Last Saturday I managed to persuade my family to come on a foodie adventure with me.
‘Where we going?’ my three year old son eyed me suspiciously.
‘It’ll be fun. I promise.’
‘What will be there?’ my eldest asked pulling her gaze momentarily away from Saturday morning telly.
‘Well…there’s a really interesting house and pretty gardens and lots of food.’ They did not look that impressed.
‘And probably fudge or chocolate.’ It was my last ditch attempt and an obvious bribe to try to enthuse them enough to climb out of their pyjamas and into the car.
I turned to my husband to gage his reaction.
‘Yeah I’ll come but you do realise I’ll be missing a live match?’
‘Well it does say hog roast here.’ I pointed to the pretty printed promotional leaflet that I had been given. It was another bribe, I know, but what can I say? I use what I can to get the job done.
What worried me was that I had no idea if I would be able to fulfil any of these promises. After all this was the first Foodfest to be held at Great Chalfield Manor. I had nothing really to back up my claims but I had a hunch it would be well worth a visit.
Having got them dressed, driven the short journey, and found a space on the grass verge to park the car we were finally standing outside the impressive entrance paying our £6 (£3 per adult and kids go free) to a very friendly lady.
‘Please have a look around the grounds and the very pretty little church,’ she said. ‘ We have lots of food stalls here and oh.. one of the stalls is even giving away free beer’. I breathed a sigh of relief. One of my companions was definitely going to enjoy today and it wasn’t because of the pretty grounds.
Once inside the gates the kids suddenly came to life. We were dragged past all the food stalls (whimper) so that they could explore, run and hide in the grounds. And what beautiful grounds they are.
Finally when the kids had run about enough we headed back to the food and drink stalls. Approximately 18 stalls were dotted around the outside of the manor house. We tried to sample, talk and buy from as many as possible. It was encouraging to see how many were busy with queues. Talking to a lot of the stall holders they were unsure how many people would come and were pleasantly surprised with the response but a little disappointed they hadn’t brought more to sell. It amused me how quickly the children got into the idea of sampling the food.
We bought from a few stall and this is what we came home with:
- Baronet cheese from The old Cheese Room. A semi-soft creamy cheese. Very easy to eat and a pleasant cheese taste. A subtle enough flavour for the kids to enjoy.
- Deliciously, delicate tasting pork and leek sausages from The Old Spot Sausage Company. Which cook up beautifully, have little fat and the skins cut very easily.
- A bag of honey fudge from Meg’s Cottage. The children loved this sugar treat. After sampling all the fudge (except the chilli versions) they chose the honey one. A good choice.
- A white loaf and an egg box with 4 beautiful bread rolls and oil and balsamic to dip in from The Thoughtful Bread Company. The creativity of the egg box was eye-catching and the bread rolls were delicious.
The Fox at Broughton Gifford supplied our lunch with some tasty sausages in crusty rolls for the children and a beautifully cooked and deliciously marinated chicken kebab in a tortilla wrap for us. All cooked on coals. We also have the publican, Alex, of The Fox to thank for the whole event as he organised it. Thank you.
We ate our lunch on luxurious, squishy grass (I have no idea but we all commented on it). We were entertained by a great band called The Curfew Crew who seemed perfect for the event.
What a very pleasant and relaxing way to enjoy food and take in the atmosphere and admire some more of the stunning planting.
We would have also liked to have had the hog roast from Church Farm Meat but the queue was long and the young ones were in no mood to wait. We asked around and were told the hog roast was excellent and they sold out before the end of the day.
There was plenty of places to sit to enjoy your food though.
Butcombe Beers were the kind folk behind the free beer. Suggesting instead that people give a donation towards keeping Great Chalfield church in good repair.
We sampled delicious apple juice from Ruby Red Wine Cellars who reside in Bradford on Avon. They had some interesting looking Wiltshire liqueurs that I think would be a great gift idea for Christmas.
Other stalls I didn’t get a chance to return and talk to were
- Lowden Garden Centre – a local garden centre which has an impressive farm shop
- The Mango Hub – their food looked incredible and by the look of the queues it tasted great too. Very disappointed with myself for not going back to chat. Will definitely hunt them out next time.
- Trufflesicious – I can’t quite work out how we missed these folks as they sound amazing with this own homemade truffles that boast no preservatives or additives.
- The Feastie Boys – who source local ingredients and cook everything from scratch. Their sandwiches were incredible looking. After looking at their website I am also intrigued to know whether they had any of the infamous beef doughnuts! Yes, beef doughnuts! Worth a try I think. They too were busy and had a great, sell-out day.
I really hope that this charming local food festival will happen again (rumour has it a Christmas one might be on the cards). It would be lovely to see it steadily grow with more local producers and suppliers. The manor setting made the perfect backdrop to stock up on lovely, local goodies and relax while listening to live music. I would highly recommend.
Thanks for reading
Please note I wasn’t paid or asked to do this article. All my views are my own.