Topsham Food Festival
A weekend celebration of eating and drinking June
in aid of the Matthews Hall Modernisation Appeal
'The Global Village at The Globe'
Devon June 13-15th, 2008 Nello’s
Longest Table was the highlight of the Topsham Food Festival, a wonderful
and full weekend of activities and events that centered on food.
Films and Art Exhibition
all started on Friday with the screening in Matthews Hall by the Topsham
Film Society of two beautiful and moving films that touched
on themes that explored how food connects us, defines who we are, where
we have come from, maybe where we want to be. The Italian connection was
particularly poignant. Big
an immigrant tale of two brothers running an Italian restaurant in
New Jersey, trying to be true to their Italian roots, but failing as
a business. Finally, they have one big night to turn things around. Mostly
a German film that explores the obsessive personality of top chef Martha,
whose world is turned upside down when she has to take care of her niece
Lina, and whose precise restaurant kitchen is turned even more topsy
turvy with the arrival of Mario, an Italian chef, who is brought in to
cover for her. Germanic perfectionism meets head on with Italian spontaneity.
The food scenes in both films are beautifully shot and incredibly
appetizing; ultimately, though, these are movies that nourish the soul.
the Topsham Food Festival, there was an Art Exhibition by
artists living in Topsham in the upstairs Council Chambers of Matthews
Hall, another demonstration of how this important civic building is
used by our community. Works included landscape paintings by visiting
American artist Read Baldwin; oil paintings and wine cartoons by Jane
Cope; ceramic work by John Woolner; photographs by Kathy Woolner; pottery
by Anne Cope; mobiles by Anna Bowen; large abstracts by Lizzie Westrop;
images created with paper pulp and natural objects by Louise Stolworthy;
photographs by Kim Millon; and a print and photograph by Guy Millon.
On Saturday, the Topsham Food Festival continued with an exciting
programme of events and workshops throughout the day at Darts
Global Village at The Globe’, and at the Pebblebed Tasting Cellar.
Farm events included the parading by butcher Gerald
David of two prize winning pedigree Red Ruby Devon bulls
that had won top honours at this year’s Bath
and West Show: Dunkery Jack, Junior Champion, and Fitzroy, Supreme Champion.
A novel competition was to plot (using advance GPS technology) the exact
spot in the field where said champion bulls deposited their first cow
pats. According to Mike Dart, this simple and natural task took quite
a lot longer to perform than expected! Later on in the day, James
East Devon Education Ranger, demonstrated how to make an amazing ‘rock
pool paella’ while
there were also barbeque demonstrations in the new Barbeque Hut, cyder
tastings and producers on hand to offer tastings and explain their products.
Globe Hotel has been the centre of activities throughout
the planning of the Topsham Food Festival, so it is fitting that
on this day it was transformed into a ‘Global Food
Village’. Ian Shears from
Organic Farm drove into the courtyard with his tractor,
trailing his mobile wood oven. This brilliant contraption is used for
his ‘Seed to Loaf Roadshow' whereby children
are allowed first to mill grains of wheat into flour, then use this make
their own bread rolls that are cooked in the wood oven.
Shear's 'Seed to Loaf Roadshow'
Natacha Du Pont De Bie, meanwhile, gave a fascinating children’s food workshop, “Adventures
in Taste” which encouraged children to try new foods and flavours
and not be afraid to sample foods that are unfamiliar. It was as fascinating
and provocative for adults as it was for children.
and Shona make chocolate
Richards of Leapfrog Foods and Shona Buchan of The
Happy Gelateria gave
a demonstration on making Raw Chocolate, that is chocolate
made without reaching higher than body temperature.
chocolate, yum yum!
Dharmendra Gour Singh, the new 5-star chef at Denleys
Essence of India Restaurant, gave a fantastic talk and hands-on demonstration of the preparation
of northern Indian foods. Dharmendra is himself from Rajastan and he
made a variety of breads cooked in the wood-fired oven (in the restaurant
he would of course use the tandoor) as well as demonstrated the preparation
of a colourful vegetarian dish and a dish of local Topsham mussels deliciously
cooked in warm and fragrant Indian spices.
Gour Singh gives a masterclass on regional Indian cuisine
A chat and a taste
Live musical entertainment was provided by Star
Struck, a talented jazz
band made up of local youth musicians.
and Mario Fontana, had come over from their home in
the Barolo wine hills to be with us for the Festival. Luisa was happy
to demonstrate how to make a favourite home-style dessert of Le Langhe, bunet, a
delicious chocolate custard pudding made with amaretti biscuits (which
we later enjoyed for our Nello’s
Longest Table pudding).
Luisa demonstrates how to make bunet. James and I are
on hand to taste.
chef at the newly opened Quay
Brasserie, came on next to demonstrate
the home curing of bacon, as well as the traditional French ways to make
sauces and vinaigrettes.
Tony, our butcher at Arthurs for so many years, gave
us a masterclass demonstration on making sausages, and in particular,
on twisting them into links. What fast hand movements, what dexterous
skill! I've always rated Arthurs' sausages as the best around, so it
was good to see how they are made.
Tony from Arthur's making sausages
mixed up a special batch of Italian sausages for me, just coarsely
minced shoulder and belly pork mixed with salt, lots of crushed black
pepper and a generous slosh of Mario’s excellent Dolcetto wine.
As he readied to make these into sausages, a little lad in the front
row asked if he could help. His name was Bradley and he had been intently
watching all the demonstrations throughout the day. Tony brought him
to the front, and Bradley made the sausages, proving himself to be
quite expert at picking up how to twist them. A butcher for the future?
A chef for the future? Who knows! Well done, Bradley.
Tasting Cellar, meanwhile, hosted beer, wine and oyster
tastings throughout the day. Greg Towning had a display showing the raw
ingredients needed to brew a traditional pint, together with a selection
of his own brewed, bottled and labelled beers. Mario Fontana of Cascina
Fontana was over from his home in the Barolo wine hills to offer tastings
of his magnificent wines. And of course Geoff was on hand to talk about
and offer tastings of Pebblebed rosé and the newly launched Pebblebed
Brut sparkling wine, accompanied by simple drinking platters of cheeses
and meats. Outside the cellar, meanwhile, Richard Marsh of Bigbury
Bay Oysters was shucking his delectable bi-valves by the dozen as people
stopped to sample an oyster, a taste of Pebblebed.
Pebblebed Brut and Bigbury Bay oysters, a fantastic combination
evening of music and food
Saturday evening - lest we forget in the euphoria
of Nello's Longest Table - was a rare and special night, too, simply
and utterly magical, an evening of music and food on The Green
of Matthews Hall.
Beluga Blue bass
6pm, the "Windbags", under the expert direction
of Geoffrey Brace, gently welcomed people on to The Green (what a magnificent
public Topsham space! And how underused it is). People lounged on the
grass, sat in chairs from the hall, listened to the music, while children
ran about and freely and safely playing in the background. There was
such a friendly and warm atmosphere, the foods – a
hog roast provided by Kenniford
Farm; grilled meats and salads by Antonia’s
Kitchen; a fish barbeque by David and Ondine Kerley of The
and wood-cooked pizzas by Ian Shears of Highfield, with
wines by Pebblebed and Vino,
were quite spectacular. Music by the incredibly talented local
Beluga Blue jazz trio led by Ron Murray was just perfect.
A rare and very special night indeed!
The Green at Matthews Hall, what a wonderful public space!
Afterwards some of us retired to The Globe for a late night sampling
of the special Topsham Food Festival IPA, specially brewed for us by
Warrior with the assistance of Greg Towning.
Sunday: Slow Food Devon Topsham Market and Nello's Longest Table
so on to Sunday. The Slow Food Devon Topsham Market started
off an hour earlier than usual. Natache Du Pont De Bie had set up a barbeque
outside the front of Matthews Hall, and, under an umbrella, was cooking
the most fragrant and enticing Laotian foods. Indeed, for me, one of
the highlights of the weekend was standing outside in the rain that morning,
just slightly worse for wear from a little too much of that wonderful
but wickedly strong Festival Ale, eating a plate of sticky rice, trout
steamed in banana leaves, served with the most refreshing and deliciously
hot and fragrant chili relish, which woke me up and brought me back to
life, energised me to set up tables and prepare for Nello's Longest
here for our full
report and pictures of Nello's Longest Table.
am extremely grateful to everyone who helped to make this extraordinary
weekend happen. A quite small group of us gathered together now and
then around a table in the Malthouse of The Globe Hotel over a glass
of beer or wine and somehow made it all happen. No committee, no minutes,
just everyone contributing and working together to achieve a common
goal. Special thanks go to Liz Hodges for her incredible energy and
her fantastic ability to cut to the quick and simply make things happen.
What a great group of people, and what a very special community we
are fortunate to live in.
Food Festival has been run voluntarily on a not-for-profit basis, with
all proceeds from the weekend's activities to be donated to the Matthews
Hall Modernisation Appeal and to Force
Cancer Charity.We will report on amounts raised as soon as all
the funds are in and outstanding bills accounted for.
Food Festival has a long-term goal: to be the start of an on-going “shop
The Food Festival has highlighted so much that is outstanding and excellent,
literally on our doorsteps. Topsham residents are fortunate indeed
to have such a wealth of food shops, restaurants, pubs and cafes and
it is up to the community to support these local businesses.
report about Nello's Longest Table
Nello's Longest Table menu. What was yours? Please email email@example.com
has done a brilliant YouTube
with a series of pics that show the whole length of Nello's Longest
Table from start to end with music by Spinach for Norman.
report in the Exeter Express & Echo.
excellent photos of the Topsham Food Festival and Nello's Longest
Table in the Express & Echo.
report and photographs in the Exmouth Journal
For the full Topsham Food Festival program, visit www.topshamfoodfestival.org.uk
For further information contact Liz Hodges at The Globe on (01392) 873471,
Marc Millon on (01392) 873778, or email firstname.lastname@example.org