I’ve Been to Shebeen!

Given the fact Cardiff’s Street Food Circus opened its tent on the weekend I believe most of my readers would have visited that.  Although I am extremely excited to visit the Street Food Circus (there’s so much food I have to try there) I took the opportunity to visit Shebeen Festival in Manchester on Saturday.  Street Food Circus is there for a while, but Shebeen was only there for one day. You all would have liked it!  Good food, music, comedy and beer… Don’t forget the beer!

Created by Shebeen  Events, Blackjack Brewery & GRUB – Shebeen Festival 2015 was spread across three venues all within a 5-minute walk of each other.  Runaway Brewery, Blackjack Brewery and Glassworks Distribution.  This is what could be found across all three sites:

Runaway Brewery

Music curated by So Flute: Artists include Danuka, Bolts, Yadava and Baloo (So Flute),Jonny Dub (Hoya Hoya), Werkha (Tru Thoughts), Contours (Rubix), Cervo & JVC (Banana Hill).

Live performances from the Manchester School of Samba

A one-off exhibition from Draw North West based on the theme of ‘Shebeen’

Food curated by GRUB: Traders include Busan BBQ, Colonel Tom’s, Filfil Falafel, Honest Crust and Manchester Doughnut Company. Special one-off collaboration between very special guests Reserve Wines & Lunya: a Barcelona style wine and tapas bar.

Glassworks Distribution

Comedy and music curated by Sham Bodie: Comedy from Benny Boot, Kate McCabe, Jack Evans, Rachel Fairburn, and your host Ben Tonge. Music from Mat Skinner.

Music curated by Hey! Manchester: Music from Walk, BecauseCoves & Caves, More Trees Please and Butcher the Bar.

Blackjack Brewery

Music curated by Shebeen:  DJs include Liam Quinn (Beat Boutique), Lee Gorton & Goff (Dig Vinyl), Chris Maude & Fritz Great Lakes (Devil’s Jukebox), Les Hare (Kingbee Records), Jimmy Hound Dog, Elliot Hutchinson (Howling Rhythm), Soulettes and Mof Gimmers . Live acts include John Stammers, Maia and Dave Elvis plus a very special guest.

Installation by Heather Kensett

Brewery Lineup

The following breweries supplied beer across the three sites: Blackjack, Runaway, Marble, Anarchy, Arbor, BBNo, Burning Sky, Firebrand, Harbour, Oakham, Redchurch, Salopain, Celt Experience, Tiny Rebel, Weird Beard, Five Points, Wild Beer, Hammerton, Fyne, Cloudwater, Squawk, Track, Alphabet, Quantum, Wylam, Moor, Hardknott.

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The Food

As you can see there was a lot happening at Shebeen Festival but let’s start by talking about the most important part… food!

Colonel Tom’s Gumbo – @Coloneltoms

On the menu yesterday was:

Duck and Oyster Gumbo – £6

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Po’ Boy – £6

Cajun Crawfish Po’ Boy – £6

Deep Fried Mac n’ Cheese balls with Cajun Salsa – £4

“The Colonel aims to bring traditional Creole and Cajun cooking to a market where it is criminally under-represented. Bringing Gumbo, Po’Boys and some delectable sides to the party, you’re sure to fall in love with the cuisine just as much as we have.”

That’s how they describe their own food and they are not wrong.  I have fallen in love with this food.  I tried the Duck and Oyster Gumbo, Buttermilk Fried Chicken Po’ Boy and the Deep Fried Mac n’ Cheese Balls.  For me, the highlights were the Gumbo and the Mac n’ Cheese Balls.  _DSC0075The Gumbo was packed full of flavour, the meat was deliciously tender.  Just the right amount of spice for me and I need to make this for myself at home.  I hadn’t actually tried oyster before and I’m very glad I did!  The Mac n’ Cheese Balls were incredible.  As you would expect they were cheesy and delicious.  The Cajun spiced salsa poured over the top really took it to another level.  I have no idea how they make these without them simply disintegrating in the fryer but I must find out!_DSC0066

The Buttermilk Fried Chicken Po’ Boy was also great.  The chicken was perfectly spiced, the roll was beautifully soft and the sauces (possibly garlic in there but not sure) were a great accompaniment.  _DSC0067I would happily order that Po’ Boy very regularly if it were available nearby.  The other two items were just a little better in my opinion. I think it is safe to say that I was impressed by what Colonel Tom had to offer.

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The Busan BBQ – @BusanBBQ

The menu for The Busan BBQ was a little simpler than most of the others.  Just the two options:

Busan Burger – Beef Burger marinated in Korean Soy.  With Mustard onions and ssajang mayo – £6.50

Pork Belly – Spicy Pork Belly with cabbage and apple ‘slaw – £6.50.



Unfortunately, I only had the opportunity to try one of the items on the Busan menu and that was the Pork Belly.  I fully intended to try the Busan burger before I left that evening, but I could not.  The fact I had already eaten so much food and an early train ride home meant that this was not possible.  However, words cannot describe how much I enjoyed the Pork Belly.  _DSC0057The spiced pork was perfect.  Spicy but not too hot and the cabbage and apple ‘slaw worked perfectly with that heat.  We already know that apple and pork works brilliantly together, but this was something else.  Definitely going to be attempting this as soon as possible.  Maybe someday, I will have another opportunity to try the Busan Burger and I know, that will be incredible too.

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Fil Fil Falafel – @FilFilFalafel

Here was the menu for Fil Fil Falafel:

Falafel Pita – Falafel, hummus, grilled aubergine, red cabbage, chopped salad all served in a homemade sourdough pita with a choice of sauces  – £5

BBQ Baba Ganoush – BBQ grilled aubergine, chopped in half, the flesh is mixed with Tahini, lemon juice + garlic and served with XV Olive Oil and fresh corriander.  Served with a BBQ sourdough flatbread – £3.50

Halloumi Kebab – BBQ Girlled Halloumi, hummus, Grilled aubergine, roasted red peppers + chopped salad + lettuce all wrapped up in a bbq sourdough flatbread – £6

I love this type of food and although I know I would have thoroughly _DSC0138enjoyed every item on this menu I only tried one.  The Falafel Pita was seriously good.  The Falafels were full of flavour as you would expect.  All the veg and salad was cooked perfectly, still had a little texture and the sauces were great, transforming it all into the tasty mess it should be.  The warm pita definitely went down well in the cold and I would definitely like to try Fil Fil Falafels food again.

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Honest Crust – @Honest_Crust

So who doesn’t like pizza?  Nobody… Everyone loves pizza, especially when it has been wood fired right in-front of you.

Here were the choices:

Margherita – Tomato, Mozzarella, Basil – £5

Mushroom – Portobello Mushrooms, Garlix Oil, Tomato, Mozzarella – £5.50

Wild Broccoli – Wild Italian Broccoli, Chilli, Smoked Mozzarella, Black Olives. (No Tomato) – £6

Atomica! – Spicy N’ouja Sausage, Mozzarella, Tomato – £6.50

Pepperoni – Trealy Farm Pepperoni, Tomato, Mozzarella – £6.50

“Honest Crust make sourdough pizza. We’re committed to using small scale British producers and top quality Italian _DSC0134ingredients. Our dough is fermented for a minimum of 36 hours. The only ingredients are flour, water and salt. Each pizza is stretched by hand and blasted at 450c for less than 90 seconds in our wood-fired oven. We’re hungry for quality, simplicity and great pizza. Find Honest Crust in Altrincham and around the North West.”

I must be honest, when I ordered the Atomica, I expected sausage.  Some sort of chorizo type sausage or regular spiced sausage chunks scattered over the pizza.  I have now discovered that my slight, initial disappointment was as a result of my own ignorance and nothing more.  Apparently, N’ouja Sausage is a spreadable pork sausage from Italy.  When it is cooked it seems to dissolve into what looks like a thick sauce.  So I have learnt something new and tasty.  Nevertheless, I ate the pizza and it was delicious.  I would have loved to have had the opportunity to try the others pizzas too.

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Mcr Doughnut Co – @ManDoughCo

Unfortunately, I neglected to take any photographs of Mcr Doughnut Co’s stall or doughnuts.  Neither do I remember everything they had to offer but I did try two of their doughnuts.  At £2.50 each, I thought they were a little on the small side but I do believe that this was their first time trading.  So all in all I think they did very well.  The first one was the Bacon and Bourbon doughnut.  Definitely had a great flavour so these guys know what they are doing.  The second one I had was the Cherry Bakewell Doughnut.  Equally flavoursome and definitely worth a try.  The only negative criticism I would have is that the dough seemed a little dense compared to what I would have expected.

Reserve Wines & Lunya – @ReserveWinesUK & @Lunya

I regret the fact that I did not try either of the traders in this special one-off collaboration.  Admittedly, I am not a massive consumer of wine.  I am certain that the wine is great.  They certainly seemed very popular on the day.  I do, however,  enjoy Catalan and Spanish food.  If I hadn’t had so much choice on the day I would have had no trouble eating a little too much of their food.  On another day, I will!  Still, both traders deserve to be mentioned just as much as the others.  Here’s a little information about them.

Reserve Wines – “Reserve is Manchester’s finest independent wine merchants, run by people with a passion for the great grape. We have a massive local following due to our commitment to making wine accessible and fun for everyone, stocking a huge range of ’boutique’ wines from family owned-and-run wineries across the globe. Don’t get tricked into thinking that we’re pricey though – there’s something on our shelves for everyone, and we pride ourselves on the quality of every bottle we sell, from £4 to £400. We know they’re good because we’ve tasted them all (it’s a hard job, but someone has to do it).”

Lunya – “Liverpool’s multi-award winning deli, restaurant and bar. Lunya is a Catalan deli, bar and restaurant in the heart of Liverpool One, in a beautifully converted 18th century warehouse in College Lane by Bluecoat and Harvey Nichols – delivering the best of Catalan and Spanish food across the UK and beyond. We really do source the best of every food and create fabulous dishes that honour heritage and create new twists with flare. We have the UK’s best online Spanish food store too!  See why we have had rave press reviews and we welcome thousands of people every week for the UK’s best Spanish food.”

I think it is safe to say I really enjoyed the food presented by GRUB at Shebeen Festival.  This was actually my first experience of street food and I have no doubts that it will not be my last.  Street Food Circus and Street Food Warehouse next! and a little closer to home too 🙂

The Entertainment

Because I live in South Wales and not Manchester.  The last train home was at 20.30.  This meant that I could not stay as long as I would have liked to enjoy the music.  What I did see what great.  Unfortunately, I have the Shebeen Festival Programme in my hands but no idea which musicians I actually saw play._DSC0175

Fortunately, I do know that I watched the Sham Bodie variety act and The Manchester School of Samba.  I don’t normally discuss entertainment on my blog so… I’ll do my best 🙂

Sham Bodie – @Sham_Bodie

Whenever I know that I am going to watch comedians that I don’t already know of, I am guilty in thinking that they might not be very good.  So far… I have been proven wrong every time.  The host, Ben Tonge was brilliant.  Drunk which was evident in one or two places but still brilliant.
The first act was Kate McCabe.  Good comedian, funny but not really my kind of jokes.
Rachel Fairburn was better in my opinion.  Jokes were more relatable and generally more my kind of humour.
Mat Skinner was next up.  A folk/blues singer and songwriter.  He was good, a little more political than I would normally expect for a couple of the songs but he did sound great.  Definitely worth a listen if you like that kind of music.
Jack Evans was next up.  The act was funny but he didn’t really tell that many jokes.  Instead climbed shelving, got stuck and then wrestled by (he was invited onto the stage) and actually upstaged by an audience member called Dave.  The best act by a mile was Benny Boot.  His act was shorter than the others, ruder than the others but definitely funnier than the others.

Sham Bodie seems to travel around a bit with different acts so I would suggest that you see them if you have the opportunity.

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The Manchester School of Samba – @SambaManchester

The Manchester School of Samba was definitely fun.  People were dancing along to the music and generally enjoying themsleves.  In particular the enthusiastic dancer with the Samba group.

“Manchester School of Samba (MSS), the first Samba School in the NW of England, formed in March 1995 to foster the appreciation of Brazilian Carnival culture through rhythm, melody, dance and simple costumes.
MSS have provided an often life enhancing introduction to percussion and dance for hundreds of people as well as an opportunity for some to build on their knowledge and strengths, be inspired and make it part of their life. We currently have 50+ fully fledged members including dancers and drummers, and for special occasions also like to recruit a brass section and puppeteers. We focus on Brazilian Carnival Art forms, and teach rhythms & dances from different parts of Brazil at all levels from beginners to advanced and are open to all people.”

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I would like to thank the organisers of Shebeen for what was a really great day.  I had a brilliant time and I thoroughly enjoyed the food.  I look forward to Shebeen Festival 2016 if there is one and to the launch of Keystone.

Please follow the blogs Twitter feed @MunchandTattle

Written by Tomos Newland-Jones @MrNewland66

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