Chelmsford City Racecourse was the venue for the Essex Fine Food Show taking place this weekend. A brand new food lovers collection of producers and suppliers all in one place provided an opportunity to jump in the car and visit the show with some food loving friends and their 5 year old daughter.

Promoted as an opportunity to shop, taste and discover, I was eager to discover who was exhibiting, and have a chance to taste and sample and perhaps purchase. Once at the venue, and I had marvelled at the blue skies and puffy white clouds which looked amazing over the green landscape around the racecourse we parked the car and walked the short distance along landscaped paths and found ourselves in the heart of the racecourse amidst food stalls and providers.

The main sponsors Adnams had plenty of tents, bars and signage promoting their wonderful drinks and we soon found ourselves tasting the great selection of gins on offer. I most enjoyed the Copperhouse Gin, and I love the packaging and branding Adnams use. The Sloe Gin looked tempting too, and the recent addition of their Rye Hill vodka is also worth a mention.

Time for a spot of lunch, and this simply had to be at Tom’s Salty Shack which had ‘popped up’ at the end of the concourse and offered a great selection of seafood cooked by Tom Haward. He is a seventh generation Mersea Oysterman and he brings his travelling kitchen to shows around Essex. His mother famously opened The Company Shed in the late 80s on Mersea Island (a place I have been to many a time to enjoy a fishy lunch) and his father is Richard Haward is one of the best known Oyster fishermen in England.

My lunch, cooked by Tom as I sat and watched, consisted of 3 large juicy scallops cooked with chorizo and served with salad and crusty bread and wedges of lemon. Utterly delicious! I’m looking forward to seeing him again soon when he ‘pops up’ at nearby Dedham Vale Vineyard.

Another delicious discovery today was the beautiful stand presented by DulciBella Marshmallows. I was attracted by their attractive display of what I thought were mini piped meringues. I was asked if I liked marshmallows to which I replied “not particularly!” Apparently not prepared to take this put down I was offered a taste, and well, I was blown away! The flavour and texture were absolutely divine! Soft and vibrant the centre is a fruit puree and the flavours such as raspberry, rhubarb and custard or strawberry were simply stunning. I had to buy a gorgeous little box to take home.

Finally and by no means last I visited my friends at Taste Collectiv who were located in the Taste of Anglia Food Hall. Mark and Vic make the freshest most vibrant sauces using fresh food and vegetables before packing them up in eye catching packets which fly off the shelves all over the country. I was keen to see the latest editions to their range – new Thai flavours in red and green curry pastes. These complement their already great range of Pesto, Chermoula, harissa and Romesco. You are guaranteed a flavour blast with their products. It was great to see them.