So I was invited to cover the upcoming UK RumFest for this humble little food & drink blog, as well as for The Other Side magazine (whom I also have begun writing for). I’m quite intrigued, as I normally don’t drink rum, although I have used it to bake with in various rum cakes–particularly a coconut tea cake in the eminent Dorie Greenspan’s amazing compendium Baking: From My Home to Yours that I pour a rum syrup over used in another cake. This is why I love Bundt cakes, people–you don’t need icing, just pour some booze over it and you’ve got magic! Powdered sugar to make it extra-fancy!
The last rum cake I made was a cardamom rum cake, which was all kinds of delicious. My father was certainly a fan.
Anyway, an avid fan and baker of rum cakes am I, but as a drinker, I normally reach for the bottle of Knob Creek, Hendrick’s or Laphroaig. But perhaps I should widen my alcoholic palette a little. Or in the case of the UK RumFest, a lot, for their website promises over 400 different rums to try. I didn’t even know that many different brands and types of rum existed, frankly, but then again, I never really paid attention when I browsed the shelves of Orlando’s Total Wine (aka the Alcho-mall). This will be an edifying experience for me.
Well, technically, there are 400 rums available to try. According to the UK RumFest’s FAQ page, the way sampling the rums works is that each sample is bought with tickets, and you get five tickets in one’s “goody bag” (along with a special glass, a festival guide and a Bacardi Daiquiri voucher). Further sampling tickets can be bought a pound a piece, which is a system that seems to guard against festival participants getting utterly smashedface on rum samples. In fact, the £22 ticket price (£25 at the door) is a price that’s steep enough to discourage quite a few people–especially those looking for inebriation value for their money. With promises of masterclasses and seminars on offer, as well as a “rum chef” who will show festival participants how to use rum in cookery, this event seems more geared towards spirits connoisseurs and those curious folks looking to try different rums–some they may not be able to get or taste anywhere else. When you look at the Exhibitors page, for example, along with more familiar brands like Captain Morgan, Bacardi and Sailor Jerry, there are some I’ve never seen before, INCLUDING “Ron de Jeremy: the adult rum.”
The novelty factor of Ron de Jeremy will win one of my sample tickets alone, ladies and gentlemen. Who knows? It may be the rum I’ll be making wintertime hot toddies out of when the London weather calls for a bit of warmth and spice.
The UK RumFest will be taking place on the 15th & 16th of October, Saturday and Sunday, 12 noon until 6 pm each day. The event will be in Kensington’s Olympia 2 on Hammersmith Road. All rum available to sample is available to be purchased, either through mail-order with the Specialty Drinks online stand or at the festival itself. Various entertainment is on offer in the form of live music and samba/zouk/salsa dancers in various garbs, along with a Tropical Food Area, where elsewhere on the site it says “Caribbean cuisine from Cottons Restaurant Camden will be serving Curried Goat, Jerked Stew chicken, Chick Pea & roast pumpkin Curry and rum cakes.” I’m crossing my fingers for fried sweet plantains, Cuban style.
So yeah, I’m looking forward to this RumFest, especially since a colleague is going to be coming with me, because maybe we can pool our drink tickets and sip each other’s samples. Or I might just try to swipe his drink tickets.
Oh, and P.S.: Anyone know where a girl can get a hold of a Bundt pan in London? Preferably North, Central or East London. Or anywhere that isn’t Harrod’s. Internet buying is ok. Update: I’ve just been told about Lakeland, particularly this, by @thunderstormbun. My bank account is weeping in a corner as it braces itself for an inevitable onslaught that will happen later this month.