Food, Festivals, Scotland

This month, RockNess marks the start of the summer Music festival season. Open air, big crowds, exotic locations like Dores and Balado. Enough of that – join us on a food festival run-down. We have scientists, and we’re off to Hawaii!

Feature by Peter Simpson | 05 Jun 2013
  • Food Festivals

As the summer starts, so does the festival season. Lots of standing around in the rain, sleeping in plastic bags on the cold hard ground, and watching uninteresting bands from half-a-mile away because Kraftwerk aren’t on until late and while you’re effectively on holiday there’s no room in which to go and chill out because you are in a field and fields don’t have rooms.

Well we thought we’d give you a rundown of some of the festival-type things going on in the world of food this month. You’ll eat, drink, and you won’t have to sleep in a tent unless you really want to.

Let’s start in Glasgow, with the West End Festival. There’s all manner of stuff going on across the West End this month – fellas with torches, fellas with large drums, the whole lot – but we’ll focus on the food. Actually, in true festival spirit, let’s talk drinks first.

And what better way to start than with a chance to annoy someone who makes beer? Munros have a Meet the Brewer event, where you’ll be able to get right up in the face of a craft beer colossus and ask them questions about hop selection and the correct type of glass to use. You could ask them questions about their shoes, or for advice on the best way to decorate a spare bedroom, but why waste the beer-based opportunity? People don’t waste everyone's time at music festival Q&As asking Daft Punk what they use to shine up their robot suits, do they? What’s that, music festivals don’t have Q&As? Score one for the food people! Wed 12 Jun, 7.30pm, Munros, 185 Great Western Rd.

From trolling brewers to encouraging workplace arguments we go, with the Beatson Cook-Off. The Bothy are setting their chef and his boss in a head-to-head cooking battle for charity that couldn’t possibly lead to gloating and acrimony. The Beatson Oncology Cancer Fund will gratefully hoover up tenners from everyone who comes through the door, you get a delicious meal in that rarest of festival commodities – a wooden chair! – and two people who were once friends and colleagues will be pitted against one another like dogs. Dogs that can cook. And understand charity. It’s a loose metaphor, we’ll give you that. Thu 13 Jun, Bothy, 11 Ruthven Ln, £25.

Staying in the west, it’s time to show that science at summer festivals doesn’t just mean strobe lights at 2.15 on a Sunday afternoon. Science can also, for instance, help you make a nice cup of coffee.

All-round coffee maestros Artisan Roast play host to The Art of Coffee, where the dual worlds of chemistry and independent coffee production collide. Think test tubes with waxed moustaches, and you’re most of the way there. Glasgow University’s Polyomics group, who spend most of their time dealing with genomes and cell division, will turn their attention to coffee, in a bid to tell you exactly why that instant stuff you keep in the cupboard tastes like the underside of a cat. Because of science, that’s why! Wed 12 Jun, 6.30pm, Artisan Roast, Gibson St, £5.

The same scientists are also trying their hands at whisky, with a look at exactly what it is about one malt that makes it taste different from another. Know Your Whisky teams the group with a whisky distiller, as the mysterious science of the national drink is made clear for all to see. If you want to brew up some whisky of your own to pay for your T in the Park ticket, this is the event for you (please do not attempt to brew your own whisky, as you may cause a large explosion and/or your death). Fri 6 Jun, 7pm, DRAM!, Woodlands Rd, £5.

HENDERSON’S 50 at 50
Meanwhile in Edinburgh, Henderson’s 50 for 50 festival of events celebrating their half-century in business continues. This more closely follows your standard festival model – a whole load of stuff in roughly the same place over a number of days, each with a twist on the overarching theme of the fest. In this case, the theme is vegetarian cookery.

Take Fifty on First Thursday as an example. Yes, there will be vegetarian food, but it will be produced from 50 ingredients acquired from within a 50-mile radius of Henderson’s. There will be a five-course meal, and some art-type elements thrown in. Thu 6 Jun, £30.

Now if that’s your excessive prog-rock end of vegetarian cookery, Henderson’s Goes to Hawaii is the herbivore’s equivalent of going to see a ska covers band on Saturday lunchtime, and not just because it’s BYOB. It is what is says – go to Henderson’s, and Henderson’s will take you to Hawaii (or at very least an in-restaurant approximation of Hawaii). Everyone will be in the festive spirit, and ominously the press notes infer that those not in appropriate attire will be shamed into compliance. See, exactly like going to see a novelty band at Rock Ness – you will enjoy it willingly, or you will enjoy it by force. It’s just that this event swaps tinnitus and trench foot for tasty food and comfy seats. 12, 13, 14 Jun, £30.

And if you’re the kind of person who likes to hop around festival stages listening to little bits of bands while never getting to see a full set, then voila! Vegetarian Speed Dining. Move from table to table for each of the five courses, trying little bits and pieces of both food and conversation. It’s the stage-hopper’s ideal substitute, with the bonus of knowing that you need not worry about accidentally ending up on the corner of Elbowed in the Face Street and Please Tell Me That’s Beer Dribbling Off My Head Avenue. Thu 20 Jun, £30. All events at Hendersons, 94 Hanover St.

So there you have it, a guide to swapping fields for forks, setlists for spoons and music for some piece of cutlery that starts with the letter M. I mean, who’d want to see a full 3D show from Kraftwerk when you have coffee science, vicious cooking competitions, and mandatory wearing of hilarious shirts? Well, we would, but that’s not until next month anyway. For now, let’s eat lots and blow up some whisky! It’s festival time!

More info on all events at,,