Filed under: cakes, Cookery, Cupcakes, Food, Pantiles, Royal Tunbridge Wells | Tags: Kent, market, Pantiles Food Festival
The day that begins with freshly cooked Chicken Pakora for breakfast is a day that bodes well, my friends. It’s not the usual breakfast fare, I’ll grant you, but the enticing curry tendrils of temptation were wafted our way as we strolled to the local food festival being held at the bottom of our road, and so we just had to submit. I’m sure you understand.
The Pantiles is a really pretty area of Tunbridge Wells that is practically the definition of “Quaint” – all white-washed Georgian elegance and hanging baskets; though it retains a certain boutiquey-buzz and slightly more lefty-leaning arts & crafty atmosphere, which manages to lift it above mere saccharine levels of Ye Olde Touristy Bit.
It’s still not utilised as much as it could be, but it’s getting there, and this festival should definitely help raise the profile of both the Pantiles area and the plethora of wonderful food producers we’re lucky enough to have in Tunbridge Wells, generally.
There are often farmers markets and French markets held in the Pantiles, but the Food Festival takes it to another level, with many more stalls of fresh produce, local restaurants serving take-away versions of their best sellers and all manner of splendid concoctions with which to lure you in.
Locally brewed beers & cider, bread, cheese, freshly picked asparagus and punnets of plump strawberries, cupcakes and bunting “made to order”, pop-up vintage shops, Turkish delicacies, towers of chutney & jam, tray-bakes and huge steaming pans of Paella with huge queues to match – there was something for everyone and it would have been rude not to try several things, wouldn’t it?
We left with a haul of pear & almond tart, orange baked cheesecake, red onion marmalade, Scottish Tablet (a fudge-like sweet), Jamaican-spiced cashews, handmade chocolates (including Smoked Earl Grey Tea flavour, which I cannot wait to try!), banana bread, tea bread, a bottle of Blackcurrant Stout and two Scotch eggs. Phew!
That was just the goodies we took away with us, of course, and doesn’t include the aforementioned Chicken Pakora we shared for breakfast, the cheese & ham crepe we shared for elevensies (well, twelvesies, really), a mix & match Thali (selection box containing small portions of curry) we shared for lunch, the beef & jalapeno sausage-in-a-bun & the Taywell’s ice cream cone (the Honeycomb flavour was delicious!) for afters. I don’t think we’ll need to eat for several days, actually.
It was lovely to see so many crowds filling the Pantiles, laughing and joking (and eating and eating and eating, of course) and generally gadding about enjoying the – albeit patchy – sunshine we had today. It had been glorious blue skies and wall-to-wall blazing sunshine yesterday (whilst I was working, alas), of course, but we were jolly lucky considering torrential rain had been forecast, and all we got was a quick burst of droplets as were leaving, so I didn’t mind a bit.
I have to say I was somewhat enraptured by the live cookery demonstrations being held by talented chefs on the old bandstand, as I am quite addicted to cookery shows in general, so to see it all happening right in front of you was quite mesmerising.I could have stood there watching them for most of the day, had I not been dragged away by the thought of yet more stalls to investigate.
Organised by the fantastic Association of Pantiles Traders, and with renowned (it feels somewhat derogatory just to call him “celebrity”) chef Richard Phillips as the esteemed Patron in order to to coincide with the 10th anniversary of his restaurant, Thackeray’s, in Tunbridge Wells; the festival was all about showcasing local ‘food heroes’ (to shamelessly borrow a Rick Stein phrase), and they all must be absolutely thrilled with its success.
I so hope this becomes, at the very least, an annual event! Although I wish it were weekly, I think my bank balance would decrease in direct proportion to my waistline’s increase, so it’s probably best that it isn’t. 😉
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