Want to know what the Althorp Food & Drink festival is all about? Whether it’s child friendly enough for the kiddos and what to expect?
Well, you’ve come to the right place.
For the second year running, I was invited back to the Althorp Food & Drink festival*.
Based in the heart of Northamptonshire, the Althorp Food & Drink festival is held in the grounds of the stunningly beautiful Althorp Stately Home – home of the Spencer family.
When it comes to food and drink, nothing comes as close as actually seeing it, smelling it and the important bit – tasting it.
You had me at ‘free food’
Food festivals provide a great matchmaking service for people like me who are looking for local brands that would otherwise get overlooked on a shelf. It’s also a great opportunity to meet the people behind the food.
With so many great exhibitors that I could rave about, I’ve picked out five of my favourites to cover fizz, spirits, savoury, sweet and spicy taste buds…
Bubbles: Fizz 76
You had me at Prosecco. As my usual weapon of choice, I made a beeline for the Prosecco van.
After all… there’s nothing better than mooching around a food festival with a plastic glass with a Prosecco cocktail that very quickly vanishes.
You can either have your Prosecco neat, or mix it to create a cocktail. I chose to add Limoncello, Dave added triple sec.
No freebies to be had, but look how cute the van is! I just love the concept and the product gets a big thumbs up and a hiccup from me too.
You can find them for hire here: Fizz 76.
Spirits: Jelley’s Eldeflower Vodka
I may have sampled this vodka more than once… after all – you have to be sure that you like what you’re planning on purchasing.
As a local award winning drink – I can see why it’s a winner.
It’s smooth and full of character – I’m afraid that’s as far as my palate will take me in terms of an eloquent description. Just know this: I wanted more. It doesn’t have the gag factor of many other vodkas and you totes wouldn’t find it lolling around a Student’s Union bar.
It’s actually enough to make me rethink my view on vodka. As a former student *cough* a long time ago *cough*, vodka in my mind is usually synonymous with getting rat-arsed. The chosen spirit in alcopops and the cause of many of my student hangovers.
But Jelley’s is different. It’s mature and in my mind revolutionises the way I think about Vodka. I could have sipped on it neat (which probably would get you rat-arsed if I’m honest). The bottle is also a thing of beauty rather than the usual back-of-the-cupboard bottles that we all hide.
I was absolutely gutted that I couldn’t buy a smaller bottle, so I shall have to source some from their website at a later date as we didn’t have enough cash to part for a big bottle.
Sweet: Seed and Bean Chocolate
Now… did you know that Northamptonshire has its own chocolatiers? No, neither did I and I live here.
Seed and Bean is a Northamptonshire based company that hand make their chocolate IN Northamptonshire. Did you know that most other UK organic / fairtrade chocolate is actually made thousands of miles away and shipped in from Poland, Italy and Germany? Me neither.
So, if you’re into ethical trading and supporting British businesses, then you need to get your hands on this chocolate.
They’ve even thought about their packaging as their ‘foil’ is compostable!
If that’ not enough, they have 18 varieties of chocolate to taste.
All tasted amazing and I’d urge you to try them out for some speciality chocolate. I think it’s also available in a number of places!
Savoury: Farmer Lou’s Posh Pork Sausages
Based in Rutland, this female farmer is doing it for the gals. And boy – This girl can make sausages.
As well as tasting amazing (we loved the cheese and spring onion, boar and firecracker and now have enough sausages to last AGES!) they are locally produced.
The pigs are fed with Northamptonshire produced feed, are left to mature at a natural rate and seen daily by the farmers as well as being transported and butchered by them with no middle men. They care about their pigs and the produce they make and that really comes across in the quality of their sausages.
The flavours they’ve produced are just amazing. We could have quite easily bought more.
Not only that, but after spotting Georgia they quickly offered her some of their plain sausage as well as giving her ‘one for the road’. Genuinely nice, caring people.
So, if anybody has any great sausage recipes, I’m all ears!
Spicy: Now Now South African Food
For lunch we tried a South African food cart called Now Now, where Dave ordered a Boerewors roll (you can see a picture of it at the bottom of this post!).
The sausage was really meaty, with a spicy chacalaka sauce. It was a hotdog with some oompf.
I love trying new food and food festivals are a great place to try things you wouldn’t normally get to eat!
I also loved the fact that they advertised their gluten free and vegan alternatives too.
How child friendly is the Althorp Food & Drink Festival?
With a toddler in tow, I worry about how child friendly food festivals are. After all, there’s nothing worse than having to drag around a bored toddler.
Or to have to worry about the toilet situation.
But Althorp has a block of nice toilets on the grounds with hand dryers. They were clean, didn’t smell (even the blokes) and had enough room even with a toddler. Phew, that’s a relief right?
The festival has a dedicated kids area with a few child-friendly exhibitors and a show space. I’d love to see this area expanded for next year with more food related activities as I think it’s really important to get kids to try a variety of foods from an early age.
They also had a lady blowing bubbles on stilts dressed as a woodland fairy – which was actually Georgia’s highlight of the whole festival!
What I’d love to see at next year’s festival to make it even more family friendly:
- Kids options from the food carts (I’m not talking about chicken nuggets, just smaller portions/prices for tiny tummies)
- More food related exhibitors/interaction for kids in the kids corner
- An interactive kids chart bingo-style would also be great for older kids to look out for certain things. This would really help to keep older kids entertained and engaged, like ‘try something spicy’.
*Disclosure: I was gifted the entry fee and provided with tokens to use at food carts for lunch, but my review of local producers is my own.