It was my birthday last week, and my completely wonderful husband bought me tickets to go to the BBC Good Food Show Summer at the NEC in Birmingham. I have never been to this show before, and to say I was excited was something of an understatement. As a subscriber to the BBC Good Food Magazine and avid reader of the website, I had spent the last few days scouring the itinerary and deciding which features I most wanted to see, and which stands particularly took my fancy. The tickets included seats in the Tesco Supertheatre, and Mr W had opted for the Great British Bake Off Masterclass show, with Paul Hollywood and Cathryn Dresser – the show certainly did not disappoint! But more of that later…
The day started well when we decided to leave the car at our hotel and take the train from Birmingham to the NEC. I don’t know why we hadn’t thought of it before, but it made the trip much more relaxed and enjoyable, and actually worked out cheaper than parking too. We arrived just before 10am and the show was already in full swing, although thankfully there weren’t yet hoards of people filling the aisles. As I hadn’t managed to seek out any specific stands that I wanted to visit – there were too many to choose – we took a methodical up and down the aisles approach, deciding we would look at everything, then have a break and go back to buy things we liked.
The first thing that caught our eye was the gorgeous garlic storage jar and grater from Rigas - totally perfect to go in my kitchen, and as our jar was held together with superglue after suffering various accidents, I felt it was a justifiable purchase. The lady from Rigas was lovely and happily answered any questions. My jar is now sitting happily in my kitchen and I am looking forward to having a play with the grater (which grates pretty much anything, not just garlic!)
We stopped by the Castello Cheese stand and sampled some delicious cheeses, including the Pineapple Halo, which I haven’t come across before. I was lucky enough to win a hamper of cheese from Castello, and can’t wait for it to arrive so I can tuck in… mmmm… cheese…
The next things to take my fancy were some beautiful cakes and tarts from Vanillis Patisserie – I just wish I lived closer to Bowden to enjoy them. The way the glaze shone on the strawberry tarts was fantastic, and made my mouth water just by looking at them…
There were plenty of cheese producers at the show, and we would have loved to have bought some, but sadly it wouldn’t have survived out of the fridge until we got home the following day. We also sampled some delicious meat, particularly the sausages from Pig and Co who pride themselves on treating their free-range rare breed pigs with respect from field to plate. We loved the almond, cumin and oregano “Roman Lucanian” sausage, and although we couldn’t buy any to bring away with us, we’ll be placing an online order very soon.
I could have spent most of the day looking at the fabulous wares offered by Simply Vintage Designs – stunning tea sets, milk jugs, tablecloths and other such vintage luxuries. Everything was so pretty, I could have just stroked it all. I particularly liked the design your own cake stands and the mismatched tea sets.
By this time, the walking was taking it’s toll, and despite having sampled lots of delicious titbits and treats, it was starting to feel a lot like lunchtime. We headed to the subscribers lounge (which was a little less grand that it sounds, I must admit) where were were able to grab a seat and tuck in to our hog roast baps, while we decided what we wanted to revisit.
Rested and sated, we began once more, heading to some gin distillers, with a plan of finding something out of the ordinary for my Dad for Father’s Day. After sampling several, I settled for the smooth yet rich Sipsmith gin, which I am sure will go down well. Soon afterwards, I found another stand offering an unusual hand blended Mediterranean gin, which has hints of rosemary, thyme, olive and basil. Gin Mare is not like a gin I have tasted before, and so naturally I bought a bottle for myself. One to be enjoyed later in the week I think
There were some amazing cakes on display, and probably the most spectacular to me, was this wonderful creation from Blossom Sugar Art. The iridescent colours on the flowers and butterflies made the perfect finish to the icing, and the whole thing was just beautiful. I am certain I wouldn’t have been able to bring myself to eat it.
Next up, I wanted a little present for my Mum, and when I spied The Original Chocolate Dream Company selling wine glasses filled with Bailey’s flavoured fudge, I thought that was just the ticket. She has assured my that it is every bit a delicious as it sounds.
Now it was time to take a little break and watch Brian Turner strutting his stuff on the demonstration stage. He made a very delicious looking (and smelling) pickled mackerel with vegetable stew, and monkfish with brown shrimps. And it would have been rude not to have said hello afterwards (he does seem really nice, and had time for everyone).
Another wander to buy a chocolate meringue for Son#2 and a lemon curd tart for Son#1, from The Little Round Cake Company, which I am told are better than mine (can’t argue with that really, and he did say the only reason the meringue was better was because mine don’t have chocolate in… ever the diplomat, my son) and treat ourselves to some delicious strawberries. We also spoke to a very nice lady from The Well Hung Meat Company, and almost signed up to having boxes of meat delivered. The only thing that stopped us really is knowing there are Cumbrian firms that offer the same thing, and we’d like to support the local economy if we can. That’s something on my to do list this week.
The last stop of the day was the Great British Bake Off Masterclass where Paul Hollywood and Cathryn Dresser (who seems completely lovely) conjured up some delights whilst being highly entertaining at the same time. I definitely intend to try Cathryn’s eclairs – she made choux pastry look so easy – and I have already promised to make Paul’s savoury brioche couronne for the children.
At the end of the day we were worn out. There had been so much to see and do, but I had a thoroughly good time atthe BBC Good Food Show Summer, and I am already hoping to be able to go to the BBC Good Food Winter show in November!
If you are planning to go to the BBC Good Food Winter show, or any of their shows, I thought you might appreciate these tips…
- Flat and comfy shoes are a must – even though it is all indoors, you will be doing a lot of walking, and the ground is hard.
- Take a bag to put your purchases in.We didn’t, and luckily you can buy big bag for life style shopping bags – we accidentally filled it, and then some!
- Get there early. We noticed a huge difference in the crowds when we arrived compared with after lunch.
- Take your time. You already know you will be there all day, so don’t rush, go with the flow and enjoy it rather than getting stressed about timekeeping.
- Consider getting the train. I don’t know why it only occurred to us on the morning of the show, but it was far less stressful that fighting through traffic, getting lost and parking the car. And meant we could sample various types of alcohol without worrying about it.
- If you can plan in advance what you particularly want to see, do it. We knew we were booked in the Supertheatre, and that we wanted to see certain demos, and it helped with our organisation (and reduced stress, for me, at least).
Whatever you do, enjoy it and have a great day