Special Dispatch: The Gastrodome, The Hay Festival
The Hay Festival 2007
by Blake Pudding
Do any regular readers of the LRB inwardly wince when they see a “special dispatch” review rather than an honest to God London one? I do. It just seems that they are rubbing in how often they go on holiday and to such unusual places: Tokyo, Malawi, Hastings. I think in this era of environmental self-righteousness such reviews should be banned or at least carbon offset by planting extra trees.
Anyway, talking of self-righteousness I was at the Hay-on-Wye literary festival. The weather was ghastly and I had been rudely turned away from the Green Room by Gordon Brown’s heavies. There was only one place left to go - the Gastrodome.
Amongst the general backslapping, preaching-to-the-converted smugness that surrounds Hay, this place really took the proverbial organic biscuit. Eggs were from rare breed hens and came in different colours, bread was left-leaning and the cheese was of the kind used to sabotage fox hunts in the days when such things were allowed. It was also delicious. Trying eggs this good made me realise how little flavour supermarket eggs, even free-range ones have. The only minuses were the insipid ethically produced coffee and the champagne which was organic, thin and green. As I sat there wondering how much this was going to cost, I realised that I had gate-crashed a publishers' party for Booker favourites Thomas Keneally and David Mitchell. My stomach full of delicious food and free champagne, my head full of literary conversations, I was ready to face the Welsh weather.