All posts tagged: Experience Nottingham

A rather lovely day, eating and drinking at Nottingham Castle

I should be a total Food Festival fanatic, and indeed I probably am. Certainly, the daughter rolls her eyes to the heavens whenever we are about to plan a weekend foray to one. Well, actually, I don’t think I am fanatical about anything, but I do, or rather did, rather enjoy festivals. So many have sprung up over recent years though, and I have suffered so many expensive disappointments that I am much more discerning about where I will go and what I am prepared to pay. It is simply not good enough to charge people entry, and/or charge them to park their cars (in places where there is no alternative means of getting there) and then present them with a handful of pickle sellers and someone making 3D cards.    However, the Nottingham Festival of Food and Drink has joined the likes of the Melton Mowbray Food Festival in the “yes this is well worth a visit category”. So we headed over to the Castle on what promised to be (and eventually became) a …

Nottingham Goose Fair Gingerbread Cake (and the Trentside Cheese Riot of 1766)

Seasonal Fairs were traditionally an important means of selling and buying produce from the surrounding countryside, hiring workers for the coming season and for socialising and celebrating. Given that most roads were not much more than dirt tracks it was important that the fairs took place before the roads became muddy and impassable in the winter. Many towns had several fairs and we can see their roots in shows and fairs that still take place today – the Newark County Show held in May was originally a hiring fair for farmers to take on agricultural workers for the coming summer, and Nottingham’s Goose Fair still to this day takes place around Michaelmas, at the beginning of October. Nottingham’s Goose Fair is over 700 years old and is the oldest and largest travelling Fair in the country. It is now, of course, solely a fun fair but originally Geese were driven from Norfolk and Lincolnshire to Nottingham for sale. Geese are at their best at this time of year, and have always been the traditional dish …

Stubble Goose and Sour Blackberries – Devil Spits Day

He who eats goose on Michaelmas day Shan’t money lack or  have debts to pay. [Old English Saying] Nottingham is rightly famous for its Goose Fair which takes place at the beginning of October each year. Its story extends at least some 700 years back into history. Goose Fairs were held around Michaelmas (29th September) when the harvest was over and the Geese were starting to fatten up picking grain left amongst the stubble in the fields. A “Stubble Goose” was a traditional feast dish for Michaelmas (in Christianity the Feast of St Michael the Archangel, marking the beginning of Autumn and the last day, according to Folklore, on which Blackberries should be picked). The carcass of the Goose was then used for making Michaelmas Broth. Story tells that thousands of  Geese were driven from Lincolnshire and Norfolk to be sold in Nottingham, in the old Market Square and that this is the origin of the modern fair, which sadly no longer sells geese,  but is now one of the largest (and oldest) travelling fairs …

Too full for a food market, but here’s some mad cheese.

This is a very short post to let you have a quick peek at some cheese. I am currently waiting on the arrival of “A Year in Cheese” by the Guameri brothers of the Androuet fromagerie, which will support a little regional foodie project I am working on. In the meantime, I cannot keep away from cheese. These pictures of cheese were taken in Nottingham’s Old Market square, regrettably, I can’t tell you what any of it tastes like as we mooched about here after a rather large and very filling lunch of Angus Burger and Pork and Paprika sausage at Oaks and we couldn’t manage to eat anything, let alone contemplate buying anything to take home. Well, to be entirely truthful, I did have a cube of this guy’s aged compte but I really, really wanted that unreal-looking blue Lavender cheese. Next time, I hope to be able to squeeze sufficient in to tell you how it tastes. Yep, bit of foodblog fail there. Hurrumph.

Newstead Abbey Festival of Food and Drink. I think Lord Byron would have approved.

Newstead Abbey, formerly an Augustan monastery before the Dissolution, is probably best known as the ancestral home of that old rake Lord Byron but this last weekend it played host to the Great Food and Drink Fair. I used to go to lots of these fairs but I have to be honest, they began to become a bit “samey” if you know what I mean. If you stay local, then you often get the same suppliers turning up, and lovely as many of them are, if you go to enough Food Fairs you tend to come across the same people time and time again. I am also a bit wary of Food Fairs that charge an entrance fee (or fleece you on the car-parking) as above a certain level I feel I am paying for the privilege of spending my money. Anyhow, we took a chance on Newstead as we’ve not been to a Food Fair there yet and, to be fair (no pun etc) it was pretty good, with some new suppliers I hadn’t …

Welbeck Pudding – more batter, more Bramleys…..

Nottinghamshire traditionally had a reputation for excellent batter puddings. Welbeck Pudding is no exception but it is unusual as it features a flour-free batter  (which is a bit like a souffle or meringue topping) with the Nottinghamshire Bramley Apple as its base. What’s not to like? Well, actually, I have slightly altered the original recipe I found as it didn’t work for me with so little milk. Welbeck itself (see my post on the Harley Cafe and Welbeck  Estate) is in North Nottinghamshire and from the 18th Century formed part of the “Dukeries”, the great estates  and Royal hunting grounds around Sherwood Forest owned by 5 Dukes. Welbeck Abbey, home to the Dukes of Portland, is a vast and architecturally complex mansion, with a network of mysterious underground tunnels. It stands on the site of the original Abbey which is thought to date back to 1153. I cannot find any reference to why Welbeck Pudding is named after the House, perhaps one of the cooks developed it as someone in the family had a wheat intolerance (as …

Newark Pudding circa 1890, by “Good Housewives and Competent Cooks”

Bread Puddings exist in many culinary traditions. Most people would recognise, and love, a good Bread and Butter Pudding, essentially layers of sliced bread scattered with raisins and then covered in a custard of milk, eggs and sugar, possibly with nutmeg, and baked in the oven. The earliest bread and butter puddings were called “whitepots” and often contained suet rather than butter, and sometimes rice instead of bread (rice puddings – another great British staple) and any combination of fruits – currants, raisins, lemon zest, apples. One of the earliest recipes appeared in 1723 but variations of this have probably been around forever. Food historians have traced examples of bread puddings dating back to the 11th and 12th century (probably as a way to use up stale bread) and, stale bread soaked in water and flavoured with a little sugar was often known as “poor man’s pudding”. Most regions of England have their own version of such puddings, this one is “Newark Pudding”. The settlement of Newark, a large market town about 20 miles from …

A Grand Feast with Ivan Day – or Sunday Lunch circa 1760

What an idea this was! To recreate a Grand Feast as might have been experienced by the 18th Century aristocratic traveller on the Grand Tour around Europe that was an essential part of any self-respecting 1700s Nobleman’s cultural education. Not only to recreate it, but to invite us to sample a range of dishes. hosted, entertained, educated and enlightened by Ivan Day, Food Historian and, I suspect, a bit of a bon viveur. The School of Artisan Food, where the Feast was held, is without doubt one of the jewels in Nottinghamshire’s Crown. A fantastic resource in the most beautiful of settings. I have attended several courses there and, so, it was no great surprise to find myself schlepping over there last Sunday for a unique afternoon of eating and drinking. The journey to Welbeck on a slightly overcast, but warm, Sunday in July reminded me of just how magnificent the countryside around Sherwood Forest and the ancient Dukeries really is. Lush, green and verdant. And so it was that  30 of us gathered for …