Yesterday I visited the Independent Birmingham Food Festival at Aston Hall, one of the more curious locations in the city. A grand leafy historic setting spread across 50 acres encircled by the grim greyness of inner city suburbia. To wander around Aston Hall is to detach oneself from city life whilst inside a city of over one million people.
The low hanging green trees contrast against the dull yellow sunburnt grass following the never-ending British heatwave. At the centre is Aston Hall, the opulent redbrick home of Sir Thomas Holte, built in 1635. It is like nothing else in the area and has provided sanctuary to King Charles I and Queen Victoria among others.
The festival itself was the usual throng of overpriced food trucks, long queues for beer and music somewhat oppressively loud given the gentleness of it. Michelin star restaurants have now got in on the street food bandwagon which for some reason amused me. I contented myself with looking at menu and walking away (it had something on it about eels). I can’t be too pious about this situation however as the burrito I ate from a food truck called Habaneros in one of the quieter parts of the grounds was magnificent and as generously filled as could be.
I was also introduced to drink that I had heard mentioned in passing during Viking documentaries and various school history classes many years previously. I had thought that mead was a primitive attempt at wine or a spirit of some sort, nothing to be taken seriously and best left to yesteryear. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The barman at the Vanguard Cocktail Bar and Meadery stall told me that mead was made of fermented honey and was like a dessert wine which immediately piqued my interest.
I would normally wince at paying £6 for such a small amount of liquid in a paper cup but curiosity got the better of me and I have to tell you that it was worth it. It was as smooth and sweet as could be and was over all too soon.
Surprisingly for a drink that has been around since ancient times, mead is seldom seen in supermarkets and other stores so it may be a little tricky to find but I’ll be keeping an eye out for it now.