My wife Ails and I run a contemporary art gallery in York, and York’s an increasingly great place for us. Very few places possess such a complex continuum, all the way from the Celts and into the digital age. We like to reflect that continuum. York Food and Drink Festival certainly reflects it, and so I was stoked when I had the opportunity to experience the opening weekend with One&Other TV. The festival is a celebration that builds on the past rather than lives on it. Heritage is great, we love history, but York isn’t Beamish, nor is it a museum. The contemporary scene, and festivals like this, show that York thrives rather than merely survives. The idea of York limiting it’s celebration of food and drink to that of the past is limiting. York isn’t a nostalgia act that shuffles onto the stage to give us its greatest hits: this is a hungry, innovative city that is relevant and competitive and can go duke for duke with any great cities in Europe. I can’t help but think food, science and art are very cosy bedfellows, and York can celebrate all 3 without ever being pretentious. Contemporary energy comes very naturally to this city.
My take on food
It has to be rustic and simple, whether that’s simple British, Indian or French. I want the essence of it as soon as I see it. It’s like a well written rock song: if you can’t play it on an acoustic guitar it’s a rubbish song. Let me loose in a restaurant and I’ll go for the basic beauties like poached egg, lettuce and asparagus; bacon and leak quiche; grilled salmon, spicy seafood sauce and roasted Brussels Sprouts. I’m the same in an art gallery. I make for whatever has the courage of its convictions and delivers what it says it will.
I experienced some of the festival experience away from the camera, and here’s a little snippet…
Learn how to Make Chocolate Truffles
York Cocoa House is a great place, and truffles have to be the ideal decadent treat. Irresistible.
Microwaves – The Science and the Myths
After hearing both sides of the argument I’m still not sure about nutritional loss in using a Microwave. Doesn’t all cooking break down nutrients? One thing was good to learn – that there are others like me who stop the countdown with one second to go to feel like a bomb defuser.
Discover the Origin – Taste Workshop
We looked at Bourgogne, Douro Parmigiano Reggiano, Parma Ham and Port. Just like at According to McGee, we saluted the past and distilled the aesthetic sensation back to its roots. Bourgogne is from Eastern France, and I can imagine those original Cistercian Monks couldn’t believe their luck.
Douro is a Portuguese wine, squeezed from the same grape as Port. I love Port. I always say, ‘I’ve taken more from Port than what Port has taken from me,” in that it’s a hard pleasure to abuse. It’s not Stella. You decant the stuff, you fill your glass to no more than half full, and you get all Downton Abbey on its ass. Deep, elegant fun.
Parma Ham is uncooked, basic pleasure. All it needs is pork, salt, air and time. Somewhat more edifying than my native Teesside’s ‘Parma Ham’, which is deep fried breaded chicken, slathered with creamy sauce and melted cheddar. I think I’ll stick to the Parma Ham.
Parmigiano Reggiano is the King of Cheeses. All it needs is curd and fire, which makes it sound like a Game of Thrones book. Any cheese with this amount of chutzpah is always welcome at According to McGee.
For more information on this year’s York Food and Drink Festival visit their website.