Sunday, 1 July 2018

Chow Down - June

A little while ago, the people behind Leeds Indie Food announced that they were planning a new series of food events at The Piece Hall in Halifax. Halifax is just down the road from where I live, so this peaked my interest. When they announced that 25% of the stalls at each event would be vegetarian / vegan, I was sold.

Mr Hatter and I were so excited for Chow Down that we planned to visit on the Saturday so that we could make an afternoon of it, sampling a variety of food and drink and chilling out (or warming up I guess...) in the sun.

We arrived at around 11:50 (the event started at 11) and had a nosey around. On first inspection, we couldn't see many vegan options. On our second lap of the stalls, we still couldn't find any of the savoury vegan food that had been advertised, so we asked someone from the 'colour your own tote' children's play tent, as they looked like the people most likely to know something.

Unfortunately, they were Piece Hall staff rather than Chow Down staff, and couldn't tell us much. (The lady we spoke to was lovely though and helped us as much as she could.) Luckily, someone from the festival happened to be passing while we were speaking to the Piece Hall staff and she flagged her down to make some enquiries for us. After watching her make some phone calls, we were told that three quarters of the stalls we had come to visit were not ready yet (Froconut, Rockin Buddha, Golden Balls... the fourth was Drizzle City Bakes, who were open). Some were in the process of setting up, some hadn't arrived yet.

We were pretty disappointed by now, as the festival had been going for an hour but there had been no warning on social media that not all the stalls would be open from the start. It was also difficult to find someone to ask - we didn't spot anyone in a Chow Down t-shirt, so we had no idea who the organisers were or if there were any stewards.

We decided to get a drink (as it was now after 12, so acceptable - yes?) and have another look around.

Mr Hatter wasn't excited by the beer choices but picked one to try. Upon trying it, he decided that if he wanted another later on, it would be at a local bar instead...

I, on the other hand, was looking forward to trying the selection of "Gin Twists" that were on at the cocktail stand. I opted for a Passionfruit and Peach - at £6, I assumed this would be a craft gin. It turned out to be Bombay Sapphire with passionfruit juice/syrup and a slice of peach. This was pretty disappointing, as I don't like Bombay Sapphire and I do like craft gin. The slice of peach looked a bit worse for wear as well, so after a few sips the whole thing ended up in the bin.

By this time, we were getting hungry and the savoury stalls we were waiting for still weren't open, so we decided to get some cake to keep us going.

Drizzle City Bakes had a lovely selection of cakes, around half of which were vegan. I got a Rose Lemonade Cupcake (below) and the rest of the group opted for Peanut Butter Banana Brownies (I didn't get a photo...). Everyone was very satisfied!

After some more wandering and waiting, we spotted one of the team members from Rockin Buddha, so decided to loiter near their stall until it looked like they were serving. We finally managed to order some savoury food - Rockin Buddha were ready first, so they got our custom. (Golden Balls were still setting up at this point. I had initially planned to try something from both stalls but didn't get around to Golden Balls in the end.)

I chose the meal deal, with Pan Fried Dumplings and Rockin Noodles. The dumplings were good - nicely flavoured. The noodles were really tasty... but room temperature. By this point we were all hungry and I couldn't be bothered going back to complain, so I ate enough of the not-hot noodles to be not-hungry and dealt with it. I would probably give these guys another go, as the food was tasty - but it was another disappointment on a day that we had been looking forward to.

Next came dessert:

Luckily, we had saved the best for last. I was originally planning to come to this stall first to make sure I had plenty of room for it, but with the late opening, they ended up being last (which was probably for the best as it meant we ended on a high point). This place was amazing. At first I couldn't decide which topping combo I wanted to try:

And then I spotted this...

How could I resist???

Mr Hatter chose the chocolate Froconut and I chose the vanilla. Both were fantastic. Mine was a really light flavour, which let the flavour of the biscuits shine through. Mr Hatter was really pleased with his chocolate because it just tasted like chocolate (rather than chocolate and coconut like some coconut-based treats). These Frowiches were seriously epic (and HUGE!).

So, all in all, we had a pretty disappointing experience - but it was brightened by our visit to Froconut. We will definitely visit again if we see them at another event!

Chow Down is set to be a monthly event over the summer, and we were originally planning to try to get to all of them. However, I think now we will only be visiting if there is a vendor we really want to try - and we will make sure not to be there in the first hour or two, just in case!