If you don’t have any plans for Bank Holiday Monday and you’re in the Greater Manchester/Lancashire area, you have the perfect opportunity to spend your day surrounded by delicious smelling street food, artisan treats, live music, entertainment and more – that’s right, the Bolton Food & Drink Festival is back and it’s better than ever!
With even more stalls than last year and guest appearances from celebrity chefs including John Torode, James Martin and Lisa Faulkner, the Bolton Food & Drink Festival is in full swing and it’s absolutely brilliant. I was lucky enough to visit today and sample the fine food and drink on offer in Bolton, and it was the perfect way to spend a weekend – it was so fun in fact that I’ll be returning tomorrow to enjoy the final day!
So, now to answer the question I’m sure you’re all asking… “What did you eat?”
Well, please allow me to show you!
There is plenty of food to be enjoyed by everyone – vegetarians and vegans are well catered for, and plenty of stalls feature gluten-free options too. Unfortunately I was too busy eating my lunch to take a picture of it, but I had an absolutely delicious Samosa Chaat from The Hungry Gecko, a street food business owned by MasterChef 2011 finalist Jackie Kearney. I adore samosas, but the chickpeas and pomegranate seeds blew all the rest I’ve ever sampled out of the water. The strong flavours of tamarind, chilli, coriander and mint were perfectly balanced, creating what was by far the best samosa I’ve ever had. The stall was also advertising Jackie’s Vegan Street Food recipe book, and after sampling her Samosa Chaat I will absolutely have to pick up a copy from Amazon.
I completely missed the name of the stall from which my boyfriend, Matt, bought his lunch – he had a bowl of freshly cooked chicken paella that smelled stunning, and according to him tasted just as good. For dessert he had a slice of carrot cake from Greenhalgh’s – you can’t beat carrot cake and Greenhalgh’s is a particularly good one, although I did think the flakes of chocolate on the outside were quite a strange addition!
After perusing the vast array of stalls for an hour or so we were starting to get peckish again, so we stopped off at the ever-popular Chipstix and sampled one of their potatoes on a stick. A motorised machine slices the potato in a similar way to a spiralizer, and then the potato is fried and coated in a flavouring of your choice. Matt and I chose the BBQ flavour and it was really tasty – no wonder the queue at Chipstix is always so long! There was also a man from IKEA handing out free samples of meatballs and veggie balls too. I’ve had the tasty veggie balls before, but my boyfriend had never tried the meaty version and he really enjoyed it. Next time we go to IKEA we’ll definitely be picking up a bag of each. Finally, we shared a Tomato and Basil Roll we bought from All You Knead, a stall specialising in artisan bread. The basil flavour is stronger than the tomato but we really enjoyed the bread, and we will certainly pick up another roll tomorrow.
We didn’t just eat every street food in sight though, we also bought some lovely foodie bits from some of the stalls. Matt loves anything sweet, so of course he couldn’t resist sampling almost every single flavour of artisan marshmallow offered by The Magnificent Marshmallow Company. He ended up walking away with three packets; Cheery Cherry, Resplendent Raspberry and Saucy Strawberry. Unfortunately they aren’t suitable for vegetarians so I couldn’t try them for myself, but Matt absolutely loved them and thought the fun flavours were brilliant!
I entered a state of euphoria as I approached The Garlic Farm, and after falling for their Oak-Smoked Garlic last year I had to indulge once again this year. I ended up buying a string of gorgeous British garlic and, after a demonstration which genuinely made me gasp, a Garlic Twist. The Garlic Twist is a little gadget that makes chopping garlic super easy, and I can’t wait to give it a go – they’re available to buy from The Garlic Farm’s website if you’re desperate to get your hands on one.
It’s a crying shame that Greenhalgh’s isn’t a nationwide brand, because it means that the majority of Brits are missing out on something incredibly special – Crumpet Loaf. Crumpet Loaf is a magical hybrid of a classic crumpet, but encased in a slice of bread. It’s very difficult to explain, but it is absolutely wonderful when toasted and buttered. If you buy just one thing from the Bolton Food & Drink Festival this year, make sure it’s a Crumpet Loaf! We also picked up a bunch of Greek mountain oregano from Greek Oil Direct – I bought a bunch last year and I enjoyed its unique flavour so much, I knew I had to repeat my purchase this year.
Has The Bolton Food & Drink Festival got your mouth watering? Let me know in the comments below!
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Until next time,