Yesterday we toddled off with some foodie friends to go to the Malton Food Festival. It was a bit of an effort, to be honest with you, given that rather too much wine and cheese and pavlova had passed the lips the night before. And then we had jam for breakfast, such good, beautiful jam that I had to taste every flavour. I could have eaten it with a spoon but I behaved myself and spread it on toast.
I will tell you about the jam another time. Believe me, it deserves a post all of its very own.
And because I need to tell you about how Rosemary Shrager made my day.
I love food festivals. The anticipation, the hopefulness of the English that the sun will shine and the rain will not fall. The independent producers and the sheer variety and abundance of products which always makes me go ‘cor’, and want to buy everything in sight.
I think I’m getting better at them too. Practice makes perfect. In the beginning, being a shy, modest and retiring type when it comes to shopping habits, I used to scuttle up, taste a couple of things, nod, buy, retreat. These days I am much more relaxed about the whole thing. It’s lovely to have a chat with people, find out about their product and ask them for recommendations of how to use it. Also, it’s wearing trying to scuttle when you’re 6’ 2” tall. I’m just not built for it.
It still makes me want to curl up inside a bit though. But it’s worth the effort.
And boy, had Malton put in the effort this weekend. It was incredibly well organized, and in the town centre rather than in the middle of a field, which was really rather lovely.
It was the right sort of busy, and no one really seemed to be sticking to the programme or times for demonstrations. But hey ho, we went with the flow.
Antonio Carluccio is in there somewhere, talking about asparagus and waving his hands around a lot.
And look! Look at these from the Yummy Yank (who really is yummy, by the way, a lovely lady).
If you wanted to drink beer, this was the place to be.
That brings me onto another thing. Going to a food festival and eating pizza is a bit like going to a Michelin starred restaurant and asking for crisps. Yes, I judged. So bite me. You’re surrounded by the best that Yorkshire has to offer, beautiful food and vegetables and fish and meat – and you choose a deep crust pepperoni? That’s just wrong.
When I’d finished chuntering we went off for a wander. And quite by chance, because it wasn’t on the programme, we came across the start of Rosemary Shrager’s demo.
She was hysterically funny.
She was promoting her new book, Yorkshire Breakfasts. And she talked her way through kedgeree, a cheese soufflé with a poached egg inside, and potato cakes. We heard about how naughty Alan Titchmarsh is, what it was like behind the scenes on Ladette to Lady, and what the Victorians had for breakfast. I felt ever so sorry for those in a supporting role as they had literally an impossible task to do, reading Rosemary’s mind about what was needed next or how long the oven needed to go on for. She’s the sort of lady who doesn’t tolerate fools gladly.
But she did it with such force of personality and panache that I decided I want, I need, I must have, a day course with her at Swinton Park cookery school. This will go on my presents and treats list, where it will languish for several months before falling off the bottom of it, as I prioritise other things over it. Until next year’s demonstration. It was wonderful, and worth the price of admission alone. It made my day.
Actually, the only part of it all which disappointed me was Selina Scott. She was interviewing the chefs and then doing book signings. But she was asking the most ridiculous questions. Antonio was talking about mushrooms and foraging and generally being terribly interesting if you like that sort of thing, which you might have guessed I do, and all of a sudden she got him onto Sophia Loren and why Italian men can give compliments and Englishmen can’t. Stick to the subject, Selina. It’s not often you get to hear from celebrity chefs in the flesh, as it were, and it wasted the opportunity for quite a few people. I bet Rosemary didn’t put up with it.
I digress. So then we went and bought some smoked fish, nosed around the fruit stalls, and purchased a couple of curd tarts to have with an afternoon cuppa.
On the way out I spotted these. I think they’re to store cheese truckles. I loved them, but given that the Other Half was already laden with goodies and shifting from foot to foot like a weary pack horse, I desisted. You could practically see his arms growing longer from all the hefting about of asparagus and melons and cookbooks and cheesecake and mackerel.
So we went home and had curd tarts and a pot of tea. Not a spot of rain did fall, and the sun even tried to come out a couple of times.
It was a Good Day.