Thursday, 23 May 2013

Wallingford Food Festival

Location: Crowmarsh Gifford, Oxfordshire OX10 8HB, UK
I'm a big fan of food markets, they're a fantastic opportunity to get out of the house and explore all sorts of different foods - each event a veritable Smorgasbord of delights. Just the type of thing to appeal to this self-confessed foodie.

Since starting the Foodie blog I've checked out markets in Haddenham, Headington and Waddesdon, I've also been to East Oxford Market several times in the past. Always keen to explore more, I've been keeping a beady eye out for other Farmers' Markets and events - thankfully, there are many! We are thoroughly spoilt in Oxfordshire to have at least 20 regular markets that I know of, plus a number of festivals (check out my new Foodie Events Calendar for your definitive guide).

One of the events that caught my eye was the Wallingford Food Festival.

Taking place on 18th and 19th May, they had stiff competition from Daylesford Farm Summer Festival (18th May) and the Witney Festival of Food & Drink (also 18th May). Looking at the list of stallholders taking part, I spotted some I was familiar with: Shredded Meat Co., who I knew through Twitter but was yet to try; Secret Pizza Society, who I also knew through Twitter and was keen to meet; plus Cornfield Bakery, who I had bought lovely bread from before. Wallingford definitely had my vote!

Turning up pretty late on the Saturday, about 2pm, the event had been running for a good four hours, so I was a little nervous we may have missed out on some of the food. Thankfully when we got there, the event was in full swing, the atmosphere reminiscent of a town fair - a vast array of stalls and plenty of people mingling around them, some relaxing on the grass while they sampled their purchases. The sun was shining (between breaks in the cloud cover), it was even warm enough for me to discard my cardigan - whatever next!

At this point, I was like a kid in a sweet shop. There with MrF, MiniF and the Foodie-in-laws, I had plenty of 'babysitters' with me, ensuring oodles of time to work my way around the stalls. There was a lot to take in, and plenty that took my fancy...

Food Events Oxfordshire. FoodieOnTour

We decided to start off at the Shredded Meat Co. stall, if you look at the picture below you will see why. Beautiful soft white buns, filled with warm shredded pork, BBQ sauce and coleslaw - a thing of beauty. It tasted damn good too! MrF and I shared one between the two of us (I had to leave room for more food), Foodie-in-laws did the same. The pork was soft, slow cooked, almost pink in places and melt in the mouth, mix this in with the other ingredients and you have a winning combo. If you recognise Chris Gates in the picture above, it's because he was a finalist in Masterchef 2009, against Andy Oliver and Mat Follas - the series winner. Chris now runs Shredded Meat Co. with partner Holly, both may soon become regulars at Headington Market - so keep your fingers crossed Oxford, they would be a great addition to the Oxford street food scene!

Food Events Oxfordshire. FoodieOnTour

Food Events Oxfordshire. FoodieOnTour

Based in Oxfordshire and run by Nick and Faye, Secret Pizza Society sell a selection of thin crust pizzas from their wood fired oven, in the back of a van! We're not talking the kind of van your DVD player may have fallen off the back of though, this is a cute little three-wheeled Piaggio Ape van... called Pepe. The menu for the day included three savoury and one sweet topping, so of course I had to make two visits! Firstly, Margherita for me and Chilli King (with added nduja - a spicy spreadable sausage) for MrF, were both fab - perfect bases, with just the right amount of topping and really good flavourings. I saved the second visit for later in the afternoon, when I was ready for pudding... and boy was it sexy. The Showstopper (custard, apple, hazelnuts, cinnamon, brown sugar & butterscotch sauce), is a must try - unless you hate hot and sweet that is, like MrF does. Thankfully though, that just meant all the more for me!

Food Events Oxfordshire. FoodieOnTour
From top: Showstopper, Chilli King & Margherita

Food Events Oxfordshire. FoodieOnTour

Whilst there was plenty of alcohol on offer at the festival, I was on the lookout for something a little softer, so was very pleased to see a very funky VW Camper parked up, selling Virgin Cocktails alongside their less virginal treats. You can see these guys doing incredibly well at weddings and parties, would make a great talking point. I tried the Berry Surprise (see pic below) and enjoyed it so much I almost forgot to take the picture!

Food Events Oxfordshire. FoodieOnTour
Berry Surprise

Food Events Oxfordshire. FoodieOnTour

Mother of four (what a hero!) and producer of locally made rape seed oil, Helen is part of an arable farming family that stretches back four generations. Based on the Oxfordshire/Wiltshire border, their farm grows, presses and bottles the rapeseed onsite. I'd never tried rapeseed oil before, but had heard the benefits of using it for cooking, so off I trotted to see Helen's stall. Alongside the bottles of Extra Virgin Rapeseed Oil, was a selection of infused oils: chilli, smoked, garlic, truffle; and lemon. I tried a dab of the garlic and truffle oils and they were packed full of wonderful flavour, however it was the Extra Virgin I decided to purchase, so I could give it a go in the kitchen at home... I may soon be a convert!

Food Events Oxfordshire. FoodieOnTour

The lovely Jill is the sole maker of this wonderful selection of sweet and savoury biscuits, all hand made late into the evenings. Just Biscuits are regulars at Beaconsfield and Windsor markets, but also sell through a number of local outlets (check the website for stockist details). Zeroing in on a packet of apple & cinnamon shortbread biscuits, I made my purchase - a very good one it was too. The sweet, crumbly, buttery biscuits were delicious - they didn't last long at all, as the entire Foodie clan swooped like vultures. I definitely look forward to sampling some more.


Food Events Oxfordshire. FoodieOnTour

Serving up glorious hot, melted French cheese, straight from the wheel, over an assortment of pickles, vegetables and salami, this looked like serious food porn. Catering for a number of festivals, these guys are also available for private hire - I might have to just set them up in my back garden for a day so I can eat melted cheese for hours!

Food Events Oxfordshire. FoodieOnTour

Just one look at the blackboards and you'll see why these guys caught my eye.... Merguez sausage; frankfurter; paella; tartiflette... and those big pans of food - of my Lord. Next time! You can find them at St Albans market every Saturday, or Tring market every Friday.

I can safely say, Wallingford Food Festival was my favourite foodie event so far this year - brilliantly organised, with a fabulous selection of producers, ranging from cider, to bread, to melted cheese, to freshly made pizza, to virgin cocktails, to shortbread biscuits.... can we have this every month please..?!

Wallingford Food Festival
Bridge Villa Camping & Caravan SIte
The Street
Crowmarsh Gifford

Wallingford, Oxfordshire


  1. Dear Foodie,

    Thank you so much for visiting the festival and for your reaction to it. We spend alot of time planning and putting it together. The stars of the show are our producers and the reaction from our visitors was so positive and most seemed to be leaving the festival weighed down by bags of food and drink!
    One of our favourite reactions was a couple who watched the pasta making demo who then went and bought all the ingredients to go home and make it fresh for themselves. That's what the festival is all about!
    We will start planning for next year in the next few weeks as we digest and review all of the reactions to this year. Thanks for supporting the food and drink producers in Oxfordshire.

    Wallingford Food Festival Team

  2. I too attended this festival on the Saturday and was very impressed. The demonstrations were good particularly the chap from 'The Partridge' restaurant who shared his pigeon breast and rack of lamb. A young boy in the audience fired questions at him and he invited him to spend a shift in their kitchen to see how it was done, very commendable. Also tried the shredded pork that although tasty was only luke warm, my favourite was the bison burger.

    1. Would love to know if the boy did spend a shift with him, would be a great story.

  3. Don't forget a year in the
    2014 festival is on at the same location on the 17/18th May. Over 50 local producers and great chefs demoing again this year! Lots to see and do. Come and join us for a great Foodie experience!

  4. Thanks Paul, hopefully another fab event - might see you there!


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