Foxy's Festival Food Guide

I am just back from an amazing 5 days at the Reading Festival.  We made sure we bought early passes so that we could set up camp on the Wednesday instead of the Thursday, giving you a bit more space to choose where to camp and also time to explore where you are!

This was my first festival experience, and I only held back because I was genuinely quite scared about going.  I had no idea what to expect, from camping, toilets, water, alcohol, the people, to how the arena was set up and all that jazz.  Every festival is different, and so are the experiences!

Now I am a food blogger, so I won't go into a vast amount of detail about the above.  The key items to take to a festival:

  • Your own toilet roll, even into the arena.  The first day of the arena opening and all is well.  Day 2 onwards, not so much.  Don't get caught with yer pants around yer ankles shouting for toilet roll!

  • Plenty of bottled water.  We left a 6 pack of water in my car, thinking "we can just refill at the water point".  If you're Scottish, then don't expect the amazing fresh spring water we have.  It's chemically infused hard water, ideal for brushing your teeth or rinsing away muck.  Only ingest as part of an emergency!

  • Sanitising hand gel & wipes.  The toilets don't have sinks, and are commonly referred to as "shit pits".  Take what you need from that and make sure you clean your hands as often as possible - ESPECIALLY before eating!

  • Warm jammies.  Even though it was blisteringly hot during the day, it can get chilly at night time!

  • An air bed.  The ground was rock hard, so much so that we struggled to pitch the tent.  Maybe not all festivals are like this, but if you are sleeping for 5 days on hard ground you could do some damage to that temple of yours.  

  • Decent footwear that ISN'T new.  Picture a dusty/boggy field that you will stand in for about 8 hours a day.  Converse, yes.  Wellies are a must have.  Carvela wedges, definitely not.

What I was concerned about was what food to take to the tent.  We all know that festival food is going to be expensive, stodgy and amazing when you're drunk (which can only mean that it's terrible for you).  I've made a list of things we did take, and learned we should've taken, after 5 days of slumming it.

Cereal Bars


 The cereal bar is highly under-rated.  When you wake up with a groggy head, feeling like there's a boulder in your stomach and the thought of drinking again makes you want to curl up into the foetal position, these are actually pretty great.  The three above were the ones we decided to take down with us; light and easy to digest.


Remember to take snacks!  Festivals are really expensive, and although they have small convenience shops it's always best to take down what you know you like.  Plus, when you're sitting drinking at your tent for a good few hours, the last thing you want to do is trek to the shop to buy biscuits and crisps!

Savoury Items

You don't want to overload yourself with sugary foods, as the crash after alcohol & too much sugar will be horrendous.  Crisps, popcorn, breadsticks, crackers, nuts and all that kind of food is much better to snack on too, instead of a constant flow of biscuits.  I learned this one the hard way.

Bagels, Breads & Spreads


This is food I wish we had taken.  Bagels & bread don't need to be kept in a fridge, so if you know the weather isn't going to be that warm then they can stay at room temperature for a couple of days.  We were going to take a cool box, but basically didn't.  Taking a cool box filled with ice packs allows you to take sandwich fillings, bread, milk and all sorts.  We had about a 7 hour drive, so it maybe wouldn't have lasted more than our first day, but if you aren't travelling as long then I would recommend it.  You could even take sausages, rolls and burgers and have a barbecue on your first day! (Just remember and buy a disposable barbecue).

I had an amazing time at Reading, and I've realised how much I've missed out on by skipping festivals!  If you ever get the chance, you should really go for it.


A Special Post - Buca Di Beppo, Newcastle

 I've referred to the fact that I'm living down in Newcastle for the moment.  When I'm not out eating in the city centre, I've been eating at the hotel which I'm currently living in.  As a bit of a secret, I've been taking pictures of all the meals I've eaten from their menu, including the specials, to do this special blog post about the variety of delicious foods that have been available to me for the past 6 weeks.

Usually I have some anecdotes and stories to weave into the dining experience, however being a busy bee I've had the pleasure of ordering room service to save me time, and continue working (or napping... usually the latter).

The restaurant Buca Di Beppo is based within the Village Hotel, a lively 4-star establishment with all the amenities and add-ons you could possibly need: swimming pool, gym, spa, sauna, bar, restaurant, Starbucks and amazing Upper Deck rooms which I have the pleasure of living in!

Without further ado, ladies and gents, and all in between, please cast your eyes on the amazing meals I've had over the past 6 weeks (and try to remain calm...)

Grilled salmon fillet served with tomato, anchovy, capers and olives;  side portion of chunky chips.

Seabass fillet on a smoked salmon and chorizo risotto, dressed with rocket and vinaigrette 

Bucatini con Polpette: Tubular pasta tossed in an arrabiata sauce with homemade meatballs and baked with cheese

Smoked salmon and tomato linguine with a parmesan sauce

Penne bolognese bake topped with ricotta cheese

Lasagne al Forno with a side of mozzarella topped garlic bread

Spinach & Ricotta Tortellini in a Parmesan and pine nut sauce (with a cheeky cider!)

Spinach & Meatball Calzone

Burger Della Casa: Smoked mozzarella on a beef burger patty, balsamic onions and prosciutto.  Side of Parmesan fries too! 

Gnocchi stuffed with cheese and tomato, served in a tomato and mozzarella sauce.  Ordered with a tomato and basil salad (and a peach Bellini).

And breathe.  This is only a small selection of the wonderful meals I've had; some were too good and therefore had to be devoured immediately, and others, the pictures wouldn't do them justice.

If you're interested in visiting Newcastle, I would recommend staying at the Village hotel.  You can see they offer amazing food (even more available at the Victory Bar) and beautiful, comfortable rooms that are just a stones throw from the city centre.

A bit of a different post from me, but it's been a strange week so why not keep that theme going?

Contact Details:

Buca Di Beppo
Village Hotel
Cobalt Business Park
West Allotment
Newcastle Upon Tyne
NE27 0BY

Tel: 0844 980 8030

Wheelchair access: Yes


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A Time Warp I'd Gladly Get Stuck In - Ate O' Clock, York

Aah, the old family trip to York.  Pretty much as soon as we returned from our last trip, we booked this one.  You may remember my post about GBK, which provided us with some sensational burgers to kick start our day.  Then there was the review of Nineteen, which offered a small but devilishly good menu.

So how do you top such amazing feasts?  It's simple - you book to go to Ate O' Clock.

Set back from the street, you walk through a magical alleyway filled with flowers, brightly coloured chalk boards and mini street lamp lighting.  The place has an almost "Alice in Wonderland" meets Narnia feel to it, and it is wonderful.

The restaurant is somewhat small, but spaced out enough that you're not eating your dinner out of another guests hood.  There are stunning big clocks all over the walls stopped at 8pm - luckily, they also provide a working clock so you don't feel like it's Groundhog hour.  They also had some French vintage decor, which really gave a homely feel to the place.

Behind us on the wall, there was the biggest specials board I have ever cast my eyes on.  So many starters and main courses to choose from, and this was on top of the huge selection in the menu.  I decided to choose something easier first, so looked at the wine list...

The top picture is of my delicious red wine (which I'm really starting to adore again).  Unfortunately the menu online differs slightly and it doesn't have my ruby beauty on it, however I believe it was along the lines of Aspen something-or-other.  It had a good warmth to it, with a hint of cherries and chocolate.  Perfection with my starter (which I am about to reveal!).  My sister ordered the Pinot Grigio, bottom picture, as she likes hers dry and bitter.

Menus were shut.  Napkins were unwrapped.  Waitresses appeared.  The choices had been made, and I could not have been more excited.  To begin, I went with truffle infused brie, served with spiced strawberry chutney and toasted sliced bread.

I was enthralled, and then some, with this starter.  I have an unhidden fondness for melted cheese, and this was right on the money.  The brie was warm and dripped off of the warm, crusty bread.  The spiced strawberry chutney was surprisingly delicious, and was a match made in heaven for the cheese.  I couldn't taste any truffle in the brie, but I wasn't disappointed as quite frankly I was in my element regardless.  A wonderful starter that I'd be sure to order again and again.

My sister and father went for the Marinieres mussels...

I tried one of the mussels, and they were just perfect.  Fresh, meaty and coated in a luscious creamy sauce.  The portion was also massive; it's a rare day when my dad is the last to finish his courses!  These mussels were perfection, and not a scrap was left.

Mark decided to go for marinated Mediterranean vegetable tart,  garnished with toasted pine nuts...

When asked to describe his starter, the response I got was "I'm not being funny, but it tastes Mediterranean."  Thank you for that Mark.  He did say though that it was delicious, and not a crumb was left on his plate.  Perfect for the vegetarians or light eaters!

Once our plates were cleared, I was ready to devour my main course.  A nice surprise we got was that they have a man who sings live.  He has a lovely voice, and really set a calming, relaxed atmosphere for all of the diners.  I was so busy listening to him and chatting away, I nearly forgot how hungry I was.  Until my Gressingham duck breast coated in a red wine gravy, with a red onion tart and dauphinoise potatoes was set in front of me...

I did enjoy this meal.  The duck was cooked to a perfect pink, meaning that it retained its succulence.  The dauphinoise were fluffy, coated in a dreamy, creamy cheese sauce and baked to a golden crisp on top.  The red onion tart was a bit odd - it was literally half an onion baked into a pastry case.  I did expect a bit more, perhaps the red onions to be caramelised and filling the pastry to add a sweetness.  The duck was beautiful, however the dish as a whole was a bit bland for me.  I hoped for a bit more punch from the concoction before me.  I still really did enjoy it, but I would perhaps order something else from the menu.

My father, true to carnivore style, went for the sirloin steak, with peppercorn sauce, a side of chunky chips and a mini colander stuffed full of vegetables...

This steak was simply beautiful.  I don'y like my meat cooked well done, but even I could have scoffed the full thing and not made one criticism.  The chips were absolutely amazing; so fluffy and flavoursome, served in their own cute little basket.  I loved the mini colander that the vegetables came in, I thought it was a brilliant aesthetic to have!

Mark ordered the roasted pork fillet filled with smoky chorizo, sun blushed tomatoes, served on a bed of wild mushroom risotto, and garnished with apple compote...

This dish smelt fantastic, even though we know I have a keen dislike for mushrooms.  Mark raved about the mini apple-esque fruits atop the pork, which he said were amazing.  Again, a cleared plate and happy face to mirror those around him.

I said further back that there was a man who serenaded the diners.  Well, I had said to my family that I really wanted to hear "Vincent" by Don McLean, as it was one of my favourite songs.  Needless to say, as I tucked into one of the best desserts I've ever had, when I heard the soft guitar music playing my song, officially Ate O' Clock topped the ranks for favourite restaurant in York.

My dessert was a chocolate truffle tart, served with vanilla ice cream in a brandy snap basket and a berry compote...

I was in Heaven.  This truffle tart was one of the best things to happen to me this weekend, and it's no word of a lie.  The chocolate truffle was almost mousse like, with a light texture but a densely rich and chocolatey taste.  Based on a crumbling pastry base, it was sumptuous.  The ice cream and fruit compote really just rounded it off for me.  I didn't particularly like the flavour of the basket, however it is such a small part of what was a perfect dessert.  I'd have eaten fifty times the amount I got, given the chance.

My sister and father both ordered the Limoncello trifle, which I have to say was outstanding...

This was unlike any trifle I had ever tried.  I usually thought of the soggy, pathetic attempts you see at church outings or going for sixty pence in Asda.  This was as light as air, with a gentle lemon taste.  The whole dessert was crafted to sheer perfection, and I cannot stress enough how beautiful this was.  I prefer chocolate, but I could have eaten this dessert too without so much as a look of hesitation.

After our beautiful 3 course meal, we enjoyed the sounds of the singer, the happy chatter of surrounding diners and relaxed into the dim glow of the lights.  It was a perfect evening, with friendly staff who couldn't have been more genuinely happy to serve you.

The bill, I hear you cry.  Four starters, four main courses, three desserts, two glasses of wine and a man who telepathically knew to play my favourite song.  A grand total of £125, which is less than £35 a head.  I am so, so utterly pleased with this and urge you to try Ate O' Clock.

Get yourself to York.  Go to the dungeons and scare yourself.  Head to Elvington and drive a sports car you'll never afford.  Then, go to Ate O' Clock to feast like a King (which you can afford).

You won't regret it!

Contact Details:

Ate O' Clock
13A High Ousegate

Tel: 01904 644080


Wheelchair access: Yes