Tuesday, 22 May 2012


Alresford Watercress Festival 2012

“Is it just going to be watercress?” asked foodie daughter hesitantly, as I tried to persuade her to come to the annual Alresford Watercress Festival last Sunday.

When I had mentioned we might go to a festival, this was not the kind she had in mind.

However the promise of some live music, hog roasts, local ice-cream and a whole range of other delicious treats quickly convinced her it was worth the trip despite the cold grey summers day.

We weren’t disappointed.

For those of you who haven’t been, it is worth a visit as it's so English, in both the location and the atmosphere.

The Georgian main streets of Alresford were closed off to cars and lined with lots of different stalls, all offering the best of local food produce from around Hampshire.

There were also Morris dancers, sword dancers, comedy police men on stilts and a variety of live folk groups to jolly everyone along. It's good fun and relaxing.

Morris Men- Alresford 2012

Watercress was as you can imagine a feature on most stalls.

 We sampled a delicious watercress dip, as well as hog roasts with apple sauce and watercress, burgers, with watercress...to name but a few.

 Local cafe’s offered water cress soup and one bakery stall had watercress muffins that looked great. I am ashamed to admit I was too full up to actually try one of these by the time we reached there!!

Watercress Muffins

Stall holders offered tasters of their produce and there was a range of local fruit juices and beers to suit your age and stage!

I think some of the watercress eating contestants must have needed a draft of the local Watercress line ale after they polished off 2 bags of watercress with a tiny amount of water in just under a minute..all in front of a cheering audience. Rather them than me.

What I loved was being able to talk to the farmers and cheese makers, to hear how and where they make their produce.

The owner and cheese makers of TUNWORTH SOFT CHEESE kindly offered to let me spend a day with them to see how they make their delicious soft British cheese which I sampled several times. So I’m looking forward to setting up a date for that and will keep you posted.

Tunworth Soft Cheese

As I left, the judging of the watercress soup competition was underway. Participants, from all over the world, had brought their soup in flasks for the competition and recipes were being discussed.

I left with a basket of goodies to keep us all happy and well fed for the next few days. Including a delicious Tunworth cheese,

some sirloin steak from The Traditional Beef Company

that looks like it will melt in your mouth, some smoked trout for Teen V who looked rather horrified at the steak  and of course,  bundles of watercress

which I will serve with all of the above!

I leave you with the watercress co recipe for Watercress dip, (from the above website which also offers an excellent range of watercress recipes I will no doubt try out soon) and which was divine!

Hampshire Watercress


Preparation time- under 10 minutes


40g watercress – roughly half a bag
½ clove of garlic
120 g mayonnaise
2 tbsp water
½ tsp horseradish sauce
2 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
½ tsp salt


Put all the ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth.

This keeps in the fridge for a couple of days!!

I'm going to try it out as an alternative snack to go in pita bread with falafel or burgers now the sun has finally made an appearance.

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