People who know me know that I love food. I love to cook, bake and more importantly EAT! I love a food show and went to the Sandringham Food and Drink Festival in Norfolk over the summer. For the last two years I’ve had a subscription to the BBC Good Food magazine as a Christmas present (an excellent gift idea for any foodie friends or relatives by the way). And last year, my new NCT friend and fellow food lover, Michelle, suggested we go to the BBC Good Food Show. We opted for the Winter show in Birmingham. It’s now become one of the highlights of my winter and we booked tickets again for this year.
Last year we were rookies and bought way too many products in jars early on, which we had to carry around all day. We saw loads of people with pull along shopping trollies/bags and crates and wished we had something similar.
We also had to drive all the way back home to Norfolk after the show, knackered and unable to sample any of the alcohol stalls, of which there are MANY. What did I tell you? Rookies. As we drove home, talking about Strictly Come Dancing, we vowed to stay over next year at the Premier Inn right by the NEC and have an evening of Strictly, cheese and wine!
So that’s exactly what we did – and it was MEGA!
BBC Good Food Show review
Food glorious food!
We set off about 8am and got to Birmingham about 11am. We walked in with our pull along cases feeling smug as we walked past people with no bags, thinking, “error – if only you knew!” We walked into the NEC and kind of gathered our bearings and started browsing and sampling. Within an hour our cases were getting full! There are so many cheese stalls – if you love cheese, you’re in heaven. We sampled so much – bread, cheese, chutneys, oils, vinegars, sweet potato crisps, cake…Oh and the fudge, how could I forget the fudge sampling (and two slices I bought, gulp!) And Gin. We sampled ALL the Gin.
And it would have been rude not to partake in a cheeky Kir Royale cocktail…
There is so much to taste and nibble that just like last year, we didn’t stop for lunch, a delicious sausage roll, until 2.30pm. At 3pm we dashed to the Supertheatre to see one of the chef’s demonstrations. It’s included in the ticket price and is about 30 minutes long. Last year we saw Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, who were brilliant. This year we saw Michel Roux Junior, and he was good, but not as good as Bezza and Paul. He took a bit longer to warm up and didn’t seem as comfortable in front of the big audience. With it all being geared up for Christmas he did a bellini with smoked salmon and a horseradish cream and then a pork dish, wrapped in pastry and fried, with a spicy red cabbage chutney puree thing, which looked delicious!
The Show is busy and to be honest at times a bit crowded at some of the stalls. And because lots of people have big bags and trolleys, you have to be patient. But everyone’s polite and friendly – how can they not be, they’re in food heaven!
We also both got a few gadgets. I bought a spiraliser which comes with the best peeler I’ve ever used in my life. And we both bought a cheese grinder – a bit like a cheese grater, but it can also grate nuts, biscuits, sweets and make breadcrumbs with fresh bread. It is amazing and at £7.50 my best buy of the show. We both also bought a couple of Christmas gifts too and I know they will go down well.
The book signing
Towards the end of day we decided to check out when the book signings were. Last year I didn’t get a book but stood and watched Mr Hollywood signing some and regretted it. I did however get convinced to meet James Martin who Michelle loves. So we both bought over priced aprons for him to sign, just so we could have a photo. He was moody as hell and looked like he really didn’t want to be there (to be fair he wasn’t on the programme and was announced as a suprise guest, so maybe he’d been forced to attend.) Either way, we had a photo and I did at least have a quick chat along the lines of “Oh I’m from Yorkshire too” (CRINGE! Don’t worry at least I didn’t say “your Mum used to go to my hairdressers!”… True story!)
I should have learned…
Anyway, this year I thought bugger it, we only live once, so I bought Paul Hollywood’s Bread book. I told myself I might make bread with Miss Belle as she gets older. As I queued up there were about 5000 security guards who wouldn’t let my friend in the queue because she didn’t have a book. I said I wanted her to take my photo. They said don’t worry, someone else will do it for you. So I sat down and tucked into my Toblerone Cupcake I bought earlier. Then a woman came round and wrote my name on a post it, so he knew what to write, because seemingly even asking your name is too much for him to ask.
Next thing he arrives like a A List celebrity flanked by more security men – ridiculous! I got nervous as we were all ushered up. I looked like shite as it was gone 4.30pm and all my makeup had worn off. I checked myself in my selfie mode camera of my iPhone and whacked on some lipgloss. As I got to the front I asked the lady passing the books if someone could take my photo. She said “no, you can only take a selfie if you crouch down in front of the table, he may or may not look up.” Well how bloody charming!!! I had no time to think as my book had been passed. So like the numpty that I am, I asked if that was ok and he said it was fine. I crouched down and took it and he wasn’t looking up! So I completely buggered it up!!! Possibly the worst photo I’ve ever taken in my life…
That was it – “Next!” I was so pissed off! I know I wasn’t forced to buy the book, but it’s really such a money making exercise. Not the exciting experience I was hoping for. I think they are told to be as quick as possible so it doesn’t take them long. I get that, but these are their fans who’ve spent money to meet them. It’s my one criticism of the show. Yes there was a slight queue, but I literally spent about 10 seconds with him. I think everyone would leave feeling a lot happier if you could at least have a quick chat and a proper photo. Last year my friend bought a book by Cyrus Todiwala, less well known I’d say, but she had a lovely experience. He signed her book, chatted and got up out of his seat for a nice photo with her, and she left so happy.
All you need is love (and food and drink)
Anyway, it didn’t put too much a damper on the day as we were leaving for a dinner of bread, cheese and chutney. We walked back to the hotel, so thankful of our wheeley cases. After a mini drama with the TV aerial not working, we got straight into our PJs ready for Strictly. Then we called the Daddy’s to check on the kids and poured ourselves a Seville Orange Gin and tonic. We stayed up chatting, drinking Champagne and had a lie in the next day before making our way home. It was an awesome weekend.
If you’ve not been before and are into your food, check out the BBC Good Food Show website for dates for next year. Just lower your expectations about the book signings….