To put it mildly, August in Edinburgh is rather jam-packed. Between the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the International Festival, the Art Festival, the Book Festival and the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, there is an astonishing amount going on in the town. The number of people that descend on the town is also astounding, and I’m pretty sure that the population at least doubles. To throw one more festival into the mix, the Foodies Festival Edinburgh was held in Holyrood Park last weekend, from Friday 12th to Sunday 14th August.
I went to the Foodies Festival two years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed it. However, I hadn’t really seen anything about it since then, so I’d assumed that it had stopped or something. And then, out of the blue, I saw it mentioned on Twitter last week. Craig was just as eager as I to investigate, so we decided to go along on Saturday (I even managed to come across a voucher for 2-for-1 tickets. Win!). Who said Twitter and BBM were just for instigating riots? (Bad taste?) Anyway, thanks to a couple of days of monsoon-like rain, Holyrood Park had turned into a bit of a mud bath and they had to delay the opening of the Festival on Friday whilst they put hay down everywhere. It was still thoroughly muddy on Saturday, but nothing that a good pair of wellies couldn’t handle.
There were rather more drinks exhibitors than I remember there being two years ago, and gin seemed to be particularly well represented. Which is perfectly fine with me. Within about ten seconds of our arrival we’d already managed to find ourselves at the Hendrick’s stand, which I think wins the prize for most elaborately decorated stand. They had a bath-tub of rose petals, cucumber slices and “gin” (I assume it wasn’t actually gin – I feel that would be a bit of a waste), shelves of bottles and other curiosities and a 6 litre bottle of gin (which I’ve since been informed was empty – gutted). However, whilst Hendrick’s is utterly delicious, it is a well-known brand, so we ambled off with our taster G&Ts to explore the rest of the Festival and in search of some new discoveries.
I was happy to see that Edinburgh Gin had a stand, although I suppose that’s hardly surprising considering that we were at a food festival in Edinburgh. A relative newcomer to the ranks of gin (I believe it was launched a year ago), I first came across it in June, and have since noticed it in a lot of high-end bottleshops (the fact that I’m in Edinburgh probably also has something to do with that). I love the gin itself – it’s full of botanical flavours – but I also love the packaging.
Another newcomer to the gin scene is Darnley’s View Gin, which I’d read a review of on The Gin Blog a few weeks previously but hadn’t yet had the opportunity to taste. The first time we were at the stand they were doing straight gin tasters, which is not my usual way of consuming gin and, I’ll be quite honest was a bit too strong for me to actually taste anything except the fact that it was gin. The second time we went to the stand, they’d added tonic to the tasters and I was able to ascertain that it had quite a floral taste and that I rather liked it.
I think that’s enough about gin (I should probably add that this post isn’t chronologically accurate – we did start off with Hendrick’s, but didn’t quite do back-to-back gin tastings before lunch. We had wine in-between.). There were quite a few wine sellers there as well, including The Vintner who were there in their Citroën van called Hugo. We tried their prosecco, and two different whites, one from Southwest France and the other from Spain (if I remember correctly – this was towards the end of the afternoon) both of which were surprising in that they weren’t really what we were expecting. They were both lovely and fresh, and very drinkable…
We also discovered that apparently we look like we can each afford to spend over £200 in one go on a case of wine. (I can assure you that this most definitely is not the case.) This became clear when we accidentally managed to end up having a full-on wine tasting from an importer whose name I forgot to write down (I need to be more organised!), tasting whites, reds, prosecco and champagne. They were all very good, particularly a German red that we tasted (I’d love to give you the name, but I forgot to write it down, too. Fail.), which was very interesting because although I’d never really tried German wine before I didn’t really have a great impression of it. The wine that intrigued me the most was a sparkling German red, but unfortunately they didn’t have any with them at the festival. So that still remains a mystery.
There was also a huge variety of food exhibitors – from cakes to flavoured oils to meats to chocolate, there was a bit of everything! There were a lot of tasty samples available (and some not so tasty) which kept us going for most of the day, and the only non-taster-sized food we ended up having were crêpes as a semblance of lunch and an absolutely delicious venison burger towards the end of the afternoon. I feel Simple Simon’s Pies deserve a special mention though, because they are absolutely delicious. I first discovered them at the Foodies Festival two years ago and I was desperately hoping they’d be there again this year, which they were, hurrah! I’m very picky about my pies, but these come in a huge range of flavours and are made from the freshest ingredients, always locally-sourced where possible.
There were, of course, a few exhibitors whose offerings weren’t really “my cup of tea.” A fruit wine producer from Wales, whose wines weren’t exactly fantastic (actually, the one I tried was gross. But he came all the way from Wales so I feel bad being overly critical). He also had fruit liqueurs, some of which were palatable. There was also a fudge producer offering passionfruit fudge – not a good combination, although their other flavours were yummy. A few cake stands with unappetising cakes were also present, but then everybody has cakes they like and don’t like, so that’s just me being picky. We only went to one of the “masterclass” events, which was a wine tasting done by the Edinburgh School of Food & Wine, but it was rather disappointing – I wasn’t really a fan of any of the wines chosen and I didn’t feel that it was all that informative either.
Overall however, I thoroughly enjoyed the Foodies Festival! I love that it showcases local producers and food-related businesses of all sorts, and I think that can only really be a good thing. If I’m ever in Edinburgh again whilst it’s on, I think I’ll definitely be going again…
Oh and in case you didn’t believe me about the mud, this was the state of our wellies by the end of the day (apparently I’m better at getting muddy than Craig):
Enjoy the rest of your day (mud optional, but gin recommended)!