I Tried a Food and Beer Festival
It's my second year at university, and I'm still loving it, especially trying new things. Last weekend provided a perfect opportunity to try something new when Newcastle's big food festival of the year came to town.
Newcastle's stunning Wylam Brewery was the perfect setting for a great day out. It's found in Exhibition Park, a place I know very well, having lived next to it in my first-year university accommodation halls. My friends and I arrived at the brewery, where our first plan of action was to purchase tokens, which we could then exchange for a plethora of street food. It was £4 per token, which, at first, I thought was quite expensive, but maybe in the current economic climate, this could be considered reasonable or even cheap.
After purchasing our tokens, it was time to grab a pint. There were so many options, including beers, ciders, lagers, and IPAs, with the majority being craft. These certainly weren't cheap, but you don't expect them to be when they aren't your typical branded stuff. I went for a pint of IPA called "Beyond the Dream," which was exactly what I wanted but very strong. It's fair to say that after a couple of these, you were certainly beginning to feel it. This was £8 per pint, which normally I would cringe at seeing, but I already knew this was going to be an expensive day, so I had tried to save accordingly.
With a pint in hand, it was time to experience the main event: food! I started off with a Thai-inspired fish taco. While the taco shell itself wasn't very large, they definitely didn't hold back on filling it up. The flavours were amazing, a good mix of sweet and savoury with a spicy kick that was small yet did the job perfectly. I noticed an odd texture to the fish, only to then realise it wasn't fish but a plant-based substitute. It's amazing how close they can get the flavouring of fish into these substitutes, but I still feel the texture isn't quite there yet and could potentially be off-putting. This was probably my least favourite dish of the day. That's not to say it wasn't tasty; it tasted better than some of the other foods I tried, but I felt the portion size was a little stingy considering the price of the token.
The next place I tried was an Indian street food stall. Here, I had a chicken tikka wrap, which might sound a little boring at a street food event, but that didn't stop it from being delicious. The sauce was perfect, just the right amount of spice, and with the big chicken chunks that required no chewing, it's fair to say I loved this dish. It was wrapped in a thick homemade naan bread, making the perfect combination. The portion size was good too, so you might be surprised to see me put this at the bottom of my rankings. I can't fault anything about it, but the flavours of the fish taco mean the tikka wrap goes into 4th place with the taco in 3rd.
After grabbing another pint, this time a DIPA called "Revenge of the Greenbutt Skunk" which was ridiculously strong yet so enjoyable, it was time to try what my friend had described as the best pizza in Newcastle. The slice came from a Chicago-style deep-dish pizza pie. They make their pizzas look like desserts as a cool gimmick that works even better because the pizza tastes so good. I couldn't even begin to describe to you what toppings were on that pizza because there were so many. The flavours of tomato, meat, and vegetables were the main things I remember taste-wise, but the main thing I remember about that pizza is just how much I enjoyed eating it. The company has a permanent shop in Newcastle that I must try, as I was told by my friend it's even tastier when you order from there. This was easily my second favourite dish, which should give you some idea of just how good my favourite was.
With my last token, I had a Korean barbecue pulled pork sandwich. That might sound very boring and basic, but it was the complete opposite. The bread was homemade and was easily the nicest bread I've ever tried. The crust was so crunchy, yet the dough inside was almost bubbly, filled with so many little air pockets. The pork was incredible and topped with the Korean barbecue sauce; this was a perfect pulled pork sandwich and a perfect way to end my day of tasting food.
Probably the best part of this event was how it catered to everybody. There were university students, families with young children, workdays out, and so many dogs. The park is very easy to get to and just on the outskirts of the city centre, so it's fair to say there were plenty of people there. Set over two days, I'd be interested to know how much the event made; I'm sure it made a fair few pennies.