This year we took our love of Cheltenham Food and Drink Festival up a notch, working with them to provide a competition to win tickets for our readers. We were gifted tickets ourselves, so we could bring some friends and try even more food than usually possible!
The weather on the Friday was particularly ‘second winter’, with plenty of rain despite it being mid-June. So we ended up visiting the festival twice, getting in plenty of food on the Friday, but returning during the much nicer weather on the Sunday.
On the Friday we all grabbed some lunch from different food stands and found shelter in what was conveniently the beer tent. Each indulging in a pint of the various lagers and dark ales from Gloucester Brewery, Stroud Brewery and Toast (beer made from leftover bread).
I picked up a Chipotle Boy Burger from The Beefy Boys and I think it may be one of the tastiest burgers I’ve ever had in my life. 21 day aged Herefordshire beef, with creamy chipotle sauce, crispy bacon, American cheese, Swiss cheese, lettuce, red onion and gherkin. All inside a bun that was smaller than the patty itself, which Is the perfect way to ensure more actual burger in every bite. I paired this burger with some of their crispy fries, smothered with more chipotle mayo.
As everyone in the group went to a different producer for their lunch, it made for a great selection of unhealthy but delicious dishes. Loaded fries and a chicken burger featured for our friends, but the chicken kebab from Meat and Greek (featured in last years article) was the talk of the town. Chocolate brownies from Chock Shop were also enjoyed, covered in chocolate sauce.
When we returned on the Sunday, Sophie opted for the Mac and Cheese topped with feta and breadcrumbs, plus some sriracha, from Alp Mac. Wonderfully cheesy and creamy, with the feta adding an extra salty dimension.
I went to Good Game’s Doghouse for a New York inspired Hot Dog; a homemade frankfurter, topped with onions, mustard and ketchup. A delicious dog, but just as messy as it was tasty – my shirt took a mustard hit!
We rounded our food stall visits off with the new Churros stall at the Food Fest – Churros Hermanos. As good as we’d hoped they would be and smothered in warm chocolate sauce!
Across both days we visited, we enjoyed the splendid samples of the main supplier tent. I spent a good amount of time sampling the sambal and chilli sauces from Parva Spices, picking up the trio of sambal to take home.
Thinking I was billy-big after that, I nonchalantly tried a big serving of the ‘Hell Boy’ sauce from The Beefy Boys’ sauce stand, crucially without reading the warning sign. I should have read the sign. I wont pretend that the included Carolina Reapers and Ghost Chilli’s were mild… they were fiery hell that left me with a red face and tears on my cheeks. The beer wouldn’t make it go away, and I eventually had to grab an iced coffee from Bluebird with plenty of milk.
Suitably recovered (eventually) we visited the spirits stalls from Cotswold Distillery and Craft Drink Co, featuring Sibling’s new Negroni gin and 6Oclock’s 2019 Jekka edition. Blackfords Cotswold Limoncello and Pompelmocello (a grapefruit twist on the classic, with tart citrus) were also great, as well as Queen Cleo Spiced Rum.
But no doubt the highlight of the drinks for me this year was the award winning Neptune Rum. A blend of 3 year, 5 year and 8 year old rum, originating from one of the oldest distilleries in Barbados but blended in Cheltenham. Delicious as a neat sample, but even better with ginger ale and a wedge of lime.
Once again the Food Fest was filled with tons of incredible producers from across the Cotswolds and further afar. Let's just hope the weather is better next year!