Posted 11th July 2011
As the only one of the Foodie girls left in Bristol a couple of weekends ago (Gemma and Becci have both swanned off on weekends away), I thought I’d take one for the team and head down to Grillstock, the UK’s biggest BBQ festival. I must say a big thank you to Newman’s Own for the tickets, but even on the gate tickets were only £6.50 a day, or £10 for the whole weekend, and considering what’s on offer that’s not bad at all.
Set up across the Llloyd’s area of Bristol Harbourside, Grillstock isn’t huge, but the amphitheatre area provided the perfect setting for the live acts, showcasing everything from some brilliant deep south Blues bands to a tight rope walking violinist from the Invisible Circus. The Newman’s Own tent was drawing in the crowds too with their live demonstrations, and were offering some novel uses for their ranges of dressings-French Dressing marinated scallops anyone?
Entertainment aside, it was clear to see that most people were there for the food-everyone either had their hands, or mouths full! Variety wise we’re talking all things hot, smoked or spicy, ranging from Smoky Joe’s Caribbean Jerk Chicken Baps to Soul Burger’s legendary rolls-sorry to the veggies out there, but this festival was aimed completely at the carnivores.
With the memory of the hog roast we’d had in Glastonbury still fresh in our minds, both of us made a beeline for Kenniford Farm’s stand, and their Devon-reared hog roast rolls. I thoroughly enjoyed my bap, filled with huge slabs of pork, crackling and apple sauce, but I had to agree with Will, who said he would have preferred his pork to have been pulled rather than sliced, so that it was melt in your mouth as opposed to chewy. Either way, at £4.50 for what was the best part of a Sunday Roast in a roll, you’d be hard pushed to complain.
Grillstock offers a multitude of various stalls to peruse as well. Variety isn’t massive, as after all, this is a BBQ festival, but marinades, sauces and seasonings were the order of the day, and there were plenty of these to taste. Some of the highlights were Major Marinades, Bodean’s Chilli Sauces and one that I’ll definitely be looking up locally – Chiman’s Authentic Indian Spice Blends. Available at various locations around Bristol, these spice blends promise authentic results, and the tandoori chicken I sampled was one of the freshest, tastiest variations I’d ever had.
Bristol Foodie favourite Bath Pig Chorizo were also showing off their wares, and were drawing some sizeable crowds with their original, spicy and garlic and herb chorizo aromas-I came home with a garlic and herb sausage (a bargain at £3.50), and will be using it in a Chorizo Hash for tea tonight!
As usual, my boyfriend Will managed to home in on one of the very few stalls offering something for those with a sweet tooth, and polished off one of local bakery Crumpet’s Cookies and Cream cupcakes. Available from Mark’s Bread on North Street and the Olive Shed on Gloucester Road, these little works of art don’t just look beautiful, but they taste pretty damn good too.
The only slight disappointment of the day was, unfortunately, the part I’d most been looking forward to-the Tasting Tent. One of the main attractions at Grillstock is the “King of the Grill” BBQ competition, where BBQ enthusiasts enter into a mammoth meaty cook off, to be judged by the expert panel and named “King of the Grill”. Their food is sampled not only by the judges but by the other festival goers too, but after queuing for ten minutes to get into the Tasting Tent we were handed a plastic bowl with a mouthful of chicken in it-not what you’d expect when the vast amounts of food that was being piled up, fresh from the competitor’s grills, was plain to see.
But Tasting Tent aside, Grillstock was a wonderful way to spend a sunny afternoon on Bristol’s harbour side. Although tickets were available for the whole weekend, there wasn’t quite enough to keep the majority entertained for two whole days, unless of course you were there mainly for the great music and live acts. I’ve no doubt that this festival will continue to grow, as it’s a great way for small local businesses to showcase what they have to offer to an audience who are clearly passionate about all things foodie, and with all the great grilled grub available, it’s nice to see that us Brits can give the Americans and the Aussies a run for their money in the grill stakes!