Brighton and Hove Food and Drink Festival

I write this sat in my kitchen on bank holiday Monday evening at the end of a fantastic week of foodie fun.

Brighton's Boho Gelato

The Brighton and Hove Food and Drink Spring Harvest Festival saw a vast array of events taking place across the city this past week; culminating in the free festival on Hove Lawns over the bank holiday weekend. I was lucky enough to attend a number of events and thought I would share my week with you.

Things kicked off on Tuesday with the Curry Leaf Café banquet at Malmaison hotel. The event saw head chef Kanthi Kiran Thamma prepare a four-course Indian meal for guests with all proceeds being donated to food distribution charity Fareshare.

The menu showcased dishes from different regions of India famous for their different techniques and spicing. The meal was an absolute triumph with chef Kanthi showing why the Curry Leaf Café is regarded as one of Brighton’s best restaurants.

My personal highlight was the Cod Macher Johl from the Bengal region. The spicing on this dish was balanced to perfection with subtle mustard and woody notes followed by a gentle heat. The event was topped off by a charity auction, and some excellent dancing by chef, all of which raised over £4000 for Fareshare.

Thursday night saw the return of the Beer and cider tasting event “Bitter and Twisted”.

This was the first event to make use of the festival marquee on Hove Lawns. We were presented with seven different drinks from producers across the region and asked to judge each not just on taste but also a three-minute presentation from the brewer.

The well attended event really kicked off when the Arundel Brewery and Bison Beer collaboration Dirty Rascal Double IPA was dished out.

This was the beers first outing and at 7.5% abv it was not to be sniffed at – although if you had you would be rewarded with a fruity aroma.

Despite being an excellent hoppy and tropical fruit beverage it was not our winner. That accolade was reserved for Two Tribes brewery and their aptly named Supersonic Saison. This topped the scales at 8.5% abv but the smooth Belgian style beer had much more to offer than a serious alcohol content. Delicious and easy drinking with malty orange notes it was a worthy winner.

The following evening saw the return of the extremely popular Make Your Case wine tasting event.

This blind wine tasting extravaganza pitched nine different contestants against each trying to champion their chosen wine. They have to convince the audience to vote for their wine without mentioning the price, grape or origin.

This was a really fun event and is often one of the festival highlights. The eventual winner was Sussex’s very own Ridgeview Cavendish.

This made it a doubly successful week for the company who announced they will be supplying 10 Downing Street for future events – although I am sure this victory was the bigger news.

The event also raised £1000 for the Rockinghorse Children’s Charity with a blind raffle and wine auction.

Real men barbecue - The Indy’s Tom (right) joins Finn Scott-Delaney (left) at the grill, under the expert eye of Kieron James (middle) from The Windmill.

Still reeling from the previous two days the weekend festival on Hove Lawns was upon me. It was not going to be any normal festival for me as I had agreed to take part in the Beach BBQ Cook Off on Saturday morning.

This was made somewhat more challenging as the Brighton weather had decided to take a turn for the worst. Not to be deterred I got down there for 11am with my flat iron steak from Barfield’s Butchers and took on the challenge.

My opponent was Finn Scott-Delaney of the Argus and we both battled valiantly through a torrential downpour – and a massive thank you to the crowd that remained to watch us. We had a great time and it was a double first for me as I also had to cook Rocky Mountain oysters in the mystery round –these are lamb’s testicles to you and me.

After the somewhat soggy start to the weekend things picked up and on Sunday and the festival was absolutely heaving with excited food lovers. It was really wonderful to see so many people enjoying themselves and soaking up the Brighton food scene.

I wound up the weekend at Market in Hove for the Taste of Guernsey lunch from chef Simon Mckenzie of the five star Old Government House, Guernsey. Brighton Festival has linked up with the Guernsey Food Festival and this taste of the islands food scene was the perfect end to the week.

Simon prepared an elegant five-course menu showcasing some of the excellent produce such as Fort Grey cheese and lamb from nearby Sark.

It was a fantastic meal and Simon handled each of the ingredients with complete respect. The horseradish vodka cured salmon dish with spiced lentils and a parma ham crumb was a joy to behold.

It was a fantastic festival week and I really hope that you managed to experience it for yourselves.

If not, then head over to the website and check out the year round events and keep an eye out for the autumn festival later in the year.

It was great to see that the city has such a well engaged food community that the people of Brighton and Hove appreciate and support.

Well done to everyone involved and to all of you who came along and got involved.

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