Saturday, 4 June 2016

Birmingham Foodies Festival 2016

Reviewed by Dee

After enjoying the 2015 Foodies Festival (click here for details), we decided to book tickets for 2016s.  Visitors were promised Presentations from Chefs, Pop Up Restaurants, Food and Drink Masterclasses, and a number of stalls offering street food, which we were especially interested in.
When we arrived, at about 11.45, there was a small queue, but it appeared to be well managed and we didn’t have to wait too long before we were inside.

We’d booked early so tickets were £17 for two, including a goodie bag and show guide.  The contents of the goodie bag are pictured below;

The show guide was all colour and included recipes from some of the featured chefs, together with contact details for some of the exhibitors and a list of the masterclasses.

After a quick walk around the festival site, we were ready to visit the first stall.

Indian Street Food (no contact details available)
Chicken Tuk a Tuk:  £7
This was our first plate of food.  Served on a naan bread made on-site in a portable tandoor oven.  This was a great dish to start to the day.  The chicken was cooked in a mild and aromatic sauce and garnished with chopped peppers, red onion and raita.  The naan bread soaked up some of the sauce, making every bite full of flavour.  After we finished this I wondered if we’d peaked early, but it turned out that there was plenty more good stuff to come.

Pork Box:  £8
The second choice was Jay’s:  A boxed meal which included Maple Glazed Rib and several chunks of belly pork, together with two types of coleslaw and a piece of corn on the cob.  As messy and meaty as you can imagine.  A great barbeque taste that wasn’t too hot or salty.

Butter Bean and Sweet Potato Curry:  £5
After the first two meat-laden plates of food, we decided to see what the options were for meat-free meals.  On the savoury side there wasn’t a huge range but I was attracted by the Butter Bean and Sweet Potato Curry offered by Coco Labelle.
They were offering a fusion cusine inspired by their Sicilian and Caribbean backgrounds and the curry was rather good and at only £5, a total bargain.  The stew was mild and delicately flavoured with fruit and coconut milk, and came with rice, salad and three different relishes.

Cape Malay Burger:  £6
Cape Lekker were offering South African street food, which included mainly meat based dishes such as burgers, Boerwors sausages and Bobotie.  We chose the Cape Malay Burger, which consisted of a good sized and nicely cooked burger patty served in a large, soft bun with cheese, gherkins, shredded onions and dried apricots.  There was also a home made sauce on top, but this was all soaked up by the bun so I couldn’t taste it, which was a shame.
Jay wasn’t taken with the apricots, but I didn’t mind them, and imagined that they would have gone down very well with a hot and fruity sauce.

Spam Fries:  free sample
We couldn’t leave out the sample of Spam fries that we tried while browsing the stalls.  The Spam company were going for the marketing and promotion in a big way and were hosting cookery demonstrations (spambled eggs anyone?), tastings and a food truck from which they were making the aforementioned fries, which were basically made from spam which had been cut into chips and dry fried.  After only ever eating it raw in the past, I was impressed with how it tasted cooked, and after the festival we bought a tin of it to experiment with.  Local business Pip's Hot Sauce also had a stall at the festival, so I bought some of their Kick Ass Ketchup to enjoy with the spam fries.  We’re too full to cook them for tea tonight, but will be enjoying this combination soon.

Traditional Flapjack:  £2
As soon as I saw that there was a Flapjack stall at the festival, I was in no doubt about where I would be getting dessert from.  This Devon based business sell flapjacks in a huge variety of flavours, including some rather intriguing savoury types.
I’m very fussy about my flapjacks, so decided to see how their base recipe stacked up.  My £2 got me a very generous slice and I am pleased to say that it was very good.  Crumbly, though not overly so, with the right balance of quality oats, syrup and butter.
Future visits to this stall, if I see it again, will include Devon Cream Tea, Smoked Chocolate and Sea Salt, and I may have to try out the Devon Cheddar and Chilli.

Chocolate and Churros (no contact details available)
Churros and Chocolate:  £4
These were Jay’s choice.  Crunchy deep fried batter dusted with sugar and cinnamon, served with chocolate sauce - yum.  By this time I was getting close to full so I only had two or three, while Jay finished them off.

At about 2pm we were both happily full, and with the festival starting to fill up and queues building at most of the stalls, we decided to call it a day, but before we left the site we had one final stall to visit.

The Silent Pool gin distillery is based in Surrey, at a site near a spring-fed pool, which supplies the water for their gin.  We had a small sample earlier on in the afternoon, and were impressed with the pronounced juniper flavour and more subtle spices such as citrus, coriander seed and kaffir lime leaves.  The gin was on offer for £35 so we bought a bottle.  I look forward to trying a glass with a fresh kaffir lime leaf garnish.

And that was our 2016 Foodies Festival.  There was plenty more going on than we have covered but we could only sample so much of it. 
As we left there were still people arriving, and with it carrying on tomorrow, it looks like it is a continuing success story in its Cannon Hill Park home.

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