Preview: Taste of Edinburgh festival; 6-8 July

The Taste of Edinburgh line-up features, from left, Paul Whitecross (Angels and Bagpipes), Mary Contini (Vincaffe), Tony Sarton (Tigerlily), Simon Lannon (Hadrian's at Balmoral)', and Mark Greenway (Mark Greenway Restaurant)
The Taste of Edinburgh line-up features, from left, Paul Whitecross (Angels and Bagpipes), Mary Contini (Vincaffe), Tony Sarton (Tigerlily), Simon Lannon (Hadrian's at Balmoral)', and Mark Greenway (Mark Greenway Restaurant)
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TASTE of Scotland bills itself as the ‘ultimate showcase’ for Scotland’s food and drink industry; an alfresco gourmet experience held in the Meadows. With a wide variety of exhibits including stands from Innis & Gunn Brewing Company, Loyd Grossman Sauces and Valvona and Crolla, there is plenty to whet your appetite this weekend.

The Taste Festivals have become something of an institution worldwide for discerning foodies, with successful events being held in world cities such as London, Dubai and Amsterdam. The juxtaposition of Michelin-starred restaurants along with up-and-coming chefs and a multitude of both fledgling and established restaurants makes for a fascinating yet relaxing experience.

Taste of Edinburgh 2012 is expected to attract up to 30,000 people, improving on last year’s figures and delivering new content in a bid to engage with the capital’s foodies. Over 100 food producers will converge on the city, providing a selection of the best food and drink, whilst the restaurants will be offering a menu of starter-sized sample dishes, designed solely for this event.

A number of world renowned chefs will be present at Taste of Edinburgh, providing master classes and workshops throughout the weekend. Amongst them will be Boston-born chef Loyd Grossman, known particularly for his sauces. Joining him will be Edinburgh chef Tony Singh, founder of the popular Oloroso restaurant in the city centre. Coupling his Sikh upbringing with a fondness for Scottish produce, Tony Singh cultivated a distinctive style, which has won him a number of awards, including Scottish Chef of the Year, Best Restaurant and Best New Restaurant. Another Edinburgh-based chef making his first appearance at Taste is Paul Whitecross, who opened Angels with Bagpipes on the Royal Mile around two years ago. Having spent a number of years learning from the best in the business, he says he is ‘thrilled to take part’ in Taste of Edinburgh and is ‘thoroughly looking forward to it.’

In addition to the renowned chefs, several of Edinburgh’s high end restaurants will be taking part in this event, including The Honours - part run by chef Paul Tamburrini, who is also appearing at Taste - Martin Wishart’s Castle Street establishment (named, in part, for the historical moment when Sir Walter Scott, living near to the site of the restaurant, uncovered the Scottish Crown Jewels, or the Honours of Scotland). The Honours is chef Martin Wishart’s third restaurant, and has received glowing reviews and write ups from a number of food critics. George Street restaurant and bar Tigerlily, attached to a boutique hotel, is known for its wide-ranging menu, from Thai soup, to Scottish sirloin steaks. Vincaffé, an extension to the Valvona and Crolla empire, is a wine bar, café and retail shop situated in Multrees Walk, just off St Andrews Square. With a restaurant on the first floor complementing the more relaxed café on the ground floor, Vincaffé offers a range of Italian cuisine, and caters for lunches or breakfasts with consummate ease.

The number of exhibitors is too great to list here in detail, but full listings can be found on the Taste of Edinburgh website.

We’ve picked out our particular highlights, however, should you need any suggestions.

Bruichladdich Distillery

Make sure to stop by this sometimes-unorthodox Hebridean whisky company for a real education in the ‘water of life.’ Based on Islay, the innovative distillery offers both peated and unpeated whiskies, in a variety of expressions. Its ‘concept’ series - including but certainly not limited to sherry finishes, oak finishes and the mysterious ‘Black Art’ edition - is especially attractive, as it seems this distillery really have thought of everything.

Eteaket Tea Boutique

Situated in Edinburgh’s Frederick Street, eteaket is an independent business that focuses on quality loose leaf tea, sourcing ingredients from around the world for both wholesale and retail. With a variety of teas available, including Black Tea, Green Tea and White Tea, along with tea accessories for sale, eteaket is a much-needed beacon in a nation of tea-drinkers.

Glorious Food

You might already be aware of Glorious Food’s range of soups, made from authentic recipes and ingredients sourced from around the world. An innovative company that has won awards for its quality and products, the company has plans to unveil a brand new range of soups at Taste of Edinburgh, to add to their already impressive selection.

Simple Simon’s Perfect Pies

In the rhyme, Simple Simon met a pieman on his way to the fair, but in this case, Simple Simon is the pieman himself. Or rather, Bernard Alessi is. Based in Biggar, Simple Simon’s Perfect Pies do exactly what it says on the tin - making use of locally-sourced meats and ingredients to make delicious pies. The pies are also additive free, giving a wholly natural flavour. That the company has won 13 awards should tell you all you need to know.

Chocolate Fountain Crystal Candy Bar

We picked this one partly for the name but also because we’ve picked two savoury food stalls already. Glasgow-based company Chocolate Fountain specialise in Belgian chocolate-covered fruit skewers and other chocolate-based products. The company have promised plenty of samples at their stall at Taste of Edinburgh, including chocolate liqueur shots as well as champagne with strawberries.

If you only see one featured event…

The Weber BBQ Experience offers tips and techniques for creating the perfect barbecue, with masterclasses from Mark Greenaway, Jeff Galvin and Valentine Warner. With two sessions available, you can learn from those in the know of the best way to cook pizza, tarte tatin or smoked horseradish salmon.

There’s also the chance to watch top chefs battle it out to win the title of British BBQ champion, in Sunday’s competition, if barbecuing isn’t your cup of tea.

• For more information, ticket sales and full programme, visit the Taste of Edinburgh website.