I'm sure I must have mentioned it before, but the food at Glastonbury is just sensational. Every time I am there, I try to take great care over where I get each meal. There is so much good stuff, that I would be loathe to waste a perfectly good mealtime on something substandard.
Here's my countdown of my favourites this year (in no particular order).
> "Matador Pie" - Pie Minister
Without a shadow of a doubt, this was the best pie that I had at the festival: beef, chorizo and butter beans... but the main attraction has to be the pastry. It's just delicious, and it's served with mash, peas and - optionally - a sprinkling of dried shalots and cheese. Also handily placed right next door to Brothers Pear Cider bar. Loopy juice. I went back for a second pie here later on in the festival (a "Chicken of Aragon"), and whilst standing in the long queue, I found myself being approached by a number of people and asked if this was worth the wait. Oh yes. Word of my pie expertise seemed to get around, and a bit later I was approached by some more people (I was wearing my santa hat, so easy to recognise in the queue).... "Are you the Pie Man? Is this worth the wait?".
I'm going to take that to my grave. I've rarely felt so happy and fulfilled.
> "Chicken, Leek and Ham Pie" - Square Pie
This is the classic Glastonbury Pie for me. Unlike the Pie Minister pies, this one comes encased in puff pastry. To be honest, I think the Pie Minister pie was better, but nobody comes close to the quality of the mash and the gravy here. At the tent near the Dance Stages (there's another one on the other side of the site), you also get to watch the loons at the Silent Disco as you eat your tea. Bonkers and very, very funny.
> 6 fresh donuts - a van right at the back of the Other Stage
There are lots of donut vans around the place, but this one undoubtedly serves the biggest and the freshest donuts at the festival, and they very much hit the spot when I was walking back up to my tent after the Arctic Monkeys on Friday night.
> Falafel with humous - a van next to the Leftfield tent
Done right, this is the meal of champions. Here it was perfect. And my nice smile at the lady serving me paid off when she gave me an extra scoop of humous (much to C's disgust, as she only got the one spoonful).
> Fish n'chips - The Sea Cow near the Pyramid Stage
I was a touch wary of this to be honest, but I actually think that this van serves better fish n'chips than my local chippie in Nottingham. I had been expecting a small, flat piece of processed fish and some soggy chips... but what turned up was very much the real McCoy - a great big piece of battered cod. Proper chips too. And there was plenty of malt vinegar. Highly recommended.
> Fudge (made with Kenyan fair trade sugar) - a tent in the marketplace.
This was a bit of an impulse stop, to be honest, but we picked up a bag of assorted fudge here (butterscotch, ginger, vanilla, rum and raisin, white chocolate and a piece of turkish delight with pistachio) and then spent the next 10 minutes cooing over how brilliant it was before heading over to watch Tony Benn in the Left Field.
> "Le Super Royal" - La Grande Bouffe
This lot have a big reputation - Michael Eavis is a big fan, apparently - but I've always found them to be slightly disappointing and very stodgy. I decided to give them another go just before I went to see Billy Bragg. The only realistic alternative was a pasty, and although it looked delicious, I felt as though I had eaten enough pies already for one weekend. "Le Super Royal" is a combination of the tartiflette (potatoes, bacon, cream) and a delicious French sausage. I needn't have worried - it was gorgeous.
> Thai green curry - a tent near the Cider Bus
This didn't look very promising on the plate (it was very pale), but as soon as I tasted it, I knew I was onto a winner. Chicken, rice, lentils and various other salad-y bits in a green curry sauce. Mmmmmm. And all for a fiver! bargain.
> "The Appalachian Feast" (buffalo chili, rice, buttery sweet potato mash, sweetcorn salsa) - a van on the corner of the market between the Left Field and Jazz World
The chili came from a massive vat that had been bubbling on a stove at the back for about 12 hours, and the buffalo meat was unbelievably tender. It wasn't that spicy, but the guy in the van was good enough to give me a shot of jalapeno dressing, which fired the whole thing up nicely.
> Organic coffee and a piece of apricot flapjack (or perhaps the Ginger bread) - The Tiny Tea Tent
This is a Sunday morning tradition at Glastonbury for me and my friend Rich, and this year was no exception. The Tiny Tea Tent is just inside the gates of the Green Fields, and is fully wind powered and serves the most delicious cups of coffee at the festival (50p deposit gets you a proper mug too!). I came here a couple of times over the weekend, and both times I spent a happy half hour just getting out of the hurly-burly of the festival.
> Burrow Hill medium sweet cider (with ice) - The Cider Bus
I've acquired quite a taste for this stuff. The Cider Bus is just on the Left Field side of the Pyramid Stage, and it serves cider out of massive wooden kegs. This is none of your fizzy shit either - this is just the good stuff. The first pint I had here was the dry. It comes with a small oil-slick on the top and it absolutely blows your socks off. After that first one though, I tended to stick to the medium-sweet, which was just a bit more quaffable (they helpfully provide buckets of ice as well). They also do an absolutely delicious hot cider.
I'm certainly coming back here next year. Brothers Pear Cider is pretty drinkable, but this is the good stuff.
> Tempura vegetables with rice and prawn crackers - a tent between the Pyramid and the Other Stage
Simple and delicious. Made by the bag of prawn crackers.
> Shiraz drunk straight from a mineral water bottle
Is there any other way of drinking this? It's another Sunday Glastonbury tradition for me to carry around the skin from the inside of a box of wine. I then proceed to share this wine with my mates over the course of the day, slowly getting more and more sozzled.
I first did this with my friend Vicky back in 2002.... but Vicky has just given birth to a beautiful baby daughter and so was unable to attend the festival. Naturally, I made sure I sent her a couple of drunken text messages to allow her to share in the moment. Bless her, but I think she quite enjoyed it. I look forward to when she next comes along to the festival and brings her family with her.
Let me tell you, ladies and gentlemen: at the Glastonbury Festival there is absolutely no need to eat a crappy burger from a brown van.... and if you do so, then I think you should be ejected from the site immediately. The only burgers you should be eating here should be hand made, organic and made from rare breeds lovingly reared in perfect conditions. Ideally, they should also be cooked by a member of the Dimbleby family.
I may have put on some weight.....
(Incidentally, I'm not going to go on about Glastonbury forever.... I think I'll do my Earworms from the festival on Friday, and then let it go for another year)
Alcohol-Free Beers (Part Thirty)
2 days ago