Sunday, 4 July 2010

Foodies Festival, Roundhay Park, Leeds

We went to the Taste Festival in Millennium Square two years ago and it was great! For some reason, it stopped – you can go to Taste London and a few other places but the Leeds version was no more. So imagine my delight when I found out that a different food festival was setting up in Roundhay Park for the weekend. And that free tickets were available online!

So off we trotted to Roundhay Park on Saturday morning (well, we took a cab – you can’t drive to a food and drink festival – it’s just wrong). Meeting up with Sarah T and N at the entrance, we were immediately approached by a man bearing gin and tonics with a slice of cucumber and ice – lovely and refreshing – a promotion for Hendrick’s gin.

The festival had lots of free tasting opportunities – we sampled beers (Thwaites Wainwright went down well with the lads), cheese, ham, vinegars, chorizo..... and even toffee vodka!

Deliciously Yorkshire stalls.....

There were also plenty of places selling food – we had fresh Whitby scampi (from Whitby Seafoods), steak pies and lots of other grazing opportunities. A great little place was selling Caribbean food, so the lads had curried goat and pork jerk –both declared excellent.

The main restaurants offering tasting portions of their dishes (£5-7 each) were Aagrah, Thai Edge, Moorish and Dough Bistro – we decided to try the latter having not heard of them before – they are based in West Park, far Headingley.

I had wild mushroom and creamed spring onion puff pastry tart (great tasting mushrooms).......

Sarah enjoyed seared fillet of long horn beef, marinated in soy, ginger, coriander and chilli. The lads had octopus, slow cooked in rioja. This restaurant apparently doesn’t have a licence, so you can take your own wine and they won’t charge you corkage! We are definitely going to try it at some point.

The Veuve Clicquot tent was selling small bottles of champagne (200ml) for £9. Sarah and I had a bottle each and a sit down. Our verdict was that this is not our favourite champagne – quite sweet with a not so lovely aftertaste. I am a much greater fan of prosecco at the moment!

Toast bar and bistro had a tent where you could buy pimms, wine and beer – all quite reasonably priced. Just outside was a live music stage where festival-goers sat on the grass and enjoyed the sun and the drinks.

In addition to all the stalls, there were chef’s theatre events – we tried to get into the Harvey Nichols chef session, but were a bit late eating somewhere else and missed it. We did attend the Yorkshire Post wine tasting event, however, with Christine Austin, the YP wine writer. An opportunity to try a white, rose and red, with a commentary about the origins of the wines. An excellent session.

We also attended a food masterclass with Alea Casinos – “Cocktails and Canapes”. We were shown how to make cosmopolitans and mojitos, along with some canapés – these were handed round for us to taste (not enough to go round, though, which was a shame).

The overall verdict is that this was a great food festival – lots of opportunities to taste new foods. Caribbean food is something I have not tried before, so it was great to have a taste of jerk pork and curried goat!

The food and drink masterclasses, along with the chef’s theatre, are a great idea. You could quickly pick up free tickets for these events at the entrance to the festival. My only criticism is that it would have been nice to have a few more restaurants offering tasting portions for sale of their signature dishes. At Taste Leeds there were Harvey Nichols, The Star Inn, Malmaison and many others. At Foodies Festival, there were fewer, although it was good to discover Dough Bistro.

You could easily spend a whole day at one of these events. I intend to keep my eyes open for more food festivals in the future, so feel free to post suggestions in the comments box if you know of any!

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