Summer's here and that can only mean one thing – barbecues. Manchester certainly had beef over the weekend of 28-29 June with the return of its meat, music and mayhem fiesta Grillstock, where foodies from all over the UK converged to celebrate their love of the humble BBQ.
There's nothing humble about Grillstock, however, with the delicious smell of cooked meat and sticky sauces wafting over the city from 11 in the morning and well on into the night. Given the UK's current obsession with food from across the pond (have you seen how many hot dog and burger restaurants there are springing up in the city centre?), it will come as no surprise that the festival is popular and it's the perfect opportunity to taste test as many different ways of eating pork, beef and chicken as you can in a short space of time. It might be wise to skip breakfast and avoid bread and beer for a while once you get there though, otherwise you'll find yourself struck down by the one thing that all foodies fear – a full belly.
It being Manchester, the rain came down on the Saturday, but if there's one thing Mancunians know how to deal with it's inclement weather, so no-one's spirits were dampened by the constant drizzle falling on Albert Square throughout the day. It's not just tasty treats on the menu at Grillstock either. There's a lot by way of entertainment to keep you amused, from BBQ competitions, over 40 bands playing funk, rock, blues and country and eating competitions – the latter of which are definitely worth watching, even in the rain. We had a great time watching ten brave souls go head to head for a chilli-eating contest – tipping millions on the Scoville Scale – and broke sweat even as spectators in the crowd. We also caught up with Saturday's winner, Fully, who gave us a tip for future chilli-eating contest success: “chew, chew, swallow,” which we're sure will come in handy next year.
At £15 Grillstock tickets are fairly reasonable, but you will need to remember your wallet and dig pretty deeply as the food isn’t cheap. But you get what you pay for and it was definitely the best BBQ we've ever been to. We recommend the pulled pork brisket and the hot banana ketchup.
Words & photos: Sarah Adie