[Other committments have meant posts on Scrumptious Scran have been a bit scant of late. Apologies, as normal service is about to be resumed.]
|Cullinary action-packed Savour festival.|
I do like a good food festival, hence – as I mentioned in my last post – my excitement at attending the recent Savour festival in Edinburgh. So did the festival warrant my enthusiasm? Well, initial signs were promising, given that JML and I were issued with our own sets of cutlery and a wine glass each, as soon as we stepped through the entrance of Summerhall. Guided up the labyrinthine venue’s stairs, we emerged in to the bustling part of the venue that housed Savour’s “Main Course” area.
It was immediately apparent that this wasn’t going to be a bog-standard food event. Summerhall’s Dissection Room (don’t fear, this was once a veterinary school) resembled a cross between a continental market and a banquet, with a plethora of inviting stalls positioned around the periphery that were, quite literally, feeding the rows of tables occupying the centre of this cavernous space. The premise was straightforward: peruse a stall; select your food or drink of choice; find a seat, consume and contemplate. So what proved a hit with our collective palettes?
To be fair, there was so much to choose from it was difficult sample everything. The ham hough and black pudding terrine from Field restaurant was subtly divine, and packed with meaty flavours. Union of Genius – Edinburgh’s finest purveyor of freshly-made soup, in my opinion – provided a piece of culinary theatre with their cullen skink, which as well as being packed with lovely smoked haddock and sprinkled with dried seaweed, was also given a second blast of hickory smoke in a bell jar before serving. A taste of Mumbai and East African street food was provided courtesy of Bindi, which served a range of fresh and spicy vegetarian tapas-style dishes. Everything on their stall was mouth-wateringly good, but I shall definitely be visiting the restaurant for a second sample of dhokra – savoury semolina, yoghurt and chickpea flour cakes with green chilli and coriander chutney.
|Savour Festival – hanging hams.|
The Main Course area wasn’t all about scoffing, however. There was some super quaffing to be had. The charming and knowledgeable people from Vino wine merchants were on hand to provide a range of reds and whites that were the perfect accompaniment to the food that was on offer. I shall certainly be purchasing a bottle of the excellent picpoul de pinet I sampled. Samples of the excellent Pickering’s Gin – the first such spirit to be distilled in Edinburgh for over 150 years – were also on offer. Distilled at Summerhall itself, this is a beautifully smooth gin flavoured with a smashing blend of botanicals. I’d be keen to join one of the guided tours of the distillery to see exactly how this smashing drink it made.
It was also a case of “all hail to the ale” in the “Beer Lab” section of the festival. Curated by students from Queen Margaret’s University’s MSc in Gastronomy, this truly provided a multi-sensory journey into the world of beer, combining brewing history, encounters with ingredients and tastings of the finished products. And whilst talking of tasting, I was delighted to be identified as a potential “super taster” during my visit to the lab. Biting on a cotton bud soaked in the chemical propylthiouracil resulted in my experiencing an almost excruciatingly bitter taste. JML, by contrast, didn’t taste a thing, which is odd given his ongoing aversion to the heavily-hopped beers I adore.
|Campbell’s smashing smoked fish.|
We finished off our tour of Savour with a visit to the “Cheese Lounge and Larder”. Organised by The Edinburgh Larder, this turned out to be more of a pop-up delicatessen, featuring shelves groaning under the weight of produce. I certainly wasn’t complaining however, as the place was packed with sensational chutneys, cheeses and artisan bread. After availing ourselves of numerous free nibbles we left laden with some delicious goats’ cheese brie, caramelised onion chutney and freshly-baked sourdough.
I have to admire the organisers of Savour for trying something a bit different in terms of a culinary festival. It was certainly popular – so much so that the sell out crowd made manoeuvring around the various venues a bit of a challenge at times. It was also both inventive in its approach and admirable in its championing of local producers and suppliers. Here’s hoping there will be something just as inviting to savour at Summerhall next year.