the seasons, perfect timing for her latest À Mesa Supper Club held on 25 March. Titled “A Blossoming Spring”, the supper club (or “gathering”, as Stella prefers to call it) was held in her cosy living room. I had the honour of attending two of Stella’s previous gatherings in her home (An Autumnal Gathering) and at Espresso Library (Twelve at EL), which you can read about here and here.
We were a small group of (lucky) people who snapped up a place at À Mesa (Portuguese for “at the table”). Even though I have been to Stella’s supper clubs before, she still amazed me with her dishes, presentation and setting. It’s more than a supper club or gathering, it’s an EXPERIENCE.
Stella is a firm believer that food brings people together so the biggest part of her supper clubs is the comfortable, intimate environment where guests eat, drink, sing, laugh… and leave as friends. She serves modern Portuguese cuisine inspired by traditional ingredients (featuring staples in Portugal such as pork and salt cod) but she presents her dishes with a contemporary twist and this is where her artistic spirit really shines.
Preparations for A Blossoming Spring started way before the food and this was apparent in the little details, meticulously created to make up a truly unique experience. Stella’s tablescape was dotted with freshly picked blossoms, sliced bread (charmingly stacked in glass jelly moulds) and olives, both symbolising peace. We were intrigued by the variety of items handcrafted by Stella herself or her husband Carlos. All of the pieces on the table came together to tell a story, a reflection of Stella’s skills as a gifted food stylist.
Only in its third year, this food and drink festival has already become one of Cambridge’s best foodie events.
The aim of Eat Cambridge is to showcase independents that can produce, source or make their products easily available in Cambridgeshire. It’s a great way to discover our local producers, restaurants, cafes and farms.
Strictly not-for-profit, Eat Cambridge is organised by Heidi White and Sian Townsend, with the invaluable help of their team of volunteers. Heidi and the volunteers all worked really hard to make the day run smoothly. (Sian is expecting a baby any minute now so she wasn’t able to attend). As last year, the Corn Exchange was a fabulous venue to hold all the stalls and there were lots of rooms available for the various talks and pop-ups.
Espresso Library is a brand new addition to the list of Cambridge independent cafés. Well, it’s more than just a café (see my blog post). Apart from their amazing coffee (sourced by The Coffee Officina), rotating art exhibitions (Loukas Morley is currently the featured artist) and bright, functional space complete with Cycloc bike storage… their delicious breakfast and lunch menus are developed in collaboration with Stella Pereira, a very talented lady who approaches cooking and baking with an artist’s eye. Stella has hosted supper clubs and her culinary creations are a feast for the eyes and palate. I was lucky enough to attend her À Mesa Supper Club last year, which you can read about here.
Photo courtesy of Espresso Library
Espresso Library was the perfect venue for Stella’s “Twelve at EL” brunch this past Sunday. Paulo and I were thrilled to be two of the twelve people included in this very first one. It was nice to reconnect with some of the other food bloggers, namely Bone White China’s Alex and Sian, as well as Nazima and Pierre of Franglais Kitchen (with their two adorable kids in tow). I also got to meet Alan, the man behind the voice at Flavour (Cambridge 105’s radio show dedicated to Cambridge food and drink) and his lovely wife Helen. There were other great people there too, all of whom are fans of Stella’s creations, just like me! Some of the dishes included in her four-course brunch menu had a Portuguese twist and all featured tasty seasonal ingredients.
When I decided to start documenting my culinary experiences in this blog less than a year ago, I never expected that I would meet so many talented individuals with a real passion for food. Stella Pereira is one of those people. So when she announced that she would be hosting another one of her popular À Mesa Supper Clubs on 22 November, I jumped at the opportunity to attend. Titled “An Autumnal Gathering”, the menu included seasonal ingredients such as pumpkin, walnuts, chestnuts and pears. Stella’s table featured a modern take on traditional Portuguese flavours, served with a contemporary twist.
I was a bit nervous about my first ever supper club experience but as soon as I saw the beautifully laid out table and heard the mellow sounds of Stella’s brothers playing guitar, I immediately relaxed and took in the cosy ambience.
I attended with Paulo but didn’t know anyone else there, except Adilia from the fabulous Norfolk Street Bakery where you can also find Stella on some days (that’s where I first met her). The beauty of supper clubs is that they are very much social occasions so it was a great way for me to meet like-minded people, some of whom I only knew in the virtual world.