A few weeks ago, my mum and I attended the Edinburgh Foodie Festival (12th-14th Aug). We were really looking forward to watching michelin star chefs demonstrate their skills and to sampling local produce.
It was a cloudy day but it was dry so we couldn’t complain and we figured that it would be less crowded because it wasn’t sunny.
We arrived in plenty of time at Holyrood park and were second in the queue to go in. Imagine our disappointment when 12 ‘o clock rolled around and we were told that due to bad weather we would not be able to go in until 3pm!
I’ll admit that the past few days had been quite wet but this is Scotland for goodness sake! What do you expect?! However, even though there had been no rain that day they had failed to prepare for the mess that the tractor made going in and out to bring the tents etc, which turned part of the walkway into a mud slide. For this reason Health and Safety said they could not open until the ground had been sorted.
So, slightly disgruntled, we left and had a walk up the royal mile, which was lovely. I’d recommend a visit to The Fudge House (www.fudgehouse.co.uk). The Cappuccino and Triple Chocolate flavours were especially yummy.
We steered clear of the actual fringe as it was teaming with people and we couldn’t be doing with the crowds.
Also, I had a good laugh when mum misread this sign as ‘The museum of Chi Dhood’.
She thought it might be some kind of Scottish martial art! Which I think it should be, who’s up for running classes?
After our Royal Mile stroll, we arrived back at Holyrood Park at 2.30 and there was already a long queue. It also didn’t look much different from when we left. I snapped a picture through the fence as we waited.
When we finally got into the venue they were still putting up signs etc and some demonstrations still couldn’t start as there was no electricity for the stove or the fridge. Bit of a shambles if you ask me!
We walked around the stalls for an hour or so because there was so much to see. There was everything from ciders, wines and whisky to oatcakes, Jerk chicken and cheeses. Not to mention all the free samples which were excellent. Lavazza coffee were giving away a goody bag with two 50g coffee samples, a keyring and £1 off their coffee to use online or in a shop.
I tried some tablet from one of the stalls which claimed it to be the best tablet in the world. But I was confused when the taste and texture was more like white chocolate fudge. The chef told me that the secret is to add a little bit of white chocolate at the end of cooking to really “bring it back to life”. Though I have to say I missed the crumbly texture and rich toffee taste of proper tablet, so I was a little disappointed.
The upside to the delayed entry was that less people turned up and so there was plenty of room in the theatres so you could just walk in and out as you wished. Unlike the other two days where places had to be booked and were often gone before most people got a look in meaning out of all the classes someone might want to go to, they were only permitted to attend one.
We popped into the Food theatre and watched a chef from the Edinburgh school of food and wine demonstrate a Butternut Squash Ravioli with Caponata and a Rocket garnish. Caponata is a bit like ratatouille when it is hot but can also be served room temperature or cold. Now I really don’t like butternut squash and I’m also not a huge fan of capers, olives or aubergine so I wasn’t expecting to like the dish at all. But I loved it and can’t wait to try and replicate it in my kitchen. Stay tuned for the results…
He prepared the butternut squash by halving it, removing the seeds and filling the gap with some olive oil, fresh thyme and garlic. He then wrapped it in foil and baked it in the oven. The thyme and garlic went extremely well with the squash giving it a more savoury taste but maintaining its sweetness. The sour acidity of the caponata brought a balanced contrast to the dish.
Pasta must be flavour of the month at the moment because next we went to see fresh ravioli being made in the Chef’s Theatre as well.
Here’s Mattia Camorani of Hotel Missoni, preparing the pasta for the filling.
He made an amazing spinach and ricotta ravioli with a fresh tomato sauce. He used the basic 100g:1 flour to egg proportion, then kneaded it a few times before chilling it. He then separated it into 3 and put each section through the rollers at least 2 or 3 times per setting and folded in between the first few settings. He did this so that the pasta maintained an ‘al dente’ texture when cooked. Another tip he revealed is to always add a bit of the water in which you cooked the pasta to the sauce, as it adds an extra depth of flavour.
Next on in the Chefs theatre were The Hamiltons, mixing cooking with comedy, as they put it.
Christine made Jellied Bloody Marys while her husband Neil Hamilton generally just got in the way and provided some banter.
Though he did become quite useful while making the Pâté Marguerite as they couldn’t find the top to the blender and so Neil was given the job of holding a plate on top and hoping for the best. They were quite entertaining but we didn’t sit through till the end as we decided it was time to head home
I found the recipe for the Bloody Mary Jellies here (http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/514058 ).
Throughout the festival the entertainment stage was showcasing some of the fringe’s “finest” acts. I put that in quote marks as it entirely depends upon your idea of entertainment. The Charlie and the Chocolate factory show was excellent for kids and most of the music acts were pretty good though the stage did play host to some of the weirder talents of the fringe. For example ‘Can You Dig It?’ Is a duet who sing songs about growing your own veg. With dittys such as ‘Love Song to Alan Titchmarsh’ and ‘Derek the Evil Pigeon’ it goes to show that there is always a niche in entertainment to be found.
With a disappointing start to the day, Friday of the Edinburgh Foodies Festival 2011 turned out to be quite good fun and I picked up some useful pasta tips. I think I’ll try the Friday again next year and cross my fingers that they can open on time.