There’s few “reality” TV programs which wind me up more than Come Dine With Me, but I shudder to think of them. Conflicting egotistical posers who long for nothing more than everyone in daytime TV-land to wow at their chic mansion, be in awe of their exotic pants, and discover they fantasise about being an eminent drag queen at Blackpool Tower, via a secretly hidden photo in a wide open drawer; American Wrestling never looks this staged.
There’s a grand on offer to the one who can be the most conceited but retain entertainment value, as the others huddle, pissed with cheap plonk on their sofa pretending to enjoy the company, and a camp passive-aggressive narrator insults them with a voice-over which makes Rab C Nesbit sound graceful.
The Devizes Food & Drink Festival rightly encourage us to forget this diabolical show, but with the other hand organise an exclusive meal in a mysterious location as the opening of the festival on Saturday 5th May, and, tongue-in-cheek call it Come Dine With Me!
This is Devizes, we got panache, and I’m certain the event would differ greatly. “It’s a great night out in a local home,” they say, “where your host will produce a menu of their own choice for six to ten guests. Expect a welcome cocktail and a splendid three or four course meal served up with conversation and good-humour in a welcoming atmosphere.”
They propose “there will be no nosing around the bedrooms and knicker drawers between courses,” but I have to ponder what they’d do to stop me should I flaunt the rule; slap me round the face with a wet kipper? Because, despite this humorous offering, The Devizes Food & Drink Festival think only of bringing us quality food and drink, hence the name see?
So let’s have a sneaky peak at their program of events, see if I cant crawl this preview back to good in blag of pork belly Hirata buns at the Street Food Festival event at the Crown; (tee-hee, you said “buns.”) For this one, on Thursday 10th sounds like a highlight to me.
Ticket stub is £11.50 and you get three taster dishes from these choices: miso noodle soup, katsu cod cheek curry, oriental prawn rolls, aforementioned pork belly Hirata buns, Pickled vegetable Hirata buns, BBQ duck wings, Lou min crispy chicken, polenta chips, or crispy stuffed gnocchi, and a free drink; why did I write this before dinnertime, my mouth is watering?
Between these events, there’s a talk by Aldetha Raymond of Little Foxes Farm in Seend at the Sports Club on Monday 7th May. “From Plot to Pot,” will inspire you to “bring out your forks, spades and gardening gloves,” and “after growing the next set of tools you will need are in the kitchen, to get the best out of your home-grown ingredients.” Aldetha teaches horticulture and small holding courses from Little Foxes Farm. At Bristol University’s Botanical Gardens she teaches biological sciences and is a full time lecturer in horticulture at Lackham College.
Next day, there’s the Wadworth Brewery Tour…. with pie! Need I say more?
Wednesday and there’s a glass of fizz on arrival at the Bear, where wine expert and TV presenter, Joe Fattorini hosts a food and wine tasting evening, and shares his knowledge of wine.
Friday you get the day off; have a Pot Noodle or something! Then Saturday is the free Grand Market, in none other than the Market Place; lots of stalls, street food & snacks, bars with singers, and various family entertainment from balloon modelling, face painting and, hopefully, the inimitable Human Fruit Machine!
Test your grub knowledge on Sunday with the Food & Drink Quiz at the Wharf Tearooms. How many eggs do you have to crack to make an omelette, that kinda thing I guess!
As of last year, Erlestoke Prison will hold a pop-up restaurant, possibly on the Tuesday but has yet to be announced fully. How about a three course dinner themed around John Preston’s book on the Jeremy Thorpe murder trial, “A Vey English Scandal?” That’s at Devizes Books on Wednesday 16th and is usually the first event to sell out.
Vaughn’s Bistro takes us back to the 1940s on Wednesday 17th; War-time Devizes, when people were listening to the music of Glenn Miller, the town played an incredibly important role as the site of a German POW camp and the home of the Wiltshire regiment. In celebration of the sort of food being enjoyed at the time, even at the height of rationing, when eating locally and in season was the only option. It promises homemade bread, bacon pudding, corn-beef hash, steamed sponge pudding, and more. I think my Grandad was stuck in Tripoli with a tin of bully-beef those days, but hopefully you won’t get served that! Saying this, I don’t know what Bully-Beef tasted like but never liked to ask.
Right hold on now, I’m going to have finish this article after dinner, all sounds so good it’s making my stomach rumble! Oh, it’s only the finale to this awesome food and drink jamboree; Friday’s ‘Glitz and Glamour’ Cocktail Evening at the Town Hall Assembly Rooms. Come dressed to impress and expect fantastic cocktails and canapes, live music with singer-songwriter-pianist Archie Coombe, and a casino table entertainment.
Well, I’m stuffed just thinking about it, The Devizes Food & Drink Festival certainly put out the dishes this year and I reckon there’s something for everyone. Me, I’m happy with beans on toast!