Taste of London is what I would call the god of the food festivals. Therefore, it is difficult not to compare every food festival I go to with the magnificence, decadence and pure delicious that is Taste. However, I decided I must make more of an effort to learn how to develop an opinion and check out the Foodies Festival in Clapham Common last weekend.
Apparently the UK’s largest celebration of food and drink, Foodies Festival returned this summer (is it summer? It’s freezing), for its seventh year, and for the first time the travelling event came to Clapham Common. Woo hoo.
Whilst this festival is packed with culinary activities and food – everything amateur cooks, wannabe bartenders, cake-decorating enthusiasts and ravenous beasts could want, it lacks that ultra high-class quality that Taste has.
I know I’m a food snob, but my main problem was that there were amazing restaurants like Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa, Randall & Aubin with its head chef Ed Baines giving a demo at one of the live sessions, Gaucho BBQ, etc. but then you have restaurants like Masala Zone, a low-priced, canteen-like chain? It just doesn’t match up. I know that Masala Zone shares owners with Chutney Mary, Veeraswamy and Amaya – some of London’s longest-running and best-respected Indian restaurants, but for goodness sake then, get those restaurants to have stands at the festival not Masala Zone! I have nothing against chains whatsoever, I mean hey chains are quite important and sometimes necessary (have I mentioned I love McDonalds and hello Chipotle is a chain too and we know how much the beast loves Chipotle), but you can’t advertise high end restaurants alongside chains for the same festival – there’s too much of a disconnect. Is Foodies Festival trying to attract everybody so they’re throwing randos into the mix so no one thinks it’s too high end but at the same time not alienating people who like high-end expensive restaurants? Not sure what the intent is here.
Now that I got the negative comment out of the way, I feel much better.
I was at the festival for about 8 hours (and I have a sunburned nose to prove it), and I can honestly say it was a great experience because it wasn’t too crowded as these things tend to get sometimes. There was plenty of seating and spacious grass areas for lounging and napping off the evitable food coma — really well laid out festival.
Not as many free samples as Taste either. With the exception of the Ginger Grouse people who were a bit over zealous with their samples.
Masterchef 2012 winner Shelina Permalloo was presenting the Chef’s Theatre, where well-known chefs held 45-minute classes. I sat it in a lovely demo at the Chef’s Theatre put on by one of the chefs and butchers from Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa where I learned how to bbq pork. Scrumptious.
The three-day festival also had a Cake and Bake Theatre, featuring baking sessions from Great British Bake Off’s Manisha Parmar. There was also a Wine Village, Street Food Avenue and a Children’s Cookery Theatre with workshops for younger foodies. Lots of stuff happenin’.
Now onto the important things. Food consumed by the beast includes: chorizo and mozzarella skewer (or lollipop as they referred to it. Hmm don’t know about that one.) from the Batch Pig. Concept was nice but the chorizo was more sweet than it was spicy and I like a good fiery chorizo.
Margherita pizza with truffle oil from Pizza Pilgrim. Sourdough crust was amazing but not enough cheese by far! There needs to be an actual layer of cheese on a pizza, not splashes of it.
Ribeye steak sandwich with Chimmichurri sauce from Gaucho. Surprisingly very bland. I got bored halfway through this sandwich.
Cherry flavored gelato from Fiona Sciolti Botanical Chocolates. Excellent.
Goat cheese and black pepper flavored gourmet popcorn from Joseph’s. Absolutely amazing.
Other highlights of sampling (and having eaten at these establishments before) included: tiger prawns from Randall & Aubin; different infused olive oils from Terra Rosa; Shorrock’s Farmhouse Lancashire cheese; amazing sharp cheddar cheese from the Cheshire Cheese company; Bath Soft Cheese from Wyfe of Bath; the ‘tea party’ by Vintage Feast; different flavored rock salt by Flavour Magic; and various exotic concoctions of the beloved marshmallow from the Marshmallowists. Props as well to the ‘Cheeky Italian’ food truck, which had the most aesthetically pleasing set-up but seemed to get very few customers.
There was also a little bit of a farmer’s market-esque feel with plants and herbs available to buy, in addition to Riverford Organic offering vegetable delivery services for a week in order to help people eat healthier.
All in all, a really fun and pleasant experience — would definitely go back next summer if I haven’t been deported.
Now, bring on Taste!