Down to Dorset to work at Camp Bestival with Petra Chocstar in her chocolate icecream van. I’d learn to scoop properly she said. The finest technique is to do a long snail-like curl which makes the icecream look bigger than a firmly packed scoop. This is harder than it looks to achieve. Other rules: don’t miss out the edges of the tub when scooping because you’ll end up with a sticky fist by the time you get to the bottom.
“icecream wasn’t put on properly”.
You replace it.
“Do you mind a cup?” I asked an adult.
“Yes, I mind. I want a cone”
whimpered this fully grown adult reverting to five years old. Ice cream vans bring out the kid in everyone.
“It’s a bloody festival” I’d explain wearily “What do you expect? Efficiency?”
Strangest was the ‘silent disco’: you are given headphones as you enter the tent. If you don’t wear the headphones it’s a surreal experience, like going to a deaf person’s convention. People are writhing in silence, enclosed in a private world of sound. Once in a while, they will all rise in unison and pump the air with their fists, in the direction of the plinth where the DJ fiddles with his turntables. The DJ rarely acknowledges his audience.At festivals in Britain, people wear wellies even when the sun is shining. A festival is a chance to wear all the clothes you’d never dare wear at home; the poncho you picked up somewhere ethnic, the flamenco dress, the fairy wings, glitter, animal masks…
After Camp Bestival I drove to River Cottage canteen in Axminster. They held a food stall at the festival and I met their chef Tim Maddams, and very briefly, Hugh Fearney-Whittingstall. Unfortunately River Cottage Canteen was closed by the time I got there. I managed to buy a couple of local cheeses… And nipped into the old fashioned sweet shop next door, buying salty liquorice, mega sour lemon balls, butterscotch gums. Nowadays of course they are not sold in quarters (which is actually 115g) but 100g. Mondays seem to be quite dead in Dorset which is a shame when a festival is on.
I had arranged to stay at the house of some people I met through Twitter @greendrawers and @eatdorset that night…a pop up bed and breakfast! We arranged to meet at sunset on the beach at Burton Bradstock where there is a fish ‘shack’ called The Hive Beach Café.
“How long can you keep that up?” I asked him.
“Probably another five years” he said “I’m quite old for a commercial diver”.
“Grannies isn’t it?” explained @greendrawers “where else locally can they buy organic cotton baby clothes to send as presents, knowing they aren’t going to get a sniffy reaction from the parents?”
“To stop us escaping I guess” joked Mat.
“Is it a fix?” I asked “Do you think they have chosen who will win from the beginning?”
“Not at all” replied Mat “Some times I was up against really ‘televisual’ competitors…one gorgeous woman who did Gluten-free food, another babe in a mini skirt, but I got through. I asked John and Gregg the presenters why and they simply said ‘Your food tastes better’. It was quite brave of them to put four guys through to the final.”
“I never imagined I would get through. The first round I was surrounded by people bandying around French cooking terms. I can’t speak French, I’m an amateur from New Zealand. One guy was actually French but the food he produced went horribly wrong”
another day, another adventure. lovely, again, mml.
Glad you enjoyed your time in Dorset and in particular Beaminster and all it has to offer from Greendrawers to The Wild Garlic. It's a very picturesque part of the world and has its own special unique magic, don't attempt the sea however at The Hive Beach when the tide is on the turn !!
was great to meet you !
I think I will put some parmesan (old winchester actually) on the bread pudding when I make it next
See you on 10th in London x
Hi. Loved your Dorset tales. I'm going to go and stay with my brother in Dorset in the autumn and get over to The Wild Garlic for sure. I went to the Little Chef Popham last February to try out the Heston menu. We were five typical London ladies on a lunch trip. we had a fab time, though, although the food was hit and miss (and we were charged £1 for ONE MUSHROOM poached in olive oil; that's a bit crazy isn't it?). But the staff were just wonderful, although the manager who featured in the tv series had already left: we had a great guy from Bristol who made the whole experience for us.
Really enjoy your twitter posts, and looking forward to trying out one of your UR evenings.
Really enjoyed reading about your adventures, particularly visiting Mat at The Wild Garlic – can't wait for my visit, in mid August!
I went to the Popham Little Chef on the way back from Camp Bestival too! Did you actually get mushrooms plural? Because they only gave me one tiny "slow roasted field mushroom" for £1.
The parents of hyperactive kids pissed me off too. I was spinning outside the tent one day and this little girl touched the spinning wheel as it was going round. Her parents were right there so I figured they'd stop her. Then she put her foot between the spokes. Then touched the wheel again. I had to tell her it would eat her fingers if she kept doing that.
Parents wanted to use us as a babysitting service while they went to watch music. I don't care how "family friendly" it is, I would not leave my 8 year-old alone at a festival.
The River Cottage canteen was rubbish. My write up of the fest including River Cottage and Popham Little Chef is here: http://fingersandtoes.wordpress.com/2009/07/29/camp-bestival/
As you can see I got two not very big mushrooms for my quid. Trouble was they were tasteless.
Thanks everybody for your comments…Dorset really is food heaven.
The River Cottage stall at Camp Bestival was, by all reports, disappointing. I've heard the canteen in Axminster is fantastic.But how can a meat eater provide good vegetarian food anyway? They just don't get it mostly.
Festival food does need to improve and I'm planning to open up my own operation next year. All I need is a backer….
I cooked at festivals all last summer and loved it. People would come to the cafe I worked for just to get decent vegetarian food.
The Curious Cat
Wow! Too much stuff in one entry – too much to comment on! Where do I start…okay Camp Bestival – ice-cream…very amusing. Last year I hijacked an ice-cream stall for a couple of hours at Bestival on the Isle of Wight (it was necessary as it was really pissing it down – we knew the seller anyway). It is funny that despite the rain and cold people still crave ice-cream! Lots of good tips here though if anyone ever fancies going into business…it is also quite interesting seeing the festival from this angle!
As for the silent disco -OMIGOD! This is something I have always feared. It is a cool idea -don't get me wrong – but this to my mind is the complete break down of community and unity…well not completely I guess in this case as everyone was listening to the same tune but what if everyone was listening to something different?! It will happen one day…we'll all become unreachable islands…
ach I'm being too dramatic and not very coherent but there is a thinking here that requires exploration….it is that whole idea that community is breaking down and the rise of the individual and virtual worlds and blah blah blah – I rant!
As for food – wow – what a lot of interesting experiences! Lucky you – River Cottage, fish, Little Chef – you've been on a food oddssey from the looks of it! Most envious…. xxx
You do get around my dear!
Loved reading this, we're definitely going to head to The Wild Garlic if we manage to get that way in September.
Keep 'em coming…see you Tuesday.
The Curious Cat
PS Matt's restaurant sounds amazing – well done to him! I'd certainly eat there!
The Curious Cat
PPS On festival food – I think it has definitely got a lot better from the times when I was 16 going to Reading Fest, there you just got horribly congealed chinese food and burgers – not a vegy option in sight except for jacket potato that looked awful…Bestival had some good curries and fish dishes last year – but yeah always room for improvement!
Scarlett the Heavenly Healer
FAB post – as always! X
Ms ML – long time no catch up; thanks for re-enthusing me about all that is good and fun in the world with this wonderful post.
Fancy a mini-break in Bath next time around? I think you'd particularly enjoy the Farmers' Market, and we could compare and contrast the delights (or otherwise) of Jamie's Italian and our own River Cottage Canteen. Heck, you could even accompany me to a restaurant review if we get the schedule right!
Anyway, be in touch soon – for now, keep on keeping on; you're doing great things.
That is the most apt description of Polly Harvey that I have ever read. And well done on triple pudding consumption.
The Wild Garlic sounds great. We're definitely going there next time we are in Somerset/Dorset.
The Ginger Gourmand
Aha – you got to try the savoury bread pudding! I must make my way down to mat's place sometime soon…I love our little exchanges on veggie-fare.
I was once queuing for the portaloos at a festival (aimed at adults, mind) and a man dumped his 6 year old daughter on me while he went to the bar as she needed the toilet. I was a.) not in a correct condition to look after children and b.) she gave me headlice. Parents, eh?
Curious cat: yes the silent disco was very 21st century
MsDisco: I would love to visit you,accompany you on a review. When is good for you?
Lizzie hollowlegs:Kids =lice and worms. You get used to them eventually.