I’m quite new to the whole ‘Food Show’ thing. I went to my first (the BBC Good Food Show Winter 2014) this time last year and was instantly hooked. Since then I’ve been to three more – the latest of which was this year’s Winter BBC Good Food Show. This year, I was armed with the knowledge of previous shows and also a new view on food, where it comes from, the impact of that on our planet and the animals who provide us with what we “need”.
I was lucky enough to win some tickets in a raffle at work – I was just going to get the Usual Sunday Groupon deal that never fails to come out but hey! I saved a little money before I even went, total win and also – cue the happy face!
One thing my OH and I love doing, and I don’t know why or how it started, is getting “special” garlic. We’re big garlic lovers in our household, so when the Good Food Show rolls into town, my OH especially is straight over to the nearest garlic stall to buy a great big smoked garlic bulb.
This year I also got chatting to the lovely chap at the one of them about garlic too – he was so knowledgeable and genuine I had a great ol’ natter. We learnt when choosing garlic, you want a “firm bulb” with a “long stem“.
Yes, you read that right. Big, firm bulb. Long stem. Yes, we all went there with the innuendos too, it’s OK. So I picked up another massive bulb, this time of “pink” garlic. And when the guy found out that part of the reason we get so much is that I love to cook and have a lil blog, he let me have another free of charge. Yay!
Vampires: you have been warned. We are currently well stocked in thrice types of garlic! Regular, smoked and pink. You may pick your poison if you choose to attack anyway.
In the Summer I got some very yummy Banana spiced rum from Bomba. I was mostly sold on the pirate theme, not gonna lie. After a party in the summer in which copious amounts were drunk, there’s only a little left so I was super happy to see the guys again at the Winter one. I sampled several offerings this time – including a new “Mixed Spice” flavour, which was a bit too spiced and not in a way I liked so I ended up getting a Coconut + Caramel rum this time. Delish! Maybe I should try and bake something with that in?
Oats, oats, glorious oats!
Ever since encountering the folks at Delicious Alchemy at my first Food Show – a year ago! – I’ve been a fan of their gluten free oats, and their branding. I like pretty things! I’d run out of oats so this was perfect timing to stock up with a bag… or three… of oaty goodness to get me through the Winter!
I also treated myself to a bag of their dairy free, gluten free Christmas cake mix, which I’ve just baked into mini-christmas cakes for a work bake sale. I got 12 out of one bag, and I topped them with just a simple icing sugar, almond extract and water mixture. Fingers crossed the folks at work like them too – I made them with dairy free butter and a chickpea-water combo instead of eggs to keep them vegan. And check out their cute mascot, Pierre! Adorkable!
Since the primarily plant-based lifestyle entered our house we’ve become a bit picky about our milks. I’ve been on nut milks for a while now, but price + need often mean I’ll default to Alpro, despite liking some other types better. Since we were there on a Sunday, there were some bargains to be had at a few dairy free stands! We may have bought just a few too many… 2 litres each of Koko Coconut Milk and Rice Dream Original! Plus some of the Koko spread. Yikes! Good job they’re shelf-stable as our fridge would be full!
We didn’t buy things at every stall though, not by a long shot. I love the atmosphere at these shows and chatting to the smaller traders about things, food and life. We had an amusing exchange with a chap at Belvoir, who accidentally implied that their products were only for the older generations, not us. Then he quickly back tracked and gave us some alcohol-free mulled wine to try. It was yummy, I must admit.
I got sad at Lil Jack Horners stand – in the summer I was still eating meat and seriously had the BEST ever sausage roll from them. It was quite literally something to write home about. I was hoping for at least a vegetarian option but alas, they’d sold out. He cheekily told me to not come at lunch on a Sunday. I told him to bloody save me one for the next food show and have extracted (and entirely non-binding) promise that he will if I ask when the next one starts. BOOM.
I once again for-went my dislike of the poor eggs for my Macaron Tradition (I’m so weak!). This time I chose a blackberry and lemon bite of deliciousness. OMG NOT VEGAN. You got me: I ate some egg whites in these delicious macarons. This specific one. I need to perfect vegan macarons in the future! I’m happy with this – I’m meat free 24-7 these days, but will occasionally indulge in some dairy or eggs.
And don’t forget the oils – all kinds.
And OH MY DAYS! So much cake! And breads too! I didn’t sample any but look-it!
So yes – hours of time spent wondering around on a happy little foodie cloud, occasionally broken by my feet getting run over by those annoying pull along plastic trolleys everyone has. That or bashed into. I bruise like a peach (queue a Ross from friends insert, all you 90’s kids) so one of my takeaways every time I go to a food show is also two shins full of bruises!
And so, to the point
Meat at the Good Food Show
Much the same as previous years – a lot of sausage stands, often also selling hot sausage cobs/rolls/baps, all smelling yummy. A few “exotic meat” spots, including an ostrich meat stand, which was there last year. Heck once again had quite a large stand and, once again, looked like they were sold out completely – well before closing time too.
There’s plenty of deli-meat options and the like, including posh looking salami and things perfect for entertaining over the holidays. I didn’t pay too much attention though, as I wasn’t interested in trying them.
Vegan choices at the Good Food Show
It’s not too bad, actually. It could be better, of course, and there is a lot more for cheese-lovers and meat-eaters. Largely the choices are snack based – Nothing But were there, Nudie coconut chips, 9 bar were too and the staff were very helpful in letting me know, straight up, which ones were Vegan. VegeDeli were there and, having not tried their stuff before, I was happy to try a couple of samples! It worked too because the products we tried (Sage & Majoram Sausages and their Chicken-Style pieces) we went straight over to the chiller and bought.
Alcohol at the Good Food Show
A lot of wine stands, which all kind of blur into one (especially after a couple of samplings!). I found actually talking to the staff on these stands quite difficult, because everyone wants one (or several, usually) freebies. Frustrating when you want to discuss placing an order for a wedding.
My main issue
Is actually with payment. All three times most traders are cash-based – the number of sales that they’ve lost from me alone is crazy! I’ll often take some cash with me and then when I spend it, it’s gone. And since I reject cash machines that charge you to get your own money on principal, often I’ll stumble across something that is more than I have in my purse but have to pass it up. Maybe the NEC or BBC could provide (or support providing) card machines for traders. Or that new PayPal thing? That’d be ace. My bank balance would actually cry, but traders would get more out of the shows!