Monday, 4 July 2011

Eating my way through The Big Feastival, Clapham Common

Big Feastival Logo
Last week I was awarded two press passes by Get Involved Ltd  to The Big Feastival being held at London's Clapham Common.
This promised to be a melange of music and pop-up restaurants created by Essex's own Jamie Oliver with the proceeds going to charity; The Prince's Trust and the Jamie Oliver Foundation. Having been disappointed with food festivals recently, namely Taste and the Foodies Festivals, I had mixed feelings about how I would find this one but in general, the concept was unique and prompted my immediate interest. What furthered my interest was the chance to see Soul II Soul perform on stage to relive my late teenage years!
Friday was my day of choice and after being hooked to the first men's semi-final of Wimbledon (Tsonga Vs. Djokovic) we decided to head off for The Big Feastival (even when it meant missing my countryman, Andy Murray, playing the following semi-final).On arrival, we decided to head for The Big Kitchen where chefs were providing cooking demos, regrettably, we missed Michael Caines but with a few minutes to wait, Jamie Oliver appeared to cook-up some impromptu dishes.
The Big Kitchen Line Up
The Big Kitchen was held in a sizeable marquee and on a very warm Friday evening, this provided sauna-like qualities with the heat intensifying as more people entered.
It wasn't too long before Jamie and Gennaro Contaldo emerged almost as a comedy duo with Jamie referring to a recent episode of Two Greedy Italians where Gennaro pulls octopus out of his speedos (Gladly, I missed that episode!).
Jamie and Gennaro prepare to entertain
Jamie cooked smoked trout using a biscuit tin, wire mesh and oak chippings to flavour and smoke the fish. He also prepared courgette flowers stuffed with ricotta cheese, mint and basil, while Gennaro made Panzanella. As the temperature soared in the tarpaulin, we started to wilt and made a quick exit to the great outdoors.
We were blessed with the choice of pop-ups to amaze and dazzle our taste buds. 
Each ticket or pass provided 3 meals from any restaurant. The tickets were retailing at £35, with special offers on the day from Kelkoo  quoting £15 per ticket. 
Any drinks had to be bought with cash only which I think is a bit of a flaw in this concept. The nearest cash point is far from the event (across the Common) so your budget for drinks is dependent on the cash you have on you. If credit/debit cards had been accepted, we would have spent a lot more on refreshments so I think the organisers have missed a trick here.
So who to visit and what to taste? I was delighted to see Trinity with a stall but less impressed with what they were offering; a Clarence Court Scotch Egg. I think if you are a fan of Scotch eggs then this would be for you, sadly I'm not an admirer.If only they had another option, what a shame!
Our first choice and our favourite of the day was the offering from Cafe Spice Namaste:
Welsh lamb kofta, coconut curry and cumin flavoured rice 
This dish was absolutely superb, a taste explosion which left us begging for more. I'm pleased to say that the portion sizes at the event were very generous, so I was more than happy to share my dishes with hubbie.
Following this scrumptious pleasure, we made our way over to the Malaysian restaurant Awana.
 Chicken Satay and Roti by Awana
Awana were serving corn-fed chicken satay with roti (Malaysian bread). Marinated chicken skewers roasted over charcoal, coated in a thick peanut, piquant and sweet sauce was a tasty top treat.
Next on the menu was the Pit smoke barbeque pork shoulder with slaw from Barbecoa.
Beautifully, sweet tender pork that dissolved in your mouth enveloped in a tangy, moreish coating. Lovely, all in moderation of course!
Barbecoa slow cooked pork shoulder and slaw
With such a selection, where to next? How about Franklins pop-up who were serving a rabbit, bacon and beer stew.
Frankin's Rabbit Stew
I rarely get the chance to eat rabbit, so I was really pleased with this option, even though it was probably an unusual choice for a summer dish. The consistency of the stew was very thin, more like a soup than a stew, but I really enjoyed tasting the delicate rabbit among the cinnamon and clove perfumed jus.
Being Scottish, I do try and honour the culinary traditions (deep fried Mars Bar being the notable exception, of course!) so when I saw Albannach's offering of "Haggis, Neeps and Tatties" on their menu, I thought I should give it a go. I've never really been a lover of haggis but I think the free shot of Malt Whisky for my hubbie was worth a try.

Albannach's Haggis Neeps and Tatties
Emmm, my thoughts?I'm glad I tried it, if only to confirm, I still have not been converted! My other half really enjoyed it, along with the serving of Talisker while I savoured the creamy, buttery, velvet mash.
A little repose from feeding our faces was required as we walked around the venue to take in the sights and sounds of the feastival.

The Main Stage
It was a hive of activity with not just food taking centre stage.Wondering around we noticed lots of families with children having their faces painted, Musical Bingo was taking place at the WI Tent and a crowd had gathered for the Cocktail Making Class.Giant sized tea cups adorned the field as children and adults alike lined up to have their photo taken in and beside them.
Seating was limited but there was a main long dining table available across from the BBQ Competition Tent.
Dining Al Fresco at the Big Feastival
 We concluded our feast with, taking dessert from Vinoteca:
Dark Chocolate Cremoso with Fresh English Raspberries, Coconut and Toasted Almonds
Vinoteca's served chocolate cremeso showered with toasted flaked almonds, raspberries and a coconut tuile. As we delved in, we could hear Danny Rampling's dulcet tones as he rolled out the tunes.Jamie Oliver soon took the mic to explain he was about to hand out churros and chocolate to the gathering crowd. I thought this was a nice touch and showed how much Jamie was actually getting stuck in to the event and was not merely a name associated with the feastival.
As the night drew in, we were invited over to the main stage where Soul II Soul were appearing.I loved every minute of their presence as they went back to the late '80's to perform classics such as "Keep on 
Movin'" and "Back to Life". Well, what can I say? Jazzie B and Carron Wheeler - You Still Got It!! Big Time!

Getting on down with Jazzie B
All in all, a really super event for worthwhile causes. A good atmosphere, a great sense of community spirit and a nice mix of music and food choices. Bravo Jamie Oliver! for organising such a fun, lively and good natured event! Hopefully it will be repeated in the years to come.
I think I can now cross number 2 off in the events section of my Wish List.


  1. I wish I had been able to go. It all looks fabulous.

  2. Hey Maggie! Thanks for the comment ;-) If you get a chance to go next year I'd strongly recommend. A good atmosphere with plenty of activities and food choices.

  3. Loved the event - great with kids as the fun fair rides were free. The food was wonderful too, the Fifteen foccacia and slowly roasted pork was to die for... I did get free tickets so it was not too much a blow on the budget, other wise, wow! Entry + £5 a dish + drinks... At least all goes to charity, which makes you feel less guilty for splashing out!

  4. Thanks for the comment Coralie. Nice to know that the food at Fifteen was good - I think we were spoiled for choice.The portions were generous so after 6 dishes between 2 of us we were stuffed!