Broadstairs Food Festival 2014

Yesterday was gloriously sunny here in East Kent, and so I gave myself the morning off to take advantage of the first day of Broadstairs Food Festival. The Food Festival is probably the second most prominent event in Broadstairs' social calendar, after the world famous folk festival, which takes place every August. It's a great opportunity to sample some of the truly outstanding produce from the region, as well as goodies from further afield, with everything from marshmallows to cider covered. 
Due to my foodie attitudes I tend to gravitate more towards the local producers, but even so, Broadstairs Food Festival is full of new names and unusual products. 
This year I was really disappointed not to see the biltong guys that were at last years Broadstairs Food Festival. I had the most amazing biltong from the 2013 festival and I'd been really looking forward to getting some more, but hey, the variety of stallholders is one of the greatest draws and it would be no fun if the same faces were present year after year after year. 
I was really pleased to see that the organisers had taken some feedback on board and stopped visitors from bringing dogs to the Broadstairs Food Festival this year. We all know that I'm a tireless animal lover, and I have unlimited time for a friendly pooch, but last year's food festival was rammed with dog owners, and even I'll admit, the number of wet noses and lolling tongues that I saw around the food was enough to put me off! Not to mention all of the injuries that I nearly sustained from tripping over unexpected Jack Russells! 
As I write this there are still two more days of Broadstairs Food Festival 2014 to run, with the event hosted on the Victoria Gardens (by the bandstand) ongoing until the 5th October (the rest of the weekend.) I would massively recommend a visit if you're able to get down, I usually make an effort to get to any local food fairs, including the Canterbury Food & Drink Festival, which took place last weekend, and I definitely maintain that Broadstairs is the best event of it's kind that I've been to. It beats similar events in terms of the diversity of products on offer, the setting, and the atmosphere, and the fact that it's now dog and smoke free is a huge bonus. 
It's worth getting to Broadstairs Food Festival when it opens at 10:00am - be aware that the festival area gets very busy over the weekend dates and the most popular stallholders will be supporting long queues, especially if you want to get something to eat around lunch time. It can also prove difficult to park, so getting in to Broadstairs early, or parking a little further out and taking a leisurely stroll down the High Street, are your best options.
On the subject of lunch, there is a pop-up restaurant on site, but you do need to book a table in advance, otherwise, it's street food all the way, with everything from pulled pork (Canterbury's infamous Pork & Co. have a van) to Kangaroo meatballs and crepes in abundance so you should have no excuse to go hungry - there's also a great vegan food stall, as well as take away curries, and excellent coffee. 
I tried to maintain some control whilst visiting this year's Broadstairs Food Festival. Of course I sought out the guys from The Little Stour Orchard (did you read my post a few weeks back after I'd been apple picking in their orchards? These guys rock!) to pick up a bottle of my favourite apple cider vinegar. They also had some local honey on their stall; bizarrely I suffer more with my hay-fever in the Autumn than at any other time of year, and I find that a spoonful of local honey* each morning helps to ease my symptoms, so I grabbed a jar. From Nethergong Nurseries I picked up a celeriac for an upcoming recipe (watch this space) and also signed up to try their veg box delivery service. At this year's food festival they're offering customers the opportunity to try a one-off box, at half price, with no obligation to receive ongoing boxes. For a long time I've been sceptical about receiving a week's veg in one go as it's only really me and a small person to feed at home. However, Nethergong offer a "Mini Box" for one person, and at half price, it seemed silly to miss out. I'll let you know how I get on and what seasonal veg I receive! I also picked up a cucumber from Thanet Earth's stall, a bottle of the area's only red wine, a pack of camel meat sausages to discreetly feed people over the weekend, and of course, I grabbed myself a coffee from Lola & Co. in their cute retro caravan. 

If you want to know who's at Broadstairs Food Festival 2014, there's a list here. As well as those mentioned above I'd also recommend you take the time to make sure you visit The Chocolatier, who make the world's lowest calorie chocolate - if you like that kind of gimmick - but their Earl Grey infused milk chocolate is amazing. Rosie Lea Tea are also on site and they make the absolute best loose-leaf Earl Grey known to man (there's a theme here right?) you'll always find some in my cupboards. Visit Olives R Good 4 U if you can get to their stall as they import the only fully traceable extra virgin olive oil in the world and it's phenomenal. If like me you're really in to your spicy foods, then Kent Chilli Farm is well worth a stop to stock up on unusual varieties. You must must must stop and try some of the gin from Anno Distillers, this Kentish gin is (and trust me, I know about this stuff) the best gin. Just the best. Try it, buy it, rave about it for the rest of your life, just make sure you find their stall. If nothing else - the bottles are beautiful. On the alcoholic theme, you must also stop at Nip From The Hip, who've received my praises before, but their rhubarb vodka is to die for. Eastcourt Manner are selling starter kits to make your own sourdough bread at home - I wanted to grab one but unfortunately they were still waiting for them to arrive as I was so eager and there early! If you pick one up though let me know how you get on. 
I'd love to hear from anyone who has visited Broadstairs Food Festival this year, what did you make of the festival and what goodies did you eat or bring home? I might have to pop back at some point over the weekend to get one of those sourdough kits and a selection of Thanet Earth's tomato varieties. 
*it's suggested that eating local honey can help to ease hay-fever. It's important that you get honey from as much a local source as possible - something to do with the bees using the pollen that causes your reaction etc. Seems to work for me though!

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