Bolton Food & Drink Festival 2011

This is an archived post, moved over from my old Blogger account- hence the lack of photos! If you’d like to see it in it’s full glory, you can still access it at

So we had a drive out this morning to check out the ‘specialist food market’ which is part of this year’s Bolton Food and Drink Festival.

As we walked onto the square in front of the town hall it was packed. There was a huge queue of people waiting to get into the demo marquee- from the chatter I gathered that they were waiting for Gino D’Campo. I’m not a massive fan of chef demos, for me it is all about the food, as I headed straight to the stalls.

The first row of stalls didn’t fill me with much hope: Isle of Wight Garlic Company, German Salami and Cornish Cider. I am a bit of a purist- I go to food festivals for the food of the area. Anyway, personal nit-picking aside, I pushed on through quite a crowd, found some of my favourite regional producers and did manage to pick up some gems.

I must urge everyone to check out James at Dough 2B Different. This guy is just 17 years old, and making great breads. He won a couple of awards at this year’s Food NW Fine Food Awards and is up for a rising star gong at the national bakery awards early in September. When I was 17, I could only make cheese on toast!

Today, I got a fig and walnut loaf on his recommendation. I’ve just had it with feta cheese and Reedy’s plum chutney. What great bread- the fig gave it a lovely sweetness which went great with the plum chutney and the walnut added some interesting texture. A baguette will also be put to good use later on with a dressed crab I picked up from Baxters as bruschetta for tea.

I also stocked up on smoked haddock and smoked mackerel from Port of Lancaster Smokehouse. I am a recent convert to goats’ cheese, and Gillian at Capra Products makes some crackers. I really like her goats’ cheese with lime and ginger so a tub of that will be going onto a nice crispy pizza later in the week.

A few other local faces are there: Bowland Pork with their hog roast, Reedy’s Naturally (great raspberry and vanilla jam!), Fitzpatricks, Gift of Oil and The Chocolate Café. I also noticed an ice cream company called Holdens who seem to be Bolton-based but it was too cold to contemplate a cornet! I will look for them in the future.

There is other stuff going on as well as the market- special offers in local restaurants and a pop-up Harvey Nichols restaurant in an empty Olive Press in the town centre. To be fair, I would have liked to have tried this as the Supper Club menu is very good value and has always been great when I’ve had it in Manchester. But the dates didn’t work for me, so maybe next time.

I have quite a soft spot for Bolton as I use to work there and was even involved in the first food and drink festival. And I love Bolton Market – it is my go-to place for fish and seafood. But there was just something missing today. I can’t put my finger on it, maybe it’s the emphasis on ‘celebrity’ chefs, maybe it was just me; but it just seemed to be lacking some spark. But hey, what do I know; the crowds of people there would suggest that I am in the minority.

The market is on until Monday 29th August – so if you are around Bolton on Bank Holiday Monday, drop into the town centre and see for yourself.

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