For this edition I have moved a few minutes walk from Granary Wharf along Water Lane to Temple Arches where Chow Down Winter Village has been set up. It has grown so much since its early days on this site that it almost lives up to its name and is in grave danger of having to elect a Parish Council.

The organisers of this event have taken the precaution of putting a roof over the whole site and have added a couple of extra features which means that there is a lot to do other than eating and drinking. I didn’t realise that there was anything else in life other than eating and drinking but I am always open to suggestions.

There is the bar section where alcoholic beverages are available as well as the ever changing roster of street food vendors. Although Covid restrictions have been relaxed the system for ordering food and drink is still the same here with utilisation of a bar code on each table which links you to the menus of each outlet. A click on the required dish, accompaniments and drink, sends your choices to the various stalls, your credit card details take care of the payment and a member of the waiting staff appears with the vittles, and a smile!

Boeuf Bourguignon
Bloody Big Bratwurst. That’s all the Bs covered, I must go back to taste the rest of the alphabet.

I was dining with Simon Fogal of Chapter 81 who is one of the organisers and a man of much more sophisticated taste than I, so he had Boeuf Bourguignon on a bed of mash, whilst I had a XXL Bratwurst. He did let me have a taste of the beef which resulted in immediate food envy.

As well as the booze and food there was a rather good soul band playing for the delectation of the revellers. The singer managed to get those around the stage involved in some audience participation which added atmosphere and made everyone forget that it was the first of the really cold days of winter. The heaters also played their part and I found the comfort level more than adequate – once the metal seat of my chair had warmed to body temperature that is. Talk about putting colour in your cheeks!

I thought that I would take a stroll around the complex to walk off the calories so I climbed the stairs to the first floor Curling Rink, from which I took the feature photograph, meaning that even that panorama did not give a complete picture of the place as the rink was behind me. A couple was in highly competitive mood playing the game but obviously not too much so as I saw them later seemingly still good friends.

Inside Hütte

On the ground floor of this structure is Hütte, a separate indoor bar with dance floor. This looks like the perfect place for an office Christmas bash, although this year I imagine that most people’s workmates comprise the kids and the dog.

Opposite Hütte is the Christmas Tipi, a large tent serving hot drinks as well as cold. Tipis are quite the thing this year as my later articles will show.

Chow Down have done an amazing job here which is reflected in the fact that there are very few tickets available for the season which runs until New Year’s Eve. For bookings please go to https://www.festicket.com/eventgenius/chowdownwintervillage/ I suggest signing up to the mailing list so that you get notification when further releases are made.

Good luck with getting in, I am sure that you will love it if you do.

Thanks to Chapter 81 and Chow Down for their hospitality

All photographs by Stan Graham

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