Recent years have seen Leeds’ independent food and drink scene expand with mouth-watering results, and the glorious array of food temples, watering holes and street food pop-ups has helped a strong culinary culture sweep through the city. Celebrating this, Leeds Indie Food festival will run again in 2016 after a hugely successful event last year, transforming the days between the 12th-30th of May with over 100 events of dining and drinking delights.
Making head or tail of such a crowded list of events can be a mind-boggling endeavour, but fortunately for you, we have scoured the calendar and picked out a few that you’ll not want to pass you by.
Coffee, Coffee, and a Big Cup of More Coffee
There is a grand array of places offering to supply you with your fix of caffeinated beverages, and if you’re a true coffee fan, they’ll teach you a little something too.
Coffee and Cocktails Fusion Experience
La Bottega Milanese
Wednesday 18th May 2016 18:30 - 21:00
Learn how to mix coffee-based cocktails and drink some specialist brews, accompanied with a guide to the history and evolution of coffee.
North Star: Home Brew Masterclass
North Star Coffee Roasters
Saturday 14th May 2016 10:00 - 16:00
Learn the ropes and become a master of the perfect coffee with the help of this spare-no-detail masterclass. Soak it in and channel your newly acquired knowledge as you take charge of La Marzocco espresso machines.
Leeds Coffee Social at Cafe 164
Saturday 21st May throughout the day
The guys at Cafe 164 will be busy hosts, with four events going on in one day. Coffee roasters Maude have the floor for lessons in brewing from 11am, with an informative guide to the industry and ethical sourcing following before a tasting session in the late afternoon and an evening after party to round things off.
Veritable Treats for Veggies and Vegans
Whether you’re a long-time vegan or a curious dabbler in meat-free food, LIF has got your back. A delectable array of vegetarian and vegan events will be taking place as part of the festival, from Indian street food at Bundobust to foraged foods from The Real Junk Food Project.
Vegetarian Tapas Evening
Wednesday 18th May 19:00-22:00
Connoisseurs of creative culinary fusions, the chefs at Ambiente Tapas are responsible for some of the best small plates of food that Leeds has to offer. Executive chef Johnny Cliff has conjured up a spectacular menu for this special vegetarian evening.
Women | Art | Food: Veg Is Sweet
Monday 23rd May 19:00-22:00
Vegan tea and cake but not as you know it; this unique event will show off three courses from That Old Chestnut, each exploring a savoury twist on dessert alongside tea-based cocktails. Thank Gallery Munro House and Bakery 164 for this delightful collaboration.
Also worth a visit, Duke Studios has the pleasure of welcoming In Defence of Plants on the 14th of May, looking at the best plant-based textures and flavours in a selection of brunchtime dishes, all cooked up by Noisette Bakehouse founder Sarah Lemanski and Izy Hossack of Top With Cinnamon. On the same day, Vegan Best Before Bistro at Armley Junk-tion will be executed by a team representing Edible Leeds,That Old Chestnut and The Real Junk Food Project, all of which are a unique and important part of the Leeds food scene in their own right. Running 19:00 - 22:00, the event will raise funds for Simon on The Streets, a charity which helps people living rough across Leeds, Huddersfield and Bradford, and will feature a fusion of foraged wild ingredients and foods intercepted by The Real Junk Food Project.
Sure, vegetables are great, but if you’re looking to put a bit of steak on your plate then there’s plenty for you too. Here are some LIF events where you can unleash your inner carnivore.
Smoking Goat at Ox Club
Sunday 15th - 16th May 18:00-23:00
Venturing up from their home in Soho, Smoking Goat take over at Headrow House with a Thai barbecue fired over sweet chestnut and oak cask wood. If a hot date with rare breed meats and day boat fish is your kind of Sunday evening, this is an absolute must.
Taste the Difference: Galician vs Yorkshire
Tuesday 17th May 18:00 - 23:00
Ever wondered how local beef compares to the international big hitters? Pintura have imported the finest Galician beef and are serving it up alongside Yorkshire’s prize cows. We all like something a bit different, and the rare Basque meats are seldom served up outside of London in the UK, so expect the darker, richer Spanish imports to steal the show in this 4 course feast.
Ham Carving Masterclass
Tuesday 24th May 16:00 - 18:00
Fancy trying your hand at carving up a juicy bit of ham? Bilbao Bar will have experts offering tuition in the delicate art, followed by a tasting session with four specially selected bottles of Spanish wine and sherry.
The Best in Booze
It’s not all about what you eat - sometimes a tipple of wine or a glug of beer is all you need. Here are the places for something a little more extravagant...
Wine Tasting with Yorkshire Wine School
Monday 23rd May 19:00 - 22:00
Alex from The Decanter and Laura from Yorkshire Wine School will battle it out to see whose wines will go down the best in this celebration of Italian-inspired food and wine. Now that I come to think about it, it seems a lot like everybody wins...
Bundobust X Founders
Tuesday 17th May 19:00 - 23:00
Michigan's Founders Brewing Co pair six of their finest beers with the fabulous Indian street food that Bundobust is famous for. There will be information on the history of the brews as well, if you fancy yourself as an alcohol academic.
Bangwok - Boozing and bar snacks, Thai style
Friday 13th May 2016 19:00 - 22:00
Cocktails served in buckets and six delicious Thai dishes to accompany them with; the Raan Gin Lao or 'shop to drink liquor' looks a standout. There are plenty of reasons to want to go to Thailand, and a lot of them will be on offer here.
An Education in Eating
Consuming other people’s meals is satisfying, but wouldn’t it be nice if you could create the masterpieces yourself? LIF have laid on a few classes which will aim to teach you and your family to do exactly that.
An Introduction to Charcuterie and Salumi with Chris Wildman
Get Cooking Saturday
14th May 10:30 - 16:30
Charcuterie and salumi are explored with the help of the brand new cookery school in Farsley, with a range of pork-related topics being introduced in this enlightening class.
Kids Pizza Making Classes
Sunday 15th May 12:00 - 15:00
The first step in relinquishing cooking duties and letting your children take over those tiresome household chores, this culinary class will get kids interested in cooking through the most powerful parenting tool of them all: pizza. Treat yourself to a half day off as the Black Swan chefs run an afternoon party and keep your little ones entertained, full-bellied and out of your hair.
Wild Food Cooking with Emily Carey
Sunday 29th May 11:30 - 13:30
Get Cooking owner Emily Carey will be guiding attendees in cooking up pizza, pasta, risotto or pastry dishes according to whatever wild foods are offered to her on the day by Lisa Cutcliffe, a forager with over a decade’s experience. Learn to improvise with your cooking and then enjoy the rich rewards with a side of complementary prosecco.
Creative Art Class: Painting and Printing with Food
House of Koko
Tuesday 17th & 24th May 19:00 - 21:00
Who needs oil and canvas when you can make art with food? Try your hand at printmaking, painting or drawing with the contents of a fridge, hosted by artists Lo and Vee at their Chapel Allerton hideaway workshop, House of Koko.
Leeds Indie Food Passports are still on sale, presenting an opportunity for priority bookings, exclusive deals and big savings. Check them out here.
Words by Andrew Kemp
Photos courtesy of Leeds Indie Food