The Pommery Dorset Seafood Festival is an annual summer food event that happens in Weymouth. My mum and I have been going for the past three years, and last year I wrote a review about it which I wrote a review about here, and it's become almost like an annual family tradition to indulge in the seafood offered at the event every year.
The event spans over two days, Saturday and Sunday, and is usually in July - right in the middle of mine and my mums birthdays so it's like a birthday treat. We love seafood in our family and you can't get any more fresh than the offerings by the seaside - especially the oysters which are my favourite.
The first stall we hit was full of king scallops and king prawns - the smell was delicious! Food is cooked right in front of you so when you get your little shell of goodness, not only is it mega fresh but also hot. Our scallops and king prawns were fried with chorizo and lime, and the scallops came in a shell plate (we actually have our own little collection going at home now!). I love scallps - the texture and the taste is just magnificent. Even if you're not a huge seafood lover, give these a go because you might find them more meaty than other shellfish (of course if you're allergic to shellfish, please don't eat them). The king prawns were a little tricky to peel standing up, but if cooked on the grill I actually sometimes eat the prawns with their shell on so it wasn't too much of a drama.
Next we spotted some grilled mackerel so we came over to find the delicious grilled fish, chilli and garlic octopus and some clam popcorn! Usually we know mackerel to be a tinned fish, but it is incredibly tasty when grilled or fried with a little sea salt and lemon. Chilli and garlic octopus was delicious as I love octopus, but some people may find it a little weird in texture if you're not used to seafood. Clam popcorn was so much fun - it didn't taste of seafood at all really so even if you're not a fan you'll love it. The second stop was also time for a cheeky glass of Sangria!
We then stopped off at a fish and chips van where we picked up some tempura prawns with sweet chilli sauce and salt and pepper deep fried calamari with tartare sauce - oh my heaven, the calamari was one of the best things I have eaten EVER. It was super soft, even though it was battered the taste of the squid really came through and the piece of seafood just melted in your mouth... We all enjoyed tempura prawns as there was quite a lot in the cone and mum, Liam and I enjoyed the sunshine and sone chit chats whilst digging in.
Wondering further down the pier, you could find all sorts - lobsters, crabs, mussels, cockles, whelks, eels... Whatever your seafood loving heart desired! Every year, lobster is in demand and is one of the first things to go so if you're visiting in 2016 and hoping for a piece of lobster, snap it up quick! There was grilled lobster with chips, lobster tails with steak in rolls, lobster salads - basically everything you could ever want from a lobster.
There are also fridges full of chilled, cooked fresh seafood where you can buy pots of your favourite foods and enjoy them on the go.
After all the snacking, believe it or not you can actually get a bit peckish for some more hearty food which is roughly when you get to the middle of the festival round and you can find paellas, curries, noodles and pizzas. We decided to go for a Caribbean red snapper curry with rice and some added hot sauce - the portions are pretty big so we took one to share between three people - it was actually quite filling, and equally delicious. I love curries and spicy food so for me this was seafood curry heaven, plus it was nice to try more Caribbean food which we will try to recreate at home.
On the other side of the pier, we finally stumbled upon fresh oysters with Tabasco and shallot vinaigrette - now this is my absolute favourite food of probably all time. Like I love pizza, I love sushi but I will go to great lengths to get a top notch oyster. I know quite a few people who don't like them because of texture and I have to be honest when I tried an oyster for the first time about 4 years ago, I was a little squeamish of them too - but when I tasted one, I knew that I would love them forever. You get an oyster, optionally add some Tabasco or shallot vinaigrette, then swig it back! Chew a couple of times and if you can add some champagne to it then fantastic.
After walking the entire length of the festival, we decided to pick up some final bits of our favourite food and sit in the sunshine by the edge of the pier. We grabbed another selection of oysters, some deep fried whitebait with tartare sauce and mussels cooked in thyme and white wine vinegar sauce - delicious. The day was so beautiful, it wasn't too hot but the wind wasn't chilly either and the scent of seafood drifted around the while pier.
I would highly recommend the trip to Weymouth for anyone who loves seafood - it takes us around 1.45hrs to get to Weymouth by car and it's worth it every year. I already cannot wait to come back next summer! There are also options for people who don't like seafood, so don't be put off if you want to have a family day out but are unsure of what others can eat - pizzas, noodles, paellas and stir frys are all also available as vegetarian options and there are plenty of traditional fish and chips.
You can also do a little shop whilst you're there - stalls sell local cider, oils, chutneys, cheese, vinegars, breads and olives as well as some home accessories made locally from wood and other materials like clay or porcelain. There is also fish cooking demonstrations, auctions, fishmongers and activities for kids to get involved in - the Pommery Dorset Seafood Festival is just a simply fun and delicious day out.