Thousands of keen gardeners will be attending the RHS Malvern Spring Show between 10-13th May at Three Counties Showground, as well as a few not so keen gardeners like me. Although I was in fact visiting for reasons that fitted into the general theme for work related purposes, but as always food was very much on my mind. After exploring the festival green and seeing what street food was on offer, we headed in the direction of the food and drink pavilion for a mooch. The Artisan food market was full of local food producers, some I’d seen before, and some new finds.
Prior to visiting I’d read the program online and was very interested to learn that The Cottage in The Wood had a pop up located in the Great Pavilion of Art and Flowers. This is a restaurant I have been wanting to go to ever since they re-launched after a refurbishment back in March 2017, so before making any purchases we stopped at the lounge for lunch. Cotswold Distillery had teamed up with Cottage in the Wood and as well as serving champagne, they were mixing their suitably themed ‘secret garden’ cocktail; Cotswold Distillery gin, St. Germain elder flower liqueur, Fever Tree soda water, house-made lemon & ginger tea, grapefruit bitters (£10).
We snacked on arancini flavoured with wild garlic, cereny ash, pine nuts and a beetroot ketchup (£8). I followed on with the asparagus & Iberico ham with chicory salad, rosemary manchego, honey, hazelnuts (£12). As lovely and fresh as the salad was, it was tricky to eat with the wooden cutlery, but certainly gave me a taste of what to expect from the food and was good enough to make me even more excited about trying out the restaurant. We were given a 10% discount voucher to use, and since getting back home have booked a table at The Cottage in the Wood to celebrate my birthday next week.
A few hours in the sunshine built up a thirst, and luckily there was an opportunity for some gin tasting back in the main food pavilion. I sampled and purchased a bottle each from Gordon Castle (£34) – a gin handcrafted from botanicals grown in their Scottish Walled Garden, and a rhubarb Gun Dog Gin (£14 smaller size bottle) made locally in Herefordshire. Both great finds to add to our new gin wall collection and as ever I fell in love with the pretty bottles.
It was tempting to buy pretty much everything after some food sampling, and in fact it felt like we did. To justify this we decided to find a few bits for dinner later on that evening. I’d remembered seeing Darts Farm Butchers when we’d visited the show on previous years, and they always have an impressive display. We bought 2 huge Tomahawk steaks (£48) for the main part of our meal to share between 4 of us, which we planned to serve with grilled tomatoes, mushrooms and freshly picked asparagus from the garden. As a starter / snack we couldn’t resist the Pork Peddler quail eggs (based in Worcester). They were selling 3 for £5, so we got a combination of 6 to include the beetroot, soy and original – all are delicious! For dessert we picked up a whole bunch of cheese from Neal’s Yard Dairy, and several Peter Cook’s Bread loaves to go with the cheese and to freeze to use at a later date.
With quite a feast accumulated already we definitely had enough food for dinner, but we hadn’t finished shopping just yet. Next we picked up some lemon curd thyme from Urban Herbs to grow back home, and some amazing pies from Brocklebys Pies (3 small for £12 / 3 large for £20). The minced beef and cheese sounded right up my street – it’ basically a cheeseburger in a pie! As you can freeze them I bought a large cheeseburger pie and 2 smaller haddock pies to pop in the freezer. I couldn’t walk past Canapes by Gill without seeing what lovely tarts she had on display. I bought a couple to takeaway as the chicken tikka and mushroom & sausage (£2.75 each) sounded like an ideal lunch treat for Mr R and I to take to work the next day. Lastly on our final stroll before leaving the show we stumbled across Bonne Maman, they were giving away free desserts. I tried the dark chocolate mousse and it was very tasty. Apparently they stock it in the supermarkets and also gave us a £1 voucher to use on our next purchase.
We had a super day at RHS Malvern Spring Show 2018. Despite spending a lot of time exploring the food on offer, we also had fun talking to other stand holders, sculptors and garden designers. This is a show not to be missed and if you haven’t been able to make it along this year, then don’t worry as the spring show will be back again in 2019.