Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
In a special guest review, Matt & Cat regular Wendy reviews food at the Isle of Wight Festival. Read on for her daily updates!...

In a special guest review, Matt & Cat regular Wendy reviews food at the Isle of Wight Festival. Read on for her daily updates!

Friday 13th June 2008
Isle of Wight festival food feedback today, Friday! (Just back in, how’s that for dedication.): More varied Island presence than last year, which is good to see. Actually, it starts on the way in with enterprising driveway-owners in Fairlee Road accommodating Island vendors, including one selling quality meat produce from New Barn Farm.

Kashmir Cafe, IW Festival

– Inside, the Eco Island/Island food tent includes produce from Briddlesford Farm Dairy, Sharon Orchard (had an excellent apple flapjack for a reasonable £1), Calbourne Classics (I love their honeycomb ice cream), and The Tomato Stall (I can recommend the ultra-tasty oak roast tomatoes – not that I’d eat a tub at a time, but I do usually have some in my fridge at home).

– The man with the mobile fish van, Harbour Seafoods, who has slots at various Island venues has a pitch near the Big Top selling seafood paella and baguettes etc. Might try that tomorrow.

– The excellent Solace tent offering FREE tea (a huge variety), and cakes baked by volunteers from all over the Island, plus a welcome spot to have a relaxing sit-down, is (incongruously given its name) opposite the fairground rides (though thankfully the rides seems less noisy than previous years).

Paella with chorizo

– Delighted to see that Quay Arts have a presence: the Kashmir tent near the far end of Strawberry Fields, serving fresh soup, and lamb or vegetable tagine with a selection of their delicious salads and couscous. Ian had the lamb; I had the veggie version, and both were delicious. £8 is pricier than most festival food, but the variety of accompaniments made it worth it. Bizarrely, my GP was there dishing up the food – helping out because it’s all in a good cause: apparently proceeds go to the Youth Trust charity. They also serve drinks and cake, and host a small acoustic stage. So basically, a mini version of the Quay Arts and a very civilised spot to hang out.

It looks like I’ll be able to eat well on Island food all weekend – yay!

Saturday 14 June 2008
– The Quay people at the Kashmir must have realised that their tagine/salad combo is comparatively pricey; today it was £6 and was going quickly.

– Word is out about the free tea and cake at Solace: queues every time I passed!

– Returned to Harbour Seafoods to try the seafood paella. Very generous portion for a fiver. What I didn’t realise till I tucked in was that as well as ample chunks of fish, it also contains little bits of something non-fishy: chorizo. Oops. I don’t eat meat. Is salami a traditional paella ingredient? I think in a festival environment you need to be clear, so if it says seafood, that’s what it should mean. It didn’t go to waste though. Ian happily took over and pronounced it delicious.

– Ian also rated highly the Dunsbury Farm lamb roll with mint sauce for £6 (in Strawberry Fields). Dunsbury Farm is in Brook and produces, according to what it says on their van “lamb that tastes like it used to”, i.e. very high quality, properly hung meat.

– Back at the Island food tent, we relaxed on the picnic benches outside with some gorgeous elderberry juice, and “grapple” juice (grape + apple) from Rosemary vineyard (£2 each). I liked the way we were invited to sample a tot before buying.

My impression is that the Island vendors are producing really good quality fare. I hope they do good enough trade to want to come back next year.

Sunday 15 June 2008:
Stopping off at the cashpoint in St Thomas’s Square on the way in it was great to see the outdoor tables of The Wheatsheaf and Olivo’s full of Festival-goers (easily identified by their wristbands and Earl Mountbatten Hospice sunflowers).

Dunsbury Farm stall

– Our own lunch started early as Ian spotted the retro van of the Plaza Ice Cream Parlour (of Cowes) parked up outside the Riverside Centre in a perfect spot to catch people heading for the Festival. They sell Beechdean ice-cream which isn’t made on the Island but is undeniably good, apparently the ice-cream of choice at Buckingham Palace garden parties and the Albert Hall. Ian had a generously scoop each of vanilla and toffee plus Flake in his cone for £2.70. I joined in the taste test and yep, I can’t deny its yumminess.

Vegetable tagine and salad from the Kashmir

Vegetable tagine and salad from the Kashmir

– After enjoying the Delays on the main stage (yes, we were there for the music, too!) we headed again for the Dunsbury Lamb van where Ian this time chose lamb chops in a bun for £6. Why the obligatory white bun for chops, which you can’t eat in a bun, I don’t know. Roast potatoes or mash might have been more fitting on a Sunday. But there were three (yes, three!) delicious chops, so Ian was more than happy.

– We sat and ate lunch on the comfy seats outside the Kashmir, where I returned for more of their vegetable tagine. I was craving salad and veg, and I think what was on offer here was the best deal on the whole site for anyone wanting veggie or vegan food.

– For pudding I returned to the Island Food tent: I am a self-confessed addict of Calbourne Classics honeycomb ice-cream (£2). I know I mentioned it on day one, but I just kept going back for more: that was my third of the weekend. What with theirs and the Beechdean on offer down the road, why anyone bothers with the ordinary ice-cream vans on the site I don’t know. It’s not as if they’re any cheaper.

– I slaked my thirst with elderflower juice from Rosemary Vineyard (£2), while Ian commented that the Briddlesford Farm milkshake, at £1 a cup, was “cheaper than water”.

A couple of final thoughts:
– There’s loads of food on offer at the Festival, most of it from mainland vendors who spend all summer travelling round the country doing just this kind of event. Lots of it is heavy on grease and stodge, both of which I hate. So it’s been great to seek out Island food at this year’s Festival, keep the food-miles to a minimum, and find that the quality (and price) was excellent.

– A final thumbs-up for this year’s initiatives on waste. There are plenty of people at a festival who, like me, will always find a bin for their litter. There are loads of others who, especially once they’ve had a few, won’t, which means before long you’re wading through beer cups and squashed noodles. It’s one of the least attractive things about festivals (you can probably guess the other). But this year there’s a “cash don’t trash” initiative, with a 10p returns policy for recycling each beer cup and bottle. So you’ve got all these kids scurrying around like urchins from Oliver Twist, but instead of picking your pocket they’re after your empties. And you definitely notice the difference in the state of the arena. As I passed the cup-returns point one young lad was handing in a whole mountain. Ten quids-worth, he confirmed when I asked. 100 cups. He was chuffed. Crikey, another 550 and he’ll have got the price of his child ticket back 😉


Isle of Wight Festival: Food 2008

  • Wendy says:

    The food festival idea is interesting, I agree. I know Jersey has what they’ve dubbed a “Tennerfest” every October (, when participating restaurants offer a set menu for between £10 and £15 to encourage people to try local fare. Hugely successful. The IoW could do something similar as part of a food festival.

  • I have to say EXCELLENT review ( as always ) I think that the comment above regarding a one Day or Two day food FESTIVAL would be a VERY VERY VERY cool proposition and an amazing cultural icebreaker.

    Let get the wheel moving.

  • Pete (local) says:

    Dunsbury Lamb, Sorry to say that the spicey lamb chops weren’t. They were cremated, very disappointed

  • Charlie says:

    Well done Wendy, a good review.
    Not being one who can afford to spend a whole weekend at the festival, or would want to, who is up for organising an Isle of Wight food festival with a bit of music thrown in to suit all tastes?
    A one day event to bring all the island producers together so that we all have an opportunity to sample their quality wares, not stodgy grease laden food you find at most events. It does not have to be a big money making event.
    Any takers?

  • kj says:

    The food at the festival is one of my favorite bits and, apart from the IOW based retailers, its nice to see the return of the same people from past years.

    MY special favorite is the Caribean food, something largely missing from the Island.

    I think the prices are extremely good considering the prices at other festivals and the quality and quantity is well up to the price.

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