I've said it many times that food here in Kent has started to become just as exciting as in London, and this was perfectly showcased at the two day Walmer Food Festival that took up residence on Walmer Green on the seafront the weekend before last (it took me a while to go through all of these mouthwatering food photos I snapped!) As well as providing us all a chance to snap up some great local meats, breads, fruit and veg, the festival was a wonderful way to discover a few local vendors like Mighty Fine Things and Paramour Pie Club I had not encountered before, as well as catching up with some old favourites.
After exploring the options, catching up with some friends an surveying all the options, I headed to a Canterbury favourite for lunch, as I'd spied that they had something special going on with fried chicken ahead of the event on their Instagram feed. It is no secret that I adore Deeson's in Canterbury for a consistently good and local lunch or dinner, but I'd never actually tried 'Deeson's Bunker', their food festival alter ego serving up more street friendly versions of their restaurant food. Obviously, this was not a state of affairs that could be allowed to continue so it is where I made a beeline for to fill my boots.
While beef brisket sandwiches were on offer, I'd set my heart on Deeson's Lapsing brined and buttermilk fried chicken, and as delicious as the slaw and salsa loaded rolls looked on display, I felt I had a better chance of not getting food all down me (I was still rather jet legged at that point!) buy buying a fried chicken box. The chicken was moist, tender and just what I was after, and their classic slaw and garlic mayo were as great as ever. However, the show was really stolen by their 'Hot Hot Chilli Sauce' which was just the right amount of sweet and spicy for me, and I'm surprised that I'd never tried before. They sell it in their Pork & Co. store in Canterbury, and I'm going to be sure to pick up a bottle for Summer eating the next time I'm in town.
Speaking of Pork & Co., my favourite Canterbury based pulled pork shop front/ horse box turned food truck outfit was also out in force at the festival and always had a massive queue; if you spot them out and about at various food festivals and events this Summer in Kent, I promise you that you won't go wrong with one of their pulled pork rolls. They're always one of my default lunch settings, and I've never been disappointed.
Before we leave the Canterbury based producers behind, I wanted to draw your attention to Cheesemakers of Canterbury, the purveyors of great hunks of local cheese I've always admired, but never been able to eat. Their offerings at the festival looked absolutely fantastic, and I know that their cheeses we used to make up cheese boards for a recent local vineyard shoot I took part in went down an absolute storm with the group (more on that soon). They have a list of stockists all over Kent on their website.
Looking back at all of my photos, I wish that I'd gone back to buy some local sausages so that I could enjoy some sausage sandwiches for lunch over the weekend. While I might have passed on some locally made (I think the meat must have been imported, though!) Zebra sausages, both Duck Orange & Apricot, and Wild Boar and Apple sound right up my street. Though, on that note has anyone ever fried zebra meat?
Next, I want to draw your attention to One In The Oven Bakehouse's offerings, which simply these three photos of some of the things they were offering should remind us all why we can only do well if we try to shop local and independent when it comes to baked goods. For a good half an hour of the couple of hours I spent at the festival I was accompanied by a rather overexcitable eight year old, who had to be restrained into only buying one of these insanely photogenic chocolate doughnuts; move over Bread Ahead at Borough Market.
Totally new to me where the very beautiful and very imaginatively flavoured pies that were on offer from the Paramour Pie Club, a husband and wife operation based on Paramour Street just outside of Sandwich offering up a rotating menu of pies made with local, organic ingredients. I was pretty impressed that as well as Full English Breakfast and Mr McGregor's Rabbit Pies their selection of vegan and gluten free pies looked equally as delicious, so I'm going to be sure to try and catch up with them soon so I can have a good and proper try so I can report back more. I've got my eye on the fact they're at Deal Farmers Market on the first Saturday of every month (I've never actually been), and the Tuesday pie night at the Hop & Huffkin in Sandwich, which I'm after re-reviewing for you all as they are now under new ownership and my parents keep on vanishing off there for delicious meals without me. I'm clearly not upset about this at all.
The final new little gem I discovered before hopping into my car and heading off to my next thing (a nice glass of local wine at Barnsole Vineyard on their patio, in case you were wondering) is a wonderful little fruity/ boozy outfit from Faversham: Mighty Fine Things. While they did also have a great selection of fruit vinegars (wherever possible all of their produce for their various drinks and sauces are made from Kentish produce as close to their base in Faversham as possible), I was drawn to some of the more adult items they had on offer, all of which that I tried were absolutely delicious, and with their pretty bottles and labels I'd recommend would make lovely gifts.
I did not take home a bottle (I have hedges of elderflowers right now I need to remember to do something with) but I can really recommend their Wild Elderflower Cordial as the perfect mixer to go with some ice cold champagne for the perfect Summer afternoon garden party drink. I've been also loving the little bottle of Plum Brandy made from local Victoria plums that I purchased with an ulterior motive in mind; we have a very fruitful Victoria Plum tree by our front gate at home, and I've got many more homemade alcohol experiments planned for this Summer to follow on from my Sloe and Damson Gin successes in the Autumn; I already have some of the raspberries we grow here earmarked for raspberry gin.
As far as showcasing some of the fantastic local producers and vendors we have here in East Kent so far I've just been focusing on Canterbury, my favourite and teenage stomping ground as it is pretty well known and a university city. However, I'd love to hear your thoughts on my branching out of Canterbury a bit for some more local food features; I'd love to showcase some of the best we've got? I know that while I have readers from all over Britain (and indeed the world!) about 40% of you are based in London, and we're an easy distance by car for a weekend in the country here in East Kent, as well as having great High Speed train services into Canterbury, Sandwich, Dover and Deal?