The Conwy Feast is the biggest food festival in North Wales and took place a couple of weeks back. We were asked to do “something” – Sue knows one of the organisers who wanted to include a literary element to the festival – a chill-out tent with sofas and stuff and people reading extracts from literature relating to food.
Ironically last time I spoke to Dan Lepard I was trying to get a gig for him at the event but – well, you know, feet of clay. Haven’t had a hero since Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Birmingham Town Hall circa 1967. He appeared on crutches after a skateboard accident. Didn’t slow him down much.
Anyhow, the way it shook down, we ended up saying we’d do a home baking sourdough promotion, and the organisers decided on a Bread and Fishes tent with us demonstrating bread making and some other people demonstrating fish filleting and preparation. In the event, the Bread & Fishes Tent was a sort of foyer leading into a larger food tent. Just four stalls: The Celtic Crab Company, us, a really nice woman, Jade, who was selling foraged food (mushrooms, samphire, etc) and – some of you will realise the significance of this – Becws Pesda.
Becws Pesda is the project I spent two years setting up with North Wales Probation Service and NACRO only to be shoved out as soon as they got serious funding. Won’t waste more time on them at the moment except to say that I made a point of introducing myself to the woman selling the bread who turned out to be the NACRO manager with overall responsibility for the project. So we have a publicly funded project designed to give work experience and training to ex-offenders and other people with employability problems and the woman selling the bread is the (salaried) manager. Ho, hum.
Celtic Crab (who just won Gold for shell fish at the True Taste Wales awards) had had a disaster. A power failure at the plant that contained all their live crabs and lobster meant that the lot had to be trashed. So no demonstrations, just seafood pates, etc.
We went down with plastic boxes of dough, a little oven, a few loaves (including one of my famous 6 Kilos) for show and about 30 A4 photos for inspiration. Plus we took a load of starter – which just happened to be ten years old in October – a print-out of how to maintain a starter and a recipe for Mick’s Classic Sourdough. Over the two days we dished out 7.5 kilos of starter in about 50g dollops.
Plus, you know how David is always exhorting people to click on the advertising stream on Dan’s forum because they get 1p a click or something like that. Well, we clicked on Vitcas, who make prefabricated wood-burning ovens, and contacted them to see if they demonstrated their ovens at events like Conwy Feast. They didn’t, but being good sports, they said they’d give it a go and drove all the way up from Bristol with a little pizza oven, shrink-wrapped and ready for assembly. It was a bit of a disaster in a way. The oven had to be built by the side of the main pathway (which was actually the dock). The promised shelter never materialised (and it was a bit squally) and we had to take it in turns to stand over it so that kids in buggies didn’t reach out their little hands and touch it. The wood they brought was too big and too wet and there was too much residual moisture in the concrete on the first day to get any heat into it. Eventually on the second day they threw everything into getting the oven really hot and insisted I try some dough in it. I don’t have a lot of experience with ovens but in this case I did know what would happen. Five minutes later we removed something that looked like a smoking meteorite.
But they got a lot of interest so I hope they made a few sales. And Dan got his 1p. David would have seen to that.