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12 reasons to visit this year's Edinburgh Food Festival

Back for its fifth year, the Edinburgh Food Festival takes place from 19-28 July in George Square Gardens.

Published: July 19, 2019
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This year's Edinburgh Food Festival sees events, which include various talks and masterclasses from some of Scotland's top chefs, to yoga with the famed kilted yogi.

As well as this, there will be over 20 local producers and street food stall holders selling their wares, so festival-goers will be spoiled for choice.

With quality Scottish food at the heart of it, Assembly Edinburgh Food Festival is a fantastic introduction for visitors to get a flavour for what Scotland’s larder has to offer. 

The free, non-ticketed festival welcomed over 25,000 visitors in 2018 and is now expected to be bigger and better than ever in 2019.

If you're planning a trip, then here is what to expect from the events at the festival and why it's a must-visit for foodies of Edinburgh and beyond.

Champion vegan-friendly street food

Edinburgh Food Festival 2019

Picture: Faceplant Foods Facebook

Topping the list of new producers is FacePlant Foods who recently took places in Scotland’s British Street Food Award Finals.

FacePlant Foods started as one of Scotland’s first plant-based street food trucks and now travels around Scotland selling their vegan goods.

James McCafferty from FacePlant Foods said: "We're very excited to be attending this year's Edinburgh Food Festival. 2019 has been the year veganism went mainstream- from TV shows such as the Great British Bake Off having vegan specials, to supermarkets racing to get the next best vegan products on the shelves, to all major restaurant chains battling out trying to offer options suitable for the ever growing demand from the vegan community.

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"FacePlant Foods will be bringing tasty vegan offerings to Edinburgh Food Festival this year such as our best-selling Reuben grilled cheese sandwich for which we hand craft all our own vegan meats and cheese.

"Or maybe our Square Sausage will make an appearance. You'll just have to come and see! And remember, don't judge vegan food until you've tried ours."

Try Hawaiian street food

Mana Poke will be dishing up their super fresh and vibrant Hawaiian street food.

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The heathy bowls comprising of diced raw fish, rice and a range of colourful accompaniments have graced street-food markets across Scotland for over a year and developed a loyal following of customers.

Look out for the gin fire engine

Edinburgh’s Pickering’s Gin serving up their award-winning gin in their miniature Japanese airport fire engine, EnGINe 47.

They will be keeping festival goers refreshed with their range of cocktails as well as the classic Pickering’s gin and tonic.

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Spice up your life with Punjabi Junction

Edinburgh Food Festival 2019

Picture: Punjabi Junction

Rounding off the five new producers is the social enterprise community café, Punjabi Junction.

Punjabi Junction offers a blend of traditional Punjab and home-cooked cuisines, whilst supporting women from Edinburgh minority ethnic backgrounds.

Learn how to make 30-minute meals

Edinburgh Food Festival 2019

Picture: Chef Barry Bryson

On Friday 26 July from 6pm Cater Edinburgh’s Barry Bryson will be creating a 30-minute recipe in real time using local and seasonal ingredients - the perfect mid-week meal to make at home.

Heading up the festival’s chef demo series, Barry is motivated and inspired by Scotland’s natural larder, creating seasonal menus that combine traditional and contemporary cooking techniques.

Barry said: “I’m really excited to be cooking at this year’s Edinburgh Food Festival. I love doing free non-ticketed cooking demos for people and love it even more when people go home and try out the dishes themselves.

“I always try to ensure the processes, equipment and ingredients that I use are those that people feel are accessible to them, so that it gives them more confidence to be more adventurous with food in their own homes.”

Experience authentic Italian food

On Saturday 27 July at 1pm, Carina Contini of Edinburgh’s Contini George Street, Cannonball Restaurant & Bar on Castlehill and the Scottish Cafe at the Scottish National Gallery will be adding some Contini sunshine to the menu with authentic Italian-inspired alfresco recipes.

Third generation Italian Scots, Carina and her husband Victor, run one of the few remaining independent family businesses that have benefitted from a century of experience running successful restaurants in Scotland.

Find out about sustainable Scottish seafood

From 2pm on Saturday 27 July, Scott Smith from Fhior on Broughton Street will be championing sustainable Scottish fish and offering his top tips on the best ways to barbeque fish outdoors this summer alongside Lewis Lowrie of Lowrie Fish Merchants.

Since opening in 2018, Fhior has been recognised with a string of award wins including taking the title of Restaurant of the Year at the Edinburgh Restaurant Awards in May.

Discover Scotland's lost ingredients

Edinburgh Food Festival

Picture: Derek Johnstone, Head Chef at Borthwick Castle

Next up, at 1pm on Sunday 28 July, is Derek Johnstone, Head Chef at Borthwick Castle at Gorebridge, Midlothian.

Derek will be rediscovering some of Scotland’s lost ingredients and reinventing them in a modern and fresh way.

Derek Johnstone said: “I’m looking forward to taking to the stage at Edinburgh Food Festival this year. I’ll be tapping into the history and heritage of Borthwick Castle by taking some of Scotland’s forgotten ingredients, and showing what can be achieved in the modern kitchen with a bit of time, attention and imagination.”

Derek, who is currently in the running to be named National Chef of the Year 2020, will create a dish of fermented asparagus spears with rapeseed mayonnaise, crispy lamb sweetbreads, buckwheat and woodruff.

Learn to cook with local, seasonal produce

Rounding off the expert line-up of workshops at 2pm on Sunday 28 July is Jérôme Henry, Chef Proprietor of the award-winning Le Roi Fou on Forth Street, who will be joining Barry Bryson in a second one-hour cooking demonstration.

Festival-goers will get a glimpse into their social kitchen, whilst they create a fresh summer menu in real time with a hyper-local flavour.

Try a mystery pie

Eyemouth-based pie makers, Jarvis Pickle, will be launching a new pastry surprise at this year’s event.

As well as its new mystery pie variety, the award-winning pie company will be offering a taste of the Scottish Borders, including slow-cooked beef, tender shredded chicken and Eyemouth smoked haddock, as well as vegetarian options packed full of goodness.

Jarvis Pickle bake in small batches using only high-quality, natural ingredients, and everything that goes into their pies comes from the local butcher, fishmonger and farms.

Jamie Brown from Jarvis Pickle, said: “We’re really looking forward to bringing a taste of Berwickshire to the Scottish Capital as part of Edinburgh Food Festival”

“We bake in small batches using only high-quality, natural ingredients, and everything that goes into our pies comes from the local butcher, fishmonger and farms. Pie lovers can look forward to a mouthwatering range of fillings, including slow-cooked beef, tender shredded chicken and Eyemouth smoked haddock, as well as vegetarian options packed full of goodness.”

Tuck into seaside treats

Edinburgh Food Festival

East Lothian’s Alandas will be catch of the day with their selection of freshly caught Scottish seafood, old school fresh fish and chips and multi-award winning gelato.

Alandas offers a fish and chip experience; where fresh prawns, beautifully cooked salmon and mouthwatering fresh oysters are served everyday.

All of the seafood used by Alandas is caught daily in local Scottish waters, including their freshly caught lobsters. And Alandas’ multi award-winning, small batch gelato is handmade daily in their North Berwick parlour using quality local and seasonal ingredients.

Alanda Black, owner of Alandas Scottish Seafood, Alandas Fish & Chips and Alandas Gelato, said: “Edinburgh Food Festival is a brilliant showcase of food and drink producers across Scotland.

"Each year it’s great to see new food trends showcased and the large variety on offer. The quality of food is fantastic and there is something for everyone. It’s also the perfect family friendly event in a handy city centre location.

“We can’t wait to take part again this year with our selection of freshly caught Scottish seafood, old school fresh fish and chips and multi award-winning gelato. We look forward to welcoming more visitors than ever in 2019.”

Go to a free (kilted) yoga class

Edinburgh Food Festival

Picture: Edinburgh Food Festival

On the Saturday 20 July, Finlay, who is the co-founder and principal teacher of Heart Space Yoga & Bodyworks in Dundee and is a certified Forrest Yoga teacher, will blend together his passion for Scotland’s natural larder, wellbeing and a healthy lifestyle in a fun, engaging and inclusive way.

Taking place in the treetop studio from 1pm, a special one-hour session for adults only will include personal expert yoga tuition from Finlay Wilson, Finlay’s top tips for wellbeing and healthy eating, as well the opportunity to get a signed copy of his book – Kilted Yoga: Yoga Laid Bare.

From 3pm on the same day, children aged 5 to 14 years will also get the chance to enjoy a fun yoga workshop led by Finlay, along with his tips for tasty yoga snacks for younger visitors.

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.

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