Friday, 22 August 2014

Green Man 2014: The Food

Most reviews of festivals like Glastonbury, Latitude or WOMAD focus exclusively on the music. However, the best British festivals offer far more than just music. The Green Man Festival this year, for instance, offered cult cinema, comedy, literature talks, theatre, circus and more. Moreover, the choice of food and drink at festivals is turning them into something approaching local food festivals. It’s all a long way from the limited burger-based diet at festivals a couple of decades ago. This post looks at what food was available to visitors to Green Man 2014.

Approaching the main site near the main (Mountain) stage, you will encounter the volunteer-run Green Man Trust Café selling hot drinks, bacon and sausage rolls with profits benefitting local organizations and projects. The meat is made from animals that roam the Glanusk Estate – the site of the Green Man Festival. Also in this area, the Ethical Chef (the Carmarthenshire vegetarian chef Deri Reed) was making his first Green Man appearance, fresh from winning the People’s Choice and a Sustainable Green Traders Awards at this year’s Glastonbury Festival; his award-winning chilli was served here. Also, in this area, you can visit the fresh fruit and smoothies stall, maple-smoked pulled pork stall (also ribs, frankfurters etc.) and a Vegan and Vegetarian food outlet by the steps over the wall into the main arena.

On entering the site near the Mountain Stage the first food stands you encounter are Soup-a-Juice (say it out loud), Hall’s Dorset Smokery (see link below) and Pasta Pizza; all fairly self-explanatory. Next to these is The Mountain Bar. Up the steps, through the terraces looking down on the main stage, you will some of Green Man’s most popular regular food outlets.

At La Grande Bouffe (or The Big Nosh) this year I had the excellent tartiflette (cheese/cream potatoes) topped by a French sausage with white wine gravy, all cooked in their large pans. We also purchased some tasty food next door at Pura Vida Mexican Vegetarian Restaurant: enchilada and burrito, in its second year at Green Man. Also returning for a second year was Mac’n’Cheese, bringing southern US-style street food to the Mountain’s Foot area.

Shepherd’s offered its usual wide range of Welsh ice cream flavours, though the queues were not as long as during last year’s hotter and drier Green Man weather. Moving along the top terrace, the Chai Shop Organic tent, with its carpets and low tables, again had one of the best ambiences for sitting down and eating; not for the first time, I had some of their handmade falafels. Newcomer Harefield’s Bakery and Roast, with its London street-front façade, offered British carvery baguettes and roast dinners; it’s owned by Davey Chambers, a previous Great British Bake-off contestant. Next door, Joho Soho, operated by the Cinnamon Kitchen, was specialising in slow-roasted lamb and other Indian dishes. The ever-popular Jamon Jamon again offered Valencian and Seafood paellas, and like many stands also did a good line in breakfasts (my best meal of last year’s festival was bought here – see link below).

Across the way, at the top of the hill by the house, is The Table Top, a pop-up Welsh Coffee Co outlet, making its first appearance at Green Man. Walking towards The Courtyard, there are some notable regulars on your left. Poco is a café operated by Bristol-based eco-chef Tom Hunt; with fish grilled outside the tent. Here you have a choice from a distinctive menu that includes mackerel wraps, halloumi, kebabs and salads, with an emphasis on Moroccan cuisine. Next door is the Pieminister van. My Pieminister pie this year was The Free Ranger. Meat was to the fore at the Taste of Wales van, with burgers and breakfasts among the offerings.

Turning into The courtyard, first up is Superstew, with simmering pans of good-looking spicy stews. There also a Coffee and Donut van, before the bar selling 99 Welsh beers and ciders (later).

The Walled Garden, where you can find the Green Man Pub and Walled Garden stage, hosted a good mix of food outlets. First up was the Grilled Cheese Sandwich stall operated by London’s Morty and Bob. Next door was the Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company, specialising in lobster, crab and freshly-made flatbreads. I had a cockle and bacon flatbread with laverbread, a pleasingly different and substantial beach food. The Roaming Patisserie has roamed between different sites at Green Man over the years, but has found its perfect location here; breaking up a whole roast chicken between friends is what it’s all about. The Welsh Venison Centre, based nearby at Beacons Farm (about a mile down the road), does a great job of selling venison as the burger of choice to festival-going foodies. Beyond the Green Man Pub: The Hippy Chippy van, selling chunky chips. Also in the Walled Garden, were vans selling Shepherd’s ice cream and homemade chilled drinks.

Walking towards Babbling Tongues, you pass two of Green Man’s most popular perennial food stalls. The Goan Seafood Company ("Goan recipes, Cornish fish") I have written about previously (see below).  Moorish: North African & Arabic Souk Food supplied the best food I ate at Green Man 2012, namely spicy lamb in a deep-fried filo-pastry parcel. You expect to see queues at both of these, festival regulars know what they want.

In the Babbling Tongues area (book-related talks and comedy), The Tea Stop is a converted red double-decker bus selling breakfasts, teas and cake. The Speak-Easy Bar in this area specialises in cocktails and gin.

Walking up the hill to the Far Out zone you enter the final grouping of food outlets. French & Grace do flatbreads and salad boxes; we were impressed by vegetarian flatbreads here last year. New to us was the wonderfully-named Spanish Stew and the Wild Dogs from Monmouthshire. Chorizo stew with made from local Trealy Farm produce, but on this occasion I had a wild boar hot dog with the hot festival pickle. The silver trailer of The Flaming Cactus was parked next door, serving Mexican dishes. Next up was a vegetarian café. Barnaby Sykes Piemaker had plenty of pies for sale, from traditional steak and ale, more unusual steak and stilton, and the vegetarian spicy butter bean and mature cheddar. Manna was selling Asian street food, with Cambodian chilli pork, Vietnamese lemongrass chicken and beef Osaka tofu among the tempting dishes. The Casa Portuguesa was offering Portuguese-style BBQ, including piri piri chicken, and all-day breakfasts. Turning around the block at The End Up Bar, you will see another Pasta and Pizza outlet in the Chai Wallahs tent. Down the other side of this block, you’ll find hot grilled wraps at Wrappers' Delight, with the accompanying Smoothie Delight next door. The Grazing Shed offered “super tidy burgers”. The Seacow traded in good old-fashioned fish and chips.

I have probably missed a few stalls (apologies), but you get the picture. You can eat your way around the world, but there is a focus on local food suppliers. Early risers will have seen the vans coming in from St Mary Bakery, the dairy, butchers and other local businesses. This is a festival out to support the local economy. See you there next year – I already have an idea of what I want to eat!

My review of the music at Green Man 2014 for newsoundwales:

See also:

Green Man 2013

Green Man 2012

Green Man 2011

Hall’s Dorset Smokery

Goan Seafood Company

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