Monday, 18 May 2015

Birmingham Foodies Festival 2015, reviewed by Dee

The 2015 Birmingham Foodies Festival was held from Friday 15th May to Sunday 17th May 2015, a bus ride away from Birmingham City Centre, in Cannon Hill Park, opposite Edgbaston Cricket Ground.

Jay and me booked tickets for Saturday 16th May and travelled to and from the venue by bus, mainly in order for us both to sample the craft beers were to be on offer.  Seeing the bus slowly fill up with people the closer we got to the venue was an encouraging sign, as was the bright and clear weather.
On arrival, we found the venue to be a decent size, with plenty of room to walk around and find a spot to sit.  We’d remembered to pack a picnic blanket, but could have managed without it as the ground was dry enough.  After finding out that the event programmes cost £4 each, we decided instead to make our own way round the festival, relying on our eyes and noses to choose our food stalls for us. 

Goulash Valley
I spotted a Hungarian flag above one of the stalls, and after heading over to check out the stall, discovered Goulash Valley, who were serving a selection of Hungarian food.  As with most of the stalls at most food festivals we wanted to try a bit of everything, but that’s just never practical, so we went for a sausage served in a wrap, and goulash served in a cup.  The sausage was served in a wrap with sauerkraut, salad, mustard, barbeque sauce.  We didn’t get a photo of it as it looked too messy, but tasted great.  The sausage included the characteristic Hungarian Paprika and contained far more meat than fat, which was good to see and taste.  The goulash was a much simpler affair, consisting of beef, potatoes and stock laced with caraway seeds and that was about it.  The beef was a little on the fatty side but not unpleasantly so.  I quite liked it without the peppers and dumplings which so often get added and may now try making it this way myself in future.

Once we’d finished our first dishes and taken a walk round the festival area, Jay wanted to check out the talks and hopefully book into one or two.  The only problem though was the queue, which at about 1pm looked like this;
Initially deterred, we walked away with “maybe next year” thoughts in our heads, but quickly changed our minds, deciding that it would be a shame to miss out on something special.  Besides, we weren’t in need of more food, having just left the Goulash Valley stall, so joined the end of the queue.
The talks were listed on a board outside the registration tent, and were crossed off as they became booked up.  By the time we had reached the registration tent, one of the talks that we wanted to attend was booked up, but we managed to book places on a Sherry and Food matching presentation, and one on Beer Tutoring and Tasting.
We made the right decision to queue for tickets though, as both presentations were excellent.  I’ve written separate reviews for them which can be accessed via the links below;

Once we’d booked our tickets we were ready for some more food.  There was a noticeably large number of barbeque and pulled pork stalls, making for a very crowded market place.  In the end we didn’t try any of them. 

Raclette Stall
The second stall we visited was serving up Racelette, described as an Alpine Pizza, which was similar to an Italian pizza but with thinner dough and stronger cheese, and more of it, on top.
It was cooked in 90 seconds in a large wood-fired oven at the back of the stall.
We shared the Raclette, as we did everything we bought in the end, between us, and both enjoyed it very much.  Definitely something we’d order again.  We chose the simplest option, but there were several other options and a choice of toppings.

As we enjoyed our Raclette, we pitched up next to a tent serving Gin and Tonics, and playing 1920s jazz.  This was to become our spot to enjoy our food for the rest of the day.

Crispy Duck Wrap Stall
Jay fancied a Duck Wrap, as the Raclette was my choice, and we managed to enjoy one before the start of the first talk at 2.30.  The wrap was generously filled with shredded meat, hoi sin sauce, chopped cucumber and spring onions.

Mrs Mills Makes Cakes
Our first desserts of the day were bought from Mrs Mills Makes Cakes, who it turned out was based in Birmingham.  There were lots of lovely cakes and bakes on the stall, but we settled on a slice of Salted Caramel Brownie and one of Rocky Road.
The Salted Caramel Brownie was so good I named it my Best in Show.  It consisted of a soft dark chocolate brownie with deliciously rich salted caramel sauce running through the middle.
The Rocky Road was also very good but the brownie really was something extra special.

Exotic Tagine
For our final savoury feast of the day, we visited the large, busy and colourful Exotic Tagine stall, which was serving up various Moroccan dishes.  There was a wide range of dishes, both vegetarian and meat based, on offer and I was pleased to see that they were offering a mixed platter, which I went for.
This consisted of spiced lentils, couscous, chicken stew, lamb stew and falafel.  There were good tastes all round, but the lamb was the clear winner, with its spicing including what could have been a hint of cinnamon.  I added some harissa for a bit of extra kick, but this wasn’t made on the stall, as the rest of the food on the platter was, and had too much salt in it for my taste.

The Original Goodfillas Company
Our final food stop was with the Original Goodfillas Company, who were offering crispy filed pizza dough.  They were offering several savoury variations but it was the Nutella and Peanut Butter dessert option that proved irresistable to me.  When one of the stallholders complimented me on my choice and added that the staff enjoyed the same at the end of their shifts, I knew I was on to a good thing.
What we got was similar to a calzone, but it had been fried rather than baked, to give it a bit of extra crispiness.  It was piping hot and needed a minute or two to cool down before we cut into it.
The molten chocolate and peanut butter flowed out of the dough into a sweet, delicious mess that made for a glorious end to the day’s feasting.
While writing this review, I noticed that a few of our fellow bloggers had also tried this diet-busting dessert and seemed to have loved it as much as we did.
Too many of these would not be a good idea for obvious reasons, but for an occasional indulgence at an event such as this, it’s ideal.
A special mention must also go to the staff, who were all great and keen to hear feedback from their customers.

Once we’d finished our Goodfillas super-desserts, we were well and truly full, so all that was left was to pick up a few goodies to take home.

In conclusion, we found the event to be well organised with a friendly atmosphere.
Children appeared to be well catered for, and there was a designated play area together with events aimed at younger visitors and families.
I think it would be worth looking into the possibility of booking onto talks at the same time as buying event tickets, to cut down on queueing time at the event itself.  A few more womens’ toilets would also help to alleviate queues of a rather more urgent nature.
That said, the facilities that were provided were of a very high standard.

There are similar Foodie Festivals taking place across the country, and if they are all similar to Birmingham’s, we are happy to recommend them to anyone considering trying one out.

2 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. It had about three desserts' worth of calories but was seriously good 😃

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