Designed as travelling ballrooms and entertainment salons, Spiegeltents or magic mirror tents, travelled from fairground to fairground across the lowlands of Europe during the late 19th/early 20th centuries. Built from rich mahogany, stained glass and mirrors, with swags of velvet and brocade; a Spiegeltent has popped up on Waterfront Square for most of this December. Hosting many an event, from comedy to cabaret to music, today was the turn of the Love Food Festival.
Inside a cosy den-like space, children were kept busy decorating gingerbread and making glittering crackers whilst the adults roamed about. In its centre, The Devilled Egg Kitchen Academy held a demonstration kitchen with the help of some Bristol based chefs. Unfortunately it wasn’t very clear who was doing the talking and at the edges of the octagonal space, an array of stalls selling cakes, breads, chocolates and sweets, meant that not so many people were paying attention. As marvellous a venue as it was, with all its fin-de-siecle charm and grandeur, it was a little too dark and cramped for my liking and I much preferred the street food stalls and produce being sold outside on the harbourside.
Having walked into town on an empty stomach, I ate a breakfast of champions -chocolate and churros from Ruby Moo. Loops of churros dredged in cinnamon sugar were hot and crisp and dipped into rich, thick, hot chocolate. It was my first taste of chocolate and churros since a trip to Spain some time ago and, really warmed the cockles.
After browsing some of the stalls and having tried to negotiate the Spiegeltent, I decided that it must be time for lunch. This turned out to be a very difficult decision given the choice available: sushi; paella; Caribbean; grilled sausages; woodfired pizzas; barbecued meat sandwiches; pulled roasted lamb; pie and mash to name but a few. Won over by the smell of fried onions, smoky lardons and reblochon cheese, I plumped for the Tartiflette by Mi Casa Stu Casa. A collaboration between Mi Casa Pop Up and Stuart Seth (previously of Rocinantes and Quartier Vert), who have been catering for the events happening at the Spiegeltent. Rich, warm and comforting, these fried potatoes were accompanied by some sharp gherkins and just what I was looking for.
To make sure M didn’t feel left out, I took home one of the rib eye steak sandwiches from the Gaucho B.B.Q. Thick slices of beef just pink in the middle and smelling of the brazier, with a paprika and garlic sauce, made for a hearty sandwich.
Although for me the venue didn’t quite lend itself to the food festival format, it was all in all, a rather tasty way to spend a lazy Sunday.