Monday, 9 July 2012

Cardiff International Food Festival 2012

This year’s Cardiff International Food Festival (6-8 July) was one of the best yet. Around 100 exhibitors attended, with stalls in Roald Dahl Plaza, in front of the Pierhead Building, and along toward the Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay. The food available ranged from Welsh venison burgers and Glamorgan Vale hog roast to French-style crepes and a Taste of Persia.

There was a strong programme of events in the John Lewis Food Theatre. Highlights included Chef Anand George, owner of Purple Poppadom, cooking up some nouvelle Indian dishes from the celebrated restaurant’s new menu; Norman Musa demonstrating Malaysian dishes; and Angela Gray showcasing the afternoon tea menu at Llanerch Vineyard.

Chef Richard Yearnshire demonstrated some items from the Tempus at Tides menu (St David’s Hotel): Baked cod fillet and sweet chilli crust, pea and mint risotto, followed by Tiramisu. Samples were snapped up smartly by the audience.

Three dishes from the Laguna Kitchen in Park Plaza Cardiff were demonstrated by Chef Justin Llewellyn. His Bruschetta included heritage tomatoes, chorizo sausage, mozzarella balls and sourdough bread. Justin extolled the virtues of Welsh rapeseed oil, which was used liberally instead of olive oil (it has half the saturated fat of olive oil and is rich in 3-omega). Tuna Niçoise was made with seared but practically raw sushi-grade tuna, Jersey Royal potatoes, quail eggs in breadcrumbs, anchovies, black olives, green beans, samphire and rocket cress. At Lugana, this dish is served on a slate with a wedge of lime.

There seemed to be a lack of coordination between the different chefs. On Saturday, for instance, three different versions of Eton Mess were made. My favourite was by Jane, the John Lewis chef, whose version was made using rhubarb.

Apart from Eton Mess, what’s in this year? Well, anything that’s gluten-free it seems. I have never before seen such a concentration of food businesses promoting gluten-free ranges.

I liked the central positioning of the music bandstand this year. Pick of the cats for me were Zervas and Pepper, excellent as always, and Funhouse, who had their audience dancing in the rain with their infectious ska music.

The Cardiff International Food & Drink Festival is part of the wider Cardiff Festival. Still to come is The Harbour Festival (31 Aug – 2 Sept) on the same site, which features The British Fishcraft Championships (which may partly explain the very few fish and seafood exhibitors at the Food Festival).

Considered on its own, The Cardiff International Food & Drink Festival is not a Premier League event, such as Abergavenny or Cowbridge, but it has firmly established itself as an essential date in the calendar and it gets a little bit better each year.

Cardiff Festival:

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