Don’t you just love summer picnics and nostalgia all beautifully wrapped and then unveiled in a bygone era?
Hi, I’m the MD of Streetzine, last week I reached out on twitter for street food traders who grow and sell their own produce to contact me and be part of a new feature. I had cooked up this idea whilst daydreaming of living the good life! alas, I am no Felicty Kendall but I’ve been watching with great envy and delight, the adventures of Bessie the caravan, which when the lovely Karen was the first to get in touch, I was shall we say “over the moon” Karen & Bessie not only revive the memories of bygone times but they are doing it with class, style and above all, gorgeous food with provenance and sustainability like no other!
Here’s what Karen is doing, it’s the epitome of true provenance and sustainability, whilst still giving the discerning customer, gorgeous home grown food and drinks, served with buckets of love and lashings of nostalgia on the side…
Here’s Karen’s lovely story about Bessie and her adventures…
“I have a smallholding and use eggs from my chucks / ducks – they can’t keep up so my farmer friend helps me to top up! I make homemade sloe gin to make a slow gin meltdown, cherry brandy for cherry fizz, elderflower cordials etc from our hedgerows. Also nettle bread, rose hip syrup. Apples and blackberries for pies and crumble cakes.
Bessie the Caravan – ‘A unique, memorable and personal vintage experience with good food, good company and a touch of nostalgia’
During 2012, I decided to create a new business venture that would combine my love of vintage, my enjoyment of the countryside and the joy of baking. I was lucky enough to have a beautiful smallholding within the Kent countryside and wanted to utilise both the space and the foodie resources it naturally provided me with. The idea of Bessie was born and I haven’t looked back!
Bessie is a lovingly restored 1960’s Cheltenham Fawn caravan that is adorned with bunting, antique linen and beautiful vintage china. Visitors can enjoy homemade afternoon tea or Kentish picnics with ancient woodlands and river walks nearby. Families and friends can enjoy lazy days together and even bring their tents for a nostalgic camping experience. Bessie also travels the UK for private events e.g. weddings and birthday parties and can also be seen at vintage fairs, classic car events and foodie events where visitors can enjoy Bessie as a pop up tea room.
Wherever possible I use homegrown or locally grown produce and many people within the local community kindly supply me with their glut of fruit and vegetables. Most of my own produce is naturally foraged from the farm and includes wild nettles – we all have them- and they make a delicious bread. Elderflowers for a wonderful summer cordial or topped with wine for a refreshing spritzer, apples and blackberries that can be used in so many ways but my favourite is a frangipane apple and blackberry cake, rose hip syrup tops ice cream a treat. An exciting site that livens up the journey in to winter is the Blackthorn bush bursting with the little jewel like sloes – bitter and really not worth trying picked from he bush but after the first frost (or after a few hours in the freezer), pricked and steeped in sugar and gin it turns into the most glorious drink. I choose to add a few secret spices to mine and leave it for at least a year until it mellows into a heavenly, velvety drink. My speciality drink is a Sloe meltdown – a warmed shot like no other! Even without much space, herbs and soft fruits can be easy to grow for producers and Bessie has her own window box with strawberries, Rosemary and mint during he summer months.
Bessie has travelled all over the UK sharing home baked goodies using home grown and Kent produce, including the British Street Food Awards, Trinity Kitchen in Leeds and numerous private and public events. I must admit I’ve got a bit of a Cheltenham caravan addiction now and Bessie has been joined by three others. From this summer, after the hay has been harvested, guests can come and stay in one of the restored vintage caravans and enjoy the Kent countryside – just close to the historic city of Canterbury, the cinque port of Sandwich, the High Street of the year – Deal and many other lovely seaside towns including Whitstable, Broadstairs and Margate”.
Watch this space for foraging parties coming soon, together with the very knowledgeable and fun author and forager Lucia Stuart.