Tasty outing to try something different

Ava Hughes, eight, is handed a smoothie by Edward Clifford, from Squeeze Juice Bars at the festival

Ava Hughes, eight, is handed a smoothie by Edward Clifford, from Squeeze Juice Bars at the festival

First published in Columns Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by

The Foodies Festival in South Parks celebrated hearty appetites in the sun.

Saturday’s downpours had long dried when I strolled among the eye-catching stalls, the marquees and the vibrant bars, following my nose, and the crowds enjoying the late summer sunshine.

There was something for everyone. If you fancied a burger, how about zebra?

Not your first choice? Then try wildebeest or springbok.

Nearby, bruschetta beckoned: crammed with ripe red tomatoes, garlic, leafy basil and freshly grated parmesan.

Posh pork pies vied with great British cheeses: whisky mac or Lancashire bomber? Tempura prawns? The field was all mine.

Enthusiasm attracted punters – honey opened to sample, quickly attracted a swarm of wasps.

Yet this was the stall to visit if you not only loved the product (the heather honey I tasted was superb), but also the means of production.

A colony would set you back £250, nuclei £150, and a single Queen, £32.

“The more you’re with bees, the more soothing they are,” the stall holder assured me, as wasps buzzed excitedly around us.

He sold us a small jar of pollen grains in a wing beat. “Superfood,” he commented. We’ll see.

Striking marketing could also draw you in.

Sinful smoothies – the “naughty lovechild of fruit and alcohol” packed a mean punch.

The combination of red berry and coconut, with a Malibu-like liqueur tasted good, but looked like rust.

The orange variant appeared more attractive but didn’t taste as distinctive. Still, it was a winner, and at a discounted Foodies Festival rate, fronted by attractive, personable staff, it’s mere six weeks commercial lifespan so far has surely many more months to run.

Savoury and sweet crepes looked even more appetising, served by snappily dressed Frenchman wearing red berets and black and white striped shirts. Ice cream flavours were enhanced by names such as Strawberry Seduction and Honeycombe Hash.

Nine hours of slow cooking over a charcoal grill produced succulent lamb at the Gaucho Grill. A large rib of beef was enjoyed by four- year-old Lottie, a visiting Bernese Mountain Dog who struck lucky.

The Giggly Pig’s sausages were relished by many – perhaps not so giggly for the pigs. “Try that,” the stall holder urged, as a new batch of samples arrived from the grill. Someone asked what was on the dish? “Just eat it,” the man said. Delicious! “You wouldn’t have said that if I’d told you it was faggots,” he said, triumphantly. No, but it tasted great.

Trying new things, enjoying the party atmosphere: a voluptuous singer in a long red dress sang Motown hits – at one time coming apart from her backing track – if not her zip.

“You can’t hurry love,” she sang.

No, and you can’t rush a food festival. It’s too good to bolt. Just linger, savour and taste.

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