There's so much to say about Sunday's trip to the River Cottage Festival that I'm going to have to split it into multiple posts. It was just such a fantastic day that going through all the photos again brought back some great memories.
The Festival was held in the grounds of the River Cottage HQ at Park Farm between Axminster and Lyme Regis and had a variety of stalls and demonstrations covering the range of things that the River Cottage series encapsulates.
Mr C and I tried to make the most of the demonstrations that were going on throughout the day. The first one that we attended was with the River Cottage foraging expert John Wright.
John is the author if the 1st River Cottage handbook, Mushrooms, and spoke to us for about 30 minutes about the various mushrooms that can be found in the wild in Britain at this time of year and gave us some important tips about recognising those that are edible and those that aren't! I have to admit that after hearing what some of the dangerous ones can do to you I'm almost too scared to go and find some for myself incase I get things the wrong way round!
Our second demonstration was with Aidan Chapman from the Town Mill Bakery in Lyme Regis.
I had high hopes for this demonstration as I was hoping to hear about how to make bread and possible get some new recipe ideas. Instead though the demonstration concentrated on making pizza bases from a simple recipe. Useful information, but not quite what I was after. The pizzas that were made in the demonstration were passed around for us all to try a bit and I have to say that it was delicious and much better than the type that you buy in the supermarket, full of additives.
The third demonstration that we attended in the afternoon was one entitled "An introduction to fish skills and cookery". Fish is something that scares me in a way as I'm never too sure with what to do with it, or how to know when it is cooked properly. I can just about cope with something that I buy pre-packaged from the supermarket, or when I include white fish in something like a pasta bake, but I desperately want to understand better how to choose fish from a fishmonger and prepare it myself.
Fraser Christian demonstrated how to find and select fish that is fresh and how to prepare it from scratch. It's certainly the only demonstration I've ever been to where a fresh fish was handed round the audience for everyone to feel and smell! The first half of the time we spent with Fraser looked at how to prepare fillets of different types and sizes of fish and was particularly useful for me.
The second half of the session looked at shellfish, another food that I'd love to be able to prepare and am completely scared of at present. Fraser concentrated on fresh crabs and oysters and demonstrated how to kill, cook and take meat from a crab, as well as how to select a good one in the first place.
Tom demonstrates how shaking a crab can tell you how good the quality of it is based on whether or not the crab is trying to lose its shell
There were several children at the Festival and for this fish demonstration there was one particular young boy on the front row who was particularly interested in what was going on and kept asking various questions about the process including several in depth questions about how to kill crabs in the most humane manner possible. It was delightful to see those leading the course answering his questions and encouraging him to try an oyster for the first time after they demonstrated how to choose and open these safely. So enthusing to see someone so young taking such a passionate interest in food and where it comes from.