The Cheltenham Food and Drink Festival has always been a yearly highlight for us. In fact it was one of the first things we covered when we started Cotswold Eats in 2017. It is a brilliant celebration of delicious food and drink, with lots of the producers based in and around The Cotswolds.
We usually visit on the Saturday or Sunday, paying the £7 entry and making a longer day of it. This year we decided to finish work early on the Friday and go that afternoon instead, paying £4 entry and still enjoying the event in the afternoon and evening until close at 7pm.
Our first port of call at the Food Festival is always churros. We have a quick snoop around the outside street food stalls, eyeing up potential choices for dinner. Then make our way towards the entrance of the ‘Food Lovers Marquee’, where Churros Olé hold their usual spot. This has become a ritual of ours, because the churros are just that good. Made fresh, coated with sugar and/or cinnamon, with a pot of chocolate dipping sauce. They’re the closest to proper Spanish churros I’ve found so far in the Cotswolds.
We then make our way inside the marquee and begin to peruse the stalls. Filled to the brim with producers showing off their food, drink and related gifts, including Broadway rapeseed oils from Cotswold Gold and local gins/spirits from Cotswold Distillery and Craft Drink Co. Not everyone at the Food Festival is a producer from the Cotswolds or Cheltenham itself, but they all travelled to be here and show off their wonderful products, including health-foods and artisan drinks, local biltong/beef jerky and lots of sweet goodies about too.
Going on the Friday was a great decision, because the smaller crowds allow you to spend more time talking to each producer about what they do and try more of the samples on offer. I tried a lot of samples, from vodka and gin, to vodka and gin… wait, also food. Then some more vodka and gin?
We stopped off at the stall for Kitchen Garden Plant Centre, a local herb growing couple based in Newent. We picked up some really interesting herbs for our house, including Lemonade Thyme, Pineapple Sage and Orange Mint. Let’s hope we can keep them alive...
Our next find was stand for Café-Cannoli, a street food vendor exclusively selling cannoli. A next-level treat from Sicily, cannoli are fried pastry tubes filled with a sweet ricotta, topped with a range of delicious goodies like pistachios or chocolate chips.
I absolutely adore cannoli, but have never found them in the Cotswolds before, so was more than prepared to buy a box. Café-Cannoli are not Cotswold based themselves, but instead visit regularly to Cheltenham and Cirencester for markets and food festivals. If you see them at a market soon, do yourself a favour and buy some cannoli, they're the best.
After trying as many delicious samples as we could, and indulging with too much of our cash, we decided to visit one of the tents for a free wine tasting, based on cooler regions in Australia. This left us suitably hungry for some dinner.
I visited The Posh Kebab Co, picking up a proper kebab filled with dry aged steak, all the salad, sweet chilli sauce and the absolutely key garlic mayo. Posh kebab or not, you need garlic mayo.
Sophie, chose a veggie option, although from a place named Meat and Greek… A grilled halloumi pitta, with copious amounts of homemade houmous. Vegetarian or not, it was delicious. The team at Meat and Greek also have souvlaki chicken and pork pitta which looked delicious.
Reading back, this article felt more like a blog in it’s content, but I needed to get across that the Food and Drink Festival is an experience that is worth it every year. Not just because it takes great photos for your Instagram feed, but because the food an drink are delicious.
If you managed to visit the Festival this year, get in touch on Instagram and let us know your highlights. If you didn't go this year, make sure you find time to visit next time, as it's seriously not to be missed.