On bank holiday Monday I went to the Lowry Outlet Food Festival. The festival was on for three days and featured live entertainment, a bustling Artisan market, demos from top TV chefs Gino D’Acampo, James Martin and Paul Hollywood, cookery masterclasses from local chefs and celebrity book signings. My primary reason for attending was to see Paul Hollywood after I missed him demoing at The Cake & Bake Show.
Paul had great stage presence and immediately launched into banter with the audience by making jokes about Mary Berry's, or as he calls her "Bezza", drinking and age. These jokes continued throughout the show, but Paul made sure to tell us that she gives as good as she gets! They are currently filming the fourth series of The Great British Bake Off, and despite the higher level of difficulty in the challenges this year, the bakers are of a very high standard and Paul has already called two bakes 'perfect'.
The American Baking Competition is due to air in 3 weeks on CBS, and Paul is one of the judges alongside Marcela Valladolid. The winner receives a quarter of a million dollars and a book deal! There is no specific prize for winning The Great British Bake Off, but involvement in the show pretty much guarantees a book deal.
Paul showed us how to make Stilton & Grape flatbreads (picture above from his book 'Bread'). He said that when kneading dough it can look like cellulite, and you have to continue kneading until it's smooth and doesn't look like cellulite anymore. If only this worked on my thighs!! The flatbreads were proved for about an hour, the filling added, rolled out, and then pan fried. He threw pieces into the audience, I wasn't in the firing zone, but it smelt delicious!
You may remember from Mary & Paul's Masterclass shows that Paul likes to hold bowls of whipped meringue over Mary's head to check it's ready. Well, Paul told us that this went a big wrong recently as the meringue fell out all over Mary's head! He found the whole thing hilarious, but Mary got her own back when her and Sue hid his car during GBBO filming. It sounds like they all have a lot of fun when they get together!
With the leftover dough, Paul effortlessly and speedily plaited an 8 strand loaf, which you can see at the bottom of the above photo. He made a few comments during the demo about the recent negativity he has received from Greggs. After seeing him plait the loaf live, I have no idea why such negative comments were made, the man is clearly talented! He advised splaying your fingers when rolling out the strands, and slapping the dough to remove any air pockets.
Finally Paul took several questions from the audience. We learnt that his absolute favourite bread is sourdough, that he once put salt on 1000 donuts, sold them all and only received one complaint, you can prove dough overnight in the fridge, and one luckily audience member got her shoulders 'kneaded'! He ended the show with a very sincere thank you from himself and everyone involved in The Great British Bake Off for the continued support and for watching the show.
After the demo I went for a wander round the stalls to see what was on offer. I was surprised to see Ford Farm's cheese with port. The drink is often consumed alongside cheese, and I think mixing it together is a great idea. Also it makes the cheese a gorgeous pink colour!
Popcorn is really enjoying a surge at the moment in the snack market. I've seen experimental flavours such as chocolate brownie and sun dried tomato in the shops, but Joe & Seph really push the boat out with their gourmet popcorn flavour mixes. I wasn't brave enough to try the Madras Curry flavour, but I enjoyed a taster of the Caramel, Coconut & Cinnamon flavour. They offer a range of sweet and savoury tastes from Cheddar & Smoke Paprika to Strawberry Cheesecake. It's got me thinking of ways to use popcorn in my baking!
I loved this retro food truck with drag queens serving the food, such a great concept, and the queue for Camp Cooks was miles long! They will show up at your wedding, birthday party, corporate event...you name it!
It was great to see some international flavour at the festival. I saw Turkish delights (pictured above) as well as Portugese and Indian. I purchased some fish pakora mix from the Samosa Co which I am looking forward to trying out.
The Spice Trail had a fantastic array of fragrant and colourful spices for sale. Spices can change a simple dish to a special one, I like trying new ones out although I am a bit of a wuss with hotter spices!
These giant cupcakes were on offer from Chula's Cupcakes. They were all gigantic and the toppings crammed with chocolates and sweets. I had one of the Oreo ones, but was disappointed to find egg shell in the sponge. Besides that, it was delicious!
I've seen End of the Rainbow Cupcakes at a few food festivals and markets, I love their great value cupcakes at only £1 each. They've also expanded their range to small loaf cakes pictured above on the right.
The Cherry Tree had a varied selection of chutneys and jams on offer, they also sell cook in sauces, curds and marmalades.
The gorgeous and colourful macarons by Dinkin's Patisserie really brightened up my day. They were all perfectly uniform and vibrant, with some great flavours like apple & caramel, blackcurrant and bubblegum.
This fabulous and unusual looking fudge is primarily flavoured with alcohol. There was Blue WKD, Cheeky Vimto and Baileys home made fudges for sale in beer and wine glasses. I thought these were great novelty items and some interesting flavours! Would be great for a fun and tasty gift!
I finished my day by purchasing a feta filled gozleme from The Kitchen - a vegetarian cafe in Bolton. It was made in front of me and tasted really fresh and delicious. My boyfriend is a vegetarian and if we're ever in Bolton I would love to take him there.
I had a great time at the Lowry Outlet Food Festival, the weather was glorious and everyone in Manchester seemed to be there! The Salford Quays/Media City area is really stunning and the perfect venue for an event like this as you can sit out by the water and eat your purchases, or step inside the Lowry Outlet Centre to cool down. The array of stalls was fantastic, but my ultimate highlight was of course Paul Hollywood! Did you attend the Lowry Outlet Food Festival? Let me know what you thought, bought and tasted in the comments!