This Saturday and Sunday the Portsmouth Seafood Festival will be taking plaice at Gunwharf Quays. The event has grown in size and continues to celebrate the city’s seafood and fishing heritage. You will be provided with the opportunity to sample some of the Solent’s finest cuisine while learning a few tricks and tips from some of the United Kingdom’s best seafood chefs.
The Alfresco Stage will have cooking demonstrations throughout the day, all of which will be hosted alongside The Outdoor Barbecue Chef, Cornelius Veakins. CJ Jackson of the Billingsgate Seafood School can be found on the Theatre Stage showing spectators how to prepare fish from catch to plate. Some of you may remember CJ from her recent appearance on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch. CJ will be joined by her colleague Ron from Billingsgate Fish Market as well as an incredible line up of local chefs.
Making their Portsmouth Seafood Festival debuts are the Crabstock Boys, Adrian Bartlett and Andy Hunting. The pair met during a chance meeting at a food festival in 2012. Since their friendship blossomed they created Crabstock, its sole purpose is to promote the United Kingdom’s Seafood & Shellfish Industry and to try to inspire us to eat more of the great produce that can be found within UK waters.
You will also find pop-up seafood stalls from restaurants like The Fisherman’s Kitchen, Old Customs House, Loch Fyne, Las Iguanas and Strada. To quench your thirst there will be a Champagne, Rum, Wine, Beer, Ale and soft drinks for the drivers and little ones.
I encourage gin lovers to seek out the Winchester Distillery’s Twisted Nose Gin. The distillery was launched by Paul Bowler in 2014 from his tiny kitchen in central Winchester, although is now based a few miles outside the town in Old Alresford. Inspired by their involvement with the Watercress Festival held in Alresford every May, the distillery created Twisted Nose. They describe that the gin combines ten botanicals including our locally grown watercress to create a spirit that is intense, fragrant and refreshing. The watercress adds sweet herbaceous notes and a peppery sparkle to the finish.
Festival sponsor, Black Chalk Wine, will be hosting a ‘meet the winemaker’ experience during the festival. There will be one 30 minute slot per day which will allow a select few people to learn more about English Sparkling Wine in general and about Black Chalk Wine from the award-winning winemaker Jacob Leadley. They will also be giving tasters of their wine while Jacob talks you through the story. Availability will be restricted so please email [email protected] now to reserve your plaice.
The two must try beverages at this year’s event will be Winchester Distillery’s Twisted Nose Watercress Gin and the Bishop Slayer Oyster Stout.
Owner and chef at The Blue Bell Inn, Giles Babb, will also have his own premium seafood pop-up in the main arena sharing two of his biggest passions, Oyster Stout and Seafood. Giles will have a few barrels of Bishop Slayer Oyster Stout which was brewed in partnership with Staggeringly Good.
Bishop Slayer is named after an infamous incident in 1902 that dragged Emsworth’s reputation into the mud – the Dean of Winchester Cathedral, The Very Reverend William Stephens, died of food poisoning following a banquet containing oysters from the town! His death was attributed to the somewhat unhygienic conditions in Emsworth harbour at the time and sparked the Great Oyster Crisis of 1903.
The event aims to promote and raise awareness of maritime conservation issues. The issue of single-use plastics was brought to the social conscious of the masses after it was highlighted during the second season of Blue Planet. Focusing on this issue locally is The Final Straw Solent Campaign which aims to reduce the use of single-use plastics along the Solent.
Long before Blue Planet was aired on TV, the artist Kevin Dean was becoming increasingly concerned about the amount of plastic waste that was being washed up on the beach near his home in Southsea. He began designing a large stainless steel fish sculpture, 6 metres long and based upon the sea bass, a species that is often caught in the Solent. The sculpture was named The Big Fish. Its belly would be partly exposed to reveal a typical range of plastic rubbish that could be collected from Southsea Beach. Kevin will be at at the festival over the weekend to continue to spread the message.
The Solent Oyster Restoration Project is led by marine conservation charity Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) and is restoring the native oyster (Ostrea edulis) to the Solent. BLUE is working with fishermen, scientists, authorities, local businesses and the communities of the Solent to carry out this work and has so far restored over 20,000 oysters!
The event aims to promote and raise awareness of maritime conservation issues. The issue of single-use plastics was brought to the social conscious of the masses after it was highlighted during the second season of Blue Planet.
The whole event is free to attend and will be open to visitors from 10 am until 8 pm on Saturday and 7 pm on Sunday.