Arriving fashionably late and just in time for lunch, we were presented with the difficult task of choosing where to start our culinary adventure in form of lunch. After much dithering and deliberation, we couldn't resist the delicious smells wafting over from The Real Olive Company's Kofta Bar. There was quite a queue but this, I feel, is usually a very good sign. I enjoyed a lamb kebab with babaganoush and peppers on a fluffly Lebanese wrap while my foodie friend tried their veggie offering. Both were awarded top marks; what a great way to start!
And so, the wandering (and wondering) started in earnest. The fair was much more about wine and less about food than I expected with one marquee dedicated to food (though there were many foodie bits and pieces in the Food Producers Market) and two reserved for wine. We enjoyed Georgie Porgie's Puddings, particularly the unusual lemon and Pimms and the devilish apple and cider. We got chatting to the lovely people at Lahloo tea who caught my eye with their gorgeous packaging and smoking infusions. I couldn't resist the lovely preserves at The Cherry Tree; it was a miracle that I came away with only one jar (the spicy tomato and caramelised onion chutney, if you're wondering).
With our complimentary tasting glasses at the ready, we threw ourselves into the fray of Wine Marquee A and immediately found the St Germain cocktail bar where the barmen were busy mixing up fantastic elderflower inspired drinks.
Tempted though we were, we were deterred by the price tag and we were pleased when later, we found the lovely ladies at Bramley & Gage. It didn't take us long to invest in their fruit liqueurs as well as their punchy sloe gin. I came away with a bottle of their elderflower liqueur which, I can honestly say, I would have over St Germain for the taste as well as the more reasonable price tag. It's sweet, refreshing and summery without being saccharine.
Just a little way over, we staggered upon Discover the Origin who were offering shavings of Parmesan which were carved from cheese the size of car tyres! There was also slivers of parma ham, straight from the joint, paired with fine wines to enjoy which got us feeling rather sophis.
I was lucky enough to get my hands on tickets to a complimentary tasting workshop held by Cordorníu where we sampled four of their sparkling wines and got a crash course in wine tasting and champagne history. I must admit that I hadn't heard of Cordorníu or their wines before but they were certainly palatable and would be a fun and more pocket-friendly alternative to the traditional champagnes.
Speaking of champagnes, my friend and I were donated a ticket each to the Champagne & Chocolate Masterclass by two lovely gentleman. Their loss was certainly our gain as we sampled Hotel Chocolat chocolates with a variety of Tattinger champagnes under the guidance of Sarah Jane Evans of the Academy of Chocolate.
It was a wonderful way to end the day as we were emersed in the wonderful world of bubbly. Sarah threw in some fantastic facts; did you know that there are around 45 million bubbles in a bottle of champagne and that the cork shoots from the bottle at around 40mph from the pressure of the wine which is three times the pressure of a car tyre!? We sampled all sorts of combinations of bubbly with the four chocolates that we had in front of us. Tickets were £8 and, though we got ours for free, I think I would've gladly paid up for such a fun hour. Sarah was insightful and obviously extremely knowledgable while still being approachable.
The weather wasn't on our side but we had a fantastic day at the fair!