Around March time my friend Julia and I applied to steward for Oxfam at Glastonbury. 3 months and a food blog later we found ourselves camped on a farm with 1998 other volunteers in this magical, weird, weird place, you’ll know what I’m referring to if you’ve been and if you haven’t then do go, even just for the food. This was a vast pop-up restaurant venue, countless stalls and vans selling more than just the burgers and fish and chips that festivals were known for not long ago. Ok there were quite a few burger and fish and chip places and all-day breakfasts from everywhere (even noodle and curry places) preying on the poor hungover. This wasn’t London with it’s street feasts and emerging foreign cuisines, but for a few fields in the West Country, I was impressed.
Now I’ll skim over my highlights for you as I don’t mean to bore or boast. One of the many perks of stewarding was that we got 5 meal tickets from the very nice Nuts café situated in the Oxfam site. Nuts offered a good, standard full-English, paninis and packed lunches but if you had time to queue it was worth getting something from their pretty extensive daily hot meal menu. A winner vegetarian meal being the aubergine parmigiana served with salad, proper restaurant standard.
Another winner was the free pot of Kabuto noodles we received to add to my unhealthy food stash, it was nicer than pot noodle if you’ve got access to hot water. Our campsite also came with a bar, which forgetting the ice-cold alcohol served freshly baked cakes, the carrot was delicious as you can see by my chowing down photo.
Right so into the arena, we tried a multitude of cuisines, seeking out the ones that looked most authentic by basically judging the people serving the food! – I know I can cook a mean croque monsieur and I’m not French, but I want Jamaican food from someone that looks remotely Jamaican (and clean), tell me if you don’t also follow this theory. That said we did also pick out some food trends like the very popular Anna Mae’s Mac ‘N’ Cheese, I really admire their brand and my ‘Kanye Western’ topped with frankfurter, crispy onion and BBQ sauce was so comforting. I did miss the baked topping you get from homemade but there’s only so much you can do with a paella pan in a van.
On the sweeter side there was a lot of samey stuff, Julia really being French, went on a search for the best crepe which reaped pretty good results, honestly there’s nothing you can’t stuff one with – there was oreos in one. She also had a nice waffle from the Marshfield ice cream van, the vendor told us his wife made the batter the night before and added a little bit of maple syrup into it! Another sweet tooth favourite of ours was The Green Brownie, served with ice cream or custard, we tried the salted caramel and then stopped again on the last night for the classic original from their hobbit-like wooden den.
Now, you thought K(orean)FC was where it was at, but man I’m telling you JFC is pretty good too. Crispy Jerk Fried Chicken served like a shawarma with picked vegetables and salad from Biblos, which I now learn has a base in Bristol with a more extensive wrap menu!
At this point I would like to mention that we were there for a week, we didn’t just eat all this over the course of a three day festival, as much as I’d like to have tried to, the portions were quite big for the big prices you were paying. Next on the menu was Goan Fish curry, the white fish that went into the curry was responsibly caught from sustainable sources in Cornwall, and speaking to them now on twitter they’ve told me it was pollock, not generic white fish as previously thought! It was lovely and warming on a cold, rainy night but Julia’s dhal was the tastiest dish.
Rushing off to see an act between shifts and I came across the lovely Seasonal Samosas, who won gold for sustainability at the festival this year, which I presume is like an RHS Chelsea Flower Show award. I take my hat off to any stall that deep fries in the heat and their bhajis, punjabi samosa, slaws and sauces were excellent.
Another impressive feat was the wood-fired pizza ovens, baked in a matter of minutes and boxed up and ready to go to the next act. Other than judging the vendors, another technique for spotting a tasty eat is the queue size. Oli’s halloumi cones had the biggest queue by far, their crisy fried halloumi wraps served with mint dressed salad, roast garlic aioli and sweet chilli sauce were worth the wait.
I think Tibetan Kitchen had to be my favourite place. I very nearly missed it as I didn’t want to wait for the queue, I only had the bao-like steamed dumplings called momo but they were exceptional. Served with a bit of beef curry gravy that tasted deeply flavourful like Sri Lankan, the filling was like a fragrant meatball. We loved it so much we got more, a bargain at £1 each and the vegetable ones where great too, like potstickers.
Glastonbury was great in celebrating how good vegetarian food can be and how it can stand up to the meat dishes in taste, as well as impressing with what people can cook in limited environments. There’s something for everyone and it enhanced the festival experience that much more knowing you could get a good feed, I’d encourage everyone to go if they can.