There are plenty of food festivals in this bounteous land that we call the UK – a jolly good thing too, I might add. But how many of those celebrate the meeting of film and food? As far as I know there is only one…
Now in its eighth year, Screen Bites takes place in various towns and villages across Dorset and Somerset in October and November.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s what British autumns are made for: local halls hosting local producers, food-based films, and loads (and loads) of the tastiest samples.
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that I’ve been to this festival every year since it began. Nowadays, having snagged a role as a volunteer, I get in free (hooray!).
Before that, however, I was easily lured by the promise of bounteous food and films: at a mere £8 a pop, you get a whole lot more than you would at any Cineworld complex.
So far, each night I’ve attended has been Pud-Hog heaven, and last Saturday – at Winfrith Newburgh – was absolutely no exception.
I won’t go on about the film (for, entertaining as Dinner Rush was, there wasn’t a great deal of pud being eaten). Instead, I shall focus on what came before: in other words, the food.
The hall was bordered with tables and samples, and before my duties started, I got the chance to taste my way around.
There were plenty of perennial Screen Bites favourites (some of my favourites too, as it happens).
Lemon Zest Biscuits and Florentines came from Fudges Bakery and were so delicious that I lingered perhaps a little longer than I should have. The former were beautifully crisp and buttery, while the latter made my taste buds sing: chewy, thick with Dark Chocolate, with the slightest hint of Ginger in the mix.
Next to them were some treats from Honeybuns – wheat-free bakers extraordinaire – who donated a load of their Almond Moon slices (Shortbread, Cranberry, Polenta and Nuts) as well as their AWESOME Heathcliffe Brownie.
I don’t cap up ‘awesome’ lightly, you know. I do it because ol’ Heathcliffe gives those K & C Brownies a run for their money: incredibly moist, thick, orangey and – better still – choc full of White Chocolate chunks.
I tidied away a few crumbs there, I can tell you – just the bits that dropped off, mind. S’cleaning, innit?
Still, that wasn’t all for the Pud-Hog. Just three feet away was a table adorned with the wonderful wares of Chococo: the Ice-Cream-Soup-making, Jubilicious-Tea-serving, Chocolate-coated saviours of Swanage.
Here were not two, but four bowls of goodies: Milk Chocolate Buttons, shards of Chocolate Honeycombe (in which you could actually taste the Dorset Honey!), Dark Chocolate studded with freeze-dried Raspberries, and a load with Raspberries and Meringue.
I was sorely tempted to shout out ‘BOMB!’ and hide by the Chocolate while people ran screaming.
Good thing that I didn’t though: if I had, I would have missed out on some equally exciting tasters – namely those passed around by Provisio, during a talk from its founder, Lisa.
Here was a chance to try some Mulled Ale (I told you this is what autumns are made for), as well as the night’s second Brownie: a dark, squidgy square made with Hall & Woodhouse Ruby Ale, the aptly-named Poacher’s Choice.
The room was filled with appreciative murmurs, and when my tongue met a damp plummy pocket I couldn’t help but join in with the crowd.
While the crowd settled down I took stock of what was left: a few bits and pieces of Chocolate, some tasty lumps of Bread from Oxfords Bakery…
Would anyone like some? I asked (admittedly not in my loudest voice). Thankfully everyone else was too full.
All the more for me then, Ogglers. And a tastier bready combo I have never tasted (with the exception of those Chocolate Naans, of course).
Screen Bites? Screen Beauts, more like.
Not a small amount of Screen Gobbles in there too…