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Tuesday 14 September 2010

Bath Food Festival, Afternoon Tea at the Bath Priory and Italian Lardo!

Bath is a 90 minute train journey from London's Paddington Station, but is to me, a completely different world. A quintessentially English town, Bath has beautifully tended gardens, imposing Georgian houses and impressive crescents. It feels like the perfect setting for one of Jane Austen's many novels, one of Bath's most illustrious residents (Nicolas Cage being another!).

This summer, I was pleased to return to this lovely town to visit its food festival (Bath Food Festival) and to meet "Sam Moody", head chef of The Bath Priory Hotel, who was also doing a cookery demonstration at the festival.


Food festivals and markets of this kind are among the most enjoyable ways I find of spending my time (apart from eating of course). I had a great time tasting and purchasing some of the fine merchandise on offer and chatting to a variety of local producers specialising in foodstuffs from cheese to extra virgin rapeseed oil, chutneys and conserves.

Among these producers were Christian and Rebecca, a delightful couple and founders of Bread Tree, a company specialising in the importing niche and relatively unknown products made by Italian artisans.

I bought a large piece of spicy "LARDO" from them - a type of Italian "salume" (charcuterie), lardo is pork fat cured with rosemary and other herbs and spices, and is normally very thinly sliced and served as topping on grilled "bruschetta" bread. It is similar to Sarlo (the Russian equivalent), and it is a real delicacy.

It was great to meet Sam Moody (The Bath Priory's head chef) and see him in action during his cookery demonstration. Sam cooked a delicious risotto made of different types of fish and seafood, herbs including chervil, tarragon and dill and with plenty of mascarpone and parmesan cheese for extra creaminess and flavour. The risotto was beautifully dressed with Richard Vine's seasonal micro herbs and tasted divine.

The star of the show however was his Hinton Estate beef, purchased from Bartlett & Sons butchers in Bath, and cooked at a constant temperature of 48℃ in Sam's sous vide bath (talk about kitchen envy...).

The meat was then carefully browned and served with a medley of pan-fried wild mushrooms including morel and girolle.

I also attended a wine seminar by Neil Phillips (writer of the The Wine Tipster) who was doing a tasting of "Wines of Rioja". Neil is a great speaker and introduced us to a range of different Riojas including a white (2007 Cosme Palacio) and a most sensational 1995 Gran Reserva called Campillo Tinto which is 100% tempranillo.

Our final stop was at The Bath Priory for afternoon tea at one of the town's most elegant hotels and spas. Sue Williams (our host and the hotel's general manager) gave us a little tour of this luxury, boutique hotel before showing us into the sitting room.

Winner of a Gold Award as the Best Small Hotel in 2009/10, The Bath Priory is a haven of tranquillity and good taste. It is a privately owned and relatively small hotel which feels more like a stately home than a hotel.

The dainty sandwiches, cakes and scones were freshly baked on the premises and tasted delicious @ £17.50 including a tea of choice.

We were also served a lovely sausage roll, and as an extra dessert, panna cotta topped with jam and berries.

I thoroughly enjoyed my day in Bath, and look forward to returning in 2011 for more Bath Food Festival, afternoon tea at The Bath Priory Hotel and Italian lardo! Many thanks to Syamala of Sauce Communications and to Sue Williams of The Bath Priory for being the perfect hosts.


  1. I recently visited Bath for the first time. I really enjoyed myself, but I wish I had timed it for the food festival! Thanks for sharing.

    I think Nicolas Cage sold his home in Bath? That's what our tour guide told us, but he was full of misinformation, so he could have been wrong about this too.

  2. It was my second time in Bath but the first time I visited the Festival - I really enjoyed it, it is much smaller than Taste of London but much more civilised and a fraction of the price! I will make sure to return next year. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment.

    Luiz @ The London Foodie

  3. I went to Bath for the first time at Easter and it rained solidly the whole 24 hrs we were there. I read about this event in one of the local glossy magazines that was in reception and would have loved to have gone back. Maybe next year!

  4. @ Sarah - indeed you should come to the next one, I love Bath and luckily the weather was quite nice on that day.


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