The Week in Food

The Big Feastival
From 1 – 3 July, The Big Feastival hits Clapham Common with the first ever food and music festival sponsored by the Jamie Oliver Foundation and it looks like it is going to be the place to see and be seen this weekend, now that Glastonbury 2011 has entered the ‘history’ section of Wikipedia.   A main stage and band stage will host Soul II Soul, The Athletes, The Charlatans, Norman Jay, The Cuban Brothers and lots more.  Then there are live comedy acts like Jimmy McGhie and Tom Deacon.  The British BBQ Society are sponsoring a BBQ cookoff for grownups and two ages of children as well as a Pit Masters’ Exhibition.  Then there’s the Little Dudes Den with storytelling, crafts, magic and puppets and a fabulous-sounding WI tent that doesn’t sound like any meeting of the Women’s Institute we’ve ever crashed.  A really amazing line-up of chefs and food writers will populate the The Big Kitchen, including Michael Caines MBE, Rachel Allen, Gizzi Erskine, Peter Gordon, Sophie Grigson, Atul Kochhar, Giorgio Locatelli and the adorable Jamie Oliver himself.  The Kitchen Garden is full of ideas and experts too.
And what about the food?  There’s an irresistible shared menu from some of Britain’s best restaurants like The Cinnamon Kitchen, Benares, Cafe Spice Namaste, Fifteen, Locanda Locatelli, Mango Tree, Redhook, Trinity, Wahaca and many more.    Did you adore that chicken tikka pie from Benares at Taste of London?  Here’s another chance to sample it because it’s on the menu for Feastival too.  Tickets offer entry only, food and entry, and food, VIP experience and entry.  Children under 12 are free!  How cool is that?  And proceeds benefit The Prince’s Trust and The Jamie Oliver Foundation.  Which is also very, very cool.
Waterloo Quarter Food Festival
Sorry, we’re not being terribly clever with our section titles today, but we reckoned this would be easier for you to scan.  The Waterloo Quarter Food Festival starts this Thursday, 30 June, and runs right through the month of July.  Now in its third year, the festival gives you loads of chances to sample new dishes, sip mojitos at and Latin Street Party, find your way into exclusive tasting events, competitions and food fairs.
The area around Waterloo has enjoyed a wonderful renaissance among its restaurants, eateries and markets over the past few years.  We go a little weak at the knees over the Bangalore Express, though Baltic is also a personal favourite.  You toptable diners have given The Laughing Gravy top diner rating and also like Cotto and a lot of other places.  You need to get yourself onto the website to access their Gastro Passport diner discount programme during the festival, because while we always have special offers on toptable, you know how much we love discounts.
Streatham Festival
The capital is hopping with events that start this week and this weekend.  The Streatham Festival is now in its 10th year, shining a spotlight on local musical and artistic talent, the vibrant and exciting melange of cultures and traditions that come together in this part of London to create one of the most exciting neighbourhoods in the capital.  It all kicks off on Saturday, 2 July, with the Big Day Out (free!) at the top of Streatham Common in the afternoon and runs through the 10th of July.
Food doesn’t seem to be a huge part of this festival, so toptable is riding to the rescue with restaurants in Streatham.
Hampshire Food Festival
The Hampshire Food Festival — 1 – 31 July — has a different focus, far from the madding crowd, with an event that features the countryside and villages and towns with an array of farm open days and walks, brewery and vineyard and orchard tours, trout and venison farming, foraging and beekeeping as well as tastings, cookery demonstrations and cookery competitions.  It’s a joyous celebration of food producers right across the county, hosting more than 90 events from one end of Hampshire to the other.  Atul Kochhar, that amazingly busy chef, will be doing an exciting Indian BBQ on the terrace at Vatika overlooking the Wickham Vineyard.  And there are gourmet lunches and dinners, charity cream teas and scrumptious Sunday roasts.  The terrible tendency when we chat about food festivals is to resort to long lists of events.  Instead, just click on the searchable festival programme to find the things that tickle your pickle.
Leeds Loves Food
This weekend, Leeds Loves Food, from 1 – 3 July with a festival that’s bigger and better than ever before.  Now in its sixth year, the festival now has a vast Yorkshire food and drink show. Held in Millennium Square, the show will bring more than a hundred stallholders from across the UK to the city for the first time.  That’s in addition to all the tastings, classes and demonstrations and special menus and meals.  For one weekend, Leeds surrenders to the glory of locally-produced food and the blinding talents of its local chefs, bakers and sommeliers.  It’s exciting and indulgent and not-to-be-missed.
But we already knew how great Leeds’ food scene is, because you toptable diners have gifted a whole raft of Leeds restaurants with top diner rating, like The Restaurant at The New Ellington (with special offers right now), Gaucho, Kendells Bistro, The Bird (more special offers) and many others.
From south to north, England is celebrating food this month, so grab the chance to get out in the summer sunshine — or whatever it may bring — and celebrate our bountiful country and its talented producers.  Enjoy!