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Dartmouth Food Festival 2015

From October 23rd to 25th, The Miso Tree travelled to the UK to take part in the Dartmouth Food Festival!

The small port town of Dartmouth is in the south west of England, and as the name suggests lies at the mouth of the river Dart. The area boasts the largest crab fishery in Europe, and the town is bursting with local produce from both the sea and local farms. In the holiday season Dartmouth buzzes with visitors, and many famous people have houses or second homes nearby. For those in the know, Dartmouth is a town for great food!

Now in its 13th year, around 23,000 people turned out for the festival this October – not bad for a town with a population of just over 5000! The streets and pavements were lined with tents crammed with foods of all kinds, and hungry people eager to get their hands on something delicious. Over the 3 days I did my best to try as many things as possible, but the festival ended before I could manage everything – next year I’ll be sure  to bring three stomachs with me, and get a taste of everything!

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For The Miso Tree it was our first real event in the UK, so we had some traditional tradesman’s aprons made up with The Miso Tree logo on them, and gathered up a bog crowd of supporters from Japan to come with us.

Toyama-san and four of his staff from Japan’s hugely popular soup chain restaurant Soup Stock Tokyo came along, and  our great friend and katsuobushi wholesaler Taizo Inaba brought a gang with him too, as well as organic farmer Toshiya Shimazaki.

I’m pretty sure it was the first time Dartmouth had seen so many energetic, grinning and unique Japanese!

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On the 24th and 25th we ran sushi-making workshops in one of the big tents. We discussed the history of sushi, and how different kinds are made, as the students each learned how to make little temari sushi balls.

The pretty little temari sushi balls are popular on the Hina Doll Festival day, 3rd March, to celebrate girls. But they are also really cute as finger food or a starter for home parties. At the workshop everyone made their own unique little sushi balls, and seemed to have lots of fun in the process!

On the Saturday and Sunday we opened our stall in the old market place, selling Devon crab miso soup, Taiko’s dashi packs, miso from Marusho and lots more – and we were delighted that we did a roaring trade! So a huge thanks to Marusho in Gifu, Yamaroku Soy Sauce in Shodoshima, Asahi Yume Zukuri team and Ishikawa Tea in Toyota, as well as everyone at the Gifu prefectural office!

And on Saturday evening, it was time for our demonstration in the big tent. I was really nervous seeing my name next to so many famous chefs, from local celebrity Mitch Tonks and on! Taizo explained all about dash and katsuobushi, and I made miso soup with his dash and Devon crab, and passed it around for everyone to taste.

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Miso soup is well known all around the world, of course, but there aren’t many opportunities to try, not the instant type, but the real thing made with real miso and dashi and no artificial ingredients.

And then as a dessert we gave everyone a taste of wonderful Devon ice-cream, with a splash of traditionally made soy-sauce from Yamaroku – everyone’s eyes were wide when we suggested it, but the room soon filled with murmurs of ‘mm, yummy, like caramel…’ so I think that was a success as well!

To everyone in Dartmouth – thank you so much for a fabulous three days! And especially thank you, thank you to Sally and Paul fror setting us off on this adventure, and Holly and David from Manna from Devon for all your fantastic help and support!

The Miso Tree will be back in Dartmouth next year, for sure!

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Local UK food, the Japanese way

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