Tales of a City Girl

Why I won’t go back to the Cheese and Wine Festival

I bloody love cheese. And I bloody love wine. When I saw on one of the myriad voucher sites I have haplessly signed up to that there were 2-for-1 tickets available to the Cheese and Wine Festival, I roped in a fellow connoisseur (she was the one who first introduced me to Lambrini, after all) and decided to go.

Expectation definitely did not live up to reality. My mind’s eye saw lots of great artisan stalls and wine merchants offering you little tipples and slivers of cheese as you meandered around.

I saw friendly ruddy-faced West England types cutting us off generous rinds of creamy Devonshire cheese as we pretended we were in the market for £20 Brie, washing it down with a little snifter of red.

OK, what I saw was a bit of a country bumpkin cliché (sorry, Devon), but what we got was pretty far removed, so I thought it was only fair to educate any blog readers to our awful cheese-related plight. So, grab your tiny violins and keep your wits about you, shit is about to go down.

Imagine a really overcrowded Business Centre. No, you’re not thinking crowded enough. Think crowds three-person deep jostling around, totally ruining your vibe and intensifying your hangover (I’d been to Bogan Bingo the night before).

Imagine NO SAMPLES, just lots of braying men carrying brightly  coloured bags full of pongy cheese. Yeah, wearing gilets. Full shebang. There was no ‘try before you buy’, no little saucers of cheese so you could have a taste and see whether it was what you would’ve wanted.

And just so you know, I would have bought if I’d been enticed enough. You’re reading the words of someone that bought a tenner’s worth of flavoured cheddars in a Christmas market in York. I’m the real deal.

The wine side wasn’t much better, if better at all. It was like queuing at a really overpriced bar, when you couldn’t tell if the end result was going to be worth it. There was no samples here either, just the odd sign saying ‘festival prices’ on the booze, which basically meant £2.00 off.

I was so desperate for a sample of anything to justify the ticket price I went to try some Baileys with chocolate in it (sounds pretty minging) and was politely told by the owners of the stall that I’d have to join the queue for a sample.

Turning around, I noticed a long queue of harassed festival-goers waiting for their plastic thimble of Baileys. It’s at this point we decided to cut our losses and go for a cheese board at a local pub.

Unless you’re a really determined cheese purchaser who knows exactly what they want to buy and just needs the vendor to fill the gap, I would recommend you steer clear.

Image attribution (nb: this is just a nice pic of wine and cheese, I wish it was from the Festival but it isn’t): Marcus Sodervall, Flickr