What’s the only place in Britain where it’s ok to jostle, nudge and bump into hundreds of strangers without having to say ‘Sorry’ or ‘Excuse me’ every nano second? The Flavour Fest in Plymouth! This is the go-to place for not just all Plymouthians but all its envious neighbours who drop their inhibitions and little wars (read my post on Clotted Cream…) once a year to party hard at this food and drink festival. And when you have a hundred thousand food worshippers packed into a city square, niceties, politeness and even bad weather (it rained till afternoon every day for the 3 days of the festival!) take a back seat. Food for thought? ☺
Quite simply, it’s a celebration of food, and it’s great to see the ‘closet foodies’ come out in jingoistic hordes to this food carnival. A live Cooking Theatre marks one end of this carnival area, while a country barn called Food is Fun finishes off festivities at the other end. So at one end you have celebrity chefs like Thom Hunt stirring up exciting stuff with local fish and farm vegies (and offering you a taste of the goodies at the end of it, of course!). While at the other end, a family-style barn party swings on with singing, dancing, friendly food fights and ‘catch the fish’ contests…
So if you are not already torn between the two ends, here’s what lies in between – roughly 100 stalls, temptingly displaying and selling cheeses, breads, mushrooms, pasties, pies, burgers, organic fruits and vegies, pickles, jams and sauces, local beer and cider, traditional Devon
ice-creams, cream teas, Thai, Indian, Spanish and Japanese delicacies, and even nifty little tools like garlic peelers (they are almost too good to be true!) to make your life happier in the kitchen. And the best part is that you can sample almost everything before you take the plunge! Have a nibble of Georgie Porgie’s rum and brandy soaked Christmas pudding, or warily sip on ‘Old Fart’ or ‘Cat’s Pee’ at the Direct Beer stall, or lick Chilli Crab Paste off your fingers at the Potted Fish counter… Gulp down some pure and crisp apple juice, straight from the orchards, sink your teeth into the moistest Blueberry Flapjack on earth, or gingerly chew on some beautiful Girolle mushrooms, dirt and all! What the heck, just down a couple of Duck Burgers or Veal Steak Rolls while still in queue for that deliciously Buttered Mackerel Bap, it’s allowed!
This year had an exceptionally good turnout, I am told. This, not just because foodies turned up in hordes and rubbed shoulders with the local darlings of culinary delights (and there are plenty of heavyweight chefs in the SouthWest, if I have to just go by the number of BBC food show chefs who hail from here!) I think it was because of a certain gang of foodies (read, us!) who tirelessly marched around the inviting stalls and sampled, picked, tasted, gobbled, glugged down and chomped on the fabulous and fresh fare on offer, with single-minded focus and simple-hearted purpose, making good food the winner!
Plate-Licker’s Wisdom: Plan a trip to Plymouth just for the Flavour Fest… Yes, it’s that good!