It was a good thing I delayed, I may have been somewhat more scathing in reporting on our final Ludlow Food Festival experience.
There is an ale trail, a sausage trail,a bread trail and a pudding trail. This all in addition to tents upon tents set up in and around the Castle and its grounds. It is delightful to see a Castle being used for one of its original uses. For three days, you can sample food and drink, take in countless demonstrations on 3 or 4 separate stages, take Slow Food workshops, and join the trails and grade their offerings.
We decided the sausage trail was for us. You purchase a ticket for £3.50 that is really a form, you wander around the town to find the five sausage tents, line up, eat and grade. At the end you take your grading form to a final stop, hand in your form and in exchange, you get your favourite sausage in a bap! It’s a great deal, yummy and a lot of fun.
So back to the fiasco. From Canada, prior to leaving, I tried to arrange a few of the Slow Food workshops and also snag a reservation at the ‘pop-up’ Michelin Restaurant that sets up inside the Castle. The problems I ran into were that both wanted money ahead of time to secure the reservation. The workshops were not expensive so I did what I tell others not to… I send some cash in the post. I did it with a guarantee on it and as it wasn’t much, I wasn’t too worried.
The festival restaurant was another story. The costs of wiring money were a bit prohibitive from my bank and I had left it a bit too long so mailing a money order wasn’t an option. I sent a note back and asked if we could pay upon arrival. They were very accommodating so we were set.
On Friday when we got to the festival, we checked in with the restaurant and everything was in order for our Saturday night reservation. I had previously let them know about Don’s food allergies, so all was going according to plan.
In the interim, sausages, ales, ciders, wine, more sausages, slow roasted pork, wood fired pizza, goat cheese, sheep cheese, charcuterie … to name a few… abounded.
After heading back to the Elm Lodge
where we were staying, we napped, then primped, then strolled first to a close ‘locals’ pub with Sky sports (Man U vs Bolton), then to another pub near the Castle.
Our reservation was for 8:30 pm so we made our way at 8:15 and were escorted through the grounds to the venue and greeted by some very lovely ladies who appeared to have everything under control.
The place was humming. Our escort had told us 100 people were dining and we were all to get 8 courses…so 800 covers were going to pump out of the ‘pop-up’ kitchen… Or so they thought….
With our drink order placed, we chatted about how lovely the setting was… About the other people around us… And then waited…and waited… and waited…and waited….
The drinks had come, but that was it. After 45 minutes we had not had the server come back. There were LOTS of staff, and they were in perpetual motion. Not sure what all the moving about was about, but it was not to bring food. We checked with a server, who seemed surprised… Finally I went to the entrance and checked in with the lovely ladies… They were horrified and immediately we received 2 Kir Royale appertifs…this on top of the bottle of wine we had started. Seeing as it was now 9:30 pm, I had to keep a lid on the wine consumption or the 8 courses would be a bit of a blur. Then one of the lovely ladies came over and comped our wine… I knew we were in trouble then…
We did get the first course, Don could only eat half of it…(pureed broccoli soup with whipped Stilton/blue cheese)… And I did get one slice of bread. And when my sugar levels bottomed out, I got up, screwed the lid back on the wine… And we left. The lovely ladies at the entrance were not surprised nor did they try to stop us. I guess something had imploded in the kitchen and they knew what was coming.
I mention here a curious moment… Actually two, almost like a premonition, on our way from ‘locals’ pub to pub #2, Don inquired about whether I was excited for this anticipated feast… I said that I had lowered my expectations around things like this as I have been let down too many times. The other was the gal that served the wine, she made a specific gesture of leaving us the cap for the wine in case we didn’t finish. 8 courses, 1 bottle of wine and no driving? Seemed rather odd that we wouldn’t finish it….
But there it was… Our comped wine came with us and my inability to pay ahead of time meant that no further action was required by anyone.
We left the Castle and the Festival behind, stopped at Tesco(like Safeway) on the 1 mile walk home and picked up Spaghetti Carbonara
for me and Chicken Tikka Masala for Don.
We had a little kitchen where were staying and we heated up our late night dinner and turned on the telly…
And that was Ludlow.
(Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device in Europe)