Brighton Foodies Fair had popped up on my Facebook timeline a few weeks ago, and on inspection I decided that £16 was a little too pricy for my current budget. I was super disappointed, so when I found tickets on the Wriggle app for £10 I decided it was worth the money and bought one for myself and Jack.
After following the page and seeing all of the stalls begin to pop up and start advertising I was really starting to get excited- along with the 18 degrees weather predictions too! On the day the weather was even better, at a scorching 21 degrees- it was bliss.
I had never been to Hove Lawns before and the walk down was lovely. The sun rays were beating down on us and I even saw a few new restaurants to add to my list of Brighton eateries I must try.
We got there slightly later than I had planned so I was a bit worried there would be queues, but with the wriggle tickers we were able to enter straight away. I was immediately excited, looking around at the bars, food tents and stalls. We began our systematic walk around the whole fair, scouting out all of the food and drink before making our lunchtime choices.
The first stall we came across was decked out with chilli sauce and pickles- right up my street. I did have to give most of them a try, even the super spicy ones, which, I must admit, were maybe even a bit too adventurous for me! All of the staff on the stalls were so friendly and chatty which really enhanced our experience too.
As we wandered around we spent the first hour or so sampling: gin, whisky, tequila, cake, olives, cheese, cold meats, chilli jam, peanut butter and so much more- everything you could imagine really- as well as lathering up with sun cream as to avoid the sun burn that a lot of people became subject to.
Although I did spend a lot of the day yearning to buy bits and bobs, I am almost happy I didn’t take a lot of cash with me as I imagine I would’ve left with bags full of goodies, especially gin.
I really wanted to make the most of the day, trying new dishes and ingredients and when I saw an oyster stand I thought that maybe instead of ME trying something new, it could be Jack’s turn. As we stood at the oyster stall I had flashbacks to the time I tried to eat one on a holiday in Cyprus, with tried being the appropriate word. I know some people love them… but I do not. Maybe spurred on by my doubt, Jack decided he would sample one. The oyster man suggested chewing the oyster before swallowing so Jack could get all of the flavour. With a squeeze of lemon Jack gulped it down. I think it was safe to say he wouldn’t be having oysters again, and although he did put on a good front at the stall, it wasn’t until later that he admitted that they perhaps weren’t his favourite dish!
Luckily there were so many other tasty treats the hint of salty sea was quickly washed away by fresh cider and cured meat.
In between our wandering it became the perfect opportunity to stop for a refreshing beverage. I started off with a long island iced tea cocktail and jack tasted some local lager. After this I was treated to a delicious Pimms, full of fruit, and Jack moved onto a different lager. We sat in the sun and watched a few live bands, all of which really set the scene. The atmosphere was great, and everyone really seemed to be having a good time. Even when Jack accidentally sat on the lady behind him, whilst he was trying to get comfy on the grass, she didn’t seem to mind!
When it was time for lunch, we had looked around a few times, but the decision was a really tough one! Although I was attracted to the souvlaki and calamari stalls I knew I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone a bit, so we continued to wander.
Now… lunch… decisions decisions. I had finally chosen that I was going to sample some Nigerian food, which is not a cuisine I know a great deal about. I was really intrigued and the smells wafting from the amazingly decorated stall sealed the deal for me. For a really reasonable £7.50 I chose a little bit of everything. I say it was decent because the plate was really big, and I ended up getting Jack to help me finish it off.
On my plate was rice, a chicken drumstick, some green veggies I think were spinach (I am not 100% sure I wish I had asked) and plantain, which was honestly the best plantain I have ever had. The food stall was called Flavors of Africa, and as they’re punchline says, I really did feel the afro taste! The spicy chilli sauce that I drizzled on was so good too, I wish I could’ve taken some home. The flavours offered deep heat, as well as sweetness from the plantain and a crunch from the rice. I was so full by the end, but I couldn’t put my fork down! I was also really impressed that they weren’t using plastic like a lot of the stalls were!
Jack chose calamari and chips, and luckily for me he gave me a little piece of calamari that I drizzled in garlic mayo- it was delicious. The batter wasn’t too thick or heavy and it wasn’t too greasy either. The squid itself was silky and not at all chewy, it was so easy to eat, I reckon I could have eaten around 4 portions!!
Although there were so many sweet stands I couldn’t eat another thing by the time pudding came around. The huge milkshakes, gooey brownies and even deep-fried Oreo doughnuts couldn’t tempt me. I wish now I’d got some bits to take away however I only would’ve had to work it all off at the gym!
There were tents dotted around that held host to local chefs and TV competition winners, for example the 2017 GBBO winner and this year’s Masterchef champion. I did see that a chilli eating competition was scheduled at 6pm but sadly we didn’t stay that late! Although we didn’t sit and watch any full talks it was interesting drifting in and out throughout our day.
We spent around 4 hours at the food fair in total and it was honestly a lovely way to spend a summers day. I would definitely go again, and I think that it was £10 well spent! Maybe next time I will save a few more pennies and splash out on some extravagant cocktails or a watering can full of Pimms!