Tom and I live in the small Warwickshire town of Alcester (pronounced by locals as ‘All-ster’); a pretty, historic market town just a 10 minute drive from Stratford-upon-Avon. If you’re visiting Shakespeare’s England, it’s well worth a diversion to visit Alcester to learn about its Roman history, take a walk alongside the pretty rivers Arrow and Alne, shop in its independent stores, admire its medieval and Tudor architecture, have a drink or meal in one of its eight pubs, or participate in one of its many annual events!
Last Saturday was one such event: the Autumn edition of the Alcester & Forest of Arden Food Festival – a biannual celebration of (mostly) local food and drink producers, which sees thousands of visitors descend upon Alcester each May and October.
During the festivals, Alcester’s High Street, Henley Street and Church Street are closed to traffic and lined with stallholders selling their wares. You’ll find locally grown fruit and vegetables; homemade treats like jams, chutneys, pies, cakes and sauces; beers, ciders, wines and spirits from local and craft manufacturers; and a host of hot food vendors tempting you with the delicious sweet and savoury smells of foods from around the world.
With such a vast array of food options available, it’s always tricky to choose your lunch at the Alcester Food Festival! Our usual strategy is to take a walk up and down the main street, tasting the samples but not buying anything until we have thoroughly assessed the options available. This year, with a certain “terrible” two-year old in tow (who didn’t want to walk, and equally refused to go in her buggy!) our survey was made more difficult, so we made a beeline directly for a certain converted horse box we knew wouldn’t fail to disappoint!
Seven Mile is a catering company run by local brother-and-sister team Jake and Janine – as well as recently taking up residency in the restaurant of Alcester’s Holly Bush Inn, their converted horse box kitchen serves up epic street food at festivals, weddings and pop-up events all across the region. On the menu on Saturday was the most amazingly tender buttermilk fried chicken (or southern fried halloumi for the veggies!) with rich mac ‘n’ cheese, and melt-in-the-mouth beef brisket served in fully loaded charcoal buns.
In our efforts to be more environmentally friendly, we’d brought our own reusable food containers with us, and Seven Mile were only too happy to fill them to the brim!
As an aside, we were pleased to see that many of the retailers at the Food Festival this year were making an effort to be more eco-conscious. Although some still used plastic, all were happy to fill customers’ own bags and boxes, and we found that many had switched to paper and cardboard packaging. At the prosecco stall run by Camilla Jones, an independent jeweller on Alcester High Street, they had invested in reusable champagne flutes this year, and at the stand run by Molly’s Cotton Tails, Alcester’s organic children’s clothing and zero waste shop, customers could ‘Fill‘ their own containers with ethically produced household cleaning products (because, sadly, someone’s still gotta clean up after cooking and eating all that lovely food!)!
Of course, good food needs to be accompanied by good drink, so to wash our meals down, we filled up our reusable pint glasses at the bars run by our favourite Alcester pub, The Turk’s Head, who were hosting a ‘takeover’ by Welsh craft brewery Tiny Rebel, and Purity Brewing Co, a local brewery based just 4 miles outside of Alcester.
The guys at Purity are long-standing friends of Go Cotswolds – in fact, you can learn all about them and sample their very fine craft beers on one of our Purity Brewery & Cotswolds Pub Tours! We still have spaces available for our last two pub tours of the year, on Saturday 2nd November and Saturday 7th December 2019. Tickets cost just £55 per person, including a tour and tasting at the award-winning Purity Brewing Co., lunch at a country pub, and minibus transport to two further locations to sample further Cotswolds pubs. Tickets can be purchased here: https://www.gocotswolds.co.uk/product/purity-brewery-and-pub-tour/