Despite the gloomy weather at the start, thousands still flocked to The Pantiles last weekend to experience a wonderful array of specialist food producers, cooking demonstrations and live entertainment. Eileen Leahy went along in order to sample a taste of this popular annual event
Even though the heavens opened on Saturday afternoon, spirits were far from dampened at the Pantiles Harvest Food Festival.
A few drops of rain certainly weren’t going to deter keen foodies or the numerous stallholders from setting up shop. They simply put up their brollies and pulled down their awnings and got on with the business of what they do best – satisfying the discerning residents of Tunbridge Wells with some fantastic food and drink.
Thankfully the wet weather was a mere blip for the organisers, producers and food fans as the rest of the weekend stayed dry. On the final day, Sunday, we were treated to some magnificent sunshine and high temperatures, which resulted in lots more visitors coming along. And they clearly enjoyed all the gourmet delights on offer given the amount of sampling and shuffling between stalls that was going on.
The historical area’s popular restaurants and bars were all doing good business, too, with people spilling out on to the pavements enjoying a refreshing drink or an alfresco bite to eat in the late summer sunshine. It all felt rather chic and continental – and a bit like you were a tourist in your own town.
Given the amount of producers present, there was certainly something to appeal to every palate, too – from the tasty smoked chorizo, avocado and aioli sandwiches being dished up at Hattons’ deli stand to the tempting selection of alcoholic ice creams at Boozy Udders, and the utterly delicious homemade Thomas Cookie Company’s freshly-baked biscuits, which included dark chocolate and pistachio and lemon and lime flavours.
The Seafood Bar was another busy place selling a variety of tasty crustacean treats as well as top quality crab meat for only £14 – just half its normal price.
Thirsty visitors had plenty to tempt their tastebuds. Anno, an artisan spirits company from Marden in Kent, specialise in a range of flavoured gins and vodkas, and they had plenty of visitors hovering around their bar area, while The Cherry Berry Co was the place to go if you wanted pure, freshly-squeezed apple or pomegranate juice.
With plenty of live music, street entertainment and cooking demonstrations sprinkled into the mix over the three-day Harvest Food Festival, it was the perfect way to say goodbye to summer and give a warm welcome to autumn.