Last month after running Race For Life we drove to Hamilton Racecourse for the Ginger Grouse Festival of Food & Drink Raceday. I was knackered but excited about the foodie stalls and trying the races for the first time. To be honest, the event would never have been on my radar but the lovely people there had sent me complimentary tickets. Usual price is £18/20 for adults. James Martin from Saturday kitchen was also going to be doing cookery demos and there was a champagne masterclass.
My first impressions of Hamilton Park were positive – it was grander than I expected & in good repair. We spent the first fifteen minutes just wandering round the racing side and the stalls.
We were starving and looking forward to a foodie lunch and picking up food to make dinner. The first stall that I saw was for Inverness fudge (go sneck!), then one selling chocolate fondue but the next one was Pimp My Burger. Not exactly what I was expecting at a food festival! Luckily the next thing I spotted was a whole pig for pulled pork rolls so my spirits were lifted.
There was another burger stall from Overton Farm, another burger stall from somewhere else, Summer Harvest were there selling their rapeseed oil and there was some dark ale being sold. The rest of the stalls were pretty much bars so I had a refreshing beer.
I can’t lie – I was looking for the cheese, meat, homemade pasta, fish and lunches with a bit more imagination. We bought some rapeseed oil but that was all so we had to nip to the shops to get dinner after we left. I expected it to be like a little version of Partick Farmers market or the European market at St Enoch. If they’d had even three more good stalls I would have been happy but with the quality of food festivals in the West of Scotland now I wanted more.
As luck would have it, a James Martin demo was starting soon so it was off to the Parade Ring Marquee. He was making lamb and fried fish – both dishes looked good but you did not get to taste them. James himself came across like a really nice guy and was able to explain exactly what he was up to in detail. I found it highly amusing when he was explaining where different cuts of meat come from using an audience member bent over!
The lamb dish is something that I would make at home, I’ll be keeping an eye out in the butchers. James very kindly posed for photographs with anyone wanting one (yes, I was one of them).
Now it was racing time. A lovely man at Betfred explained how it all worked and I placed my first horse-racing bet. I was confused about the programme because it contained races that weren’t being run there – I got excited because I thought Frankie Dettori was going. I don’t really want to highlight my blondness but it might help first-timers. After choosing our horses we went right to the front ready for the race. You don’t actually see the horses start except from on the screen and I couldn’t figure out where they were. The atmosphere was lively with lots of cheering and shouting.
We never won but we were there for the food anyway. The event had also put activities on for children like a magician, putting green and bucking bronco as it was a family fun day. We don’t have children but I was tempted to go on them myself.
I’m so glad to have gone because it is always good to try new experiences but I’m just not sure it was quite for me.