This year the hugely popular Chatsworth Country Fair opened in style on the 4th Sept and came to a cracking end on the 6th with a spectacular display from the Red Arrows and a magnificent Hot Air Balloon lift by the East Midlands Balloon Group.
Luckily I was able to attend one of this countries most travelled to events where I witnessed a fine culinary demonstration by Australian Celebrity chef John Torode, watched a highly entertaining show by the talented Cossacks, saw a heart-warming display by the Essex Dog Display Team and ate so much delicious food I could have burst.
Not only did I get to sit and appreciate much of the Fairs entertainment; I also found the time to take a walk around the exhibitor stands where I stopped to chat with the many business owners who had travelled far and wide in order to stand at what can only be described as “the year’s most successful countryside event”.
Upon arrival I reported to the media tent, where my partner and I were warmly welcomed by the lovely ladies from both: Peak District and Derbyshire and Redbrick Communications. After grabbing a quick coffee, we set out to capture some pictures before the crowds arrived!
Let’s talk about food for a bit…
Having seen many trade stands throughout our time at Chatsworth Country Fair, the following were the few that really stood out to me which is why I chose to review them. I was highly impressed with their products and I just know you will love them too. I would recommend them to friends and family and I plan on returning to them in the future.
We began our browsing in the “Festival of Food” tent where we were met by some colourful and pretty awesome looking gigantic Meringues.
I wanted to get to know more about the company behind these attractive sweet treats, so I stopped to chat with the man in the know, Darren. The name of the business is called: “Merangz” which is part of “The Little Round Cake Company“. To say I was impressed by all of the gorgeously presented delights is an understatement.
These amazing traditional Swiss meringues are huge and let me tell you, they are just as tasty as they look. I would know this because I got to try the classic chocolate flavour which, can I just point out, is fat-free. Each of the sweet treats has a soft mallowy centre so to ensure that the quality of their bakes are nothing short of perfect, they use Shropshire hand separated eggs.
These big sugary delights can be eaten as they are or they can be crushed or crumbled on some fresh cream, then topped with strawberries or other fruit for a truly sensational desert. If you fancy trying some for yourself, you can find Merangz in sores such as: Ocado and Selfridges. Merangz can also be purchased at other big shows such as: Burghley Horse Trials.
As well as meringues, the company also bake tarts which are known simply as “tarts” and cakes which are otherwise known as “tweeners”. Each of the tweeners; depending on the flavour chosen, is filled with a buttercream icing, jam or compote.
I am not joking when I say that whole cake disappeared in about 3 minutes flat. I took away with me the Dime Bar tweener which I highly recommend and if you aren’t greedy like me, you could even share it with someone as there is plenty enough for two.
We were also lucky enough to have been able to sample the rich chocolaty tart which was simply divine, but for a little extra indulgence, try drizzling a touch of double cream over the top!
Never walk past a good curry
My nose quickly led me further into the food tent where I could smell the easily recognisable scent of curry.
Punjaban are a small family run authentic curry company. The talented lady behind these wonder curries is called Charanjit Sapal (also known as Charlie).
I am anywhere for a curry, but I often find that many store bought curries in jars taste powdery and bland. For this reason, I was keen to sample some of this amazing smelling food, which I later found out is gluten free, nut free, sugar free, ghee free (rape seed oil is used instead), dairy free and GMO free.
My partner and I were highly impressed by this curry which surprisingly does come in a jar and ranges from mild to hot. The mild was perfect for me, but I could also tolerate the medium and I usually don’t go beyond a korma.
Bill, who was presenting Punjaban with his wife, cooked up some delightful treats for us to taste and showed us various ways in which this taste-bud tingling food can be prepared. For example: he added some crème fraiche and tarragon to one of the dishes which is simple to do, yet it completely changed the taste; making these curries versatile and handy to have in the cupboard.
We will definitely be purchasing some more of this scrumptious curry and telling our friends all about it. Charanjit’s philosophy of: “no compromise on authenticity” is certainly one I can taste! Charlie’s son (Gurjeet) and daughter (Ria) are certainly two very lucky people having a mum that can create not only curry bases but pickles and chutneys too.
So you may have realised that I like – actually lets rephrase that: I love food!
For this reason it may come as no surprise to hear that I went on to try some sausages, which were also being lovingly prepared in the Festival of Food tent.
Paula Chase was the lady behind these sizzling sausages on the day, which were honestly some of the yummiest I have ever tasted. Not so long ago I went through a stage of eating anything but sausage but its safe to say, with the help of Supreme Sausages; I have gone from liking them to loving them.
The Supreme Sausage factory, where Marc Garnish and his brothers create these wonderful pork perfections, supply many shops around the UK. In fact this hard-working family have gone one step further for all of you sausage lovers by setting up Britain’s first ever: “Sausage Club”. By becoming either a Gold or Platinum member of this exciting club dedicated to delicious juicy sausages, you will have access to many great benefits. Check out their website for more information here.
I did actually try a honey and mustard sausage that Paula prepared for me at the show and I never expected it to be as sensational as it was. I cannot wait to get stuck in to the Traditional English Pork and Wild Boar and Apple sausage that we came home with.
What is a country fair with out a great cheese stall? I believe I found the best one.
The Truckle Cheese Company came all the way from Litten Cheney in Dorset. This successful company have been in business for 23/24 years. Having been the makers for Quickes cheese for a substantial amount of time, they certainly know how to make the most perfect cheese that you simply can’t refuse.
Tom and Roger stand the big shows and I had the pleasure of meeting them both. They have recently attended Harrogate and the CLA Game Fair at Harewood House in Leeds and I also recommended that they try the Newstead Abbey Food Fair next year which they sounded really interested in attending.
I left the stall with some absolutely stunning (I’m not exaggerating) Mature Farmhouse Cheddar which is a rugged yet smooth and creamy full-flavoured cheese, made from pasteurised cow’s milk. I am now waiting for the right time to eat this, preferably one with no interruptions where I can sit with a large glass of red wine and a bunch of juicy grapes so that I can enjoy every mouthful.
Here are some of the other products that this magnificent company produce:
- Spicy Strawberry and Caramelised Onion Chutney
- Mature Cheddar with Dark Chocolate
- Creamy Blue Stilton
- Cheese Making Kits
One of the reasons that I was looking forward to attending Chatsworth this year was so that I could see John Torode; the celebrity chef from Australia best known for being a judge on MasterChef.
I secured my place near the front of the stage in the AGA Rangemaster Theatre so that I could get some pictures of this genuine and friendly guy working his culinary magic.
In previous interviews, Torode has said that he prefers working on shows that are unscripted so that the cameras can capture the natural interaction between the judges and contestants. Whilst he was on stage, it was clear to see that he is in fact a natural in front of the camera and most definitely doesn’t need telling how to interact with his audience. He was entertaining and a real joy to watch.
One of my favourite foods is avocado or as John says it: “avo” not “arvo”! I watched him make what looked like the most delicious smashed avo and he offered some words of wisdom that I shall take away with me – “you can’t smash an unripe avo” and “neither should you mash an avo”.
With a captive audience Torode went on to cook up some recipes taken from his new book: “My Kind of Food” of which he was doing signings for after the show. The French toast which he had stuffed with banana then topped lavishly with maple syrup certainly got my mouth watering.
With a little assistance from a lady in the audience, he then proceeded to show us the correct way to make what is in his opinion, the best Bloody Mary. The smell of cooking food soon filled the tent and with what seemed like a quick splash, dollop and sprinkle his recipes were all complete.
After the show John went on to do book signings for “My Kind of Food” which wasn’t yet available to purchase in book stores or on-line.
As well as the scrumptious recipes Torode cooked up, I also took a few kitchen tips home with me:
- To make the best French toast – cut a pocket in the middle of a slice of bread and pop a sliced banana inside then pan cook it on either side until the banana is soft and gooey.
- The easiest way to prepare an avocado – cut it in half and twist. Then to cut it up, slice from in the middle
- To stop egg from being a “snotty” consistency when in a raw state – pop a sprinkle of salt in it
The right kind of entertainment…
To be honest, after all of that food I was ready for a sit down. Luckily the entertainment was just about to begin in the Grand Ring so we made our way over.
We had planned on seeing most of the acts performing that day, so we took our place on some chairs in a prime position and stayed there for most of the afternoon. The sun was beaming down and the atmosphere was alive with people who were all excitedly waiting for the next seven acts to begin.
Royal British Legion
First up with their impressive opening ceremony display was the: “Royal British Legion Extreme Human Flight Team” who are all serving or former members of the armed forces. They support charities that help the armed forces by fund raising and increasing public awareness of these charities. They were truly inspiring and served as a great start to an afternoon full of horses, dogs, hounds and huntsman.
Rachel talked us through from start to finish from the safety of the ground while the helicopter above her which was being flown by Allan from “Tiger Helicopters“, rose to 2000 feet above ground. The jump master of the day was named Stu; he performed a fast landing with an exclusive teddy bear in his hands called Finley. These sought after “Scare Riding Bears” are in actual fact the only two in the world and were up for grabs on the day via raffle. I have yet to find out if I was a lucky winner!
Band of the Corps
I don’t think any event is complete without a band of some sort, so I was greatly pleased to see that next up were the “Band of the Corps of the Royal Engineers“; except they weren’t just any band. This dedicated team of men are based in Chatham, Kent but often support the army worldwide.
They have recently taken a trip to Afghanistan where they performed music to the troops. I found their performance on Sunday to be particularly moving, but I also thought that their version of “Happy” by Pharell Williams was the perfect choice to get the crowd in high spirits; I could see many people singing along to the popular tune.
The drum major “Adam Henson” who was doing the voice over for the display was telling us how he used to work on the Chatsworth farm many years ago and he had found the Duke and Duchess very warm and welcoming people which comes as no surprise.
The Duke of Devonshire was due to give an appearance but apparently he got stuck in the traffic with Mary Berry after a trip to the Chatsworth Farm shop. I heard many people say that it had been the busiest of the three days, it was obviously so busy the poor Duke couldn’t even get back to his own house. Luckily, Adam Henson, presenter of Countryfile, was on hand to officially declare the Chatsworth Country Fair open.
Cossack Stunt Team
I have never see this team of Ukrainian horseback riders before, but wow I was so pleasantly surprised. It is clear to see that they train for hours and put in a great deal of effort to be able to give us the kind of display they performed on Saturday. Being a horse lover, I was obviously admiring the fine animals which were as I could see; stunningly cared for and treated with the utmost respect by their riders.
The thing I was most taken aback by were the young girls who were riding the ponies; they really were incredibly flexible, quick and extremely precise in their movements. The Cossacks are renowned for their high level of skill and horsemanship which explains why they are so incredible on horseback. The team got everyone in the audience involved; many were on their feet, clapping and cheering along. They really gave all of us a terrific performance. Now that’s what I call a crowd pleaser!
If you fancy learning how to ride the Cossack way, you could always join the Ukranian Horse Riding School where you will be introduced to the wonderful world of horses or if you already ride – you will be taught how to enjoy horses more (if that is even possible)!
Essex Dog Display Team
I may have pointed out before that I am a real animal lover, so to be able to get the chance to see such an amazing group of dogs was a real honour. All of the dogs from the Essex Dog Display Team have been rescued from awful situations. These dogs have lived through experiences that no dog should have to be subjected too.
One of the dogs who were there with the team had been passed around a total of 10 different owners; that is no life for any animal, so unfortunately and as you may expect, he had developed some undesirable behaviours which no one could deal with. That was until he fell into the hands of the Essex Dog Display Team who worked their magic touch and gave him the warm and loving home he truly deserves.
What was interesting to hear, was that no dog is born with a bad habit so If a dog is doing something that you, as the owner do not like; chances are that behaviour is a learned one and has come from you or someone the dog spends a lot of time with. I find this particularly interesting because I have a dog with a bad habit; he actually cries for me when I leave the room, so it made me think a bit about how I have caused this and how I could now take positive steps to put it right.
A great way to start addressing unwanted behaviour is by ignoring the bad and rewarding the good which is something that was made a point of by the knowledgeable man who was talking us through the demonstrations.
The gentleman, who was doing the voice over, was very informative and told us all about the different types of tail wags a dog does. I never knew this, but dogs do wag their tails when they are not happy and I also didn’t know that they have six different types of tail wags which all mean something different.
The team put on a fantastic display with their Bearded Collie, Jack Russel, Staffie X, Yorkie and Belgian Sheppard but it seemed like one other dog from the audience called “Rupert” felt a little left out and wanted to join in the fun too. Rupert belonged to the man and lady that were sitting next to us.
One minute he was on his lead watching the display like the rest of us from behind the fence and the next minute he was running around inside the Grand Ring with the Essex Dogs Team. I have no idea how he managed it, but It was very comical and I couldn’t help but laugh. I’m not ever so sure anyone else saw the funny side though.
A little bit of shopping…
After all of that first class entertainment and excitement, I finished the day off with some shopping.
The usual fab stands put in an appearance such as: Joules, Dubarry, Musto and Barbour all of which are my faves, but I was good and didn’t give in to the temptation of a nice new jacket.
I did in fact treat myself to some skin care products for all of that hard work.
In the Ideal Home tent I came across a lovely little pop-up called: “Wish4 Beauty“. All I had to do was follow the enticing scents which lead me right to their beautifully presented stand. The shelves were filled with heavenly smelling products which had all been lovingly displayed, so they immediately caught my eye.
Being a trainee Makeup Artist and having a love for all things health and beauty, I was interested to learn more.
The three ladies that founded the business: Alison, Debbie and Julie are all fully trained and practicing beauty therapists/aromatherapists. They have been in business together for six years offering products such as: eye and lip serums, face and body exfoliators and treatments such as: cleanses, exfoliations, massages and masks. All of the Wish4 Beauty range is made from natural ingredients which are of great importance to me as I react to a lot of artificial ingredients to a lot of things.
I was actually looking for a lovely new exfoliator, so when Julie approached me asking if I would like to try some of the Bergamot, Geranium and Rosewood exfoliator; I of course said yes.
I have to tell you, this product smells incredible and wow my hands were so soft after using it. I have now just got to wait for the perfect time where I can relax in the bath with some candles and use it.
If you are interested in learning more about Wish4 Beauty products or even if you fancy becoming an independent consultant (which I have to tell you I am seriously considering); take a look at their Facebook page here.
There were many different pursuits available at the fair that ranged in level from: beginners to advanced. There were experts on hand so that you could receive all the guidance you required.
Clay Pigeon Shooting – I am a keen clay shooter and regularly shoot with The Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club ladies so I was happy to see that many people were giving this superb sport a go.
Other enjoyable pursuits at the Chatsworth Country Fair included: Archery, Fishing, Lurcher Events, Laser Sporting Shoot, Family Fun Dog Show, Regency Rifles and Catapults.
Coming to an end…
It’s sad to say, but at some point the day had to come to an end. Unfortunately I didn’t get to stay for the Hot Air Balloons or the Red Arrows but we still had an absolutely amazing time at Chatsworth Country Fair and by the looks of tired yet smiling children, worn out dogs and high-spirited ladies and gents, so did everyone else. I cannot wait to return next year to see what this incredible place has to offer.
More pictures of the day…