After a short walk from the city centre out to Cannon’s Hill Park in the blazing sunshine, we were already ready for a little nibble and something to drink. We were presented with a real festival atmosphere, already in full swing on an absolutely faultlessly beautiful early June day. There was a rum bar in the shape of a pirate ship, a small stage for musical performance, lots of kid friendly activity and hundreds of foodies already getting stuck in with all of the food and drink stalls and the three main presentation tents for talks, demonstrations, tastings and masterclasses. Absolute paradise.
|Tunes in the VIP tent!
Naturally we had VIP passes, so we got ourselves a coffee and a biscuit in the VIP tent while we orientated ourselves and booked our seats for the sessions we wanted to attend and had a little nosy in the goodie bags we had been given – both of us happy to have received a jar of pesto, because you can never have enough pesto!
Then we started our wander round the stalls. There was a vast array of different goods on offer – from full meals to buy to samples to try and everything in between. I absolutely adored the fun folk at the Snowdonia Cheese Company – their smokey Beechwood is to die for and the subtle flavour ing of the Green Thunder is something to behold.
We also got some vegetable seeds to plant and some tasty pasta dishes to try from Seeds of Change, tested cuisines from all over the world both savoury and sweet, and we even tasted Spam chips whilst watching a Spam cooking demonstration. Yep. Probably the craziest thing I’ve ever seen in my life, but that guy did make a pretty impressive fajita out of the tinny meet stuff. We had chicken wings in a spicy Caribbean sauce and… well… who am I kidding? We did try some food, but not much. Naturally, as a wine writer in my heart I managed to turn the Birmingham Foodie Festival into a celebration of all things alcoholic.
The very first stall we hit after the VIP tent was Silent Pool Distillers. Based in Surrey, their standard gin is made with 24 botanicals and the spring water filtered through the chalk at, you guessed it, the Silent Pool. It was a delicious light gin, full of citrus flavours with notes of orange, honey and pear. Smooth enough to drink on its own, it was an instant classic for me. The Boy also loved the fresh strawberry flavour of the Strawberry and Gin cordial, made with their locally grown fruit, which would pair beautifully as a refreshing summer spritz with Rothley Wine’s Sparkling Orion.
We also attended a brilliant beer tasting session with award winning beer know-it-all Melissa Cole, who was an entertaining, knowledgeable and deeply engaging speaker. I particularly liked her discussion of checking for ‘friends, passengers or paddlers’ in your glass. We went through a number of samples – the Caledonian Three Hop craft lager, which was herbal and light, but still surprisingly full of sweet, caramel, malty flavours. Also from Caledonian came the Coast to Coast pale ale which was much fruitier but still had some earthy notes – although that one didn’t impress us as much, we thought the flavour was quite flat – perhaps it had been too long in the bottle?
Next up was the Fraoch from William Brothers Breweing an intriguing heather ale which was delicate, floral and herbal as you would expect but still packed a lot of body and structure from its malty elements. Finally the next from Williams Brothers was the Redact red lager – definitely the best name and the best beer! An American style red ale it had brown sugar, grapefruit as well as floral elements -the combination of citra and calypso hops making a beautifully complex session beer.
Anyway, as I’m sure you can imagine, I’ve got blog fodder for months out of that day, so stay tuned for the wines we tasted and a whole lot more. Fabulous day!