Viewing from my lounger on the beach in Gran Canaria, my social media streams were full of delicious-looking food as the BITE Cardiff Food Festival team teased pictures of the fantastic food that could be sampled on the lead up to the event.
The event was held on Saturday 14th July 2018 at Insole Court between 12 noon and 10pm. It was advertised as a ‘food festival with a difference’ and focused on high-quality dishes and no fast food, and no entrance fee. The Chef’s were given the challenge of creating a single dish to sell for £3 each.
Independent drink suppliers were also invited so guests were able to wash down the delicious treats with wine, cider, gin or coffee, as well as a cash bar. It also aimed to be as eco-friendly as possible, using sustainable packaging and with recycling bins across the festival site. People were encouraged to bring their own picnic blankets and crockery as well as refillable water bottles.
Insole Court, Llandaff, Cardiff
I love Insole Court! Growing up in Llandaff North and Gabalfa, when out with friends we would often stop at the mansion’s gardens on our bikes. I had not been into the house until a few years ago when they received lottery funding to do essential refurbishments. The ground floor is now open to visitors as well as a brand new Stable Yard which has rooms to hire for the community including business or social, and a Café called The Potting Shed which serves food and drinks 7 days a week. They are also licensed to host weddings on site.
Our holiday ended on the 13th, so it was exciting to know that I could continue the summer vibes at home and have something to look forward too. As the weather was incredibly hot, and knowing the event was going on until 10pm, I arrived at Insole Court at 6pm after parking nearby. Walking up the drive was enough to get the taste buds tingling, with the gorgeous BBQ smell in the air.
I thought by going a bit later it would be a bit quieter, especially those with children wanting to take them home for the night. I suppose the good weather kept people on their picnic blankets for a little bit longer. The grounds were still very busy.
Show me the money… I mean sticker
It was a cash-only event, and BITE stickers needed to be purchased for you to redeem with your chosen food vendor. I queued for about 20 minutes to get these and quickly realised I would be spending my evening in a food or drink queue. Queues, queues, queues! To be honest it was not too bad, as it was good to catch up with friends who were passing by and enjoy the blazing sunshine.
So many vendors were caught out or under prepared and had sold out already, which was incredibly disappointing. However, I did manage to try 4 different dishes washed down with a few pints of Gwynt y Ddraig cider.
The first course
The first dish I tried was Milkwood’s offering of lambs tongues with leeks and laverbread. I have to be honest, I did not read the description properly before joining the queue. If I had realised it was tongue beforehand I may not have sampled it, which would have been a big mistake. It was beautiful! The meat was not tough or chewy which is so often associated with the cut, but was soft and melted in the mouth. The accompaniments were full of flavour and offered an intense hit with each bite. The team were very friendly and approachable and were clearly enjoying conversing with all that wanted to try the dish.
Ding, ding – dish two
I then joined the huge queue for Keralan Karavan which was a 2 in 1 dish. Their description was; “An incredibly fresh and moreish sweet-tangy puffed rice mixed with raw mangoes, chopped onions, tomatoes, peanuts and coriander finished off with a date, tamarind and coriander chutney. Plus a deconstructed Keralan samphire onion bhajee with candied red chillies and a drizzle of mango ginger chutney.” It certainly packed a punch, and by the end of the dish my mouth was tingling from the spices. Out of all the dishes, this was the most substantial portion. The puffed rice was crunchy, and with the soft vegetables and bhajee, there was a good balance of textures.
For dish number three I tried the aubergine and coconut polenta, Thai soya and monks beard from Parsnipship. It was my least favourite of the dishes I tried, for my tastes. I have only sampled polenta a few times, but I am not keen on the texture and do find it a bit bland. The sauce and accompaniments did add an additional zing. That being said, I did eat it all! I heard so many people around me raving about it. The brand has also got a fantastic following and reputation for being a pioneer for vegetarian and produce.
Save the best for last
The last dish I tried was the scallops from Two Anchors. Whose ingredients were listed as scallops, laverbread and garlic. So simple, but delicious. These were being cooked on a huge open BBQ in the shell. This was the perfect dish to end on. The gorgeous taste lingered in my mouth the whole way home, which made me want more. So much so, I didn’t want to brush my teeth before bed.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the event. I get that it was the first one and I am sure they will make some changes for the next. Having said that you cannot take away how well planned and thought out the event was, they only thing they were caught out on was the demand. Judging by how popular it was there is definitely scope to make the event happen twice and year. I will be there, for sure.
Interested in other events in Cardiff, read further reviews here: