Monday, 9 July 2012

Oxford Food Symposium 2012

I was again privileged to be able to attend the Food Symposium and this year was rather less star struck, even though there were more of my heroes of yesteryear present.  I was perfectly capable of having rational conversations instead of gibbering without pausing for breath - which must make some of my vocalising rather unintelligible.

The weather has been absolutely foul since our return from Cyprus and the rain is still coming down in sheets.  The opening Friday of the Symposium began rather earlier than in former years in that a Mad Hatter's Tea Party was planned to be held in the afternoon at Merton sports ground.  The rain simply poured down so we took shelter in Merton sports pavilion instead. 

We had a couple of Mad Hatters, at least four Alices and numerous Queens - all barking mad.  One lady had dressed in a gorgeous Edwardian tea gown complete with massive hat and another had made a hat completely from food by threading pea pods and chillis on wire which was twisted into a circular snail and topped with bunches of parsley as a crown.  Magnificent.  People in fancy dress were given a 50% discount on the entrance fee (this was an extra to the programme) but I would rather pay full price than go to the effort of making a suitable costume.  All the profits from the tea were donated to the Friends of The Oxford Symposium so it was all in a good cause.

The food was amazing - forgive my wander into Toad Hall - but there were


And there were also three amazing cakes.  One was a massive (about a yard square) sponge cake which had been iced with green icing and sprouted one huge red shiny mushroom which was a cheesecake covered with red jam plus about twenty smaller mushrooms made from meringue.  There was a three tiered wedding type cake decorated with pictures from behind the looking glass.  The third cake was supposed to be a 3D printed cake (alleged to be the first in Europe) made by Hod Lipson of Cornell but it got lost mid Atlantic so we were treated to a photograph of what it should have looked like.  All quite in keeping with the mad theme.

The tea was donated by the Tregothnan Estate in Cornwall and it is the first time I have tasted English grown tea - very nice. 

There was a bit of a cabaret - the Mad Hatter kept on disappearing and reappearing, Baroness Elisabeth von Bismarck read from the recently discovered love letters between Lewis Carroll and Alicia, the favourite grand-neice of Count von Bismarck and Mairtin Mac Con Iomaire (my favourite Irishman) read and sang poems from Alice.

A wonderful start.

To be continued.