After attending last year's fantastical events, I had my heart & hopes set on a fantastic time with some of the finest Mancunian restaurants showing up in force & commanding the charming Albert Square in front of Manchester's Town Hall.
Instead, I waltzed upon a rather scarce display: two beer & ale tents, a Holland's pie tent set up opposite an adult-style ice cream truck called Ginger's Emporium, two picnic tents (beautifully decorated) and four food stalls and a tea stall.
Elsewhere on the grounds, a chef did various cooking technique displays in a spacious tent and representatives from an anti food waste group urged attendees to think about the amount of food they throw away and find new and exciting ways to reuse it.
Seeming out of place, a tent was set up by the Wildlife Trust Fund ... .
Since I had gone to the festival with the intention to eat (I had pigged out on some authentic paella the previous year and wanted another taste of this) I loosed myself of my stubborn streak and weighed up my options: Tampopo, Grado, Harvey Nichols... . Harvey Nicks won with their promise of an authentically American dish: New York style chili dogs with Coke floats. How could I resist?
Outside Manchester's Town Hall on a surprisingly blustery October day, I munched a rather red (unfortunately) hot dog with lashings of chili and onions and washed it all down with a freshly made Coke float. For those of you not in the know, a Coke float is Coke topped with two scoops of vanilla ice cream and normally served under a hat of whipped cream, with a cherry on top.
Although the Harvey Nicks floats were free of whipped cream and cherries, they were still yummy and the slurping required to suck up the thick ice cream meant I could drown out the noise of the event.
Overall, I was quite disappointed by the lack of effort that seems to have gone into this year's festival. Things have been spread out more than last year (which is both good and bad) but only having a handful of options and not having the demonstrations that were at last year's festival, the kitchen knives, the tent full of chocolatey treats et cetera, I was very much let down. Here's to hoping that the next festival to grace Albert Square (the Christmas market) is just as good as its previous year!