The Alton Food Festival, a day event on the 1 July 2006, was part of the Hampshire Food Festival, a fortnight of county-wide events held mid-summer to celebrate Hampshire fare.
Stalls in the High Street, stalls in Market Square, plenty of food to taste and buy, cookery demonstrations in Market Square by Sophie Grigson and local chefs. Sophie Grigson later signed copies of her books.
It was a very hot day. Plenty of people around in the morning, but by lunchtime few on the ground. Probably too hot, world cup football in the afternoon, plus Wimbledon. A pity as there was a good selection of stalls. A farmers market in all but name.
There was only one vegetable stall, one beer stall, though plenty of meat stalls. Ironic when the best meat available was from Brock's Farm Shop.
The one vegetable stall had most of its produce wrapped in plastic, not loose. Tomatoes were loose, but the girl had no idea of the variety, and worse still they were pretty tasteless. Must do better.
Brock's Farm Shop has to be one of the best butchers in the land. Brock's Farm Shop participated in the Hampshire Food Festival during 2005, but not 2006.
There was also available jams and preserves and cakes, ice cream from a local dairy, and Spanish wine (?), but no bread.
In the morning local chefs gave cookery demonstrations in Market Square, followed by cookery writer Sophie Grigson.
Sophie Grigson has kindly given permission for her recipes to be reproduced:
Later in the day, Sophie Grigson was signing copies of her books.
Sophie Grigson has written several cookbooks. In 1993 she presented the award-winning twelve-part 'Grow Your Greens, Eat Your Greens' for Channel 4. In 2001, Sophie won the Guild of Food Writers Cookery Journalist Award.
The First-time Cook is highly recommended. If you have only one cookbook, The First-time Cook (Collins, 2004) is a must.
Sophie Grigson has a new cook book Vegetables coming out in the autumn (October 2006), published by Collins.
Sophie Grigson is a keen supporter of organic and local food suppliers and, like Jamie Oliver, is an advocate for decent children's food.
Alton used to have two breweries, there are a large number of pubs in Alton with a good range of real ales, there are now a number of small breweries in Hampshire whose main outlet is farmers markets, and yet, only one stall selling beer!
Fortunately just as he was closing, the man with the cider stall whipped out some real ale, including Gilbert White brewed by Triple FFF Brewery. This is based on the original recipe of Gilbert White taken from his notes. A bit pricey though at £2 a bottle!
Mr Whitehead's Ciders, is based at Four Marks near Alton, as is the Triple FFF Brewery, although the later is relocating to Selbourne, former home of Gilbert White.
Minor criticisms are that the cookery demonstrations were only in the morning (there were none in the afternoon) and the stalls packed up at 3pm, not 4pm.
Alton is a pleasant little market town in north-east Hampshire.