Birmingham’s Cannon Hill Park is typically a wonderful place to be on any given day, but for this weekend in particular it is playing host to an extra enticing event: The UK’s biggest food festival!
From 23rd to 25th June, Foodies Festival sees the park come to life, with crowds of food and drink enthusiasts all hungry for any foodie freebies they can get their hands (well, mouths) on. But an amazing selection of freebies and tasters (which I will go into later) isn’t the only thing that this festival has to offer food-lovers: with Michelin-starred chefs showing off their skills in live-cooking Chef Theatre sessions, and Cake & Desserts Theatre sessions led by the winner of Great British Bake Off 2016 herself, Candice Brown, there is also a lot of gastronomical wisdom to be gained by attending!
I had the pleasure of attending the event yesterday (Saturday 24th) after spontaneously booking tickets on Friday. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was very pleasantly surprised! Overall, there was such a fantastic atmosphere; so many people in such a great place, all united by their passion for food created quite a buzz of excitement in the air.
Here’s a run-down review of some of my personal highlights from the day…
When you attend a foodies festival, you of course go with high hopes for tasting lots of different types of delicious food and drink, but sometimes the quantity of tasters available can disappoint expectations- not here! There was so much to try that me and my boyfriend were at the festival from 11am until 2:30pm and didn’t really ever stop grazing. Here are some of my top favourite tasters:
- Kombucha: I’ve heard of Kombucha before but never knew what it was, as it turns out, it is fermented green tea- which is much better than it sounds. Trying bluberry Kombucha, and Kombucha with a ginger kick was extra delicious knowing that it is so healthy- completely guilt free!
- Unusual Cheeses: Sure, the Chilli & Lime cheese was amazing, as was the Peri Peri cheddar, but have you ever tried a pastel pink Wensleydale with Prosecco & Raspberry? Or Sticky Toffee cheddar, with toffee pieces, dates and raisins? They are as yummy as they sound.
- Toffee Vodka: Speaking of yummy, toffee-flavoured things, a particularly great taster was Kin Vodka’s Toffee Vodka spirit, I swear I could drink a whole pint glass of this stuff straight, it just tastes so good!
- A Taste of Barbados: Caribbean food combines some of my favourite flavours, I adore coconut, pineapple, jerk bbq, hot peppers, and I am obsessed with ginger. So tasting all of the rum cakes, sauces, and seasonings available from The Great Taste of Barbados was definitely a highlight- I especially loved their Ginger Beer Syrup.
What could be even better than scoffing all of those tempting tasters? Freebies of course! Here are some of the favourite freebies I have brought home in my foodies festival haul:
- Popcorn-on-the-cob: Yes, that’s right, actual organic popcorn ON THE COB. I don’t know why exactly but I just feel so excited about this! You twist the kernels off the cob then pop and flavour them yourself, and I can’t wait!
- A little drop of lovely: After being refreshed by a pint of Belvoir’s delightful Cucumber & Mint Pressé (and taking a photo with their famous balloon) I was gifted a pretty little you’re lovely trolley coin keyring, a you’re lovely sticker (I just love stickers okay) and a little drop of lovely car air-freshener, which smells soo good.
- Achiote marinade: Trying out new marinade flavours makes me very happy, so finding out that I had a packet or two of Wahaca’s Achiote Marinade in my foodies festival VIP goodie bag was such a treat! I mean, just read this description and tell me your mouth isn’t watering: “Brick red in colour with a sensational tangy, fruity flavour, […] this Yucatecan style marinade is made from the ground seeds of the annatto tree, with a hint of cumin and cinnamon”
As if selling your fantastic food and drink wares from a little red and white striped stall wasn’t good enough, some vendors apparently just have to go that extra mile when it comes to their plot. These are the top four quirkiest ‘stalls’ (and best photo opportunities) at the Foodies Festival:
- Pimms Giant Teapot:
- Captain Morgan Rum Galleon:
- Bar Bus:
- Plantation Rum Giant Head:
As mentioned earlier, stuffing myself wasn’t the only reason for attending the Foodies Festival, I also learnt some valuable things:
- How to make a Toffee Vodka Cheescake: As well as giving out food and drink, so many stalls were giving out fab recipes, I’m particularly excited about my Toffee Vodka Cocktail/Pudding recipe cards, and my Riverford recipe for Cajun Pork Escalopes.
- Which beers go with what: Thanks to my There’s a Beer for That guides, I know which beers to match with which cheeses, how to select the perfect beer depending on the dessert, and that chicken satay is the perfect snack to eat alongside a wheat beer.
- How to order Paella: Okay, so I already knew this, but I did enjoy the chance to practice speaking a bit of Spanish with the owners of an amazing paella stand (and before you think I was stereotyping, they did have a big sign that said “Yes, we are Spanish!”)
I’d definitely recommend that anyone, serious foodie or not, give this festival a go (we all love food!) I’m sure I’ll be returning too, because to be honest I can’t believe that I’ve never been before! Just in case you aren’t tempted enough, I’ll leave you with a few more photos from my awesome day (of a variety of delicious desserts)
(The Foodies Festival is still going on today in Cannon Hill Park today, Sunday 25th June, until 6pm! It also appears in other UK locations including Bristol, Newcastle, London, Edinburgh, and Oxford. Click here for more information!)