For ten years now, thousands of people up and down the country have been gathering for a festival which celebrates one thing which we all have in common: food. Every year Foodies Festival brings together some of the UK’s best artisan producers and offers the chance to sample and shop from their unique and varied selection of goods.
Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Edinburgh Christmas Foodies Festival. Despite it being only the middle of November the main hall was in full Christmas mode: stalls laden with red and green offered egg-nog and mulled wine from great vats, while live singers performed festive songs.
The festival hosted food shows with special guests who included Great British Bake Off Contestant Flora Sheeden and Masterchef winner Jamie Scott. The experts prepared their specialities while discussing the best techniques, and they answered questions from the audience. There was a fantastic choice of street food including Indian curries and foot-long locally made hot dogs, all washed down at the beer stand or the Champagne Ski Bar. There were over 150 stalls in the food market itself, all offering generous samples of their produce. It was a wonderland for food lovers. As cliché as it sounds, there really was something for everyone – from exotic flavours of tablet to locally made gin; from jams and cordials to spreadable chorizo. I’ve selected five of my favourite stalls.
One of the best things about the festival was the opportunity it provided to support local and independent businesses. Based in the Scottish Highlands, Saladworx produce artisan salads, herbs and dressings, and they use some truly unique flavours. All their leaves are grown naturally on their small farm without unnecessary chemicals, and their salad dressings are handmade with fresh ingredients including delicious blends of traditional Scottish herbs. My favourites were their Heather, Honey and Arran mustard dressing, and their Hebridean Seaweed and Lemon dressing, both of which are available on their online shop.
Valvona & Crolla
What Christmas is complete without a few Italian sweets? Valvona & Crolla sampled charming classics – deliciously fluffy panettone and rich paneforte. This family business have three restaurants in Edinburgh providing traditional Italian delicacies and they also have an online shop. Their barista also made an excellent espresso doppio which sustained me on my long walk around the festival.
Great British Cheese Company
Lovers of cheese would not have been disappointed at the Foodies Festival. It was a challenge to choose my favourite cheese stall but the Great British Cheese Company from Cheshire won me over with their quaintly British selection. The award winning “Drunken Monk”, an exquisite mature cheddar with caramelised onion and red wine was my personal favourite.
From locally distilled Scotch whisky to “boozy” mustard, alcohol was a popular theme of many of the products on offer at the festival. In fact, there was such a variety to try that I was almost tipsy just from all the free samples. One drink I particularly enjoyed was Kin’s uniquely flavoured vodka from Cumbria, apparently inspired by the beautiful scenery of the Lake District. Their toffee vodka was a little too sickly for me, but I thought their fresh mint flavour truly inspired.
The fabulous Mademoiselle Macaron brought some French elegance to Scotland with these delicately sweet and chewy treats, all of which were gluten-free. All the classic flavours were there as well as some unusual ones, including Earl Grey, Hendricks gin and even Innis & Gun. There’s something quite luxurious about a smooth, shiny macaron (and at £1.20 each they’d have to be a luxury), but they never disappoint. Mademoiselle Macaron have a pâtisserie and cafe in Edinburgh where they also serve local and ethically sourced tea and coffee.
Photo Credit: Julien Haler @ Flickr