Words and photos by Amanda B.
Welcome to Cambridge, UK, the place that I work, eat and live. As a contributing writer for Hot Pink Apron, I’ll regularly be bringing you over to see this lovely city, with monthly updates on UK food and culture. I thought I’d get started by introducing you all to this wonderfully weird old city. How better to get started than with the city’s first ever food and drink festival? The Eat Cambridge Festival debuted this year with a huge variety of events showcasing the brightest and best in local produce and business.
Cambridge is an ancient city (the oldest building is around 1000 years old) with some outstanding architecture. My morning commute takes me through the university and its 800-year-old buildings, over the river and through a meadow. This is not unique for Cambridge – it’s a beautiful place to live, and it also helps that more or less everyone travels by bicycle. It’s a quirky place that encourages some bizarre traditions and unusual local characters, but once you get yourself immersed in it, it is one of the most rewarding cities to be a part of.
A mere ten minutes walk from tourist central will quickly find you amongst a large number of well-established, popular small businesses, especially in the food sector. Surrounded by farmland, local produce is not too hard to come by once you know where to look, as well as some fairly specialist importers of high-quality food from overseas. Eat Cambridge gave those beloved watering holes the chance to show what they had to offer, in style.
The event ran between the 8th and the 15th of March and showcased a wide variety of events including; lessons in bread and pasta making, coffee and cheese tastings, tours showcasing local eateries, and oh so much more. The emphasis was on knowing where best to eat locally, developing skills in the kitchen, and learning how to be discerning about the quality of your ingredients. I’m already drooling with anticipation for next year’s event. The showcase that really caught my eye was all about street food, on the last Friday of the event, where our best street food vendors came to strut their stuff. Forget dodgy kebabs from a greasy van, we had a mobile, wood-fired pizza oven, artisan milkshakes (banoffee pie, anyone?), freshly made burgers, the best falafel you’ll ever cram into your face and chocolate Guinness cake iced with cream cheese frosting.
Some of these were familiar faces about town (when I forget my packed lunch, the Taste of Cambridge falafel van is always a welcome sight) but it just amazed me how much variety was available in the ordinarily humdrum world of fast food. Watching these pros assemble their food was a case of watching artists at work who value both the quality of their ingredients and the presentation of their food. My favourite falafel van, Taste of Cambridge, is an awesome small mobile business with an emphasis on locally sourced, organic, vegetarian food. If you’re feeling inspired, they have some fantastic recipes online.
Having missed the free cheese tasting taking place earlier in the day (boo!) my husband, in-laws and I still decided to finish the night at Limoncello – voted the best deli in the UK in 2011, and the best in East Anglia in 2012. These people know their food, and their fresh pesto is the stuff of dreams and wonder. Combined with friendly staff and an excellent selection of cheese and cured meats, there’s a lot to love. Settled in with a post-falafel-pigout cappuccino and cannoli, it’s easy to remember why it’s so worthwhile knowing where to get the best food, locally. One of the best things about moving to Cambridge has been discovering the huge variety of good cuisine right on my doorstep. I can’t wait to share more tales from inside and just outside my Cambridge kitchen with you all.
Click for more info on the Eat Cambridge Festival.
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