Northampton has so much to offer when it comes to food and drink.
But when you think of ‘food festivals‘ you usually think of them as a summer activity, when you’re drinking cider on the grass and eating a hotdog in the glazing sunshine.
Well, I’ve got news for you… Winter food festivals are just as fun as summer ones and are the perfect excuse to stodge up on all the food and drink as well as explore potential gift ideas in the lead up to Christmas.
I was invited to the Northampton Winter Food Festival at the Northamptonshire County Cricket Ground, following on from their successful sister festival, the Towcester Food Festival. The Northampton one had just as much to offer as the Towcester one; plenty of food and drink exhibitors, exclusive chef demo’s, foodie and drink talks and of course, an array of local street food market stalls that make you have eyes bigger than your stomach.
We attended on Saturday and what started as a sunny day, ended in a downpour of rain which drenched us… but that didn’t stop us from having fun and filling ourselves up with all the produce that was on offer…
As we arrived at 10.30am, we had to start our morning with Coffee.
Our eyes went straight to Willobeans Espresso Bar which caught my eye with their bright yellow logo and blooming sunflowers on the pop-up sign, which seemed very summery, but I loved that they brought some brightness to a winters day.
I had to try one of their Christmas drinks, which was beautifully displayed with festive glitter and made me want to try all of them. In the end, I settled for a Bailey’s Latte (it might have only been 11am, but it certainly didn’t matter!) I had never come across before, as I usually like my Bailey’s in my hot chocolate.
However, the Bailey’s Latte surprised me and tingled my taste buds. Josh went for a Minty Mocha which really reminded me of an After 8 Mint. We sat drinking our hot drinks with the sound of a guitarist playing music and entertaining the guests.
I was definitely feeling in the festive mood and it was a great way to start the day’s activities.
There was so much to explore on the day, inside and outside that it was hard to pin down what to see first and most importantly… what to eat first!
The sun was shining as we wandered around the outside of the County Cricket Ground as we browsed through the street food market which had a host of different food genres to choose from.
From burgers and hot dogs, vegetarian food, curry and even duck rolls… Josh and I always have a struggle as to what to choose first. But a spicy and zesty scent was coming from Su Casa Cuisine as they were cooking up a fresh batch of Spanish paella.
But who needs Spain when the tastiest Paella can be found right here in Northampton. For the price, our bowls were filled right to the top and we got a huge portion of Chicken and Chorizo paella which had a unique flavour that we thoroughly enjoyed amongst ourselves. Not to mention, it warmed us up and it tasted amazing.
But of course, we didn’t come to a food festival to have just one dish…
With so many other foodie stalls to explore, we headed into the second food hall on the other side of the county ground.
I took so many food and drink photo’s that I can hardly fit them all in one blog post, because there was so much on display at the Northampton Winter Food Festival.
After walking from one food hall to the other, we eventually got ourselves a hot dog from Burger Meister which we ate under the shelters of the county ground to hide from the rain, whilst drinking a pint of ale from Towcester Mill Brewery where we waited until the rain cleared…
After the rain cleared, we ventured back inside to browse some more.
Most stall holders were very generous by offering free samples of food and drink, so much so, I felt a bit tipsy from the alcohol samples! But even so, it was great to have these samples as it meant I was able to make some purchases throughout the day ahead of Christmas.
Purchases included some Hamm Tun Fine Foods cheese, including my absolute favourite; Cobblers Nibble. Plus I finally got my hands on some Two Birds Spirit’s Salted Caramel Vodka and some Warner Edwards Rhubarb Gin, both of which I have said at every food festival I have attended this year. Thank god, I made the purchase!
Both bottles are going to make wonderful contributions to our Christmas booze collection.
Speaking of booze… there was a certain talk and tasting that I wanted to make sure I got seats for, considering they are my favourite brand.
Warner Edwards were doing gin tastings in the foodie lounge throughout the day and I thought this would be a great opportunity to try their gin flavours I had not tried before and get more of an insight of the story and history of Warner Edwards. I really enjoyed getting to know my favourite gin brand more and I wish I purchased a second bottle of gin, as my favourite sample was the Elderflower flavour, which was one I hadn’t tried before.
After half an hour of gin tastings, it was fair to say I was in need of some food to stodge up!
We were in the mood for something sweet, so whilst Josh went for a delicious crepe from Nicky’s Little Kitchen, I went for a huge portion of Churros from La Flamenca which consisted of 6 long churros and a big tub of dipping chocolate. So filling, but oh so good, gooey and everything nice!
We carried on venturing around, where we visited exhibitors like Queens Park Preserves where they were selling delicious festive jam and chutney, Towcester Mill Brewery were selling their Santa’s Tipple Ale, which I am gutted we didn’t go back for – but luckily, they are only down the road from me so I’ll be back!
We also stopped by Heritage Cheese, who had some yummy garlic cheddar cheese to sample, Thomas Cookie Co, who we first came across at Towcester Food Festival and were more than happy to purchase more Brownie and Cookie bites which are to die for! On top of that, we checked out the famous Northamptonshire The Good Loaf and got a whiff of their freshly baked 5 seeded bread loaf and more.
One stand that particularly captured my attention was Hustle Gin (yes, I know… more gin!) but it’s for a good reason, I swear…
They are a mother-daughter team and they have made everything from the actual gin to the branding and the name ‘Hustle Gin’ comes from having woman power and hustling – which I thought was a fabulous concept! I tried some of their Pink Grapefruit and Raspberry gin which was so fruity and sweet paired with a tonic.
I love how food festivals make me discover more amazing local brands, as well as get a better understanding of the food industry in my community and county.
Overall, the Northampton Winter Food Festival was truly a wonderful celebration of all the talented food and drink producers we have in the county coming together to give the local community a taste of what Northampton has to offer.
The Northampton Winter Food Festival was a wonderful excuse for a day out; even when the days are getting colder and darker, it was the best excuse to go out and enjoy some yummy food and drink.
The County Ground was the ideal location for the event, as it’s central, well-known and has some fantastic facilities for all types of events – including food festivals.
My only wish was I could have fitted in more chef demo’s and talks; however, I think spending two days there would have been rather greedy!
I came home with a full stomach and a need to follow all the food and drink vendors I met on the day, as I want to make sure I support as many local businesses as possible.
I was really impressed with how well the day was run, considering the Northamptonshire County Cricket Ground is such a big venue. Everyone was able to move around freely without being too crowded and I was astonished by how well the team behind the social media did to keep up with the events of the day – it was a great way for me to keep on track with everything going on and to ensure I visited everyone.
I really can’t wait until the next winter food festival next year!
*Disclaimer: I was given complimentary tickets to the Northampton Winter Food Festival. All opinions and food loving are my own and I genuinely love supporting local events*