It is July and summer is upon us, or at least it should be, so this can mean only one thing for Hampshire Fare, its members and supporters. The whole month is dedicated to the celebration of Hampshire’s amazing food and drink. It is the annual Hampshire Food Festival 2016 and this one is extra special, as they celebrate their 25th anniversary.
Hampshire Fare’s members are not just made up of the many inspiring local food and drink producers. Independent retails, hotels and hospitality businesses also create a wealth of the food and drink events happening in the county, adding tremendous value to the organisation. Not only does this food festival help the local producers showcase their fabulous products, there are also many opportunities for food and drink enthusiasts like myself to sample Hampshire’s abundance of produce and talent. With over 70 events being held all over the county, from pop-up restaurants, cookery masterclasses, vineyard and farm tours there should be something for everybody.
In recognition of the 25th anniversary, one of the new ideas for this year is the 25 Plates of Hampshire Food Festival. Twenty five chefs have created their own plates to celebrate Hampshire’s local produce. Plates include a Parsonage Farm Charcuterie board available at Forte Kitchen in Winchester and a Chilled Nettle and Almond Soup at Newlyn’s Café in Hook. You can also get a Pinch of Salt cured meat board at The PIG in Brockenhurst and even a Pigeon & Black Pudding Sausage Roll at No.5 Bridge Street in Winchester. Full details can be found here: Hampshire Food Festival 25 Plates
I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of what is on offer this year, when I was kindly invited to the press launch, which was held in the grounds of their office at Rownhams House. In the gardens, various Hampshire producers had pitched their stalls and were offering samples and the opportunity to discuss their products. This included The Watercress Company who have also gone into the production of wasabi! Gorilla Spirits showed their passion for the juniper berry, and speaking of gin, you could find that in one of Parsonage Farm’s salamis – Twisted Nose to be precise. Upham Brewery brought along their range of ales including Tipster, Fields of Gold, Punter, Odds On and Stakes. The Hampshire Salami Company were featuring a new biltong style dried pork with chilli and fennel. It was very moreish and would go well with an Upham Ale! Crow Farm were offering samples of their brand new product which was a Pork Pie with Blue Vinney, a fantastic combination and some of the most delicious pastry I’ve eaten. Bakehouse 24 gave some very handy tips on how to create a perfect sour dough bread.
Local catering companies McCrimmon & Reid, Vanilla Catering, Courthouse Catering and Elizabeth’s Kitchen were promoting local food with some exquisite canapés. Even this year’s MasterChef winner Jane Devonshire, who is a local Hampshire girl, was there to show her support for local producers. Mark Wright, chairman of Hampshire Fare and Tracy Nash, Commercial Manager gave speeches thanking their small team and everyone else involved for all their hard work, and afterwards guests raised a glass of Hattingley Valley sparkling wine to celebrate their achievements. It was a fantastic evening and a real credit to the dedication of Hampshire Fare and Hampshire’s finest producers and hospitality businesses.
There are numerous events happening during the month and you can find a list of them here: Hampshire Food Festival Events.
Alternatively, a copy of the festival programme can be picked up from local farm shops, pubs, restaurants and Southern Co-operative stores or an online copy by clicking on the following link: Hampshire Food Festival Programme.