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Foodies Festival | Syon Park

Happy Friday everyone! Today's post is a one that is bound to get your tastebuds a-sizzling as it's all about possibly my most favourite topic: food. I love food even more than video games, makeup, graphic novels, shoes, music (I know) because it's just such a creative outlet that can become incredibly technical, educational, and nutritional all rolled up into tasty goodness.

So, a couple of weeks ago I attended the Foodies Festival in Syon Park, London after the lovely Food & Baker announced me as one of the winners of some free tickets over on Twitter (thanks again guys!). I was so stoked because I've never been to a *proper* food festival before so not only was it giving me the chance to do something a little different, it was also helping me get out of a lazy weekend slump I seemed to have slipped into for the last month or so. The Foodies Festival is a travelling festival that hits a lot of major cities up and down the UK. These festivals are weekend-long outdoor events in areas such as London, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Glasgow, and Bristol and obviously focus on food and drink, but they also have some great live music, celebrity chef cooking "theatre" shows, and activities for little ones thrown in there too. I didn't know what to fully expect when I turned up but I can confirm that I had a fantastic time.

Although I won tickets for the full bank holiday weekend, I only attended the Saturday as I don't live close to Syon Park and I didn't fancy the price tag of staying over for the weekend! The weather was also predicted to be pretty damn rotten that weekend too so Saturday seemed like the safest bet and low and behold, Saturday was full of bright sunshine, fluffy clouded skies and was generally just a sweet deal. The festival was open from 11am - 7pm and I stayed for the majority of the day, dragging Matt along for the ride.

When we first got to the festival, it made sense to just wander around and get a general feel for the place as some stalls were still setting up and the festival was quiet as we got there just after the opening time. It instantly struck me just how fantastic the range of food and drink stalls that were available truly were. After only 1O minutes of wandering around I had spotted everything from vegan falafel to racks of ribs cooking on hot coals and everything in between. The range of food seemed almost overwhelming at first but I almost didn't have time to even attempt to take it in because before I knew it, it was only 11:3Oam and I was being roped into a wine tasting event in a quiet tent.

One thing that was great about the festival was the wine and beer tasting events. These events were something you needed to go and grab tickets for near the entrance just to ensure you got a seat as there was limited space in the tents. They ran throughout the day so you could go to as many as you wanted and they also were incredibly informal which I personally liked. The thought of going to a traditional wine tasting event strikes fear into my heart and makes me feel uncomfortable even just imagining it so when I got into this tent feeling slightly apprehensive I was pleased that that fog cleared as soon as I spotted the rather eccentric gentleman from West London Wine School hosting the tasting. He was incredibly knowledgeable, charismatic, and friendly which made the whole half an hour event really enjoyable. If you're a big fan of your wines, the bonus of this tasting was that you actually swallowed the wine so before I had even ate I had downed a glass of prosecco, white, and red wine (what an animal). I've mentioned a few times here on NB about the fact that I rarely drink alcohol but I'll be honest - a big part of this festival is the alcohol available. That's not to say you couldn't possibly enjoy the whole thing without it because you absolutely could, but many of the drink stalls and tent events involve alcohol so this might be something to bear in mind if you are thinking of attending in the future!

Matt & I also slipped into one of the There's a Beer for That events in the afternoon which had a similar set up. As a table we were given a range of beers to try from pale ales to stouts but this time it was even better - it came with free samples of food. By this point we had actually had more than our fair share of free samples but I'm not the sort of girl to turn down cheddar and chorizo (I might be an animal but I'm not a heathen). This event seemed incredibly popular with everyone in the tent as the host talked us through how each type of beer is made and why certain ones go with certain foods. As again, someone who doesn't really drink and certainly as someone who doesn't like the taste of a lot of lagers/beers etc., this event concerned me a bit at first but it was great! Having the link to food made it so interesting and surprising as drinking beers that I didn't like the taste of suddenly changed on my palette as I drank them between eating a brownie that complimented the flavour or chomping down on some cheese that gave the beer a creamier after taste. The Beer for That franchise has a website which is great to use if you're a beer lover and need to know what you should be stocking up on if you're cooking a fancy dinner or hosting a dinner party as you can search dishes and combos on the site and it will give you suggestions on what to drink - genius!

As we're talking about the liquids at the festival already, I'll keep that ball rolling by mentioning a couple of stalls that particularly impressed me. By far the best thing about Foodies Fest for me was the fact that I come away with lots of new independent and small brands that I had sampled and enjoyed and knew that I could purchase from them again in future. Many of the drinks stalls were pleased to inform curious customers that their products were available from the likes of Waitrose and Ocado so if you didn't get a chance to pick something up there and then or if you loved it so much you needed more, you knew where to head to. So the first amazing drink I need to mention is Kin Vodka which is yep, you guessed it, vodka spirit but with toffee. You guys, this tasted like heaven. It was an incredibly smooth vodka that even as a shot wouldn't leave you feeling hoarse and it wasn't sickly sweet with the toffee flavour either. It was a tasty spirit to have just alone or could easily have a mixer added to it to give it a little extra something. Matt picked up a bottle of this as it was so yummy and it was incredibly reasonably priced too.

My favourite find (and therefore inevitable purchase) of the day was Riddles Tequila Iced Tea. Yep, you read that right - iced tea with tequila. Now, considering I'm not a huge drinker, I actually surprisingly love tequila so when there's a drink that combines that with my beloved tea, I just *had* to check it out. Riddles is a Nigerian creation and it tastes bloody amazing. This iced tea beverage has very few ingredients and all of which are pretty damn healthy. If we ignore the fact that it includes tequila for a wee while, this drink is made with moringa tea which is a great source of protein, vitamin A & C, potassium, and calcium and is fantastic for the digestive system, tackling headaches and heart problems, and fighting various infections to name bit a few benefits. This drink also includes agave as a substitute of sugar which is (controversially) considered to be a healthier natural alternative to sugar due to its supposed low glycemic index. Whether or not you believe agave benefits etc. this drink is phenomenal and if you're someone who doesn't particularly like the taste of alcohol in general, I can't recommend this enough it just tastes like a very unusual but super tasty pop.

Another quick mention I need to make here is Cranes cider because boy oh boy did I like that stuff. Cranes cider brews cranberries alongside apples to make a naturally light cider which has 3O% less calories than many other ciders. They had three flavours on tap to sample that you could also have in a liquer format to "pimp your prosecco" but it was the bog-standard classic ciders that stole the show for me. They're incredibly sweet so if you like fruit ciders such as Koppaberg or Rekorderlig then you're bound to think Cranes is even better than those. Blueberries and Apples, Cranberries and Limes, and Raspberries and Pomegranates are the three main flavours they have created and oh my days - the raspberry and pomegranate one? Phenomenal drink. I really should have picked some up to take home but in my fat piglet food coma state I waddled home and forgot.

So I can't really talk about a food festival without mentioning the food, right? Oh my sweet jeez, there was literally something for everyone and so many flavours, dishes, sweet and savoury snacks etc. to sample I didn't know where to start. Although the prices at the Foodie Festival were of course a little bit higher than if you bought something in a big busy mass-producing supermarket, they were at those price points because you were paying for quality goods that love, care, attention and passion had gone into. Seeing doughnuts as big as my head and paellas that I could have easily bathed in was such a joy for the senses but also made it incredibly difficult to choose what to try. Many of the stalls were more than happy to let you have a sample of what they had for sale and also very warm and welcoming when addressed with questions.

For lunch, Matt & I decided just get something quick and easy and there was a fantastic little bakery stall (many of the goods are pictured above) that was selling giant versions of sweet bakery favourites but he also sold a couple of focaccia-style sandwiches which were delish. I had a chorizo one and Matt chose ham and cheese and despite being simple sandwiches, they were so yummy because you could tell the bread was fresh and handmade. He had a great stall and I'm so annoyed with myself for not recalling the company name and not picking up some of those mouthwateringly good looking almond twists pictured above! At around 3pm we had sampled a lot more alcohol so naturally, we went on the hunt for some more food. There was so much choice that I just didn't know what to have but I know I wanted something sweet. I settled on getting a classic sugar and lemon crepe and the guys from the Vive La Crepe stall were super friendly, slightly drunk, but reasonably priced so a joy to buy from all-round. Matt went for sampling a huge hotdog from a French stall which didn't sell any old hotdogs oh no - these dogs were covered with French cheese and encased in tasty crusty French bread and it smelt amazing. We had hoped to get a bubble waffle each on the way out too but I was honestly so full that I couldn't justify the purchase!

Before we left, Matt & I decided to share the cost of 3 giant pieces of fudge for £1O from Oooh!.. Fudge because it all looked too good to pass up and was the easiest thing for us to carry back home. We picked up caramac, mint chocolate, and orange chocolate and we certainly got our money's worth!

One last thing I haven't talked about yet is the live music at the festival. From open until close, the festival had live music playing on a stage which had ample seating and space to put a picnic blanket in front of the stage so it was a great spot to sit and catch your breath with a drink in hand. My personal favourites from the day was Ruby Confue and Axel Jansson. Ruby Confue was singing an Amy Winehouse classic as Matt & I were deciding what fudge to buy early in the morning and her voice drifted on the breeze and I loved it. She has that classic contemporary Jazz vibe Winehouse had and it was the perfect music to listen to at the start of the festival to get everyone active. Axel Jansson actually played twice on the day we visited and he was fab. Think James Bay without the long hair but still wearing the hat and you have Axel Jansson. He again was the perfect instalment to the festival as he was easy lazy listening in the sunshine when you needed to have a little wind down and a 5 minute rest. If yoga is your bag too, the festival also ran yoga lessons throughout the day in one of the tents so there really was something to suit every individual. Keep your peepers peeled for the Foodies Festival in the future as it could make it's way to your local town. It is often a whole weekend event but tickets are available for individual days or the weekend - it's entirely flexible. It's a great day out whether you're going alone, with friends, or as a family as the brands and companies there are so varied and unique but extremely reasonably priced. I'll be heading back to one next year for sure because there's so many things I want to take a bite of that I never quite got around to and we can't be having that now, can we?

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