Today I had the marvellous privilege of attending Powderham Food Festival. I was there as a volunteer for the Sugar Smart campaign and together with Rachel (who was also there with Exeter Cookery School), we had a full eight hours in the beautiful grounds of Powderham Castle to bask in all the delightful smells and flavours of the festival.

Although we were also working at times too, of course!

Here's Rachel absolutely bossing it and leading a cookery demonstration (in an absolutely packed out marquee!); she made the most wonderfully rich steamed chocolate pudding with a hot fudge sauce. I tasted it at the end and am ashamed to say that I stuck around until all the other audience members had disappeared before pretty much devouring the rest. It was SO good. I like being friends with Rachel. In fact, I practically wrote her a love letter afterwards in which I proclaimed she was my soul mate.

The slightly drizzly start to the day meant that crowd numbers weren't perhaps as high as they could have been, although there was a fairly decent turnout particularly around lunchtime! It was easy to spot the stalls giving freebies away as there were huge crowds of people gathered around them to catch as much free food as they could.

(Tomorrow I am coming for you, gourmet cheese toastie van).

Unlike other food festivals (which can often be all style and no substance), there were SO many things I wanted to eat. From cuisines we don't always get to taste that often (e.g., Persian) to posh twists on some takeaway favourites (e.g., kebabs, fish fingers) to traditional favourites (e.g., woodfired pizza), Powderham Food Festival pretty much has it all this year. Amongst the vendors selling fresh food to eat on the spot, there are also plenty selling things to take away and enjoy at home.

So what did I eat today?

Well aside from devouring (and I really mean devouring) Rachel's steamed chocolate pudding (which was extra bad because I was standing there in a bright orange Sugar Smart t-shirt in full view of the public... hey, the campaign is about being Sugar Smart not sugar free!) and Rachel's cheese and sweetcorn muffins from a later demonstration, I did actually have some festival food too!

I had seen the Hook, Line & Fish finger van earlier in the day whilst the festival was still closed to the public and we were busy sticking Sugar Smart posters all over our tables.

I ordered the whiting fish fingers with tartare sauce, salad and a gherkin in a bap.

Rachel ordered the same and then we went to sit around the back of the trailer for five minutes of peace and a sumptuous bite to eat. It was everything I had wanted it to be - wonderfully succulent fresh fish with a smooth, herby tartare and a slightly sweet tang from the gherkins. The soft bread was delicious against the crunch of the breadcrumbs and lettuce and it was so, so good, I think I might have to squeeze another in tomorrow!

(As well as the cheese toastie I have vowed to have...)

Next, we headed to the brownie stand, Cootealicious. Again, this was one we had spotted in the morning and decidedly made a beeline for after lunch.

As I was snapping away, the wonderful women behind the counter asked if I could send them my photos and (get this) in exchange, they offered me a FREE BROWNIE. They even gave Rachel one as well! This basically makes me a paid professional photographer and I am SO happy with that. Ha. I did ask them if they wanted to check the standard of my photos before giving me one for free but they insisted and, well, I'm not one to turn down a free brownie!

So please excuse the excessive number of brownie photos but I ended up taking a fair few after all!

I had my eye on the luxury peanut butter brownie, the mint Aero brownie, the Terry's chocolate orange brownie and the Mars brownie. So of course I went for salted caramel on the recommendation of one of the lovely ladies on the stand. 

It was a dream - hot, fudgy brownie with a rich base of chocolate interwoven with a perfectly salted caramel. I am still thinking of this brownie and wondering whether I need to get the same one again tomorrow or branch out and try another flavour. Decisions, decisions!

As I was still wearing my Sugar Smart t-shirt at this point, I basically hid out of the back of the trailers again and admired the view across Powderham Castle's grounds as the sun broke out into a golden afternoon.

And with that, it was time for us to get back to work!

Now, I did actually take a helluva lot more photos on my phone but for some reason, I am having no success at all in transferring them to my computer, so I'm going to say goodnight for now (it's been a long, long week) and post a fuller update on the festival comprising more from today (and everything from tomorrow) later on!

Also, can I get a round of applause please for actually managing to blog about something within 24 hours of completing it? I swear my usual average is about 7 months...

If you're in the Exeter/Devon area tomorrow, GET YOUR ARSE TO POWDERHAM. You get to look inside the pretty castle too. And come say hi to us in the Family Food tent! We're the ones in the bright orange t-shirts...