Thursday, 7 April 2011

Taylor the latte boy: For UK Coffee week

Picture credit: Mark Reader

In September (see I'm catching up! Albeit slooooowly) my boyfriend and I went to the Brighton Food and Drink festival for the day. It was a surprise, and a lovely one at that - I think there's something special and exciting about a day trip to the seaside, so take-away tea, a copy of The Guardian and a brochure for the festival in hand, off we set from Victoria station.

Mark knows Brighton far better than I so we took advantage of the late summer sun to potter down to the seafront, and slowly wander around the Farmer's Market that was close by. I have mixed feelings about Farmer's Markets, I'm sure there are gems out there, but the ones I have been to feel a little samey and - dare I say it... smug. Overpriced produce, the ubiquitous producer of condiments that serves them on crackers, bread that's allegedly sourdough that looks like I would need one of Mark's power tools to slice it, and fruit and veg that really looks no different to what's on offer at the supermarkets, and people who seem to exude smugness from every pore (not that I'm judgemental at all. Nope, not me). Anyway, this wasn't really a Farmer's Market per se, but more a collection of stalls of people selling meals, and the mix was incredibly diverse - as well as the expected burgers and sausages (traceable of course) there were West Indian, Chinese, and Thai stalls to name a few. Mark and I actually felt a little overwhelmed (and also not hungry so early on in the day) so we continued to wander.

I had spotted in the brochure that there was a chocolate (branch? Offshoot? Section? One of those words anyway) bit to the festival which we duly searched out. Stuck in the basement of a shopping centre, were less than a handful of stalls and the depressingly ubiquitous chocolate fountain. Now I hate to sound snobby, or like one of those foodies who doesn't lower herself to such things ( I have just dunked a Dairy Milk into a large mug of builder's tea so I can't really judge anyone) but I hate chocolate fountains. Loath them with a passion. They taste of oil. And just oil, and that's all you can feel in your mouth. Oil. Who wants that. Give me a fondue pot, or a bain marie anyday. Or lets face it a mug of builder's tea and a Dairy Milk. Anyway, we gave that a wide berth, and moved on to lunch.

We had lunch at the Sanctuary Cafe (I didn't tell Mark it was nearly entirely veggie - sometimes it's best to skip the details when you're with a confirmed meat eater) which was lovely. Fresh, tasty incredients, and the sort of food that I love to cook as well as eat. Simple, straightforward and so very very tasty. I didn't take pictures, because (and I know lots of bloggers disagree with me, but anyway) my time out with someome, our meals together are times when we talk, we connect and communicate, share and love. And as much as I love my blog, I love my friends, and family more. And in the same way that I don't believe in watching television whilst you eat, I also don't believe in focussing on the blog whilst we eat. If I step down off this soapbox I can tell you that I had a properly oven-baked potato - there really is nothing as depressing as ordering a baked potato and discovering it was cooked in the microwave is there? - and Mark had a sandwich which was freshly made.

After lunch we continued to wander around Brighton, as to be honest I'd kind of given up on the festival, it having been somewhat of a let down thus far. As a final push we headed towards a cafe for a workshop on coffee. There's a certain irony in this, as both Mark and I are confirmed tea drinkers. And I confess, when I do drink coffee I like it sweet and milky, and I'm not averse to a caramel macchiato or gingerbread latte from Starbucks. However, this workshop was at the other end of the spectrum, run by Union and looking at single estate, micro climate coffee. Basically it was akin to a wine tasting, only not only does each coffee itself have diferent elements of taste, but also the way it's ground and brewed affects it similarly.

We looked at filter brewing, using an aeropress, and surprisingly overlooked the expensive, complicated machines that seem so much en vougue at present, in favour of something which looked like it belonged in a chemistry lab!

Coffee Siphon (picture from Google)

This, a coffee siphon was certainly the most dramatic, but also made the lightest most flavourful coffee without any of the bitterness that I associate with black coffee (hence the quantities of milk and sugar I add). Both the aeropress and filters picked up different flavours, and our trainer explained how the different ways of making coffee require a different grind and time before pressing. I think what we found most interesting was the different taste that one set of coffee beans could produce when worked with in different ways. Coffee isn't my drink of choice, but it does start to become more attractice when you realise how versatile it can be. I have to say that this workshop, was worth the trip to Brighton alone.

Aeropress (picture from Google)

Our day ended with a cwtch on the train back to London, with a bag of beans in my bag for my (then) flatmate - we got that ground for her espresso pot and with warmed milk made a light and flavourful alternative to Starbucks.
Whilst I don't think we went to the Food and drink festival on a day that was really up my street - it ran for the whole of September, and there did seem to be many days that had more of the workshop type events on and if those were of a similar quality to our Union Coffee one then I would heartily advocate going along and taking part. Mind you I am one of life's eternal learners, and tend not to think I know everything about anything. You can find details of this years festival here

Now if I could just find somewhere doing the same kind of workshop but for tea, that would be brlliant!

1 comment:

Jules said...

I'm with you about taking photos during dinner. Like you I got out for a meal with OH and feel like I'm killing the moment if I whip out a camera.

Have you seen this - Farmer's Market Song. Rings oh so very true!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

 photo copyright.jpg
blogger template by envye