Long post alert!
I bought my tickets for this event months ago, and I’d been counting down the days to it ever since! Local producers, Birmingham restaurants and celebrity chefs brought together in the stunning setting of Cannon Hill Park: this was one event not to miss!
When we arrived, Matt spotted people queuing at a single tent. I defy anyone to see a queue like that, and not go and see what all the fuss is about! Turns out, it was to register to attend the various Tasting Events and Chefs Theatres throughout the day. We booked a couple, and headed to the first: Wines of Portugal with Charles Metcalfe.
At 11:30 in the morning, drinking wine on an empty stomach was an interesting plan. Yes, I know they provide little buckets to spit out the wine at these kind of events, but what sane person actually does that?! Wine is not to be wasted. Ever.
Charles was a fantastic host! We got to sample six different wines from all different regions of Portugal, and the energy and enthusiasm he has for the wines and the producers is infectious: we’re already planning to look into a wine tasting holiday to Portugal! In the meantime, I’ll be getting my hands of one of the many books he’s written, with his wife, on the subject.
We fell out of the wine tent and stumbled over to the stalls on the hunt for food.
What I absolutely love about these types of events, is discovering new foods, brands and producers. Honestly, I get so excited by it. A classic case of this was finding this little gem: Mike’s Homemade Carrot & Cumin Chutney. Like no other chutney I’ve tried before, this is fresh and light, without the usual thick and sticky texture of most chutneys. With one mouthful, you just get this amazing hit of pure carrot and cumin. Beautiful. It came home with me.
I’d met Mrs Mills, of Mrs Mills Cakes, at the KingsEATh Street Food Party last month, and have regretted not buying more of her lovely bakes ever since! Her stand was piled high with deliciousness. I came away with a piece of stunning Rocky Road: a gorgeous combination of marshmallows, ginger biscuits and pistachios.
And oh my, just LOOK at that Salted Caramel Brownie. So dense that it glued my mouth together and I struggled to chew – I mean, it was an absolute dream.
Another Street Food vendor that I’d seen before, but not ever tried (mainly due to my reluctance to queue for half an hour! These guys are always very popular) was Churros Susanna.
Well worth the wait. These were light, but crispy and not at all greasy like I’d expected. Sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon and dipped in a little pot of melted chocolate, these were great. We sat and ate them over-looking the lake before heading back into the now-very-busy festival.
The Cider House, was essentially a bar, in a tent, with bales of hay for seats: we were sold! The bar staff were great, asking questions about how we liked our drinks, to find you the perfect cider match. I was impressed, and his choice for me was spot on: Chaplin & Cork’s Somerset Gold Cider.
Cannon Hill Park was buzzing! People walking around with plates of food, cups of cider and cocktails and the air thick with the smell of flame-grilled meat, I mean, I can’t honestly think of a better way to have spent a Sunday afternoon.
The Chefs Theatre was filling up fast, in anticipation of Aktar Islam’s cooking demonstration.
Dhruv Baker, winner of Masterchef 2010, joined Aktar on stage, and between the two of them, they put on such a great show! Aktar cooked two dishes, which I mistakenly presumed would be the ones in the Show Guide, so I didn’t take any notes at the time. Argh.
The first dish was inspired by Aktar’s travels to Argentina : a very meat-heavy, open steak sandwich. Served with a fresh salad, and topped with a chimichurri sauce, it looked and smelt great! His second, a Keralan monkfish dish, was all about the subtle use of aromatic and mellow spices. Stunning. And I LOVED his presentation of the rice: twisting a handful of rice into a ball using cling film before unwrapping and serving. Genius! Watch out for rice balls coming soon to my instagram feed!!
Just look at this. How could you see this beauty, and NOT buy a hog roast roll?
The bun was filled with stuffing, apple sauce and the pulled pork before being topped with a ladle of gravy and squares of crispy crackling. Castlemoor Farm, you make a damn good hog roast.
We bought a few more things to take home with us, but I’ll be honest, some were eaten so quickly that I couldn’t even tell you what they were or who made them. Food blogger fail right there.
One thing that did survive the journey home was this delicious Chorizo and Parmesan Pie by Hush Hush Chefs. I can’t say that I could taste the parmesan, but it was nonetheless absolutely PACKED with flavour. The extremely generous filling included potatoes, chorizo and grilled peppers. Yum.
I also took the opportunity to stock up on Pip’s Hot Sauce. If you haven’t tried them, then you should. Soon. Now! So good.
Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to put on such a great show, we had a ball! And with such an amazing turn out, I’m really hoping that the Foodies Festival will be returning to Birmingham next year.