Apparently the sun rose but none of us saw it as we were under a thick blanket of cloud and knee deep in mud. The wind blew icy rain against our faces and nearly blew our shelter down so after night one, we decided it was best we kip in the car. While some festival goers numbed themselves from the cold and wet with booze or drugs, my little crew hopped from tent to tent, keeping our bellies full and warm by sampling the delicious food Sunrise Celebration had to offer.
Fresh from the hedgerow, homemade Elderflower champagne flowed like nectar, one of my favourite ciders, Orchard Pig, was available on tap everywhere and when it came to chillin', we got toasty by the fire in the Pukka teepee with a herbal tea in hand. Wherever possible, the food at every stand had to be sustainable, local and vegetarian (except for the hogs they roasted from the farm). There was so much good food, I couldn't mention all of it but I've picked a few of my favourites to share with you:
The Common Loaf Bakery – Best pancakes in the world, EVER!
One of the things I loved about the food at Sunrise was that most stalls offered a wheat-free option, not because it was in the festival rulebook but because they were gluten-freeers themselves. The Common Loaf Bakery are spelt kings. The friendly maté-drinking bearded folk come from a community down in Devon that is part of the 12 Tribes. I wish not to offend anyone by calling them a cult but to us everyday chaps, that's kind of what they are but I must stress they are also very good at baking bread. Half way through a fluffy, American-style pancake dripping with sweet maple syrup, I had to interrupt a religiously-orientated conversation with one of the "brothers" to proclaim to the heavens that these were the best pancakes I'd ever had, ever. When I asked their secret, suspecting that some kind of magic had been going on with the batter, he replied, "It's simply baked with a lot of love." We returned daily for the transcendental pancake experience and after trying one of their springy spiced buns, we strongly considered joining.
Rainbo Food - Gorgeous gyoza
When you're sick of poorly brewed chai tea (it's "the thing" nowadays) head over to the Rainbo van for a cup of warming miso soup and some Japanese gyoza. I'm a fan of anyone who quits their office job to do something kooky, especially if it involves a vintage truck as cool as theirs. Ben and Shrimp started off by selling chocolate at festivals but they wanted something more, something cooked and so for the last four weeks they've been hawking thousands of dumplings to hungry, muddy people. They told me that it isn't as glamourous as it looks and that it involves hours of multiplying dumplings and equating tofu ratios but all that talk became romantic jumble once I bit into the piping hot, meaty flavoured centre. They were only allowed to sell vegetarian gyoza at Sunrise so I'm going to make a special pilgrimage to Leather Lane market in London to taste their ginger chicken and pork dumplings - Food like this just makes me so happy! If you want to know more about their story, Shrimp has a Huffington post blog well worth a read.
Nomad Curries - Curry with integrity
Festival veteran, Rakesh has been doing this for a decade, he's no stranger to the rain and has seen more mud than most of us can imagine. He loves his life on the road but now it's time for him to sell up and settle for a quieter occupation as a massage therapist. It's got to go to the right people mind you - the spices are mixed and fried on site, the ingredients are sustainable, fairtrade and delicious - this is curry with integrity. We went for dinner and got completely soaked talking to Rakesh about life, the gentle evolution of his business from chip van to traditional Indian fare and what's to come next. My chapatti, filled with the heat of a spicy lime pickle kept me warm and afterwards we had a cup of the finest chai tea in the land. Rakesh will not be quitting festivals all together, he runs happiness talks and has written a beautiful book with Thoughts, Quotes and Poems on Happiness. Needless to say, we came away from our meal smiling. Catch Nomad at Buddafield and other festivals this summer and if you fancy taking on something a bit crazy and wonderful like Ben and Shrimp just have, get in touch - Rakesh on 07946 419151
Hayley Harland is a web developer, food writer and one of our freelance festival reviewers. She writes a regular blog at http://thedelectablediary.blogspot.co.uk. You can also find her on Twitter @DelectableDiary