For three years now, we’ve made our annual pilgrimage to England’s smallest city, Wells for their Food Festival. They all start somewhere and from humble beginnings this festival has grown over the past 5 years. Few inches of the city are left untouched by it and the crowds upon crowds it draws in. Cheese to charcuterie, cupcakes, chopping boards to BBQ, bakers and butchers. Anything food related from Wells and surrounding Somerset make it here.
We’ve been enough now to already have a few firm favourites: Humble Pie, Somerset Charcuterie and Wraxall Vineyard to name but a few. The stalls are spread across the market square, through ‘The Bishop’s Eye’ and along the moat edge of the Bishop’s Palace (well worth a visit to see the wells from which Wells takes its name) and sprawled throughout the recreation ground adjacent. Smells from fudge and chocolate to char siu pork and paella beckon you from one stall to the next. A Disney-esque hand from a tendril of smoke pulling you onward as we come to a stop at a new favourite with a long queue. Buckland Burgers. The speed at which orders were assembled amazed me and it wasn’t long before it was our turn. We opted for a classic beef with cheese, gherkins and all the salad trimmings along with a red onion relish and tomato ketchup in one bun. The other was venison with cheese, the usual salad fayre and a duck egg mayonnaise at one end and onion relish the other. Both were utterly glorious pink-in-the-middle patties as juices dripped forth engulfing the sweet brioche bun leaving little to be mopped up as relish and mayonnaise oozed over burger and hands alike. A wonderful messy feast and this was really only breakfast. And I ate it so fast I forgot to take a picture!
Grabbed by the waft of citrus and sugar we were gently pulled to an old faithful. The Barley Sugar Bakehouse. This is one we’ve visited every time without fail. I can’t speak for everything on their stall because I always bring away their lemon curd tarts. The pastry is buttery and flaky with its high walls acting like a dam holding back the reservoir of lemon curd which is deliciously silky smooth, sweet and sharp enough with the abundant lemon. Bite through and there will be plenty around your mouth to attest to how good these are.
On from sugar galore and we arrive for what makes every pilgrimage worth it. A sausage roll. Yes, a sausage roll! One from Little Jack Horner’s. Quadruple the filling to pastry ratio, this is not some poor attempt found in a northern bakery chain. This is a sausage roll at its best. Punctuated with a good dose of sage, the sausage meat is almost melt in your mouth tender as the pastry manages to hold itself together. It crumbles only in the mouth with a soft crunch. One is a meal in itself and wonderful with a dollop of English mustard but it’s devoured in mere seconds with not even a crumb of pastry to lick off a finger. This truly is an unbeatable sausage roll.
Full from tasters and some old and new favourites we rolled out away from another fantastic food festival in Wells. See you next year!