Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bestival 2012 - Food Trumps Music

Bestival 2012 - home of 50,000 music crazed people. You want music, they got it in abundance. You want half clothed people with asses hanging out of tight jean shorts - you got it, whether you want it or not. You want a variety good food, they have it.
And thank goodness they do. I was here attending Bestival 2012 with the Swing Patrol team. We taught and performed swing dancing mainly on the Al Fresco stage, though we swing jammed an hour long electro-swing set at another venue.
There were also wildlife costumes. Factor this, all the noise, all the people, all the unfamiliar bands and djs, I found solace in the food.
This is Le Super Royal from Le Grande Boueffe. It is their juicy french sausage served with tartiflette, splashed with white wine gravy. My first food find was perhaps the best. It was indeed a juicy plump sausage accompanied by much cheesy potatoes with bacon lightly strewn about. It was savory and rich with a viscous grease coat.
The next day found me starving after a Swing Patrol performance. There were several food stands nearby, including one with a sign trumpeting "6 oz flame grilled hamburgers bigger and better." After much research the previous evening, I can honestly say that had the most enticing sign, setup, and the largest advertised burger. Notice those flame grill marks. This was flavorful smoky burger meant to be savored on its own. It came with slightly bitter greens. That's all you need. Don't hide this with ketchup. Take note foolish Bestival attendees!
Next door was the Strumpets With Crumpets store. It was a decorative front. I'm referring to the decor not the french maid oufits. For some reason, I was thinking of crepes when I read crumpets, so I ordered one with blackberry compote and goat cheese. The crumpet was simply overpowered by the goat cheese. The underwhelming flavor combination did not make up for the overwhelming price. You can get a better bang for your pound somewhere else.
If you're a omnivore camping in the artists' Duckie section, you're out of luck. If you enjoy beans with your seitan, there was the Naked Ape. Us meat lovers had to walk a few hundred meters to Bestival's beginnings. Fortunately, there was Pizza and Puppets wood fired pizza. For £6, you could get a margherita pizza. Extra ingredients cost a little more. This pizza had a great charcoal smell. The bottom was blackened with coal. The dough was slightly chewy with a slight charcoal taste. The tomato was slightly sweet, leaving the pepperoni an afterthought. Overall, a good value, though I wanted more pepperoni.
 I found Calbourne Classics late one night and saw the honey ginger ice cream listed. I inquired when the truck opens the next morning and they said around 10am. My friend and I arrived around 10:30 or 10:45. They weren't open, but still served us. I was super excited! The ice cream hinted of honey and ginger spice. The honey sweetness was just right, and golden ginger flecks peeked about. They also serve a great apple spice cake.
Pie night. First strike came at Barnaby Sykes Pie Maker. I liked the imperfect look of the handmade pies and the western style front. I asked the girl if I should get the Chicken Balti or the Lamb Mint. She has a lovely smile for lamb. The pie itself was nice and warm, oozing with the lamb mint. Thick hearty stew in a biscuit. It's the type of pie I would pack for chopping down trees in the forest.
Since I obsess over food homework, I was also staking out the spinach feta toasted pine nut at The Little Higgidy Kitchen. Simply put, you must savor this pie with small bites. It's a strong flavor combination. The spinach smell hit me first with the feta tang. The pie crust was dry. Overall, not a wolfer downer. BSPM wins.
Bestival featured a lot of pork and The Whole Hog, well, it was roasting a whole hog. Here is their hot pork roll with apple sauce, stuffing, and cracklin'. I write "crunchy cracklin, juices dripping, brioche bread? Rich pork, sweet apples, porky cracklin." My friend, who ate with me, said the next day "tasteless, watery, tough in place, flavorless meat, should've done it longer". Clearly, I'm a pork roll novice and need more experience.
This is a lamb kebab from the Polco Morocco Eatery. I obsessed over this kebab's meat. I love lamb, but honestly the work outweighed the taste. The meat was gamey, which is great, but the pieces were too large and chewy. The meat was tasty, but honestly, enjoy the kebab without the lamb. Or skip Polco.
Steaming cauldrons of rice tempted me at Paellaria. I tried the half and half, one vegetarian friendly, one chorizo. If you're a crustacean and bottom feeder avoider like me, you'll enjoy this paella. Spicy tomato sauce, fiery chorizo, wet rice. The veggie had milder flavors. The squash was a nice treat and the green beans snapped under teeth. This rates a great buy.

Speaking of great buys, the Vita Coco stand was one of the best buys and deals of Bestival. The coconut water, perfect for replenishing electrolytes and banishing dehydration, was cheaper than water. You could buy containers in the 330ml, 500ml and 1L ranges for killer prices.
Have I mentioned I'm an ice cream fiend? This is Purbeck Ice Cream's berries and clotted cream flavor. It was a dense cream with subtle flavors, only a hint of berries. I enjoyed it, but wish the berries were more present.
These are sobering nachos, so called because they refueled three very drunk women the previous night. The Flaming Cactus van had at least two locations serving grains, spicy salsa, and meat to the slavering masses.

A slight diatribe of an unpictured Churchill sausage from the British Sausage Company: If your bun crumbles while eating a delicious peppery sausage, the overall effect leans toward negative. Dear sausage vendors, provide buns with the proper firmness ratio to sausage size.
Meet the bacon wrap from Smokin' 12" Wraps. This baby cost £5 and I asked for everything on it. When in doubt (or not), go crazy. I wasn't (in doubt), I am crazy. Fresh bursting vegetable flavor, smokey peppery bacon, everything works. Salute to bacon and going ingredient crazy.
Bestival is coming to an end and I'm sampling more. Thank goodness for friends. Here is the mixed platter from Falafel! The hummus was creamy, less than I'm used to, a bit watery. The falafel was front loaded with cumin, dried out the palate. The kalamata olives were a bit tough and the lettuce had minimal texture and was also watery. The dolmades got a not bad. Overall, the middle east foods disappointed me at Bestival.
For my friend, the coffee connoisseur, Bestival sorely disappointed. In true British fashion, the Aussie stated "not bad". This meant the van on the rightmost hill rated highest.
Sausage Heaven featured some of the best sausage at Bestival. I had the Calabrian with fennel and chilli. It was spicy and juicy throughout. The bun was perfectly solid, tasted of whole wheat. Proper ratio win.
Way past saturation and plump, I was still curious for the Meatwagon's Dead Hippie burger. Featuring white onion, special hippie sauce, and pickles, it sounded tempting. Don't get it! The meat isn't flavorful and is dependent on the extras. The only thing special is its name. Other than that, do you want to eat a burger that smells like a hippie?
Think of this when the UFO send seeking lights across the night time sky. The food doesn't make Bestival, the music does. But the food makes Bestival for non-music loving attendees who can't tell the difference between Florence and the XX. So, try to keep your taste buds relatively free from all that nasty smoke and cheap smuggled booze, and enjoy the variety of food.

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