Category Archives: festival

OnRoundhay festival by Lucy Reynolds 

Last weekend, I was dancing around, beer in hand, to the strains of Primal Scream and James…in fact, I was so close to the stage, that I could count the spots on Bobby Gillespie’s pink shirt. This weekend, I’m sat in a conservatory, listening to the Archers, wishing I was back in Roundhay park. Thus is life. In fact, last weekend will take some beating, as it was the first OnRoundhay festival, in sponsorship with John Lewis. I am hoping with every fibre of my body that it will be the first of many as it was exactly the sort of thing that sets Leeds out as the jewel in the North (obviously, I’m biased, but I don’t care…LEEDSLEEDSLEEDS!). As we entered the grounds of the park, it was clear to see that this was a family affair, with hundreds of families queuing up to get in. As you entered, a glittery ON sign greeted you, with different pathways for every type of reveller: the Main Stage for the music fans, the Chef’s Stage and John Lewis Food Village for the foodies and the Puffin Magical Storytelling Stage for those with little people (who are probably desperate for a distraction). We chose the fourth pathway…the one to the bar! 



We went inside the guests’ area (I know right….fancy!) and plumped for prosecco, beating the queues at the other venues. There were plenty of bars set up around the site though, serving real ale, gin and even champagne – we found that magical moment of when a band had just hit the stage, meaning there were minimal queues. Festival skills 101! 

After getting our fill of fizz, we went for a wander around, checking out what to gorge on. The festival started at 12pm and we got there for 3pm. The park was already full of hungry mouths, and we saw the Ox Club stand, with spits of whole lamb busily roasting away.

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Next door were perennial Leeds favourites Patty Smith’s, serving up their dirty burgers which are already legendary at their normal home, the Belgrave. Rola Wala and Piggie Smalls were also busy serving their tasty wares, opposite the John Lewis Chef’s Stage. Seeing the queues for food, we decided to go and take a seat for the next talk, which was Stephano Corvucci, who runs CIBO (The Culinary Institute of Bologna). Taking our seat on the front row, it was easy to forget that we were at a festival, as we watched him being interviewed as he cooked a ricotta and spinach stuffed cannelloni, after expertly making the pasta from scratch. What I loved about Stephano’s talk was how honest he was about his food. When the presenter asked him how long it would take him to teach someone on his course to make fresh pasta, he said ‘a few hours’. If I had a cookery school, I’d drag it out enough to make as much money as I could…but then I’m an unscrupulous bastard. He seemed really relaxed, open and enthusiastic about his cookery and it really made me want to fly to Bologna to try it out myself…cookery, that is, not starting my own culinary school (see previous unscrupulous bastard comment). 

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After whetting our appetites with Stephano’s cookery, we went to decide what we wanted to eat. By now the queues were immense, so my friend and I took a split attack approach and queued up separately for Patty Smith’s and Yakumama. 

Impressed by the vibrant offerings from Yakumama, a food seller I’d not encountered before, we decided to go for the Tiger fries and an avocado brownie for afters. That was the starter and dessert sorted – and a Patty Smith’s dirty burger for our main. 


Now this was when things fell apart for us – rookie mistakes all over the place. We were hungry…nay, ravenous after the Chef’s Stage talk and didn’t realise what the waiting time for food would be like. As my friend queued for Yakumama for 40 minutes, I was still in line for Patty Smith’s, with no sign of getting anywhere near the front. After about 50 minutes, I got to the front to see that there were 12 tickets on order, meaning my order would be another 35-40 minutes. Hats off to the Patty Smith’s crew though, who were working their backsides off and being really apologetic to customers for the wait. I think just due to the size of the event, the food stalls were really pushed to the limit. My friend found me in the queue and had already eaten part of the tiger fries in an attempt to not eat her own arm off in hunger. I too tucked in the the beauteous pile of sweet potato fries, spring onion, fried chorizo, lime mayo and sriracha until there was none left and thought, later on, ‘fxxk…I didn’t take a photo of it.’ In fact, so incensed by our greedy actions, I got in touch with Yakumama, asking for any images of the fries, but I haven’t yet been able to find any of that particular dish. Maybe I dreamt it, in a hunger fuelled haze…we will never know. All I do know is that is was incredibly tasty and filled the hunger hole we had whilst waiting for our burgers. The avocado brownie was eaten during the James gig, and was absolutely delicious. It was moist with a rich chocolate taste that gave you a smug feeling that you were eating, in part, good fats due to the avocado. Chocolate and healthy = winner!


After our wait, we finally got our paws on the Patty Smith’s burgers and practically inhaled them, enjoying their trademark dirty sauce and slightly sweet brioche bun. 


Gorgeous, as ever. After a few more drinks, we settled in to watch the legendary Primal Scream play, and they were wonderful. Seriously, when Loaded started to play, I was so overjoyed, I felt like I had an almost religious epiphany…and Bobby Gillespie was God. At 54, boy can he move! Saying, that, he ain’t got the moves of James’s Tim Booth, who at 56, makes you feel like you could never have as much fun as he does on stage. He has some serious moves and the dude even crowd surfed whilst singing. With Wolf Alice playing beforehand, and Primal Scream and James topping the bill, it was an embarrassment of riches and a real coup for the first On Roundhay festival.

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In between bands, we walked around, looking at the other foodie offerings, though the queue sizes stayed impressively large. I chatted to someone who had just bought a broccoli laden Mac and cheese from the Mac Shac and seemed very pleased with his little tray full of pasta heaven. We also spied, but unfortunately didn’t have enough room for, a Yorkshire wrap from The Allotment, which was the ingenious idea of a Yorkshire pudding wrap with a myriad of meaty delights inside. Makes you proud to be in Yorkshire, doesn’t it?

All in all, OnRoundhay, to my mind, was a massive success. Even though the queues were huge, the food on offer was fantastic and if it encourages more indie food sellers to set up stall next year, then all for the better. The music was amazing and the whole atmosphere was brilliant – there’s not many festivals where families, foodies and hardcore festival goers can enjoy themselves in harmony. Here’s to next year! 

Thanks to Simon Fogal at Leeds Indie Food, John Lewis, Yakumama for the brownie photo and Ben Bentley for additional photos.

OnRoundhay Festival Preview, by Lucy Reynolds 

I am currently counting down the days to the OnRoundhay Festival on Saturday 17th September and I’m happy that it’s less than a month away now. Aside from the awesome combo of bands like Wolf Alice, Primal Scream and the mighty James, I am equally excited (OK, it’s food…I’m a lot more excited) about the John Lewis Food Village, which appears to offer a little bit of just about everything to the hungry festival goer. Leeds Indie Food are offering an embarrassment of riches, with Loiner legends Manjit’s Kitchen and Laynes Espresso, alongside a personal favourite of mine, The Madeleine Express, which is basically Noisette Bakehouse on wheels. If you haven’t tried one of Sarah’s cakes, you haven’t lived. The sea salt chocolate brownie is so delectable, you’d sell your granny to get another!

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Manjit’s Kitchen
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Laynes Espresso
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Madeleine Express

I’m not one to just stay with my tried and tested favourites though. After a lot of dancing and prancing to music, I will definitely be trying dishes from Clawhide, Bánh mì Booth, Yakumama and Piggie Smalls. It also appears to be the year of the ‘shack’ with The Mac Shac, Crabbieshack and Longhorn’s BBQ shack serving up tasty treats…I hope I actually have time to catch the music. There are even more food stalls to choose from…I’ll just have to fast for a week I suppose and then blog about my gluttony after, giving all my gastronomic choices the obligatory shout out. Phew, I feel stuffed already. 

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Claw hide
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Bánh mì Booth
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Yakumama’s tacos

And to top that, we have just had the exciting announcement that Olia Hercules, of Mamushka fame, is going to be part of the Chef line up, joining fellow gastronauts like Murray Wilson of Horto, Greg Lewis of Pintura and Simon Jewitt of Norse, along with other accomplished chefs from far and wide. So much to see and only one day – I’ll make sure to wear my running shoes to get around everything I want to see.

The OnRoundhay Festival marks the long awaited opening of the Leeds’ branch of John Lewis and I, for one, cannot wait! Just another jewel in Leeds’ crown – make this honorary Northerner a bit dewy eyed. Who needs London when you’ve got Leeds? 

http://www.onroundhayfestival.com

All photos courtesy of I Like Press


 

Chinese New Year @ Naturally Chinese, Surbiton

Increasingly more places are getting to grips with catering for those with a gluten intolerance, however it can still be a challenge at times, in particular for those with a love of asian food. When Chinese New Year arrives the other half would usually have slim pickings, where dishes not containing the dreaded gluten would be few and far between. Luckily since moving down south, we’ve found Naturally Chinese – the first Chinese restaurant to be gluten free accredited. As you can imagine this is no mean feat, making it the obvious place for us to go for Chinese New Year. 

Having been last year we knew it was good, booking in advance to avoid disappointment, we turned up Friday evening. For me it was a bit of a triple whammy meal – Chinese New Year, end of half term and Valentine’s Day.

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Automatically my eyes head straight towards the starters to see if there’s any dim sum on the menu. My favourite ha gau dumplings were a given, juicy prawns wrapped in gelatinous translucent wrappers, followed by crispy belly pork (of course) with a good meat to fat ratio and decent crackling. Whilst gluten free goodies included crispy squid, spring rolls made with rice paper and a beef brisket hot pot. Service was friendly, not over-facing and like our previous visit were on hand for advice with the gluten free menu. Personally I can’t fault Naturally Chinese – it’s a popular restaurant, however still retains a relaxed ambience, the food is spot on and those with a gluten intolerance can rest easy in the knowledge that all the highest standards and guidelines have been followed to the nth degree.

Starters – ha gau, prawn toast, spring rolls and crispy squid
Crispy squid
Rice paper spring rolls
Sesame prawn toast
Roast pork belly, beef brisket hot pot
Beef brisket hot pot
Crispy pork belly

Naturally Chinese

59-63 Brighton Road

Surbiton

Surrey

KT6 5LR

http://www.naturallychineserestaurant.co.uk

Ipsum Vinoteca – A Tour of Italy

With Leeds’ first ‘Indie Food Festival’ coming to a triumphant end last weekend, it was the turn for the Leeds Food and Drink Festival to begin, in fact they overlapped! Nevertheless the festival sponsored by ASDA started on the 22nd May, with over a fortnight events that may suit Leeds folk interested in the city’s food and drink culture. Amongst the well-known chains and corporates, there’s a handful of Leeds independents involved of which I’m interested in, one of these Ipsum Vinoteca I was given the opportunity to visit last week.

Ipsum Vinoteca is an Italian run bar/restaurant specialising in Italian wine, located in the city’s arts quarter, to be more exact the corner of Munro House, which also houses popular haunts for creatives Colours May Vary and Leeds Gallery. Having only peered in at street level before, the amount of wine which is housed in shelves lining many of the walls in the space is impressive to look at – approximately 300 bottles are available and 30 wines by the glass!! I’d be hard pushed to think of anywhere in the local area that’s provides this kind of service certainly heaven for lover of Italian wine.  For the festival they’ve focused on a different Italian region each day, showcasing a particular wine and pairing it with a matching regional dish – all sounds like a great idea!

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The day we arrived it was all about the Friuli region, I’ve been to bits of Italy, but all the dead obvious touristy places like parts of Tuscany, Venice and Rome. As usual the internet came to my hour of need as my geography is pretty shocking – the region is found in the most north-eastern part of the country, bordering Slovenia and Austria, thanks internet!!! I love wine, both red and white and am very partial to Prosecco too, but I’m no good at describing the stuff. The wine they gave us, tasted really good, but I couldn’t tell you what it was as we weren’t told, apart from that it was from the Friuli region. 

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We were brought a simple looking dish of asparagus, topped with San Daniele ham and Parmesan Reggiano. It was a looker of a dish and size-wise enough for a light lunch.

Buttered jumbo asparagus with San Daniele DOP ham and Parmesan Reggiano

The San Daniele is an ingredient produced in the Friuli region and had a wonderful flavour, a beautiful sweetness. The asparagus were vibrant and green, perfectly cooked and had been gloriously bathed in butter on the plate, just on the border between al dente and soft on the bite. The parmesan shavings added a creamy/salty/umaminess, whilst the butter sauce was smooth, glossy and brought the elements of the dish together.

Paired with the wine, which was a lovely drop and complemented the food well. It was a shame that staff didn’t given any tasting notes or give any explanation about the wine or the specific ingredients, considering they’re trying to celebrate different regions of country. It seemed obvious they know their stuff, but I feel didn’t show it outwardly enough with us as customers. Overall, in theory it’s a great idea, but could be much improved with more customer interaction. 

The festival runs till 7th May.

Ipsum Vinoteca

Munro House

Duke Street

Leeds

LS9 8AG

http://www.ipsumvinoteca.com/ipsum-vinoteca.html

http://www.leedsfoodmonth.com/LeedsFoodandDrinkFestival.aspx

Leeds Indie Food Festival

Leeds Indie Food Festival had been in the planning for 8 months or so, with everything to come to fruition for 18 days of literally what was to become a feast for the senses full stop. With plenty for our eyes and ears to be satisfied through art, photography and film, our noses and mouths overwhelmed by food and drink brought together by six trailblazers of Leeds’ independent food and drink scene. 

Where did I go on my Leeds Indie Food festival journey? 

Well, from not being sure I’d still be in Leeds, with the old house move down south etc, it turned out that I’d be around, but only for snippets and would make do with a few week days scattered here and there and the finale at Leeds Feast, which I was determined not to miss! 

Noonshine was back with a vengeance, this time based at Tall Boys – Grub & Grog Shop, Leeds Bread Co-op, Noisette Bakehouse and North Star Coffee Roasters were all reunited to solve all our breakfast, lunchtime, sweet tooth and caffeine needs!!

A few times I found myself migrating there for breakfast and sweet treats!!! Noisette Bakehouse’s raspberry and pistachio bake with North Star coffee, Leeds Bread Co-op doughnut, Grub and Grog Shops crumpets with local wild flower honey all did the job at one point or another during the festival!

Grub & Grog’s crumpets with wild flower honey and North Star’s locally roasted coffee

Blueberry coconut breakfast scones, Raspberry and pistachio slice and North Star coffee!!

Leeds bread coop doughnut – the perfect snack!
BangWok‘s return to Leeds nicely coincided with the festival, even though I couldn’t make their ‘Boozing and bar snacks’ event, I enjoyed a tasty pad thai lunch, which I reviewed here.

BangWok’s Pad Thai

&Totally Tutti Frutti – The Gallery at Munro House and Food&_ exhibited photography by culinary artists Bompas and Parr from their Tutti Frutti project, partnered with letterpress and artwork of recipes from Food&.

 

The Edible Art Exhibition – the ingenious idea of The Tattooed Bakers, this London based duo Eddie Lebeau and Richard Amon who call themselves ‘cake and food creatives’ aimed to recreate four well known works of art entirely out of cake!!  Each piece was made to the exact dimensions of their originals and displayed in Leeds Gallery at Munro House. As well as their part in the Leeds Indie Food festival the exhibition was celebrating the upcoming British Art Show 8 (BAS8), which is to be held in Leeds in October. I wasn’t quick enough to grab a ticket for the cake cutting and eating event that evening, but did get chance to wander in admiration at how they were!! The event had a great buzz about it and had been anticipated as one of the highlights of the festival, it was a brilliant exhibition and hard to believe that each was made from cake or biscuit, especially Damien Hirst’s sheep which I remember seeing at the Tate years ago; the similarity, accuracy and attention to detail was uncanny!!!

The four bakes were versions of pieces by:

Damien Hirst’s ‘Away The Flock’ originally in British Art Show 4 (1995) – which substituted materials like glass, stainless steel, perplex, formaldehyde and of course lamb, for rainbow vanilla sponge, buttercream, icing and raspberry jelly! 

Tracey Emin’s ‘No Chance’ shown BAS5 (2000) was traditional shortbread and icing rather than its original appliqué blanket!

Grayson Perry’s amusingly named ‘Mr S*** Sex’ from BAS5 (2000) was made with fruitcake, marzipan, rice paper, gold leaf and icing instead of ceramic, printed paper and acrylic paint.

Finally Sarah Lucas’s ‘Nud Cycladic 14’ BAS7 (2010) was a vegan lemon sponge with vegan vanilla buttercream filling, taking the place of some tights, fluff, wire and a breeze block!

Top right – Tracey Emin ‘No Chance’, middle right – Sarah Lucas (Nud Cycladic 14), bottom right – Damien Hirst ‘Away The Flock’ bottom left – Grayson Perry ‘Mr S*** Sex’

By all accounts the event went down a storm, it wasn’t just a feast for the eyes, but also for the stomach too. I also feel it’s brought a side of the art world to people who weren’t that interested before, by bringing intrigue, excitement and making it easy to understand!

Olia Hercules‘s collaboration with Bundobust‘s Marko Husk resulted in the memorable pop-up supper ‘The Wild East‘, reviewed here!

Laynes Espresso: to fill all my coffee needs. 

Bundobust –  the Indian streetfood kings can do no wrong in my eyes and with 25% off for passport holders, it was a WIN WIN situation regardless of what you order because it’s all so good!!

Okra fries, massala dosa and veg rice
The last weekend of the festival was brought to a satisfyingly glorious end with Leeds Feast, held at The Tetley.

Harrogate’s Nordic restaurant Norse, who are based in popular Scandinavian cafe haunt Baltzersens, were cooking up the most sophisticated street food I’ve ever tasted I think. All expertly prepared, cooked and plated up by Murray WIlson, it was definitely a special treat and a food highlight for me; fantastic to have them at the feast! 

Norse’s torched mackerel with cucumber, fennel and horseradish granita

Next up was Yakumama, this twosome have become a bit of a favourite of mine over recent months and I ended up having a hard time settling for one thing – don’t you hate it when it’s too damn difficult to decide?! So, I ended up with an awesome combo of all the things I’ve been accustomed to them – food that’s full of flavour and different textures.

Yakumama’s combo of wild mushroom & Parmesan quinoa croqueta, calamari, lime &honey BBQ chicken wings and mango salad (also chicharrones and avocado chocolate brownie)

By this time, the other half had arrived from Surrey and wanted meat!! So a quick bump into Ben (Dough Boys/Patty Smith’s etc) he pointed us in the direction of Claw Hide, so off we went, these are based in the North East and had brought flat iron steak to the feast. We fancied the ‘surf & turf’ so I could get the prawns whilst he chowed down on the steak, with a nice garlicky herb salad on freshly made wood-fired flatbread it was really good!!! Both the cooked perfectly prawns and steak were succulent and juicy!!!

Claw Hide's surf & turf - flat iron steak w/ prawns, a garlic herb salad and wood-fired flatbread
Claw Hide’s surf & turf – flat iron steak w/ prawns, a garlic herb salad and wood-fired flatbread

Next up a little snack from Bánh mì Booth, the other half fancied some dumpling action, so pork dumplings fitted the bill nicely and tasty they were too. 

Crispy pork dumplings

¡Arepa!¡Arepa!¡Arepa! were back in Leeds with their arepas. The meaty, yet smokey Sobrebarriga arepa was just as tasty as I remembered from Belgrave Feast!!

¡Arepa Arepa Arepa!'s Sobrebarriga arepa
¡Arepa Arepa Arepa!’s Sobrebarriga arepa

Finally on the first day I was intrigued by the ‘chicken roll’ that Rita’s were dishing up, I’d heard lots of great things about their Hackney outfit, and after a quick recommendation from Belgrave Music Hall‘s Ash, we made a bee-line for their van. A couple of minutes later I was handed a brown paper bag, OH. MY. GOD. the most glorious mahoosive chicken burger was hidden inside!!! You know when you have an innate feeling just by looking at something, that it’s going to taste incredible – well this did and then some! It may be THE BEST chicken burger I’ve ever had, the thigh meat was incredibly juicy and the crust, golden and crisp, it was sublime!!! The right amount of accompaniments too, not overdoing it on the Sriracha aioli or the salad.

In fact it was so good, the following day it was first thing I recommended to my friend, he was in love after the first bite, and loved it so much he got a second shortly after!!!! 

Rita’s fried chicken roll and chicarrones

Speaking of Day 2, I had to be a good girl on the Saturday and not eat myself silly as I was heading to The Reliance for a birthday dinner that evening. However, there was still a full day for folk to feast on the best street food around, and not only that, the sun was out and it looked like it would be a fitting finale to the festival.

I’d not had anything from another favourite of mine – Dorshi, as well as their dumplings they’d brought a few new tempters; kimchi udon noodles  – I love kimchi so this sounded fantastic and also a new addition to the dumpling fold, filled with lamb, as always with these two – seasonal to boot!!

The noodles were punchy, fiery but not enough to blow your head off, when paired with the dumplings they married well together, Dorshi are so good with their flavours combinations, their dumplings stand proud individually against other strong flavours. It was great to see them back, even if it was for a fleeting amount time. 

Dorshi’s dumplings with kimchi udon noodles

On what turned out to be a scorcher of a day, we’d really lucked out weather-wise, I didn’t want to imagine if there’d been a down pour?! I needed something to quench my thirst and headed to the beer and cocktail tent, I’m not really a beer drinker and wasn’t really fancying cider either, so went for a summery cocktail instead. They were selling a few different rum based cocktails, including a peach mojito, I went for Rum Punch made with Wray & Nephew rum, it was just what I needed on such a warm day, refreshing with a bit of rum in there to make it interesting!

Rum punch!

Of course, I couldn’t have eaten from all the traders, I would’ve needed another day or so to manage that, but from the number of people through the gates and how packed the place was, it’s wasn’t surprising for traders to sell out!!

These are the other traders who were there: Noisette Bakehouse who sold out like hot cakes, brownies were flying off the shelf and as always Sarah came up trumps with her ingenious bakes, including a few Leeds feast specials!

Noisette Bakehouse!!

Too many fantastic traders to choose from: Manjit’s Kitchen, Dough Boys, Patty Smiths, Fat Annies, Fu-Schnikens, Northern Bloc, Longhorn BBQ, Cafe Moor and The Crabbie Shack, also Laynes Espresso (forgot to take a photo sorry!)

So, even though I only managed a few things out of the 100+ events going on over the 18 days, it was an immensely enjoyable experience and I can’t wait for next year’s event. If this is what Leeds is treated to in its inaugural year, I can only imagine what will be conjured up for 2016!!!!