RiverTribe’s About Town correspondent, Dom Day, takes a look at the range of top level fare available at the food festivals along our stretch of the Thames this summer.
Former Uberchef of Petersham Nurseries Angela Harnett said, ‘When I was younger, if you went to a summer fete you were really very lucky to get a burger …with ketchup.’ I laughed.
She was discussing the recent explosion in the vogue for alfresco food. I remembered her words as I zigzagged through the myriad of culinary temptations at this year’s Richmond May Fair. A traditional staple for local arts-and-crafts and charity stalls, this year the focus was more on luxury comestibles. This might have been because for the first time the event was curated by a foodie – Frenchman Eric Kervaon, the General Manager of the Bingham Hotel, no less.
After forty-eight years of perennial artisanal fare, visitors to the fete were treated to a selection from London’s vibrant food scene – everything from German Bratwurst to a very elegant tent from local sponsor, the high end South American emporium Gaucho. And, please note, on the heels of the meat-lovers came the vegan and vegetarian options which seem to be thriving as more and more young people descend on the suburbs to escape the heart of the urban jungle.
A true foodie’s paradise was on offer at the Syon Park Fair, with food lovers tucking in to the crème de la crème of street food: truffle-mac-and cheese hot dogs, duck-fat-loaded and rarebit chips, Cheeky Italian pasta, Greek souvlaki, a calamari bar, a whole brownie bar, pineapple and chilli ice cream, not to mention the plethora of real ales, small beers from Bermondsey, Prosecco and home-made gin.
Then, in the midst of all this exotic diversity something truly diverse a dish not mentioned in polite society for seventy years. Spam fritters. Currently re-branded as ‘quick and easy snacks’, the old quintessentially English fare which got the country through the hardships of the Second World War and subsequent rationing, is back on the foodies’ menu and is recommended as a perfect companion to a fry-up in a breakfast buttie. Then, another blast from the past – old fashioned Primula cheese has also been given a facelift and offered as tasty tapas.
Reader… I devoured with glee.
If food be your love, your summer in Richmond will be full. The Twickenham Festival on the 23th June is offering a best banger competition and all summer alfresco dining in its picturesque Church Street. The Kew Fete at Kew Green on the 22nd June promises classic Victorian family fun ‘with hundreds of slices of cake’, while the Barnes Fair on the 13th July features local favourite restaurants including Rick Stein, The Brown Dog, The Treehouse and @feast.
The Summer food delectation will end in the jewel of the foodies calendar – The Hampton Court Palace Food Festival to be held on the 24th August.