Edinburgh Fringe 2018: Foodie Shows and Events

Whisky-soaked dinners, gin-inspired detectives, cocktail festivals and 'wine wankers' – here are the food and drink shows to catch at this year's Edinburgh festivals

Feature by Peter Simpson | 26 Jul 2018
  • Miss Woos

We begin this year's food-themed guide with breakfast – it is the most important meal of the day and the Big Bite-Size Breakfast Show aims to cram plenty into the early timeslot. A string of ten-minute plays to help you line your theatrical stomach for the day ahead, and free croissants and coffee for those of you who've been dragged out of bed to enjoy some culture when caffeine is the only c-word you have time for. Pleasance Dome, Bristo Square, 1-27 Aug (not 14 or 21), 10.30am, £9.50-12.50

If you've alienated your pals by complaining through the breakfast show, you'll need some company. That's where Happy Hour at Summerhall comes in – it's an award-winning solo experience that takes you through a 25-minute pub session at the aforementioned hour. Enjoy some art that practically compels you to grab a tasty craft beer and take a break from the all-round frenzy of the Fringe, all in one fell swoop. Summerhall, Summerhall Pl, 1-27 Aug (not 2), 12-9pm (drop-in), £5

Over at the Book Festival, Turkish chef Özlem Warren introduces her new book Özlem’s Turkish Table with an afternoon tea and a guided tour through some of the culinary traditions of her native Turkey (Charlotte Square Spiegeltent, 24 Aug, 2.30pm, £25). Also in Charlotte Square Gardens, American science journalist Maryn McKenna fills us in on what we might not know about the world of industrial poultry farming as she discusses her latest book Plucked! Spoiler: the things we previously didn’t know are not good things, but we’re better off for knowing them. Garden Theatre, 11 Aug, 12.30pm, £10-12

Of course, the Fringe can always be relied upon to ask the big questions. Questions such as Is Astronaut Food the Future? Part of the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas series at The Stand, this hour will see Edinburgh University space technology researcher Matjaz Vidmar explore the food science that keeps astronauts fed while they're floating around doing experiments, looking at ways those techniques and tricks are making their way into our food culture down here on Earth. Find out how cutting-edge space science could help us sort out the planet's food problems, and take what's probably the best chance you'll ever get to find out whether those crisps Homer Simpson released on the space shuttle really would have clogged up the instruments. The Stand's New Town Theatre, 96 George St, 20 Aug, 8.10pm, £8-10

Sofis at Leith Chill FestBut maybe you fancy something different. Perhaps you like your food and drink unsullied by the arts, or maybe you live in Leith and don’t fancy charging headlong into a sea of circus performers and confused tourists? Leith Chill Fest has you covered. The month-long cocktail shebang follows what has become a well-worn format in recent years – snap up a wristband, head around a host of participating bars and try each of their specially-designed cocktails, loudly proclaim your favourites to anyone who’ll listen. The bar line-up features a host of Leith’s best, and the fact the thing runs all month means there’s no need for the usual Fringe panic. It’s in Leith; seems pretty chill; is a festival. Sounds good to us. 2 Aug-2 Sep, various venues, wristbands £5 via leithchillfest.com

Also on our hit list is Street Jam Edinburgh, the graffiti art-meets-craft beer all-dayer from Six Degrees North. It's an event that combines live street art painting from some top-drawer artists and illustrators, an artists' market with wares from each of the day's creators, an open canvas to add your own mark, and a specially-crafted food menu and beer list to go along with it all. Really, it's many of the things you'd like to be able to slot into a Saturday afternoon at the Fringe, all plonked in one place. Go to that place. Six Degrees North, 24 Howe St, 18 Aug, 2-11.30pm, free entry

Street Jam Edinburgh

On an equally boozy tangent is Whisky and Gin Tasting Cabaret, a combination of music and boozing which we shall christen "moozing". The show is what it says on the label – a cabaret celebrating gin and whisky, featuring a trio of free samples and some helpful info on the story and technique behind each of the spirits. That much of said information will presumably be delivered through the medium of song is fine by us (Hill Street Theatre, 19 Hill St, 3-26 Aug, 10.40pm, £15). Then there's The Gin Chronicles in New York, a gin-inspired radio drama pastiche. See, they really do have everything at the Fringe. The show follows a pair of detectives drawn into a tricky case while living it up in 1940s New York, while you live it up in 2018 Edinburgh with a complimentary gin and tonic. artSpace@St Mark's, 7 Castle Terrace, 8-26 Aug (not 13, 14, 20 or 21), various times, £9-12

Moving on from gin, we've picked out a pair of whisky-related events for those of you who like your drinks dark and faintly reminiscent of old, old wood. Robert Graham 1874's Scotch Whisky and Artisan Food Experience isn't just an opportunity to sample great wares from producers from across the city paired with excellent whiskies, it's also an event whose title takes a lot of the fun out of the classic Fringe brochure game 'Can You Guess What This Show Is Actually About?' Still, nice drinks, nice food and a very straightforward sales pitch is a good combination, so we'll allow it. Robert Graham Tasting Room, 254 Canongate, 3-27 Aug, 1pm and 4pm, £18

Slightly more esoteric is A Year of Scotland in a Meal, hosted by the tweed-loving whisky stewards of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. If you're after a big foodie night out at this year's Fringe, this is one for you – a three-course meal from the SWNS that promises to span the key events of a year in the space of one dinnertime. Expect songs, stories, a few laughs, and plenty of whisky. The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 28 Queen St, various dates from 3-25 Aug, 1pm and 8pm, £32-35

If on the other hand, you throw a bit of a wobbler any time your meal schedule is interrupted, you'll be right on board with Molly Sokhom and Neil Thornton, aka the Hangry Americans. A combination of comedy and cookery show, Sokhom and Thornton promise to sit at "the intersection of food and fury" – let's face it, we've all been there (Laughing Horse at the Counting House, 38 West Nicolson St, 15-26 Aug, 9.45pm, free). There are no such problems over at Comfort Food Cabaret, where Michelle Pearson knocks together a three-course meal while working her way through a songbook of pop and jazz tunes. C Venues at New Town Cookery School, 7 Queen St, 15-18 and 22-26 Aug, various times, £10.50-16.50

If all you really want from this year's Fringe is an Australian man singing about how much he enjoys coffee, comedy singer-songwriter Majk Stokes has you covered. One More Cup of Coffee, and Then We'll Save the World promises songs and poetry around Stokes' two favourite topics – the environment and coffee. Coffee is one of our favourite drinks and the environment is our favourite place in which to drink it – we're hooked. Quaker Meeting House, 7 Victoria Terrace, 14-18 Aug, 6.30pm, £6-8

And finally, there's the fantastically-titled How to Drink Wine Like a Wanker. A one-woman show about its star's "accidental journey from shallow wine novice to full-blown wine wanker," this is what the Fringe is all about. That is to say, boozing, swearing, and sharing grim personal experiences in rooms that are ever so slightly too small – and long may it continue. Zoo Southside, 117 Nicolson St, 11-27 Aug (not 15), 8pm, £8-10