York Food Festival
York food and drink festival is a yearly event in the heart of the city of York, UK. It is a showcase of the best Yorkshire food on offer.
The main stands can be found on Parliament street, along with the marquee where the nightly entertainment is held and the demonstration tents.
It is a free event where you can watch cooking demonstrations, sample some delicious goods and listen to live music, but I guarantee you will need to empty your piggy bank as you will want to buy everything you taste and take it home with you. I didn’t realise there was so much delicious food in York.
The event began in 1997 originally bringing celebrity chefs to the area but this wasn’t feasible to be carried out every year due to the cost so now the aim is to focus on Yorkshire produce and chefs, there is definitely lots of great local produce.
Also during the event local restaurants are offering special menus so if your still hungry after visiting the market stalls you can try one of the many restaurants.
I was sat next to the festival director Michael Hjort during a wine tasting event and managed to find out more about the festival. He is a native to York and opened Melton’s restaurant in the 1990’s. He explained the school programme which I thought was really interesting, they invite York primary schools to attend workshops and demonstrations from local chefs, it makes you wish you were back at school. There is also a young chef competition which is a great way to get the kids interested in cooking. It sounds like such a community focused event, even some of the paid events are donating their fees to different local charities.
Local producers showcase their delights
There is so much on offer that I cannot mention everything but there is something for everyone tastes. There were cheeses, meats, chutneys, fudge, gin, wine just to name a few.
One of the products I tried and really liked was Rhucello, a Rhubarb Liqueur, I didn’t think I was going to be keen but it was so tasty and they sold it to me straight away when they said it goes perfect in Prosecco. If only I had a bigger bag I would have got a bigger bottle instead of a miniature.
I love how the business card describes the drink as “this is a one-of-a-kind liqueur, made from the simplest ingredients, Sugar, alcohol and obviously lots and lots of lovely rhubarb”
It’s made in Wakefield which isn’t that far from York and when I asked how long it would keep once open the creator said not sure I’ve only been going 9 months!!
If you want more details check out their website
And then off course you have all the market stalls to get a bite to eat. The smells are amazing, it will make your mouth water. It was actually a bit hard to choose what to have but being in Yorkshire and Yorkshire puddings being my favourite I went for a large pudding filled with beef brisket, gravy with a side of horseradish. It was so delicious, it didn’t last long mmmm, I am getting hungry now just writing about it.
Cooking classes / Demonstrations at York Food Festival
There are various cooking classes on offer ranging from £6.50 for kid’s pizza classes to £135 for a chocolate master class with Andrew Thwaite. I do enough cooking at home and this event was for me to eat food without having to do the hard work so I was happy to watch the demonstrations as you then got to taste the dishes.
There is a programme of cooking classes and various cooking demonstrations which you can find on the food festivals website. You can also participate in food/wine tasting events over the period of the York food and drink festival.
English Sparkling wine tasting at York Food Festival
I am a prosecco girl at heart but I think it might have been stolen by the English sparkling wines that are available. This is my first wine tasting event and I can tell you it’s not going to be the last as I loved trying the different wines, guessing the prices and trying to distinguish the flavours. People on our table were saying how they could taste apples, melons, flowers, etc. I however must not quite have an adequate enough palate yet as couldn’t pick these out so as they say practice makes perfect and I think I could really enjoy this new hobby.
The event host was Christine Austin wine writer for the Yorkshire Post. Christine explained how English sparkling wines have improved due to climate changes and “wines have become a lot more interesting”. They are produced in the same way as champagne but obviously cannot be called champagne as not made in that region but they are just as good quality. She went on to explain the process of how the wines are made which was really interesting but I was eager to get on with the tasting.
I noticed the black pots on the table and thought I don’t want to have to spit it out but luckily no one else was spitting out the wine either. These pots were used to swill the glasses out with water before a new wine was poured. I have to admit I was a little tiddly after the tasting of 8 wines due to not eating beforehand but it was a great event and I hope to do a lot more of these in the future.
My favourite was the Camel Valley Brut ‘Cornwall’ 2013 from you’ve guessed it Cornwall. It costs £24.95 a bottle so a little over my normal budget of £6 for a bottle of wine but would like to purchase for a special occasion. I wasn’t so keen on the dessert wine which was served last as it was a little too sweet for me.
Christine was very knowledgeable, friendly and fun and made the wine sound interesting. You can follow her on twitter @Christine_wine
Food Trail in York
The food trail cost £5 or 2 for £8 and for this you get a map with 24 venues on which you pop along for a sample of their food. This was so much fun but it might not have been my best idea of the day to have a huge Yorkshire pudding before doing this food trail so if I return I wouldn’t eat such a big meal beforehand so I was hungry. Also I didn’t time it correctly as decided to do it around 3pm and some of the venues close at 5pm so it was a bit of a rush trying to get around to everything, the foods I did get to try tasting were delicious.
Our first stop was I love cheese and this shop is named after me as Im very partial to a bit of cheese so of course I had to go here first. The lady in the shop explained some of the cheeses to us and we got to try three types and it wasn’t just a little slice, she gave us a mighty portion. I was also intrigued by the black cheese that was in the fridge apparently made from charcoal but as we had so many other things to try I didn’t get to taste it.
What I like about this trail is it takes you to places that you might not have visited otherwise. I went to the Luxury Ice Cream Company for some homemade Yorkshire Gelato. Im not a big ice cream fan and it was a little chilly in York during my visit so I wouldn’t have visited here otherwise but I’m glad I did. I loved the décor of this place it was like a sweetie heaven. I managed to speak to the owner who said all the gelatos are made on site and her best seller is the Malteaser, which I tried and it was lovely. I also tried a unusual flavour of peanut butter and jelly and it was actually really tasty.
York Historic Pub Walk
Discover York’s pub heritage during a walk through the city. This was an excellent tour given by Keith Martin, a trained city tour guide who knew his pubs and gave excellent commentary on the way around. He started these tours 5 years ago and all the money he raises is donated to the Keep your Pet which is a local service provided by volunteers to support older or vulnerable people look after their pets at times of health or other emergencies. This sounds an excellent charity and I’m going to see if we have something similar in the Bristol area as I would love to get involved.
The tour is more about the history of the pubs and its ghosts rather than drinking its contents, we had one beer stop but you can obviously go back to these pubs in your own time and enjoy a refreshing drink.
The tour costs £5 or £4 concession and lasts 2 hours, you really get to see the city and I would highly recommend. If you want to book please contact Keith on 07506570234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, these tours are mainly on during the food festival but he will offer a private tour of 6 or more at any other time.
Ale Trail in York
Takes you on a walking tour of the city with a list of 16 pubs, get your booklet stamped when you buy a drink and collect 12 stamps to get a commemorative t-shirt. I suggest doing this over a few days as having 12 pints in one day you might regret the sore head.
I had a great time visiting the York food and drink festival and came home with a very full and heavy backpack so I can enjoy some of the goodies for a little while longer. If you are looking for a festival in York or just an excuse to visit York then I recommend trying to visit during this food and drink festival as it was so good.
A big thank you to @visityork for inviting me to the York food and drink festival and also to enjoy the wonderful city of York. Also thank you to Best Western Monkbar Hotel for hosting me during this event. My views have not been influenced and are entirely my own.