Past Masterchef winners and renowned chefs with eponymous restaurants drew the crowds to the Foodies Festival Christmas at the EICC earlier this month (November) and Taste Buds reviewer, Suzy Powell, was one of them.
With a retro theme, cooking demonstrations, gin cocktail masterclasses and two huge and varied markets selling everything from the latest kitchen gadgets (Spiralizers) to bubblegum fudge and a feast of goodies in between, the Festival attracted hundreds of foodlovers over the weekend.
It was a fitting finale towards the end of the Year of Food & Drink, 12 months ofÂ promoting Scotlandâ€™s abundant, quality produce to visitors and Scots alike.The days of the deep fried Mars Bar and lumpy lentil soup were a distant memory as Edinburgh and Lothian foodies tucked into samples of cheese with names like Red Devil and Green Thunder, carrot cake fit for a queen (served at the Palace of Holyrood House), and cured meat (even zebra!).
Scotlandâ€™s produce has most definitely grown up. We now have craft gins and beers; vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free alternatives; cold pressed rapeseed oils produced here in Lothian set to rival the taste and health benefits of Italian olive oil; Â foraging for mushrooms, herbs and spices and a return to the kind of dishes frequently served up by our parents and grandparents in the 1960s.
Cafe St Honore Chef, Neil Forbes, produced his own version of duck a lâ€™orange, with wild mallard, mixed spice and duck fat. His Christmas pudding had Festival-goers queuing up to savour the taste of more than 40 ingredients which packed a punch.Â Neil called for more aspiring chefs to come forward â€“ despite the foodie revival, fewer people want to work in kitchens.Â â€œItâ€™s hugely important to inspire the next generation as people donâ€™t want to be chefs,â€ he explained.
Luckily there was no shortage of participants at the Elf Cookery School, rolling their sleeves up to make snowman faces and melted snowmen with icing sugar, biscuit and a smattering of sweets, much enjoyed by my 12 year-old daughter and other â€œelvesâ€.
There was inspiration aplenty, from new recipes and ingredients to old favourites with a twist. Baked Alaska anyone?
Celebrating its 10th year, the Foodies Festival certainly cooked up a storm.
Photographs courtesy of Greg Macvean