Review: Bite Food Festival. Insole Court, Llandaff

Words by Indigo Jones

On a beautiful day in sunny Cardiff there is nothing better to do than to have a picnic with family or friends. Bite food festival enables families to do that with a bit of a spin. There aren’t any soggy sandwiches or dry scotch eggs, but a variety of culinary delights straight from local food outlets. The food stalls offered gourmet options as well as those for children, vegetarians and vegans, enabling everyone to get involved with the event.

The festival was set in Insole Court, a beautiful location within Llandaff, Cardiff, home to a traditional mansion house which is over 160 years old. Visitors of the event had the opportunity to look around the house and engage with the history of the building. The land itself was perfect for the event as the park was well-suited for families to sit down and eat whilst taking in the beauty of the flowers surrounding them. Although due to the majority of the land being taken up by food stalls, picnic blankets and the gardens themselves, there was very limited parking for the event. Perhaps the founders of the festival underestimated the large turnout and would consider better parking for future events.

On the Facebook event for Bite, they made it very clear that they wanted to limit single use plastic. This was evident through each stall’s use of recyclable plates, napkins etc. Upon arrival of the event they also gave customers the opportunity to buy a reusable plastic cup to take to bars. The cups cost £3.50, which did not include a drink, meaning that for a pint and the cup you would have to pay a grand total of £8.50 (£3.50 + £5.00), a very steep, evidently off-putting price.

In order to make the event greener, perhaps it would have been better for bars to also serve soft drinks, rather than having to buy cans within the gift shop. As well as selling cups on arrival they also sold food tokens – one token was £3 and would allow you to purchase food from one stall. The prices seem rather cheap although the portion sizes were small. Perhaps if you were to think of them as appetizers or tapas dishes, the price would seem a bit more reasonable. Therefore, it would be advisable to purchase 2-4 tokens to experience different food stalls as well eating a hearty meal.

Regardless of the price, the variety was exquisite as inspiration had been drawn from all over the world, with offerings from Mexico, Italy and traditional British cod. This variety was all down to the 40 chefs/food stalls available, making my own food decisions incredibly hard. I decided to use my tokens on two savoury options and one sweet, creating the perfect size meal for lunch. I began with a lamb-cheek taco with salsa, from Tom Furlong and Gwyn Myring, Milkwood. The colourful Mexican inspired dish had the perfect balance between being flavourful, fresh and spicy.

The second dish was honey and chipotle glazed cedar plank salmon, coriander mayo and crispy seaweed by The Two Anchors. The originality of this dish and how it was cooked was appealing to customers as the queue was by far the longest in comparison to other stalls. The dish itself was refreshing on the Summer’s day and delicious in a different way to the previous dish. Lastly, the sweet dish I tried was from the Early Bird Bakery, somewhere I frequently visit in Cardiff for their famous doughnuts. The dish itself was a brioche doughnut with ruby chocolate crème pat, cherry curd and matcha sprinkles. The dessert didn’t disappoint, reminding me why I love the bakery, the unique flavours blended together flawlessly on such a warm day. Reminiscing over these dishes is making me want to replicate them myself!

Overall, the event was a lovely day out for the family, especially with there being activities for children as well as bars for the adults. The live music on the other hand was perfect for everyone who was enjoying their food among the gardens of the mansion house. The food festival is something I would probably attend again, although if the weather were not as nice perhaps I would take a rain check. I would definitely recommend the event for foodies as they can experience the joys of different countries’ cuisine and various food establishments in the one park.