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Taste Festivals summer season kicks off in Edinburgh

On 28th – 30th May, the first of the summer’s UK-wide Taste Festivals arrived at Edinburgh’s Inverleith Park.

The ever-unpredictable Scottish weather just about kept the rain at bay as visitors strolled through the tents sampling freshly prepared food from local restaurants and suppliers. There was a distinctly Scottish flavour to the Small Producers Market including game and sausages from the Deeside Smokehouse; local ale from Scotland’s newest independent brewery Stewart Brewing; tender, free range venison from Fletchers of Auchtermuchty and a collection of Food and Drink Producers from nearby East Lothian.

Among the newcomers to this year’s Taste of Edinburgh was Castle Street restaurant Tony’s Table, where pigs were, quite literally, flying. Crowds couldn’t get enough restaurateur Tony Singh’s Perthshire pork served in Ugly Bread from the restaurant’s bakery, or his mum’s recipe for chickpea curry. Despite being not even 18 months old, the restaurant has already won rave reviews, including a 2010 Bib Gourmand, and co-owner and restaurant manager David Mackenzie said he was “delighted” with the response they were receiving at Taste.

Other local favourites in attendance included Edinburgh’s veteran gourmets Valvona & Crolla and their sophisticated eatery Vin Caffe; and George Street’s Centotre, who are also responsible for the popular Scottish Cafe and Restaurant, housed below the National Gallery of Scotland. Award-winning chef Tom Kitchin, the brains behind The Kitchin, his Michelin-starred restaurant in Edinburgh’s shore district of Leith, appeared at the ScottishPower Taste Theatre to encourage us all to be creative with our leftovers in association with the government’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign.

Another worthwhile campaign on the menu was Action Against Hunger, a humanitarian organisation committed to fighting malnutrition  across the world. Tristan Welch, from the BBC’s Great British Menu and head chef at London’s Launceston Place, created a locally inspired menu of modern British food, including Scottish lobster and roasted fillet of beef with all proceeds going to the charity. Jean-Michel Grand, executive director for Action Against Hunger said: “The pop-up restaurant will provide a great opportunity to indulge in Tristan Welch’s delicacies while helping make a difference in the international fight against child hunger.”

And the festival wasn’t just there to encourage visitors to try other people’s food – there were plenty of opportunities to improve you own cooking skills. AEG Cooking Classes showed festival-goers how to create an impressive starter, main course and dessert in association with Nick Nairn Cook School, and also hosted a parent and child cookery session. Meanwhile, the John Lewis Chef’s Table was on hand to provide free tips and tricks for creating classic basics, along with demonstrations and question and answer sessions with well known chefs.

But if it was all just a little bit too much you could opt, as many of us did, to grab a glass of champagne, a pint of fruity ale or a refreshing jug of Pimms and just sit back and enjoy the sunshine. And what better way to do this than with a laidback from the Jam House bandstand tent? A glorious summer afternoon – roll on next year.

Forthcoming Taste Festivals:

Taste of Dublin: Iveagh Gardens, 10 – 13 June

Taste of London: Regent’s Park, 17 – 20 June

Taste of Birmingham: Cannon Hill Park, 16 – 18 July

About Vikki Jones

Vikki Jones is a journalist based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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