From a distance Goose Fair assaults your senses with a blanket of noise and a sea of light, once inside, walking along the paths between the food stalls and the rides, your senses are assaulted by the smells and sights of the food. As you duck to avoid bags of pink candyfloss or other sugary sweet snacks hanging from the eaves of the stalls, you can see the hotdogs and burgers grilling, the onions are frying, and kebabs are turning on the coals. Pots of mushy peas bubble away and hot steaming sugary donuts are pulled from the fryers. It is difficult to know where to start the eating and also where to stop.
So you may have guessed this blog post is about some down and dirty trek looking for Fairground Food and other assorted Carnival Snacks. It could be an entire post about Mushy peas of which the fair is flooded with stall after stall offering this most yummy and delicious of all green pea based snacks. Light controversy will abound if you start a conversation regarding this little feast. I recalled and located a nice little story about Mushy Peas at the fair that I saw a number of years back in the Evening Post by Erik Peterson.
The peas that I favoured the most were these ones that were being cooked up in big steaming pots under the sign claiming to be ‘The only traditionally cooked peas on the fair”. In this weeks Nottingham Post there is a brief note about the people who makes these peas (have a look here to see that article)
I was in the mood for some sort of a meat cob, perhaps a Roast Pork Cob, or maybe some Pulled Pork. I found what I was looking for at the Heatherhill Farm Stall where they were selling the farms ‘Home Reared Meats’. On their site they tell us that they are ‘a small family run farm nestled in the valley bottom of the Hope Valley.’ where their ‘family have been farming in and around the Hope Valley for four generations.’ They travel to ‘food fairs, Carnivals, Game fairs and Country shows nation wide‘ and also can be found at Farmer’s markets in Derbyshire (Buxton, Bakewell, and Belper)
I tried a cob filled with some of their Pulled Pork for £4.50. It wasn’t bad at all, a decent amount of juicy meat mixed with a nice tangy BBQ sauce. Apart from the Roast Cobs that you might expect them to have they also had an interesting offering of a pot of ‘Cheesy Beans’ (baked beans and cheese) that I could have been tempted by on another occasion.
I didn’t plan to eat any pizza here at the Goose Fair but as I walked along the path filled with vendors I came across the Speedough Pizza Trailer who had a wood fired oven and were offering 90 second pizza’s. The oven is built into the back of a 1963 Citroen HY and with temperatures of 450-500C they said the pizza would cook in 90 seconds. I decided to check that out and asked for one topped with Salami and Chorizo for £5.99. I think it may have taken just a little longer than that to cook in the end but not too much. It was a fair effort a nicely charred thin base that was topped with molten cheese, a scattering of salami and chorizo discs, and a sprinkling of cheese on the top as well. It was (as you would expect) seriously hot having just been pulled from that hot oven and it was a very tasty affair. The slices were a bit floppy for my liking, I was hoping for a crisp solid crunch of a base. Perhaps cooking a little longer may have achieved that desire. Still none-the-less a good effort.
There were plenty of places to buy a donut, we had these freshly made ones in the bag. Not as sugary as you might expect but still filling enough to line the stomach for a scary ride. To be honest I like mine with jam in.
After we had eaten those I was instantly in regret and wished that we had gone to the ‘Dutch Mini Pancakes’ stall instead. They we selling ‘Poffertjes’ which are small fluffy pancakes, a traditional dutch snack. They were tipping them out of the pan mould as we walked by. (Note to self don’t let the stomach and eyes decide all the time).
If you have your heart set on a burger, a sausage, or even a bacon butty, then you really need to heads over to Johnny Pusztai’s Stall over by the Homemade café on the City side of the fair. Serving up all the quality products from JT Beedham & Sons in Sherwood, this is the place to be if you want a really good high quality sandwich at a good price. They are award winning for a reason and it is worth waiting a while until you find them before eating.
If you wanted to try something a little different from the typical fairground fair then you should look no further than the Pomegranate Stall who were serving up ‘Authentic Lebanese Cuisine’. There stand was set up to look like a buffet table in a nice restaurant. The pick of the table for me was their ‘Moorish Street Chicken Wrap’ for £7. It is a good entry level dish if you have not tried this food before, the chicken is seasoned with a Moorish spice mix of cumin, coriander, sweet paprika, turmeric, oregano, salt and pepper. Simple but tasty.
There is plenty of fairground food at Goose Fair to cater for all tastes and for all budgets. I loved walking around amongst the crowd looking at all the vendors and sampling bits and pieces as we walked.
I suspect that most people will be hitting up those pots of mushy peas and having a hot dog or burger of some sort. Whatever you choose, eat it guilt free with all the joys of the carnival!
Nottingham Goose Fair is located on the Forest Recreation Ground next to The Forest Tram Stop covering the park and ride site and some of the surrounding fields.