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!
&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!
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!
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!!
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!
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.
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!!!
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.
¡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!!
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!!!!
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.
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!
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!
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!!!!