Last weekend was stewed!'s first foray into the world of festivals with Lovebox 2010. Although probbaly more tired than I've ever ever been in my entire life, delirious even, I enjoyed the event, it was lots of fun. There's something really satisfying about selling direct to the public, talking to hundreds of random strangers, trying to explain the merits of a chorizo stew or some Italian chicken with white wine, cherry tomatoes and canellini beans.....
Basically though, what I discovered was this: if someone wants a burger, they want a burger, no matter how much stew pushing I do, they're just gonna ram that burger down their gullets - burger buyers are on a mission. Don't mess.
Talking of ramming food down gullets, the amount of food consumed at these events must be pretty spectacular. People aren't shy to stuff their mouths either.. everywhere you look there's some sort of unsuspecting cake, burger, wrap, pizza, (stew!) starting its journey along an alimentary canal. Someone should make some a montage of festival goers shoving all sorts of things into their mouths. Turner Prize anyone?
Another Lovebox discovery: people really do spend £2 on a bottle of water at these gigs. Crazy! Mr Sugar would be proud of me, sending the troops out into the crowds to sell water (we overbought.... massively!!) - it's amazing that people actually pay £2 for a bottle of water in these places. And will someone please tell me how I ended up buying a case of Relentless drinks to sell at the event. Those vomitesque drinks somehow ended up in my esky. Why? Did I get brainwashed somewhere along the line?
True, the weather was not kind to stewed! last weekend - it was so blinking hot. Where did that come from? Was it forecast? Of course not! I was expecting moderate temperatures and lots of cloud - perfect stew weather. As it turned out we had the hottest day of the year so far, apparently, so people ate burritos and chorizo roills more than stew. We live and learn.
Durign the whole event I was amazed how supportive all the other traders were. There was a kind of camaraderie amongst us, swapping food, equipment, banter over a morning coffee.... I guess doing festivals is such hard work that it brings everyone together. Even though they had a queue to die for for most of the 3 days, I bear no grudge against the burrito guys - Simon and his gang did well, but what great people!
Thanks to Marc at Northfiel farm, each mornign I had the best bacon and egg rolls a stew maker could hope for. Perfectly soft egg bursting over crispy thick cut bacon, freshly cooked. Yum! Then it was churros, lamb burger, chips.... I think I succumbed to festival food fever. Grab anything.... eat..... grab something else... eat.... start again.
This weekend is more of the same. We're doing High Voltage for older rockers - rather than being off their heads on drugs, the lot this week are likely to be filling their bellies with beer and, hopefully, stew. Do rockers like stew? This has yet to be seen.... i will let you know next week.
I'm loving apricots at the moment. My local supermarket on Green Lanes does fantatsic seasonal fruit and veg. Nectarines and apricots are so good right now. Apricots can be such a let down - often floury, furry, dry bits of nothingness - these ones are definitely not like those poorer cousins. These little stars have pale orange skins with red/russet patches, like someone's added some blusher with a brush to them. I love to pull them apart just where the two halves join at that sexy mid point.... juices start flowing and you know it's gonna be good. Taste, and they're sweet and fragrant but not overpowering - I just now ate 4 of them, wolfed down in an instant. Lush. As for the nectarines, don't get me started.... I really should make a tart out of those apricots, preserve some, make some jam, spice some up for a chutney... they're so cheap right now....
Tomatoes too... good sour dough, toast, drizzle over EV olive oil, sliced ripe tomatoes, maldon salt, cracked black pepper... breakfast heaven!
On the food theme, last week I went to my favourite Lebanese place in Park Royal. It's a little cafe attached to a bakery called Omnia - you can buy their flatbreads in the shops. They make amazing Lebanese pizzas - my favourites are their cheese with za'atar or the spinach one with softened onions, sumac and ground allspice. Both so fragrant, so fresh and delicious and under £2! Bargain. you'd only get a bottle of water at Lovebox with that! 😉 They're also good fun there. Don't know his name, but the surly guy with long hair in the morning takes a while to warm to. He's all bravado but we get on. They love their food. What more do you need?
Another food moment this week was my trip to Amarino ice cream on Old compton Street in Soho. Their icecreams are seriously good - smooth and creamy and the temptation to try as many as you want is not frowned upon. Perfect! I had pistachio - I can't say no to a bit of green ice cream (unless it's mint choc chip - that's just wrong) and cream with caramelised orange peel. SO GOOD. not cheap though but it's excellent. Ice cream reminds me of Melbourne, going to Trampoline and coming out with a big tub to eat with friends.... ice cream culture is a good one. Let's continue down that path people of the UK.
You know, talking to people is perhaps the most powerful tool we have as human beings. I had a Hungarian woman get in touch becasue she felt the stewed! Hungarian goulash was not like the spicy ones in Hungary. I explained that after researching goulash (no, not goulashes), I discovered that it could be traditionally mild or spicy in Hungary. Some emails went back and forward and yesterday evening I exchanged a few pots for some of her father's home grown paprika from Budapest. How amazing is that? Turning a complaint around simply through talking.... amazing! She's now a supporter of stewed! So many things in life are ignored - I say speak, it'll sort it out. I wasn't expecting her to bring along some of her spice - such a sweet thing to do.
So as promised, my first proper blog is a bit of a ramble. I like rambling and so that's the way it's gonna be. 🙂 Off to buy some more apricots....