Thanks to a tweet by Raymond Blanc, I discovered the Daylesford Farm Summer Festival last Saturday. Daylesford, in the English Cotswolds, is organic and has one of the largest farm shops in the country, starting at 10am this seemed like the perfect foodie day. I had to check it out.
Much to my delight Mr Glam came along too, which meant he’d be driving and I’d be wine tasting. Surely there’d be wine? By 11.00 the Cotswolds were already heaving with weekend drivers and classic car convoys, despite the light rain.
As we arrived, we were offered the programme for the day and a map. It’s then that I realised what a fabulous time we were about to have. As well as the serious stuff, Raymond Blanc and Michael Caines doing cookery demos, there was a host of things for everyone. Artisan skills in the Barn, mini tractors for the kids, a dog show for all comers and a Spa. Yes, a spa. Where hand massages with stunning smelling products were available without cost. I loved the Geranium body lotion and the Weekender kit. Five fragrant products in a mother of pearl button up muslin bag. A great gift.
We rounded the corner of the soft yellow Cotswold stone farmhouse, into what was the original farmyard. Surrounded by converted barns, each housing the cafe, farm shop garden shop and yet more beyond. A contemporary outside space created from the traditional buildings. A mixture of green-grey paintwork, stone walls and weathered wood. Creating a comfortable yet contemporary environment. After a quick look around, we realised we’d need fuel before any more exploring. I was all for glasses of rosé Prosecco, but Mr Glam persuaded me, a slightly more substantial breakfast would be best.
We headed for the coffee shop, which had a large queue for tables. Despite the heave of customers the waitresses still maintained a smile and attentive service. We took seats at the bar and didn’t have to wait. Climbing onto the heavy, very tall chairs which had an elemnt of Alison In Wonderland about them, we checked out the menu. I ordered scrambled eggs, tasty, yellow and creamy, which arrived in an iron skillet with lightly buttered sour dough toast. Mr Glam chose cake. With his latte, we shared a delicious chocolate cookie. A large mound of chocolateyness, intense in flavour and melt in the mouth. We came home with a few of those.
Next we checked out the cookery school, Raymond Blanc was about to start his demo, but having spent too long on eggs, cake and cookies the queue was now far too long and we wouldn’t get in. There was so much else to see, we weren’t disappointed. After wandering through the garden shop with it’s bouquets of fragrant roses and spring blooms. Shelves of soft leather gardening gloves and children’s games, we headed for the farm shop.
It was so much more than just a produce shop. Spread over two floors, it’s a wealth of fabulous quality fruit and vegetables, charcuterie, meat and a Cheese Room. (I’d not seen one of those before). A glassed in space, kept at a constant cool temperature and filled floor to ceiling with wonderful British cheeses. The aroma was amazing, tangy but not too overpowering, even though there was a place given over to Stinking Bishop. I chose a golden yellow Double Gloucester and Organic Penyston. A delicious soft handmade cheese and one I hadn’t tried before.
I was mesmerised by the piles of fresh salads, crisp and colourful. Crunchy bread – everything from french style baguettes to fruity, molasses-black pumpernickel. Bottles of Rosemary vinegar and fresh tomato sauce. Stacks of seasonal asparagus and bright red strawberries. On the upper floor a selection of books both cookery and general food – I discovered Cook Wild by Susanne Fischer-Rizzi. A collection of original recipes to cook over an open fire. Tables of blue and white enamel bakeware, wooden plates and fabulous chopping boards. Long tables set out with china and glassware, casually formal and very inspirational. Shelves of white kitchen china and pots of wooden spoons. Real cooks equipment and great quality.
After buying far more then we intended, we headed off to the Producers market. Picking up cake, of course, for Mr Glam. A rich beer fruit cake. Buttery slices of fresh cured salmon and chicken and ham raised pies, sweet and salty with rich crisp pastry. A selection of savoury bites for the Glam family supper.
Next, it was off to the Q and A with Raymond Blanc in the Artisan Barn. Everyone sitting on bales of hay, laughing and questioning the gesticulating Frenchman, who mentioned that his new series is – how to eat great food and still wear a Little Black Dress. I’m looking forward to that.
We looked at everything! I was delighted to see the herb garden as I’m about to plant my own and was able to take a really good look around and get wonderful ideas for layout. But that’s a different post.
Laden with our fabulous purchases, we finally headed for the prosecco! And a lamb roll. As mundane as that might sound, it’s massively underplaying how delicious the lamb was. Slow cooked in the outdoor wood oven, sliced and generously piled on a tasty roll base. The top and bottom of the rolls were then placed at the opening of the fire to crisp and caramelise. Sprinkled with mint jelly. A perfect sharing bite. We will be back. As the farm shop and spa are open everyday, it’s a date for a girls lunch.