The Cardiff International Food and Drink Festival started today and runs to Sunday (8-10 July 2011) in Roald Dahl Plass, and along to the Norwegian Church, in Cardiff Bay.
A key feature is the Live Kitchen Programme in the John Lewis-sponsored Food Theatre. Today I watched Dominic Powell from Cardiff’s Park Plaza Laguna Kitchen and Bar cook a fish risotto, and a dish of Roast Lamb Rump and Soft Polenta with Summer Vegetable Sauce Vierge. I had some of the risotto afterwards and it was really good (must try that final drizzle of curry powder-infused olive oil at home). The activities started in the theatre at midday with Angela Gray on bread and pasta, followed by a Pasta Masterclass from chefs at Jamie’s Italian Restaurant. Angela appears with the other chefs on the programme to ensure the talk is kept informative and entertaining as they go about their cooking. Martin Blunos of the Crown Social will also be appeared over the next two days, as will Norman Musa preparing Malaysian dishes.
Many of the stalls around the Plass serve food. It is a good place to eat and drink outside while listening to live music. The final two acts on the bandstand this afternoon played jazz and soft rock covers. Under the Driftwood Tree are among the six acts playing tomorrow. This all works well when the weather is fine, like this afternoon, but this festival can be an altogether bleaker affair if wind and rain are sweeping in off the channel. The John Lewis Food Theatre and the Wine Bar are the only two large covered areas in the festival.
The Farmers’ Market comprises two rows of stalls on the road to the Norwegian Church. It’s the first Farmers’ Market I have ever been to where there is not a single fresh fruit or vegetable in sight. However, there are at least two stalls selling cupcakes. Enough said.
However, I think this festival is well worth visiting and has the potential to get better. This year sees the renovated Norwegian Church being bought into play, with wine tasting seminars; while the programme includes demonstrations by top Cardiff chefs. Most importantly, it is free-entry, in a location that attracts visitors, and it provides an opportunity for local producers to meet and sell directly to the public.
What I would like to see is more undercover space (so it can be a success whatever the weather), with at least another marquee hosting an alternative programme of lectures and cookery demonstrations involving, say, local artisan producers, independent cafes and restaurants, and more vegetarian and ethnic cuisine (Tiger Bay was one of the first places that food from Asia and other regions got established in Britain). The Cardiff International Food and Drink Festival may yet evolve into a first-class event that can take its place in the foodie calendar alongside the likes of Abergavenny.
Cardiff Bites blog and discussion about the food festival: