Sugar, Spice & All Things Nice: Powderham Food Festival was full of Delights!

Liz Finnie headed to Powderham Food Festival last weekend and had a great (rather indulgent) time!

Shamefully, two experiences I have failed to accomplish since living in Exeter for seven years include attending a food festival and visiting Powderham Castle (tut-tut I hear you say). Consequently, I was delighted to be asked to attend Powderham Castle’s Food Festival 2017 — two birds, one stone!

With family in tow, we rocked up Sunday morning for a full day of total indulgence — and what a day to go: the words ‘Indian’ and ‘Summer’ certainly spring to mind. Powderham Castle looked truly majestic in the sunshine, surrounded by rivers, woodland, fields, and cows; with the River Exe estuary sparkling in the distance. The girls were super excited to be going to a real castle, and naturally gravitated towards the Suzy Sweet Tooth fudge stall on entering the courtyard. Once we had prised them away, we had a refreshing taste of Fravocado’s delicious, vegan coconut milk/avocado ice cream, which I can highly recommend. Figgy’s Christmas pudding was next on our taste adventure, and a product that we quickly purchased for a little Christmas luxury. After tasting a good range of jams and marmalades from Shute Fruit, we made our way into the Castle to explore three large and very beautiful rooms of yet more delicious produce and artisan kitchenware. I should state here that there were approximately 140 stalls throughout the castle and grounds, which is far too many to mention.

Shute Fruit at powderham food festival for exploring exeter

Shute Fruit

After entering numerous free competitions (to win a meal for two at Bovey castle, a mini cooper, and a Helpful Holidays holiday – wish us luck!) and planning our lunch of choice from a myriad of amazing choices, it was announced that there was a free children’s baking session being run by Fun Kitchen. The girls dressed in their chef’s whites and spent 45 minutes baking sugar-free banana muffins (which looked nicer than they tasted!). With the bouncy castles next door, there was no avoiding these, and at only £2 per child for 10 minutes it was worth the money.

Powderham Food Festival for exploring exeter

All that baking and bouncing proved thirsty work, and Hullabaloos was the drink of choice: “no baddies or bubbles” is the description of their scrummy lemonade (pink raspberry was lush).

Powderham Food Festival for exploring exeter

After bumping into the lovely Fatma from Shillingford organics and testing out the girls squash-lifting skills (before the Squash Harvest Community Day on the 15th October: see their website for details), it was time to make a lunch decision – a really tough thing to do with so much choice.

Powderham Food Festival for exploring exeter

The hubby and I went for a WORLD FOOD falafel wrap, and were not disappointed (what a beast!). The girls went for beef burgers from the Thoroughly Wild Meat Co Ltd.  and were assured of their good choice when meeting both the festival organiser, Fiona Gofton (great organising!), and the CEO of CHICKS, the chosen charity, in the same queue.

Powderham Food Festival for exploring exeter

CHICKS is a national charity that offers respite breaks to disadvantaged children (aged 8–15) living in stressful circumstances to help them develop resilience, coping mechanisms and improve their wellbeing. It was shocking to learn that 1 in 7 girls and 1 in 9 boys (aged 8-15) in the UK are unhappy, and that 50% of children supported by the charity are in fact young carers. The CHICKS charity can boast that 92% of children who access the retreat have improved emotional well-being, so it was great that this event helped raise money and awareness for such a good cause.

Powderham Food Festival for exploring exeter

With plenty of demos and talks going on throughout the day, we managed to catch the end of The Theatre of Fire and Smoke, involving three passionate Fire Masters who knew how to make a lot of smoke — and what looked like some seriously tasty BBQ meat. Unfortunately, the Victorian Kitchen demo was very popular so we missed out there. But our youngest daughter, who is obsessed with cheese, insisted we stay to watch the whole cheese-making demo by Exeter Cookery School’s Jim Fisher. We learnt about why homogenisation is bad for cheese-making, what rennet actually is, and how easy it is to make cheese at home (if you have a lot of patience and a thermometer).

Exeter cookery school at powderham food festival for exploring exeter

Exeter Cookery School demo

There was a big focus on being ‘sugar smart’ at this festival (despite the obvious enormity of cakes, fudge and other sweet treats), with many educative talks on how to feed families well using fresh, local and sustainable ingredients (like those used at Home Farm Café). There was also a big focus on local drink produce, including gins, ciders, ales, whisky’s and wines: but as designated-driver, I was unable to sample these (next time). Finally, for Christmas gift ideas for your foody-friends or -family members, check out the Food Lovers magazine subscription for all things West Country-inspired.

powderham food festival for exploring exeter

Based on our family experience, I can highly recommend the Powderham Castle Food Festival for 2018: in the meantime, I will be checking out lots of our lovely local suppliers over the coming months.


About the author:

Liz Finnie is our certified blogging Vino fanatic and gradual convert to organic living.

Liz grew up in Adelaide then York, and relocated to Exeter in 2010 with husband and 3 month-old daughter. With a scientific background in regenerative medicine (and now a second child) she works as a freelance science writer/editor. Having fallen in love with Devon’s beaches, towns, moors, farms, and people, Liz and family feel settled and are currently making their newfound house a home, whilst continuing to enjoy all that Devon has to offer.


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