Southport Food and Drink Festival 2014

He was feeling rather sorry for himself the Cooktwit this sunny Sunday. He was aimlessly reeling from the news that The Flame had bagged herself a day out with the girls. Despite it being ‘on the calendar for weeks’, there was still obviously far too little time to rustle up a couple of pals for an afternoon sesh. As we all know an off beat pint like that takes months and hundreds of texts to arrange. Despite this set back (and having touched the flame up for £20) The Cooktwit lurched onwards to the 2014 Southport Food and Drink Festival with a spring in his step and a gay song playing in his heart. In short things were on the up.

Setting the scene
Setting the scene

The sun was shining and good food beckoned. Working in Manchester the Cooktwit is used to aiming east from his suburban pile, but Southport is a heady forty five minutes west and the notorious single track highway that snakes into Southport is a known summer hotspot. Cunningly the newly acquired ‘satnav’ lead me through pastures new and avoided the tiresome thoroughfare. I was holed up in the £4 parking lot in no time.
I soon ventured under the ‘free’ entrance banner, yes, free! A welcome surprise. The large open space of Victoria Park had been grafted into a foody heaven by arranging nigh on eighty stalls in a huge square with a couple of sponsors tents in the middle. It made for a spacious and easily navigated experience, something not always possible in town centre food and market events.
As is tradition I do a first ‘mine sweep’ just to see what’s here. There’s nothing worse than blowing the budget early doors and then finding a diamond near the end!

Some of the booty. Beer, Mauritian treats, ham shanks, artisan bread
Some of the booty. Beer, Mauritian treats, ham shanks, artisan bread

The food producers were down one side while the street food vendors and bars were on the others. I swept down the produce and made a few notes. I ended up with a ‘Thai Pie’ which sounded good. I deliberately got a frozen one to cook myself. I’ll let you know how that goes. It should be good for £2.50. I also ended up with some cake, a ‘Mrs Shah’s Curry Mix’, a ‘Romana’ style herb and spice rub by ‘Simply Sprinkles’. Looking forward to trying that, could be good. I didn’t get much else in fairness but could have easily weighed in with cheese, meat, preserves and host of other goodies. One particular regret now is not getting a good stock of ‘Bobbies Bangers’. I’ve heard of these on twitter and their sausages didn’t half look good, especially the jalapeño ones. It’s a good job I have a good stock of my favourite ‘Red Bank Farm’ ones in the freezer.

Some of the street food stars
Some of the street food stars

For the street food the choice was incredible, and the quality looked good too. A couple of known favourites were on, including ‘Pizza Peddlers’ in their blue and cream H van and ‘Mr Meatballs’. I was negotiating a ‘chakalaka’ veggie wrap with ‘Safari’ only to be told they had sold out. They’re usual 5% of sales for veggies having upped to 15% over the weekend and caught them on the hop! In view of this I moved along to ‘The Wrap Shack’, which in fairness was sporting the most inventive stall. As the name suggests it was done up like a shack and as it had a Mexican theme, it piped in its menu with red, yellow and green hues. Striking it looked too. Not wishing to become overawed I opted for a small, smoked Mexican bean wrap for £5.50. It’s a good job I got the small, as I had to munch through a fair bit of beans, salad, jalapeños, olives and cheese just so I could actually start to create the wrap! Once ‘wrapped’ the thing was wolfed in a matter of minutes and the Cooktwit lunch was sorted. Very nice it was too.

The wrap shack, smoked bean wrap. No additives!
The wrap shack, smoked bean wrap. No additives!

A Lancaster blonde ale quenched the thirst and an apple, almond bakewell completed the alfresco feed.
One of the highlights for me at these events is the cooks demonstration tent which tend to feature one of the celeb chefs. Sadly there didn’t seem to much going on today. Reading through the blurb and on twitter it would seem an entertaining sesh had been had on Friday with Andrew Nutter. I would have liked to have seen that.

Simply Sprinkles, Bill and Ben, My haul.
Simply Sprinkles, Bill and Ben, My haul.

Sunday the last of the three day event was bathed almost constantly in warm sunshine. Naturally the crowds swelled to pleasing levels.  Families and couples of all ages were represented. Without counting I would guess we were talking hundreds if not thousands of people. I shudder how dented the figures would have been in England’s rain? But hey that’s looking at the half empty glass. It was a great day and I would definitely recommend it as one for the diary. Roll on the rest of the foody festival season.

The ambiance
The ambiance
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