Thursday, 13 September 2012

feastRen Food Festival, Saturday 8th - Sunday 9th September

From 1st-16th September, East Renfrewshire Council in association with Whole Foods Market Giffnock, and The Cook School Scotland ,have been running and promoting 'feastRen'. This isn't just a simple play on words but a celebration of everything food related from restaurants, cafes & delicatessens, to food & drink retailers, as well as raising awareness to the the local producers who work their magic in and around East Renfrewshire (of which there is no shortage).

There have been various events hosted over the two week period including cooking demonstrations from some of the top chefs in Scotland, John Quigley of Red Onion, Jacqueline O'Donnell of The Sisters, Guy Cowan of Guys Restaurant, Ian Brown of Ian Brown Restaurant, and Phil Lewis from The Cook School Scotland were all involved in events where they could pass on some skills and tips to those keen to learn. There were tasting nights hosted at various restaurants and within Whole Foods Market, plus lots of events aimed at getting both adults and children more interested in the food they eat and where it comes from.

The highlight of the two week extravaganza was a fantastically well attended two day Festival held on the grounds of Eastwood Park. This event gave visitors to the park the chance to get up close and personal with some of the people responsible for the many delicious products that we have available close to home, as well as catching a glimpse of Michelin starred chef Martin Wishart, who closed day one of the festival with a cookery demonstration played out to a packed crowd in Eastwood Park Theatre.

The ethos of Whole Foods Market has always been about providing fresh, quality produce whilst giving support to local producers and offering a platform where the producer can get their products on to the supermarket shelves. To back this up, Carmichael Hall was taken over by Whole Foods Market Giffnock and set up as a 'Meet The Producer' market.

Some of the producers who supply Whole Foods Market Giffnock were invited to come along and set up stall, giving them the opportunity to tell their story, give out samples and of course let the public buy their goods directly from source. I was already aware of a few of the suppliers from the local farmers markets so it was good to catch up with them, whilst also meeting the faces behind products that were new to myself.

Meet The Producers

SIMPLYaddCHILLI "an honest product filled with homespun traditions" Lovingly handmade by Susan McCann, with 100% fresh ingredients, the unique and exciting flavour of SIMPLYaddCHILLI comes from the combination of fresh chillies and strawberries. Keep up to date on Facebook and Twitter.

Thorntonhall Farmhouse Ice Cream John & Micki Henderson offer a wide range of locally produced real dairy ice creams and fruit sorbets. Keep up to date on Facebook and Twitter.

Thistly Cross Cider is a collaboration between farmer, Ian Rennie, and artist-turned-cidermaker, Peter Stuart. Thistly Cross has gained a reputation for making ciders that people rave about. Keep up to date on Facebook and Twitter.

Great Glen Game Charcuterie with a difference, made with wild venison, sustainably sourced from the Great Glens of Scotland. Keep up to date on Facebook and Twitter.
John Mellis Honey look after over 400 colonies of bees and is able to produce a range of top quality honeys from the diverse forage to be found in Dumfries & Galloway.
Whole Foods Market Giffnock have a huge range of freshly baked breads, quality butcher meats and a mighty range of fruit and vegetables. Keep up to date on Facebook and Twitter.

The Wee Fudge Company is Scotland's newest producer of the most delicious melt-in-the-mouth Scottish fudge. Keep up to date on Facebook and Twitter.

Pincer Vodka combine centuries of distilling heritage, 100% selected grain and the finest sottish mountain water with the natural botanical extracts of Milk Thistle and Wild Elderflower. Keep up to date on Facebook & Twitter.

Milldown Salt Milldown reduced sodium sea salt offers 66.7% less sodium than standard salt but with no compromise on flavour. They have also developed a range of seasoning mixes using recipes from around the world. Keep up to date on Facebook and Twitter.

Stoats Taking their time to source the finest Scottish oats to make their range of handmade oat-based products. Keep up to date on Facebook and Twitter.

Outside of the hall, Mhor Fish of Callander were serving up delicious fish and chips from a converted horse box.

The happy customers were able to enjoy their lunch washed down with tasty craft beers served from the Whole Foods Market beer tent whilst listening to the live music that was played throughout the day.

For those who wandered a little further into the park, there were even more tasty treats available. A few more local producers were kept busy with the passing trade. Local restaurant S.J. @ Snooks had customers queueing all weekend for burgers from the barbecue, whilst local pork producer Lochbyre Rare Breed Meat sold out two days running! Keep up with Lochbyre on Facebook and Twitter.

Elsewhere in the park, there was a demo tent where local restaurants were on view, cooking up some of the dishes from their own menus. The organisers had done their best to make sure that there was always plenty to see or do. Glasgow Crafters Cooperative had organised a brilliant craft tent which was packed to the rafters with local crafters selling their wonderful creations. My gorgeous wife had one of the stalls within the tent which meant when LittleGems Jewellery was selling to her own customers, I was able to enjoy the foodie stuff, what a perfect balance. Finally, in order to help keep the children amused there were bouncy castles, puppet shows and face painting.

After two full days, the festival came to a close. All of the producers that I had spoken to had enjoyed the event and had either sold out, or had come close to selling out of the stock that they had brought to market.

As the country began to settle down to watch the closing ceremony of the London Paralympics, the locals of East Renfrewshire where attending the "feastRen Food Festival Award Ceremony". Over 1600 votes had been cast by visitors to the feastRen Facebook page, or had been cast by visitors to the two day event in the park. Radio presenter, journalist, and Daily Record food critic Tam Cowan was in attendance to present the ceremony and give the worthy winners their prizes.

Before the winners were announced there was a quick recap of the events so far, this included a few comedy spoof films involving some of the previously mentioned chefs. Next, Guy Cowan was on stage doing a quick cookery demonstration where he served up an amazing pan roasted lamb fillet with spiced potato dish. (I was lucky enough to end up on stage and help. Although when I say help, I mean stirred the potatoes). I'm trying to get hold of the lamb recipe from Guy and as soon as I do, I will get it posted up on the blog.

As the night began to reach its climax, it was time for the winners to be announced. There were four public vote categories, and one Best of The Fest award. The winners are as follows;
Best Food & Drink Retailer - Whole Foods Market Giffnock

Best Producer - The Wee Fudge Company, Clarkston

Best Newcomer - Pane e Vino, Giffnock

Best Eatery - Il Pavone Sud, Newton Mearns

Best Of The Fest - Jacqueline O'Donnell of The Sisters Restaurant took the prize after being heavily involved in a number of events and always being on hand to keep her chef counterparts in hand.

So after two full days of preparation, presentation, packing and tidying, smiling and selling, it was time to go home. I absolutely loved the festival and consider myself fortunate to have so many wonderful products available to buy and eat in my local area.

The products that I have been lucky enough to sample over the weekend are all available to buy either from your farmers markets across East Renfrewshire or from Whole Foods Market Giffnock, however - no matter where ever you are, there are loads of quality products right under your nose! You just need to look for them.

You can see what you missed by watching the video. Don't worry because next year isn't too that far away.



Anonymous said...

Brilliant post Gerry! I'll be at the Good Food Show this Sunday, and will definitely take some tips from this post on how to do my writeup. Cheers!

Unknown said...

Thx for the feedback. I can't make the BBC GoodFood Show. Let me know when you post, be good to read about the event.

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