saturday was a pretty eventful day. chris and i got up at 6am, hopped a train to sunny bristol, ran a Go Game at igfest, then jumped out of a plane and parachuted straight into the organic food festival. okay, that last part is entirely untrue. but we got asked about 20 times if we had skydived directly to bristol, clad as we were in our unbelievably attractive trademark orange jumpsuits while wandering around the largest organic showcase in europe.
it was one of those magical instances where the forces of nature align at the precise moment to allow for our attendance at the festival. not only did it happen to be in the right city at the exact time we were already traveling there for work, but the massive marketplace of food activities was situated about 20 feet from our game location. ridiculous. thanks to the organic foodie gods smiling upon us, we got to tour the many stalls of farmers, bakers, ice cream makers, olive oil producers, brewers, and so much more. most importantly, we got to eat lot of stuff. delicious stuff. stuff like this clown smile of cheese from the bath soft cheese company.
i am going to make my way to Bath (pronounced bawwth) just to eat more of this cheese. sadly i don’t remember the name, but i think it might just be the fantastically named Wyfe of Bath, described on their website as ‘succulent and bouncy.’ ahahaha. are they taking the piss? did chaucer write their copy? hilarious.
another one of my favorite stalls was from hobbs house bakery, manned by the insanely cute brothers tom and archie.
tom and archie are brothers one and six in the fifth generation of a baking family and spend nearly all their waking hours thinking, breathing, baking, and living bread. their passion for good, sustainable, real food shines through on their website and their philosophy and methodologies passed down through generations embody the concept of artisanal production. both online and in person, their sheer love and excitement for baked goods and their adorable family styles make me feel so warm and fuzzy inside that i want to give them all my money to support their baking habits. and my eating habits. it’s not hard to justify, because their bread is who-needs-condiments-i’ll-just-eat-this-whole-loaf-by-itself levels of delicious. they’ve won about a bajillion awards for products like their fig and walnut loaf, their wild white sourdough, their spelt soda bread, and their other stellar offerings (wow, typing this is making me immensely hungry). you can see an example of nearly 5 pounds of spelt sourdough on the left, which is about how much more i would weigh if i lived anywhere near ‘the medieval market town of Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire’ where the bakery is located. next up after bath, i’ll be going there to sample every possible thing that comes out of their ovens and, if the foodie gods shine on me once more, possibly even take a breadmaking course with tom. yess pleease. we snatched up a loaf of wild white – it might have won more awards than taylor swift and beyonce put together- and sauntered off on the enjoyable task of finding an accompanying snack.
the festival was full of opportunities to learn, from cooking demonstrations to gardening lessons to sustainability steps for chefs. i personally learned the valuable fact that buffalo milk makes for phenomenally delicious dairy products and my life is now better having gained this information. chris and i ate our wild white loaf with a pure white tennis ball-sized lump of lusciously creamy buffalo milk mozzarella and i sampled a shockingly good buffalo milk coffee ice cream. i also learned about the newest trend in urban chicken coops – the eglu from omlet! – pictured below with two cackling chickens and the two children squawking loudly at them.
the eglu is a fascinating business concept – it’s a simple, well-designed, eco-savvy, almost trendy chicken coop that comes with everything you need to start your backyard egg production. that includes organically-reared chickens, bags of feed, egg crates, and a full installation, delivery and education from your very own ‘chicken chauffeur.’ it’s a bit amusingly designer-chic-yuppie-farmer-in-the-city; you know how far urban farming has come when your chicken coop sells ‘spacious open plan living‘ for the hens like it’s a midtown penthouse with exposed brick walls, washer/dryer and 24 hour doorman. but i also appreciate that products like the eglu make it easy and accessible for more people to raise chickens and get a step closer towards connecting to the source of their food. and i’m a HUGE fan of backyard eggs, so i’m all about anything that spreads the wonders of good fresh eggs straight from the chicken coop.
the festival also featured a street food bazaar and performances…
but i wasn’t too compelled by the selection of vendors and went for mixing and matching from the individual producers instead. this area could use a little pumping up for next year – maybe an infusion of upmarket global influence or SF street food festival excitement – but i was happy to see a little bit of street food love.
there were plenty of local farmers from all over southwest england who supply restaurants, stores, farmers markets, and individual box schemes (british version of a CSA box)…
as well as gardening demonstrations, talks, and hands-on practice from cool organizations like G.R.O.F.U.N which is about Growing Real Organic Food in Urban Neighborhoods. they’re also ‘all about food & all about urban communities, and how best we can work cooperatively to feed ourselves & significantly reduce the ecological footprint of getting food to our tables.’ so fantastic.
i was happily surprised by the number of people willing to pay £5 for entrance into the festival – there were lines waiting for the gates to open at 10am and many of the tents were swarming with people like bees around an innovatively designed modern ‘beehaus‘. another alternative was to join the soil association, the largest organic organization in the UK and one of the main festival sponsors, for free entrance. happily, i’d been planning to join anyway and even got an exciting bag of organic goodies as a bonus. free jar of crunchy peanut butter + free jar of wild blueberry jam + small loaf of wholemeal bread purchased from local bakery stall = yup, you guessed it, PEANUT BUTTER JELLY TIME!
all in all, it was a fantastic event and congrats to all the producers, partners, and planners on a job well done. i’ll parachute into your festival any time. over and out from the organic astronauts in orange…