When Charlotte and I decided to book tickets for the BBC Good Food spring show, we weren’t 100% sure what we would end up doing, and were a little cynical as to whether it would be a true foodies’ event or an event where you end up paying a load of cash for the privilege of being sold at!
After a wonderful day last weekend, I simply cannot believe that this thought even came into my head!
With tickets being rather good value (there or thereabouts of £17 each, plus £3 for the tickets to hear the speakers), I snapped a pair up at around Christmas time to give Charlotte a nice Christmas surprise!
We were lucky that we could avoid all of the potential traffic issues as we parked at Charlotte’s parents’ flat near the Stray in Harrogate. The event organisers went out of their way to keep everyone well-informed about the parking difficulties but I didn’t envy those turning up by car! Arriving at the Harrogate International Centre, it was a pleasant surprise to see that there were not enormous amounts of people stuck in a horrific queue, which wouldn’t have been ideal given that Charlotte is about six months pregnant!
When we arrived in the first hall (one of at least four massive rooms!), I said to Charlotte that this was either going to be chaos or a foodies’ paradise! With the stalls set out in a way that I am still unsure of (in terms of logical placement), we decided to meander our way through the first room to see what was what.
The first impressions weren’t ideal, as the first set of stalls had men and women with microphones and loudspeakers determined to attempt to sell us the latest foodie gadgets. Sure, I am a sucker for these kind of things and maybe these selling stalls have a place. For us, though, it just didn’t seem like the sort of place to get sold to so brazenly. In actual fact, these stalls evoked memories of some of the more manic car boot sales I’ve been to where men shout from the back of a truck to willing crowds! At least the demonstrations did give an idea as to how the gadgets worked I suppose.
After fighting our way past this initial part of the show, we came across what must be the lifeblood of these kind of events: bread and oil stands! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with bread and oil (and the samples we got to try were superb and plentiful!) but I truly did not expect so many of this type of stall!
We were a touch selective with our purchasing but in the end we opted for Charlie & Ivy’s garlic, ginger & chilli bread dipping oil. It took us some time to find the right oil capable of tempting us to part with our cash but what really stood out for me with the ‘deliciously delightful’ bread dipping oil was the kick to it. The heat wasn’t allowed to overpower the rest of the flavours, meaning that for us it will be a truly lovely starter without blowing any future guests’ heads off with spice!
Also, the sellers at this stall seemed rather more friendly than the one we overheard complaining about the fact that they had been ‘forced’ to let a young lad try a few different flavours of oil and balsamic vinegar before he ‘only’ spent three pounds on some vinegar.
As well as the plethora of bread and oil stands, there was a fantastic range of great food, spices, and even booze on offer!
We found (and bought) a spectacular jalapeno chilli jam from Mikes Gourmet stall, which boasted a fine range of jams and preserves but really for us it was all about the chilli jam!
We also came across a truly wonderful pudding/snack at the Brownie Bar stall: a chocolate cookie with a brownie as the soft, moist and chewy centre! It truly was magnificent.
Our final splurge of cash went on something that simply tasted divine and also represented a great option for those looking for gluten free food: Heck sausages. We tried pretty much all the flavours Heck Sausages brought with them and we ended up going for four packs of the plump pork and apple sausages. They tasted awesome! Whilst the other flavours were fairly good (although chicken sausages still haven’t fully won me over!), the apple ones were in a league of their own.
The rest of the show offered some lovely dining options if you fancied a proper sized meal, including freshly shucked oysters, Man Vs Food hot dogs, and a range of sausage rolls. All in all, if you wanted to get some high quality foodie nosh and hadn’t filled up on the free samples you had some great options to try.
The real highlight of the whole event, though, was the supertheatre show. Sure, you have the option of more personal interviews with a range of top chefs and yes, you could get a selfie and your book signed by a star, but the real fun for us was in seeing Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood getting up on stage and having some great banter!
With the camera crew doing their best to wind up Mr Hollywood, Mary Berry not taking any stick or allowing anyone to wind her up, the food demonstrations they presented (naturally with recipes from their upcoming books…) almost became a side show! The humour on stage was fun on one level for adults and innocent enough for kids, making this a real highlight of the day.
All in all, being sold at a bit too much or even staring at a fair amount of posh cars from the show sponsors did not detract from the overall experience of the show. We had a great time, ate some wonderful food, and came home having discovered a few new foodie items that we now may just sneak into our normal food shopping lists.
Categories: Cooking Experiences