PREVIEW: EAT! Festival
For two weeks, out go pease pudding, stotties and clooties to be replaced by some rather more outlandish and exotic flavours.
Portucastle-upon-Wine at the County Hotel, Newcastle on Thursday 19th July offers tapas and wine tasting, while Sarah Savoy’s Cajun Home Cooking at the Sage, Gateshead on Sunday 22nd combines traditional recipes from the American Deep South with performances of Savoy’s own roots music. Somewhat more homely fare can be found on Sunday 15th at Cakebook Britain at Saltwell Park in Gateshead, though the traditional bakery on show will come with a twist – attendees are encouraged to contribute to the enormous edible cake-map of Britain which forms the centrepiece of the day. If you’ve ever secretly harboured a desire to make a banoffee Ben Nevis or recreate Stonehenge in sponge cake, this is your chance.
For those with more refined tastes, the listed Elliot House in Newcastle’s west end, now a refuge for the homeless, will open both its front doors and the gate to its walled garden from Thursday 19th to Saturday 21st July as residents prepare and serve food in a pop-up restaurant. Expert barmen from Popolo’s, Hotel du Vin and the BALTIC gallery bar will be on hand at the Speakeasy launch party on Friday 13th to share their knowledge of all things alcoholic, and Wayne Collins from BBC1’s Something For The Weekend will be hosting a seminar on classic cocktails there on Tuesday 17th.
The Speakeasy itself is a 1920s-style drinks joint which encourages period dress and is so hip its exact location is still yet to be announced. Just to add another frisson of exclusivity to the Speakeasy, prospective drinkers will have to answer a riddle in order to gain access to it. Equally secretive is the Secret Paladares initiative, wherein secret restaurants are opened across Newcastle and Gateshead and patrons are not informed of exactly where they will be eating until the very last minute.
Beer-lovers should keep the Friday 27th to Tuesday 31st of July free, as food and drink writer Alastair Gilmour will be conducting a pilgrimage around some of Newcastle city centre’s finest pubs. The Chilli and Beer Festival at the Stephenson Works behind Newcastle Central Station should also excite the ale-inclined between Friday 27th and Sunday 29th July.
The EAT! Festival has become something of an institution since its inception, and this year’s celebration of global cuisine should help cement the North East’s reputation as a gastronomic hotbed.
EAT! Festival takes place across various venues in Newcastle and Gateshead from Friday 13th until Sunday 29th July.
- Secret Restaurants at ¡VAMOS! Festival