It is slightly embarrassing that it has been nearly 3 months since I have written a blog. Tisk tisk…. I must give myself a sound telling off! My only excuse is finishing my intermediate level Open University German course. Language courses really are very time consuming… However, a few weeks ago I took time out from my studies to pay a visit to the South Hill Park Food Festival. This event was in its second year and was a very pleasant distraction from my books. It took place as usual in the mansion and grounds that comprise South Hill Park Arts Centre. It is a truly beautiful location and luckily on my doorstep.
The weather for once was just perfect. A beautiful summer’s day without being too scorchingly hot. Although there were some stalls inside the mansion, it was great to be able to be outside, especially as South Hill Park has a huge terrace where you can take full advantage of that rare phenomenon, the Great British summer!
It was wonderful to see the Oxford Cheese company with their delectable selection of cheeses.
I do really enjoy the Oxford Blue cheese but this company also has some other cheeses worthy of mention. The Oxford Isis is a full fat soft cheese which is actually washed in honey mead which infuses it with a distinct flowery aroma. In addition to the cheeses, there are some biscuits for cheese that are a definite upgrade on your normal biscuit.
In addition this company sells cheeses from other cheese companies, including farmhouse cheddar and oak cheddar. It is so difficult to choose so always worth buying a couple to try.
Make sure you visit the Oxford Cheese Company at their stall in the Covered Market, the next time you visit Oxford.
Delights of Italy were at the festival and I really do like this company. They actually have a shop in Holme Grange Craft Centre, near Wokingham and they sell all things culinary and Italian along with a number of things non-culinary but still very Italian. My most recent purchases from this company include an Italian leather red bag and some Murano glass necklaces plus some biscotti. They do a wonderful range of pastas, Reggiano Parmigiano, vinegars, biscuits, coffee, flavoured oils plus expresso cups and storage jars. If that wasn’t enough, you can even book yourself on a cookery class or go to a language class. I did a pasta sauce class and really enjoyed learning how to make a pesto and a classic tomato sauce. A warning though, you will probably never buy pasta sauce again if you take this class!
Another interesting company I spotted was Med Foods. They had a mouthwatering selection of olives, Turkish Delight, baklava, nuts, dried fruit, sun-dried tomatoes, virgin olive oil, licorice, fudge, crackers, peppers, and confectionery.
According to their website, they import 1,200 pallets per year of fine gourmet Mediterranean foods.
They regularly attend food festivals so look out for them.
I really am hoping the food festival will be back next year but in the meantime, South Hill Park is well worth a visit. It is a unique centre for the arts and if culture is not your thing, simply go along to make the most of summer and have a drink on the terrace. I can definitely vouch for their Sunday lunch but do book it is very popular!