Signing Books & Cooking Live at the We Love Hythe Food Festival
I love a good food festival, so on the Sunday of the Bank Holiday Weekend my family piled into the car (my aunt and uncle came too!) because it just so happened that I’d been asked to judge the cake competition, do a cooking demonstration and sign some books at the second annual We Love Hythe Food Festival run by Hythe Life Magazine – the nearest food festival to where my parents have just moved to in Kent. As well as getting to share Student Eats with the local community some of my local foodie favourites were there so it was nice to catch up, and I’ve fallen head over heels in love with yet another local food truck I want to show you.
Obviously the first order of business once we arrived was to scope out what we were going to have for lunch. While I was not after something sweet just yet a special shout out has to go to a new find of mine, Thomas Cookie Co. I tried so many of their samples and they have the crispest, soft in the middle cookies I’ve ever brought rather than made, in so many imaginative flavours. Just look at those gooey-marshmallow filled s’mores ones! If you come across them, remember to take a box home with you.
There was also a chance to catch up with some old favourites: the menu game at Pork & Co. looked strong (you can read my post about them here), all of the classic scoops were being served up from Simply Ice Cream (you can find my post about them here), and I spend a good amount of time getting drinks from and stocking up at Mighty Fine Things as I’d not yet encountered their beautiful Coxy’s branding yet.
For the uninitiated, I first encountered them at the Walmer Food Festival a couple of years ago when they were making a few fruit cordials, vinegars, chilli sauces, and they’d just started on Kentish fruit liquors. Now, they still sell their award winning vinegars and sauces, but I’m a bit in love with their boozy options (try the Plum & Cardamom, and Elderflower & Honey) in their colourful, wax sealed bottles. They’re great as gifts, and topped up with prosecco (which is how they sell them at festivals if you fancy a tipple!) You can get all of their range online – perhaps one to bookmark for Christmas?
For lunch, we all fancied something a bit different. Just Ribz serve up a number of different slow cooked barbecue (ribs and pulled meat) options, as well as their own house hot sauce. Obviously my Dad made a bee line for it, getting a pot of ribs and a slow cooked beef brisket sandwich. The brisket was good, but we both found the ribs a bit dry. Their house hot sauce, however, packs a punch and is worth trying.
I’m always one for a good street pizza, so a margarita from Stoned Pizza was the natural choice. While there was nothing technically wrong with the freshly made pizza, dough rolled out on their fun flattering machine (though the cheese was a bit cheap), as I’m used to the likes of Pizza Pilgrims and Born & Raised in London, and Lucy’s fantastic, homemade sourdough and incredibly topped numbers (with home-infused oils no less from That’s Amore Pizza Co. in Kent, they were a bit of a let down to be honest.
Best in show from all three of us has to go to a relative newcomer, The Clam Catering Co., and their delicious (and cheap – only £2.50 a portion!) fried to order homemade chips with a luscious brown crab mayo. These were so more-ish – the best thing we had at the festival – and my only regret is that I did not go back to try more from the truck. I need to track him down for a proper sampling session as soon as possible!
As it was a blistering hot day and we had a bit of time before I was due in the demo tent (!) we decided to indulge in something quintessentially British to see off the end of the summer in style – Pimm’s and Mr. Whippy ’99 Flake ice creams – before it was my turn to judge the Cake Off. The theme was ‘Kentish’ (in both design and taste) and I was really impressed by all three entries. However, big congratulations needs to go to cake number one which was a simple, yet technically brilliant caramel apple cake I simply had to give top spot to.
While I have cooked to camera quite a few times at this point, this was actually my first time cooking on stage in front of the audience! I’m not going to lie, I was quite nervous and there were a few moments where I got a bit stressed (the wind from the side of the tent kept on blowing out my gas burner!), but in the end I really enjoyed it, and can’t wait to do it again! I made my Pea, Prawn and Mushroom Egg Fried Rice from Student Eats (it is one of my favourite recipes from the book, and The Happy Foodie have published the recipe here, and you can see me cooking it step by step in a video for The Student Room here) and it was so heartening to see the leftovers absolutely hoovered up by a group of children after my demo, and so have so many people who had been in the audience afterwards coming up to me asking me to sign their copy (and not just students, because this book is for everyone!) and wanting to talk about the book afterwards.
After I’d signed books for a while all three of us were a bit wiped out (we’d been up late at a drinks party the night before) so we grabbed something to take home with us from Taste of Thai – an old favourite from my school days I utterly adore – and walked home along Military Canal s the sun went down to dig into our Pad Thai around the kitchen table. Their portions are generous and their noodles are pretty much as authentic as you can get, as well as being made fresh to order. While they pop up at various food festivals like this one, you can usually find them in Whitefriars in Canterbury city centre.