Friday, 4 October 2013

Give us our Daily Local Bread.

If location, location, location is the mantra of the property game then there's no doubt about what we're obsessed with when it comes to food – we like it local and we like to know exactly where local is.

The posh word of course is provenance, and the Manchester Food and Drink Festival, now in its 17th year, is a glorious celebration of food that is not just darn bloody good but can be sourced to producers who are passionate advocates for what they make, and how they make it. As I went from trader to trader, I heard incredible stories from people who don't just sell food but know every part of its process.

I actually started my exploration of the festival outside The Hub in Albert Square which, until midday, was off-limits as police stood in close ranks awaiting a major street protest to herald the start of another annual gathering (but arguably less enticing): the Tory Party conference.

So, walking round nearby St Ann's Square, killing my time until midday, I stumbled across Robinson's craft bakers – a sixth generation business which, since 1873, has been baking bread that has survived the onslaught of in-store bakeries in supermarkets and remains a champion of pure craft bakery. So much so that its Manchester Cob – a white, crusty, ball-shaped loaf with a cross hatch of square ridges – remains its best-seller after decades of adorning its shelves.

Speaking to Emma, a sixth generation Robinson, and clearly an infectious ambassador for her family's profession, she explained that the roots of the business lay in her ancestors learning their artisan craft at specialist bakery schools – none of which exist today. Picking up this loaf, which was as light as a feather, you come to realise that this is true craft bakery of the highest order.

Later at the Festival Hub, I checked out a relatively newer arrival on the baking scene – the eponymous Bakerie, whose wine, artisan bread and informal dining offering has attracted a loyal and rapidly growing following to their two sites right in the heart of the Northern Quarter. The Bakerie, which runs a varied programme of bakery classes, as well as an incredibly popular bistro style restaurant, is clearly tapping into the tidal wave of new interest in artisan craft bakery but with a broader continental perspective.

Broad is certainly the word for their expansive range of Foccacias on offer during the festival with a gutsy glass of red. £6 buys you a large chunky wedge of these breads (olive, cheese and onion, chorizo) and a gluggable glass of Voignoleur de la Montagne. Perfect for a warm autumn Sunday al fresco in Manchester in early October.

Words & photos: Tom Warman.

Manchester Food and Drink Festival continues until 7th October.

No comments:

Post a Comment