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Manchester Food Festival 2006

The Food and Drink Festival is well underway, and the food market’s bursting at the seams with regional produce and happy punters…

Published on October 10th 2006.

Manchester Food Festival 2006

Continuing this week is the Manchester Food Festival, based around the twin centres of St Ann’s Square and Albert Square. I took the opportunity to wander round and catch a show this weekend.

The first thing that struck me was the volume of people buying and sampling foods from across the region. I spoke with the organiser, Deborah Robb from North West Fine Foods, who told me that this festival is all about traditional regional fayre, from local Ostrich farming to Black Puddings, regional Cheese, Beers and Wines.

Local foodie specialists such as Shimla Pinks and Kro Bar were also cooking and selling food to the hungry masses. And selling they were. On a decidedly Autumnal day it was great to see folk tucking into proper burgers with “real” cheese, right outside MaccyD's.

Part of the festival is a large marquee with seating for 50 and a kitchen area for cookery demonstrations, which is where I met chef Jason Wass from The Northern Quarter Restaurant, who was about to embark on a journey into the unknown. His intended menu sounded interesting, so I stuck around to watch. Jason planned to cook a Soufflé, along with Venison and Wood Pigeon (as opposed to St Ann’s Pigeon I hoped !).

Come the allotted hour, and Jason took to the stage to a full house to cook Oven Roasted Wood Pigeon, with Lentil and Smoked Bacon cassoulet, confit leg and crisp pancetta, (deep breath) Smoked Venison (which he smoked there and then), chocolate and pistachio soufflé with a beetroot and red wine jus and, as if 2 courses in 40 minutes was not enough, a Halibut dish with braised Leeks and Fennel served on a Saffron broth and cocotte Potatoes.

Considering this was a new Menu (go and try it yourself folks), and a totally alien kitchen, with none of the power of a professional kitchen, the output was remarkable, in terms of presentation and aroma. I allowed myself a sliver of Venison, which came from the Farmers Market in Piccadilly. I'm booking my table at TNQ.

There are activities going on all this week, including a demonstration by Eyck Zimmer on Wednesday. Don't just pass by, stop and see what the Great North West has to offer. Bring your taste buds, but leave your preconceptions at home.

Chris Keller-Jackson

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