Leeds Loves Food is the definite highlight of the calendar here in Leeds. A two-week-long festival designed to showcase the incredible foodie culture across the city, culminating in a three day food-fest in Millennium Square. It really is the best. If you haven't been before, I highly recommend marking your diaries now in time for next year - this is where the foodie party is at for sure. I'm not sure I've looked forward to anything as much all year.
Bigger and better than last year, the Handmade in Yorkshire section was a new addition located on Victoria Garden outside the library/art gallery. A row of some of the best food and drink on offer here in God's own county, there were some familiar faces from the street food scene as well as a few new ones that I didn't recognise; from cake stalls to fish and chips, ice cream cones to El Kantina's cone of love, I could easily have lost a few hours in this section alone. But, on a mission to take lots of delicious photos for you, and to stuff myself silly with the best Leeds has to offer, I picked up a copy of the Leeds Food & Drink Guide and headed off into Millennium Square, where the heart of the action was at.
How can I describe the wonders that waited within? It really was foodie heaven, as advertised on the outside, with every imaginable flavour sensation available. A true cornucopia of everything Leeds has to offer, we got there early to avoid the crowds and managed an hour before the place became rammed with hungry Leodians wanting to be fed. You sure have to have patience where this festival is concerned!
There was an incredible mix of food to buy and food to eat - many of the local restaurants have a stall, alongside Yorkshire traders showcasing their wares. I wrote yesterday how much I love the independent food scene in Leeds, and that is one of the beauties of this event - independent businesses rubbing shoulders with some of the Leeds bigwigs (I was drooling at the look of the Harvey Nichols Fifth Floor menu).
Unfortunately, I had to be home to do dissertation work (boo) but it would have been perfect to while away the sunny afternoon grazing on various delicious tidbits and sipping on cocktails, Pimms and local beers. I was quite upset that I couldn't spend time in the Maven's beautifully curated garden - antique furniture and whimsical costumes creating a brilliantly British courtyard to enjoy frozen gin cocktails. Instead, it was home-made lemonade for me, and a quick dash round before heading back to the books; next year, though, I intend to budget time and money to enjoy the show properly.
It was almost impossible to choose what to sample from the various stalls - the cacophony of smells and sounds was a delicious assault on the senses, and not the place for the indecisive! Knowing that my stomach capacity is sadly limited, I chose selectively. From paella and tapas to kebabs and curries, past burgers and hot dogs, brownies and smoothies - I was truly spoilt for choice.
After much deliberation, I opted for a mini Mal burger to start. Look how cute!
After that it was tempura prawns from Chaophyra (although I regretted my decision almost immediately - I should have gone for that delicious looking prawn panang!) and a Yorkshire hot dog to finish. Narrowly cut from the shortlist were beer-steamed mussels from Sandanista and a rump steak sandwich from Crafthouse, and I only didn't pick up a Mint Aero brownie because there was physically no space left!
That wasn't the end of the adventure, however, as I wasn't about to leave full-stomached but empty-handed. Instead, I emptied my purse in return for some gorgeous lemon rapeseed oil from Yorkshire Drizzle, five packs of Heck sausages (including some with mozzarella inside, I bought some last year and I'm so glad they came back!) and some local beers from Beer-Ritz.
I think the quote on this gorgeous antique-looking bath which took pride of place at the Maven x Hendricks stall sums up the experience perfectly!