We’re well and truly into summer and the school holidays are fast approaching. With the sun shining outside, I thought it was a good time to get in the summer mood. I’ve been thinking about all the great food activities to enjoy over the coming hopefully balmy months and have pulled together my personal highlights.
There are lots of options for both adults and children – though you might want to leave the kids at home if you’re thinking of trying out London In The Sky (see below). I’m intending to make the most of the lovely artisan ice cream and sorbet I’ve been seeing everywhere, as well as trying out a few icy recipes of my own.
So, without further delay, here are my top 10 food activities for this summer:
1. Check out a food festival
Glastonbury kicks off the music festival season this weekend, but the food festival season is already in full swing. There should be something to suit most people’s tastes, including the option to mix food and music at Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire. Foodies Festival continues to move around the country, with Alexandra Palace, Tatton Park and Clapham Common all hosting a festival in July. For meat lovers, Grillstock in Bristol and London should have you covered. If grand country estates are more your thing, The Great British Food Festival will be visiting 4 different estates, include Shugborough Hall in Staffordshire and Dalemain Estate in Cumbria.
2. Eat a good quality gelato
Top quality gelataria’s seem to be popping up all over the place at the moment. Good options in London include Bocca di Lupo’s offshoot, Gelupo, or you could try The Great Taste 2014 Supreme Champion, Snowflake, in Notting Hill and Soho. For a scoop beside the sea, you can choose between the ethical Boho Gelato or the quirky flavour choices of Gelato Gusto, both in Brighton. The touring Gelato Festival also hits our shores this weekend, with Shoreditch one of only 3 stops outside of Italy for this celebration of Italian ice cream.
3. Learn how to make your own ice cream
If you want to go one step further, how about signing up for an ice cream making class? This will give you all the skills you need to make your own artisan ice cream creations at home. The School of Artisan Food in Nottinghamshire runs an Artisan Ice Cream Making course in August, led by ice cream maker Kitty Travers of La Grotta Ices.
4. Eat at an outdoor pop up
Make the most of the lovely days and evenings, and take the opportunity to eat al fresco. One of the many options popping up in the warmer months is the Dalston Roof Park, which will be hosting lunch and dinner events. Another slightly more extreme choice is a London In The Sky meal. Top chefs will prepare a meal to be served at a table suspended 100 feet in the air!
5. Take a food walk
This is a great way to explore a different side of a city you already know, or to get to know somewhere new. In London, London From Scratch will take you behind the food scenes of Marylebone or Soho, or you could try the very alternative tours of Walk Eat Talk Eat. If you’re visiting Cambridge, instead of punting and shopping you could take a Cambridge Food Tour, with tours available at different times of day.
6. Pick Your Own
Picking your own juicy berries straight from the bush is incredibly satisfying, if not a little messy. It’s very much a case of one for the container, one for the mouth. This is perfect if you don’t have a garden, or the patience, to grow your own fruit and vegetables. PickYourOwnFarms.org.uk will help you find a farm near you.
7. Make your own ice lollies
Just in case you’re not quite up for creating your own ice cream, a more simple option is to make ice lollies. There’s so much lovely fruit in season, and it’s perfect to blend and freeze into healthy summer treats (particularly if you have lots left from your Pick Your Own adventure). This is also a great activity for kids over the summer holidays. I’ll be posting some healthy ice lolly recipe ideas in the coming week to help you on your way.
8. Share your cooking skills over a Big Lunch weekend
The year’s Big Lunch weekend was on Sunday 7th June. It might be officially over for 2015, but there’s nothing to stop you arranging your own lunch with neighbours this summer; it’s a great way get to know each other better over a shared street meal. If you need recipe inspiration, The Big Lunch site has some ideas to help get your lunch juices flowing.
9. Take a cooking holiday
And no, I don’t mean have a holiday from cooking. Full on foodies can choose to all or part of the summer break on a holiday dedicated to cooking. Italy is one of the most popular destinations for these types of holidays and there are lots on offer. To learn from a genuine Italian expert, book yourself in for a food holiday with food writer, chef and teacher Valentina Harris. Valentina runs a number of residential food breaks in Le Marche, Perugia and Umbria. Her in-depth courses will immerse you in the essentials of true Italian food history and cooking – and you’re sure to have a laugh along the way.
10. Feed your mind
There are some really interesting food talks and seminars happening over the summer. This offers an opportunity to reflect a little on our food systems and cooking, or to get up close and personal with some great figures in food writing. The last of Divertimenti’s Culinary Salon events for the summer is an evening with food writers Rosie Birkett, Olia Hercules and Shivi Ramoutar on 1st July. Another option happening this Tuesday evening is the launch of the monthly Borough Talks series, with the first session asking, ‘Is Cooking A Lost Art?’.
What are your summer food highlights? I’d love to hear what you’ll be
eating, cooking and experiencing this summer.