Yesterday (Saturday) was easily, by a long way, absolutely the nicest day of the year so far. The sun was out and even though the temperature only reached about 7 degrees at the very most, we survivors of the recent inclemency felt like holiday makers, strolling up and down the golden sands of a hot, distant beach.
In other words, it was the perfect day for Amazing Graze, the festival of street food, art and entertainment held at Left Bank over the weekend. It’s a collaboration between Left Bank and Manjit’s Kitchen, and one that I hope will be repeated in the future.
I hate, hate, hate writing on here about events that have been and gone, because it always seems a bit smug. Especially if it was brilliant, like this one: I feel like I’m just going, ‘haha! Look what I did, it was ace and now you can’t go!’ But I’m going to write about it anyway, because the venue is amazing and deserves attention, and the vendors (particularly the foodie ones) can always be found at events and artisan markets up and down Yorkshire as well as the rest of the country.
Left Bank is a church that has now been converted into a venue and artspace for the people of Leeds. It’s a beautiful place that we should value: it’s got a hundred times the character of your average function room, and is incredibly versatile as a space.
When we arrived on Saturday, it was hard to know where to start in choosing food. There was paella from Las Paellaras, pulled pork from El Kantina, raclette from The Courtyard Dairy, curry from Manjit’s Kitchen, fish and chips tapas from Fish&, hot dogs from Diamond Dogs, burgers from Barnhouse Bistro, Jamaican juices from Chinampas, cakes from VW Lulabelle, icecream from Ginger’s Comfort Emporium and even more that I can’t remember!
It took ages to decide but in the end Ant went with a pulled pork sandwich from El Kantina. It wasn’t a traditional sandwich as such: they took a massive sourdough roll, carved the middle out and stuffed it with pulled pork, then slathered it with sauce, sour cream, coleslaw and chilli powder, It looked IMMENSE and I’m told it tasted fantastic. (I was basically banned from tasting much of it as he enjoyed it so much!)
After that we headed over to the Fish& van so I could try their fish and chips tapas. It was a plate of hot, salty chips topped with some fish in salt and cracked black pepper batter and some in a lemon, lime and chilli batter. They were both divine, frankly. The chunks of fish melted in my mouth and the batter added the perfect twist: the flavours were subtle but transformed a classic British dish into something really special.
We managed to grab a table outside and it was absolutely lovely to sit (well wrapped up, of course) enjoying the sunshine and the atmosphere. Everyone was having a brilliant time stuffing their faces and enjoying the music and art on display. I could only sit next to Ginger’s Comfort Emporium for so long, though, before I just had to get up and order one of her toasted brioche icecream sandwiches. I hadn’t seen anyone else with one so I wasn’t sure what I would get but I was pretty sure I was going to like it!
I chose the plum crumble flavour and would get it again in a heartbeat. I couldn’t believe how flavourful it was! It was fruity and a teensy bit tart, with generous chunks of sweet crumble running through it. It contrasted so well with the hot, sweet, crispy brioche and if it were more socially acceptable to eat two desserts in one sitting then I’d have done it immediately. Meanwhile Ant had the sandwich with Chorlton Crack – salted caramel and peanut butter. It was creamy, and sweet and salty in perfect proportions.
I’m really hoping that this event will be repeated, and soon. I’ve seen so much good feedback from it, and I’ve loved telling people about what a brilliant experience it was. It was one of those events that are brilliant for showing Leeds off to visitors, and even to those of its residents that don’t always appreciate the city for what it is. So please, Amazing Graze, come back soon!