The lovely Laura from Bite Your Brum went and won herself some VIP passes for Foodies Festival from the equally lovely Brum Hour. When she asked me if I fancied joining her and her fiancé Ian at the festival, I pretty much ran there.
We collected our wristbands and headed straight to the VIP tent, where we claimed our free glass of pink prosecco. At this point, the heavens opened, so we hid from the rain in the tent, planning our attack on all the extremely enticing food smells reaching us. The festival had a jam packed schedule of cooking demonstrations, live music, giant board games and even yoga. We had planned on attending a couple of cooking demos, but we ended up somewhat distracted by the sheer amount of food and drink on offer.
When the rain stopped, it was time for another drink. We found our way to all the various drinks distributors, where we…well stood and stared at them all in a dazed fashion for a bit. There was just so much choice. Did I want a rum cocktail out of a pirate ship? A Pimms, served from a stall in a giant teapot? Another prosecco? A beer? In the end, I reverted to type and went for a G&T.
I tried a Gin and Tonic from distillers, Silent Pool. The gin has 24 botanicals, with a definite citrus flavour. The nice man on their stand gave me and Laura a taster of the gin first, and you can really taste the citrus, making a refreshing taste, with none of the bitterness some gins have. The bottles are beautiful too, and would look most appealing on the shelf at home. After a good natter about gins, we wandered off in search of more sustenance.
Next on the tasting list was Kin Vodka. Kin make a rather fantastic toffee vodka. This can be enjoyed neat, with rich caramel tones, or as part of a cocktail. Kin were making up a Prosecco Cocktail, by topping up prosecco with a shot of their vodka. It was excellent. Sweet, and almost butterscotch tasting. It was also somewhat lethal, so it was definitely time for lunch.
Foodies Festival was one of those events where it takes an age to figure out what to eat. As we walked around, I decided what I was having for lunch every time we passed a new stall. It all looked so good! The group I was with had largely the same predicament, and it took us a long time to decide what to eat. I had settled on definitely having pork belly, and was headed back towards the giant queue, when I suddenly spotted a familiar logo.
I did a little squeal when I spotted The Beefy Boys a few stalls down, and I immediately hurried over. Like me, the Beefy Boys are from Hereford. They started out as a street food team, before securing a permanent home in Hereford city centre last year. Since setting up in 2011, the boys have won awards in the UK and the US, and are generally pretty bloody awesome. I feel I should note Hereford is not a town known for it’s foody culture, so I’m always extra impressed by just how wonderful the Beefy Boys are. All the burgers are made with 100% Herefordshire beef, with the buns and sauces all made with as many locally sourced ingredients as possible, with the rest carefully selected. I chose the Beefy Boy, the first burger they ever made. It was perfect. The meat is beautifully cooked to medium rare, and then topped with crisp bacon, oozy cheese and their secret sauce, which is creamy and tangy. I was several drinks in at this point, so perhaps a touch over excited to find a burger from home that I have been dying to try, but never had the chance. It was worth the wait. I will be making a bee line for their restaurant next time I’m home, and not leaving until it’s time to come back to Birmingham.
I followed my burger with a Raspberry Cider which I now cannot remember the name of, and that’s about when our day descended into hilarity. I appear to have stopped photographing the food and instead turned my camera to other subjects.
We took over some hay bales in a pub we had found in a tent, and were joined by some of Laura’s friends, including this beauty above. This is Mabel, and she was soon the most popular dog in the place. A happy afternoon of drinking, eating and patting Mabel passed, before we realised we’d lost Ian. Where had Ian gone?
He’d actually ended up on the stall next door, where some nice people working for Mateus Rosé had mistaken him for Liam Gallagher. Yes, really. He did confess his true identity, but they gave him a bottle of free wine anyway, which was very sporting of them. This quickly became the theme of the day, with lots of people stopping to check they hadn’t seen a rogue Gallagher roaming the festival.
To finish the day, we watched
Liam Ian take on the chili eating competition. It was brutal, with most competitors not making it past the ‘mild’ rounds. The whole tent, apparently as well soaked in drinks as we were, yelled and cheered as one by one the competitors dropped out and lunged gratefully for glasses of milk. One poor man had to bow out after he made the error of pulling one of the chilis apart, and then touching his eye. Luckily, St John’s were on hand with the eye drops, and no lasting harm was done. Our Gallagher lookalike managed a respectable second, but was ultimately beaten by a rather amazing lady who appeared to be swallowing the chilis whole instead of chewing them.
As if our day wasn’t surreal enough, Ian’s presence, and a chorus of Don’t Look Back in Anger sung during the contest, ended up making two local newspapers. You can read the Birmingham Mail’s thoughts on it here.
Foodies Festival was much bigger than I’d expected, and I was pleasantly surprised by how reasonable all the prices were. The whole vibe of the festival was so relaxed and fun, and I’m already looking forward to next year.
Massive thank you to Laura and Brum Hour for the ticket. Laura won the passes and was kind enough to offer one to me. All food and drink were paid for in full by me apart from the one welcome drink. All opinions are honest and my own.