Monthly Archives: June 2015

26 June 2015 Food Festivals This Weekend

Food Festivals This Weekend

The Taster Magazine Weekly Update: Food Festivals This Weekend

Today & all weekend sees the Malt & Music Fest on the Isle of Arran and the Bristol Foodies Fest (startingtoday)

Saturday features the Fish Fest at Milford Haven and Summer Food Fest at Hay-on-Wye

Sunday offers the Jewish Food Festival in Golders Green, World Egg Throwing Championship in Thorpe Latimer (Lincs) and further food festivals in Burnham and Northallerton

All weekend
In Northern Ireland is the Irish Game Fair in Shanes Castle, Randalstown and a Sea Festival (with food fayre) in Bangor. Across the water are a couple of chilli-themed events — Cheese & Chilli in Basingstoke and Wild Food & Chilli in Maldon, Essex. Plus more food festivals in Morden (London), Colchester and Shrewsbury, plus another at Shobdon Airfield (near Leominster) with aerial display

Hope there’s something in there for you; have a good one!

The Taster

Click on COOK for seasonal cooking ideas, or on our CALENDAR for further foodie events this month.

Blog 19 June 2015 – Food Festivals This Weekend

Food Festivals This Weekend

The Taster Magazine Weekly Update: Food Festivals This Weekend

Food Festivals This WeekendHello! It’s time to round off National Picnic Week: we have two excellent Picnic Cookbooks, each worth £18.99, to give away in our new readers’ survey. Have a go cos you never know.

In the meantime, in London, there’s only one place to go — the giant Taste of London festival, continuing today and all weekend in Regents Park.

If you’re in Northern Ireland, rush to the Titanic exhibition today and try the special two-hour tasting tour (there won’t be another chance to do this until August); alternatively, Enniskillen offers the Festival Lough Erne.

Scotland has two festivals in Edinburgh this weekend: the continuing Royal Highland Show (on today and all weekend) and the Cake Festival (Sunday only) featuring a giant map of Edinburgh made of cake.

In Wales from today, the Lion Inn in Trellech, Monmouthshire, offers music, beer and camping all weekend.

In England Bournemouth F&D Fest kicks off today. It’s the final weekend of the Asparagus Festival in the Vale of Evesham, and festivals are on all weekend in Ellesmere, Harrogate, Evershot (Sunday only) and Droitwich; plus what sounds like an amazing Scandinavian Midsummer Feast in East Harptree, Somerset

NB Remember Father’s Day on Sunday. Hope there’s something in there for you; have a good one!

The Taster

Click on COOK for seasonal cooking ideas, or on our CALENDAR for further foodie events this month.

Gooseberry and Mackerel Ideas and Recipes

Gooseberry and Mackerel Ideas and Recipes

Gooseberry and Mackerel Ideas and RecipesWe write this post almost immediately after a preliminary foray to the Pick-Your-Own place, where the strawberries are a little pale but the gooseberries are in full and triumphant swing. Gooseberries are a traditional accompaniment to mackerel, cutting through the fish’s oiliness to create all sorts of superfood wonderfulness. Coupled with the fact that, as of now (Summer 2015), fishonline gave some four out of six mackerel stocks a rating of 2, making it a reasonably good sustainable choice, it seems like mackerel with fresh gooseberries is the only way to go on a meat-free Monday.

The best vid we’ve found is this, from 2011, by Jeremy Lee, currently head chef at Quo Vadis. He enlists words such as strew and stour in a marvellously domineering Dundee accent, exhorting the listener to render their cream ‘the beautiful, pale, colour of a full moon;’ really, it’s a joy to hear even if you’ve no intention of going anywhere near an oven. Give it a listen:

(Find more vids, both amusing and informative, on our YouTube channel.)

And on to the notes. Regarding MACKEREL, as mentioned, quite a few stocks scored a 2 (on a scale where 1 = eat all you like, and 5 = avoid buying). Fish from elsewhere aren’t so sustainable though so, as ever, download the App from FishOnline for a handy check when shopping or eating out.
As an oily fish, mackerel has all the usual health benefits – good for the brains and nerves.
It goes with sharp flavours such as horseradish, tartare sauce or vinegary capers
Other friends include citrus, shallots, parsley, all Asian flavours and, as an accompaniment, any kind of potato — from oniony mash to boiled new potatoes or chips
Cool down the heat of summer with mackerel ceviche: dice the raw fish flesh and let it marinade in lemon and lime juice, seasoning and a little olive oil. The citrus juices ‘cook’ the flesh. Serve with pickled cucumber or a mint, yoghurt & cucumber dip
To grill a mackerel, halve and flatten it, brush with olive oil and grill for six or seven minutes
For a really great look, try cutting five or seven slits on one side of the fish, then stuff each slit with a slice of lemon or lime, and some fresh herbs, letting them poke out. Grill, roast or barbecue
Bake a mackerel wrapped in prosciutto for a meatier taste and serve with tomato and pineapple salsa
As with all fish, quick hot frying crisps up the skin and makes it look tasty. Do this while keeping the fish whole, or remove the skin and fry it separately, serving it as a ‘crisp’ if you’re in a MasterChef mood

To make the simplest accompaniment to mackerel: just stew them gently for half an hour, in a lidded pot, with some butter and a little sugar to taste. Alternatively:
The classic gooseberry dish is a creamy fool: mashed gooseberries with yoghurt, cream and icing sugar
Despite being very sharp if eaten raw, stewed gooseberries are an excellent filling for tarts, crumbles, cobblers and pies. Choose small, slightly unripe berries for cooking
Elderflower blossoms (which are still in season through June) give an extra layer of perfume to gooseberry dishes and drinks
Gooseberry crumble – try this, by Titli (crazy name, crazy gal). You couldn’t get more of a contrast with Jeremy, but she’s just as compelling viewing:

This is a short entry since The Taster has yet to create full articles on gooseberries or mackerel, where possible — but we hope the above ideas might provide some inspiration. We do update entries, so check back any time. Click HERE for more ingredients.

Blog 13 June 2015 – Food Festivals This Weekend

Food Festivals This Weekend

The Taster Magazine (Nearly) Weekly Update: Food Festivals This Weekend

Food Festivals This WeekendFESTIVAL season is in full swing and we hope the weather near you is better than the drab and dreary day we have here in South Wales. Never mind, firm that resolve, jut that jaw and get out and enjoy the British Summer, we say.

So: It’s the start of National Picnic Week, so ho for the traditional equipment of umbrellas, sou’westers and flasks of steaming hot coffee and maybe a cheeky hip flask.

In London, we have Soho’s Food Feast today and tomorrow.

Northern Ireland enjoys a sudden influx of events: Comber Potato Festival (see page 28 of PDF), Coleraine Market, Dungannon Good Food Market, a Beer Festival in Creggan and Open Farm Weekend across the region.

Scotland has its Science Festival, which includes various events of foodie noteworthiness; and weekend-long festivals in Loch Fyne, Edinburgh (the juniper festival – a celebration of gin!) and Crail. Tomorrow, Glasgow enjoys the Mela Festival, in what looks to be a rather marvellous multicultural celebration of foods from around the world.

In Wales today, Merthyr Tydfil and Newcastle Emlyn offer a Chilli Fiesta and a Food Festival, respectively.

And finally, England today offers the Great Yorkshire Vegan Festival in Leeds and the last day of the Bridport Food & Beer Fest; Congleton F&D Fest (tomorrow only); and over the whole weekend, the continuing Middle Earth Beer Fest in Lancashire, the BBC show in Birmingham, and further food festivals in Crediton (Devon) and Whitley Bay.

Have a good one!

The Taster

Click on COOK for seasonal cooking ideas, or on our CALENDAR for further foodie events this month.

Win A Picnic Cookbook – Taster Magazine

Win A Picnic Cookbook – Taster Magazine

Win A Picnic Cookbook - Taster MagazineTake our Awesome Cookbook Survey below, and you’ll have a chance to win one of our two beautifully-produced, hardback Picnic Cookbooks, each worth £18.99, kindly donated by National Trust Books and Pavilion Books. Good luck!

Get started

Awesome Picnic Cookbook Survey

We’ll draw names out of our Choosing Hat on 31 July 2015 and notify the winners by email. The winners’ names will appear in our Autumn 2015 issue.

Super-planners will love this book: it covers every al fresco eventuality, from bonfires and barbecues to seaside soirées and foraging excursions, and the Afternoon Tea Picnic — a contradiction in terms of effortless appearance and hidden labour. Those of a more fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type character can flip to the ‘Travelling Light’ chapter. Plus handy hints from how to build a campfire without incinerating the countryside, to foods for eating in cars (ie low crumb counts), high-energy catering for major hikes, and exotic options for adventurous foodies.

Blog 8 June 2015 – Traditional picnic food

Traditional picnic food

The Taster Magazine Update: Traditional picnic food

At last, picnic weather! The Wind in the Willows (featuring Toad of Toad Hall) is one of our favourite books. It may or may not be coincidence that it also sheds much light on the constituents of what used to be a traditional British diet for genteel folk. It begins on the very first page, where Mole intimidates some officious rabbits by shouting “Onion-sauce!” (just as a more recent joke involved singing about mint sauce and lambs). A few pages more, and Rat invites Mole on a picnic:

[Ratty] reappeared staggering under a fat wicker luncheon-basket.

“Shove that under your feet,” he observed to the Mole, as he passed it down into the boat. Then he untied the painter and took the sculls again.

“What’s inside it?” asked the Mole, wriggling with curiosity.

“There’s cold chicken inside it,” replied the Rat briefly:

“O stop, stop!” cried the Mole in ecstasies. “This is too much!”

“Do you really think so?” enquired the Rat seriously. “It’s only what I always take on these little excursions; and the other animals are always telling me that I’m a mean beast and cut it very fine!”

Note the absence of, for example, boiled eggs, whole tomatoes, cheese, and much variety of sandwich. Instead, Ratty balances five types of meat (chicken, tongue, ham, beef and potted meat) with cress sandwiches, gherkins and salad. Which, plus some bread and soft drinks, makes up the entire picnic.

‘Cold cuts’ certainly used to be far more popular than they are today. In The Taster’s opinion, this seems inextricably linked to the equally declining popularity of Sideboards and Dressers: those large, impressive, old-fashioned pieces of furniture used to store crockery, cutlery and glassware; and which doubled up as surfaces upon which to display buffets, cold collations, or any other form of help-yourself feast.

The main problem with these pieces of furniture is their old-fashioned air and their size. Until very recently, the desire for spacious rooms was tempered by the need to keep warm and cosy, and no-one seemed to mind cramming huge dressers into teeny parlours. But we wonder, now that we have kitchen-diners, open-plan sitting-rooms and so on, whether – coupled with the fashion for shabby-chic – a resurgence in both the Sideboard and the Cold Collation is not due. The Cold Collation is very cook-friendly, since nothing has to be kept warm; most of it can be prepared in advance; and it is an excellent way of presenting thrifty leftovers. It is more or less a lovely indoor picnic, in fact. For a retro feast that is much easier to prepare than it looks, we would suggest this – and it can be adapted for al fresco dining (perhaps without the trifle):

Cold sliced meat (however many types you like. This can include deli meats)
One large sliced pork pie
One platter of quails’ eggs dipped in celery salt
One platter smoked salmon
One large sliced quiche
Sausage rolls (if you can warm these in the oven just beforehand, they are extra nice)
A basket of freshly torn baguette pieces (ditto)
Tomato salad, with onion and white wine vinegar
Potato salad, with chives and fresh herbs
One large trifle
One plateful of brandy-snaps stuffed with whipped cream
Stilton, Snowdonia ‘Green Thunder’ Cheddar & celery sticks or grapes
A basket of whole apples
A bowl of fresh strawberries

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Found a new funny vid, warning against the perils of TOO MUCH DRINK, for our YouTube channel. Try this:

Have a great Tuesday,

The Taster

PS click on COOK for seasonal cooking ideas, or on our CALENDAR for foodie events this month.