The festival organisers created a lovely atmosphere on each floor of the venue. To give the hungry eye a welcome respite from the tempting food stalls, upstairs was dedicated to artsy stalls selling selections of crafts. I spoke briefly to Allison Marsay, a Leeds-based designer selling her handmade illustrations, trinkets and jewellery. She said she doesn’t always like to do festival-style trading, but delighted at the relaxed nature of the Belgrave Feast. The record stall drew in many thrift-seekers, including myself – its constant flow of customers was a testimony to the resurgence of vinyl bargain-hunting from independent sellers. Jurassic Park was projected onto the screen, whilst for the children, there was a designated play area showing Toy Story. People milled around happily, sipping bespoke beer from Summer Wine, Magic Rock, Flying Dog and more, with grub from any one of the niche food traders.
Belgrave regulars provided ever-satisfying dishes, from Patty Smith’s ‘Dirty Burger’ to the dainty sweet treats of Noisette Bakehouse. Dough Boys also thrived as usual, continuously doling out hot slices of pizza to those looking for a quick-fix. There was also a ‘Dough Babies’ pizza-making class, which provided another fun and engaging activity for children. The ‘Marty McFries Special’ from ‘Back To The Future Day’ made a return for one more day only – a guiltily generous portion of chips, sausage, shallots, pickles, rosemary, ketchup and American mustard – which my friends and I polished off pretty quickly. The whole day evoked a community atmosphere, full of happy people who all share an appreciation of food, drink, music, art and cinema.
Effective use of bold, eye-catching marketing and tasty food made way for a successful day for Mojo. Representing a popular local venue, just around the corner from Belgrave, they graced the Feast with their ‘shabby New York dive-style chic’. With the slogan ‘music for the people, food for the soul, good times forever’, this was a sure-fire way to attract fresh-faced students new to the indie food market.
Enticing aromas wafted from this first-generation street-food trader, boasting exotic samples of ‘masala dosa’ as well as other Indian vegetarian delights. The local, small family business pride themselves in being Leeds’ ‘Number 1 Chaat Station’, taking their aromatic goodies out and about in a converted yellow horsebox. So quaint, so charming, and a definite treat for the taste buds.
This brand of traditional smoked Southern-style food was a crowd-pleaser with their appetising menu of ‘Spiced & Smoked Pork Belly’ with fennel & cabbage slaw and BBQ hot sauce in brioche – a feast fit for the Feast – as well as ’12-hour Smoked Beef Short Rib’. They also boasted ‘Cheeky Chips’, which included smoked ox cheeks on double cooked chips and shallot rings. One helping of a Smokin’ Blues dish would be satisfy for hours, what with its richness and classic barbecue flavours.
Bangers and Bacon
Strategically placed by the entrance, it was hard not to be enticed by the smell of sizzling pork coming from their stall. Sausage connoisseurs Bangers and Bacon brought their quirky combinations to the people of Leeds, offering carnivorous servings of crispy pork sandwiches and ‘Roast on a Post’, comprising of sausage, carrots, Yorkshire pudding, and gravy, served in a rather novel way.
Gourmet mac ‘n’ cheese – who’d have thought? Somehow, MELT injects a new excitement into the classic dish by ‘merging tradition and locally sourced ingredients with creativity to create something both familiar and unexpected’. Although not all their inventive ‘macs’ such as the ‘Sunday Brunch (Smoked Salmon) Mac’, were on offer at the Feast, there was still plenty of ‘cheesy meaty goodness’ to get stuck into. It was evident that MELT consciously makes an effort to use organic ingredients to create a satisfying comfort food, gourmet-style.