Essex Festival of Food and Drink is held once a year at Cressing Temple Barns in Braintree, Essex. Celebrating all the fantastic food and drink that Essex has to offer!Think crispy bacon sandwiches and fresh sea food paella, to chunky bean burritos and thai fusion food – there really is something for everyone to enjoy! Not forgetting the various cocktail, mocktail, milk shakes and alcoholic drinks on offer!
I’ve never been before, and James and I had a free weekend, so we headed over to the food festival on Sunday 16th to see what delicious food we could try! We bought tickets on the door for just £9, which is a great price considering how much there is to do there. There were various food courts and marquees, where local companies were selling their fresh food, drinks, and nibbles, and various cooking accessories and utensils. There were also wine & gin tasting sessions over the weekend and cookery masterclass – something that I will definitely take advantage of next time I visit!
We walked around the tents and headed for our first meal of the day.
Green Cow Catering
This stand caught my eye because 1) the amazing smell of food, 2) the queue and 3) the menu! After a little peruse of the Green Cow Catering menu, I decided on the Chinese pork & chive dumplings served with rainbow prawn crackers. They were made to order so they were super fresh and hot. The dumplings had a lovely crunch to them and the pork inside was soft and really flavoursome.
One of the chefs said that their homemade soy, chilli and salt sauce would go perfectly with the dumplings, so I thought I’d give it a try – they were absolutely right! It gave the dish a great little kick. The rainbow crackers had a nice crunch to them too and were great for dipping in the sauce. For £5 it was a great dish to start off with – and surprisingly filled me up more than I thought it would!
Whilst I waited in the queue, James popped to a stand for a bacon sandwich and look how crispy the bacon looks! Such a generous portion as well for £3.
Hedgerow Cordials Drinks Bar
Feeling thirsty, we headed over to Hedgerow Cordials drink bar. The design of the bar definitely caught my eye – how adorable does it look?! The Suffolk-based company make award winning cordials with tasty local ingredients. James had the Suffolk Raspberry cordial with fizzy water, and said the raspberry had a nice sweet taste to it.
I had the Fumble in the Hedge cocktail, a sparkling elderflower cocktail with a shot of gin. I absolutely loved this cocktail; it was so fresh and vibrant and the shot of gin gave it a lovely aftertaste. I love elderflower cordial, so I wish I’d had a look to see if I could buy a bottle of my own!
The Tropical Grove
We saw everyone walking around with giant coconuts, mini umbrellas and colourful straws so we tracked them down and found The Tropical Grove!
The process started with choosing our coconut! Then, we saw it cut in front of us so that it had a little lid on top. We then got to try the coconut on top – which was surprisingly slimy and didn’t taste as coconuty as I thought it would! – and got to sample some of the fresh coconut water inside – which again was nicer than I was expecting!
You can add different flavoured syrups to the fresh coconut water, so we went for strawberry and lime syrup. It was really refreshing and tasty, and the whole experience was great fun too – getting to taste the coconut, sample the water and choose the different flavours to add! For £5 it was a really refreshing drink to try, and I’d certainly give it another go!
Cressing Temple Barns Gardens
Comfortably full, we had a walk around the Cressing Temple gardens, a beautiful hidden gem within the Essex countryside. Given to the Knights Templar in 1137, the Grade-I listed barley and wheat barns were built in the 13th century and are amongst the oldest timber barns to still be standing now. The Walled Garden has been faithfully reconstructed to a Tudor pleasure garden – one of few in the country!
It was lovely to walk around the fresh plants, trees and flowers and to have a little breather from all the food! After our little breather, we headed over to Cakey McCakeface by Wilma’s Cupcakery.
This cupcake van caught my attention when I saw it first thing in the morning, but luckily I fought back the temptation – until the afternoon! We looked at all the delicious muffins and cupcakes, and read the sweet-tooth menu, and finally decided on an ice cream milkshake. James and I ordered the Honeycomb Hug; a Belgian milk chocolate drink with ice cream, honeycomb shot, cream, chocolate sauce and crumbled Crunchie! It was the sickliest milkshake I’ve ever had buy my god – IT. WAS. INCREDIBLE!
For £4 it was the perfect sweet treat for us, and there was even an option to have the drink hot instead – definitely one to try next time!
We headed back to a food tent where we found Cupcake Daisy, serving up home made sweet treats like rocky road, brownie, caramel shortbread and gourmet meringues. James bought two rocky roads, a chocolate orange one and a caramel one, to eat later on once the food coma had passed! The rocky road looked super gooey and crunchy at the same time – I love being able to see the marshmallows, biscuits and chocolate all swirled together!
Our last trip of the day was to the Gourmet Brownie, offering an amazing selection of home bake brownies, from triple chocolate and raspberry delight flavour, to peanut butter and orange infusion!
After a tricky decision, I went for the salted caramel brownie, and had zero regrets. It was hands down the best brownie I have EVER had! The chocolate brownie was incredible rich, gooey and thick, and had a delicious sticky caramel centre sandwiching it together. The brownie also had a caramel and sea salt drizzled topping and oh my, if I could eat these on tap I SO would!
I had the best afternoon at the Essex food festival with James, sampling delicious food and drink. I’ve come away with knowledge on local food businesses and their incredible food – and I can’t wait to go again next year!