What better way to spend a Sunday than meandering through the Lakes on route to Taste Cumbria in the wonderful market town of Cockermouth. A brilliant excuse to turn up, scoff a lot and pop in to see the in-laws (Mr Welly being of Cockermouth lineage).
I’ve ‘done’ plenty of food festivals in my time, mostly down south where polished super stalls and branded staff try and flog you over-priced nosh. In fact in one-such Cheshire-based fest I paid a grand total of £5 over the odds for a bottle of artisan gin which could be purchased for, well – a fiver less from the very glam and expensive-looking wine merchants down the road… That’ll serve me right for buying Yorkshire plonk at a Cheshire show (mucho apologies Lakes Distillery). It was a miracle that my bottle of mothers’ ruin got home in one piece as I was jostled and pushed by so many shoppers all desperate to drop their cash on anything with ‘artisan’ written on it.
Back to Cumbria however – it was pleasing to note that although busy, Cumbria’s regular Taste fest was not just any old foodie fair but also a bit of a knees-up. There may have been less crowds but there was a whole lot of talking going on and it seemed that everyone was having a good old catch-up whether amongst themselves or with the stall holders. In stark contrast to said Cheshire fest, it seemed that this year’s Taste Cumbria had turned into a truly social occasion. Familiar faces were seen and many of the stall holders were happy to spend time catching up with folk they knew or recognized from previous occasions. Despite a sniff of Lancashire and French fare, the feel was definitely still Cumbrian with some fabulous produce on display from around the county.
It was great to see the usual Taste Cumbria stalwarts in attendance. Resilient as ever, key businesses such as the Trout Hotel in Cockermouth were fighting fit and back in the game having only re-opened some 6 weeks ago following the flood devastation. Chatting to Philippa Fare, the Trout’s super-enthusiastic Business Development Manager, it was fabulous to see the hotel back in action with a funky new logo and of course busy as ever with the Lakes Distillery marquee and celebrity Olympian Jonathan Edwards in tow for the whisky tasting 🙂
Sharon Heron of Cockermouth’s Fyne Fish was flying the flag for freshly-caught fish and cooking up a storm with a fabulous Thai prawn dish from her stand. Although obviously run off her feet, she was beaming from ear to ear thoroughly enjoying the great turn-out.
The lovely Louisa from Quince & Medlar had decorated her stall just fabulously with heart-warming bunting and of course her most tastiest vegetarian dishes.
The uber-cool Carvetii coffee folk had gone to town and brought a coffee bar to Main Street. As owner Anghard MacDonald quite rightly pointed out – who wants to taste a thimbleful of black coffee if you like it flat white and sat down? I was already impressed by Carvetii’s choice beans when I reviewed Kendal’s Slate bar recently so it was great to see that they matched the quality of their coffee with top-notch branding and a really warm, welcoming stand.
Other purveyors worth noting were Judith and her addictive Kin toffee vodka (one for Welly Loves… very shortly – well I’ve run out and any excuse…);
the fresh-faced lads from Mues, creators of fine toasted muesli who were very keen to pose for a picture, lol;
Lisa from Ginger Bakers, Grasmere – great cakes and bakes and really cool marketing stuff on her stall;
John Dixon whose mouth-watering array of carb-laden buns and breads was as impressive as his Twitter handle @johnthebaguette. He’s opening a further Fat Flour bakery in November over in Coniston so watch this space as I shall be paying him a visit to see if the new shop is as #wellycool as his social media 😉
And a personal favourite of mine as a true fan and lover of marshmallows (read my review of Virginia House) – Steve and Carla Quan-Soon from the amazingly-branded-truly-addictive Magnificent Marshmallow Company. I feel a Welly competition coming up very soon… must not eat the prizes… must not eat the prizes…
Aside from the stalls, there were also demonstrations taking place in the main marquee as well as some pretty loopy madness for the kids making its way down Main Street…. well, it wouldn’t be Cumbrian if there wasn’t a little craziness would it?!