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Guest writer Kate Marshall attends Essex Festival of Food and Drink

There couldn’t have been a more quintessential English scene; ancient 13th century timbered barns, a walled garden, jugs of Pimm’s and an abundance of local sourced foods from fruit and vegetable growers, brewers, jam makers, oil producers and chocolatiers. The Essex Food and Drink show was most certainly in full swing at its rural location in Cressing Temple Barns as we meandered through the entrance.

Under the sun and rain clouds by the food court, brother and sister duo, Tou Can Jam, played upbeat songs in the background while foodie lovers indulged in their favourite eats and tipples amidst the backdrop of tiny stalls on a grassy area filled with tables and chairs. It was a far, far cry from the world of TOWIE and its golden triangle, Essex is so known for these days. The medley of wood fire pizzas, champagne, Pimm’s, quality coffee, wines, cup cakes and Essex’s world famous West Mersea oysters was a visual feast as far as they eye could see. And then came the best bit, the tastings, which were available at most stalls.  

There was much excitement coming from the KellysBronze Turkey's station, as the team behind the company who have been awarded the title of ‘Britain’s most awarded free range turkey’, laughed and joked with other turkey lovers flocking to the stall as Philip Regan announced Paul Kelly its owner is the fastest turkey plucker in the world!

The array of friendly faces and local home cooked and prepared delights revealed Essex folk and their wares are a force to be reckoned with. I was especially enthralled with Dan Hull’s homemade sliced meats, pies pates, parfaits and terrines from Burnham on Crouch, Hoyle’s Honey which is 100% pure English honey and born and bred in Navestock.  

Food lovers poured into the tents at various intervals to watch cooking demos and to learn from the masters. Some of these included Ruby Tandoh, a finalist on the Great British Bake Off in 2013 and chef Hayden Groves who was the National chef of the year in 2013. Children didn’t miss out either for they were able to join in with cookery classes led by Ursula Ferrigno.     

Before we left (with bags a plenty and a full tummy) we popped our heads into one of the barns and ogled at the offerings ready to be judged by Jo Wheatley as part of the Essex version of the TV hit, The Great British Bake Off. I marvelled at the cleverly crafted gingerbread men, breads and cakes not knowing how on earth she was going to be able to choose the best ones. They all looked so delicious! 

Guest Blogger Kate Marshall is a writer, editor and producer who gained an English/Communication Studies degree from Anglia University in Cambridge in 1996. She has been working in the media sector in digital, magazines, radio and television for over fifteen years. Having also co-written books for Penguin publishers, she is now writing her own children’s book. Kate Marshall lives in Essex, UK. 

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