Alfresco cooking really gets into its stride this month and although we’ll all be trying our best not to burn our sausages as we set up our garden barbecues, it sometimes pays to leave it to the experts. Smithfield 150 and Meatopia are two events where the simple act of cooking a humble hamburger is taken to new heights, but for a spicier experience it would be hard to beat good old Notting Hill Carnival – still dancing, singing and grilling chicken after all these years.
It’s a fine idea to expose children to the arts as soon as possible and Kids Week is Theatreland’s way of making the process easier. With the school holidays starting, parents will be keen to snap up the free tickets on offer which include West End shows as disparate as Young Frankenstein and Thriller.
The ticketing process relies largely on potluck, but that’s part of the fun as it adds an extra air of excitement and mystery to the day. All the productions are age-appropriate, educational and great fun. “Six” is a case in point as it presents the six wives of Henry VIII as risk-taking pop divas: part Horrible Histories, part School of Rock.
A food festival for the curious as well as the ultra-conscious, V For is an immersive experience that rises above both fads and fashions. Veganism has always had a distinctly ethical worldview, but it has come a long way from its activists roots and can no longer considered an option for cranks and extremists.
The festival will include pop-up restaurants, kitchen demos, wellness sessions and informative talks. The aim is to present Veganism as a serious and measured alternative to everything from food consumption to fashion while doing away with clichés and stereotypes. The health angles will, of course be front and centre, but the event will be light and fun with live music and a catwalk show.
With supermarkets packing their shelves with all manner of wannabe craft beers, we need events like the LCBF event more than ever. This year, the festival will be packed with artisan beer makers, both great and small and the food stalls promise to be even more deliciously eclectic. Craft beer culture seeks to revive the days when enjoying a communal drink was a convivial and culturally enriching pastime and this festival is one of the cornerstones of this ethos.
Live music will be supplied by Two Door Cinema Club and Huey Morgan, so you can expect the hipster contingent to be all present and correct. Pitt Cue and Big Apple Hot Dog will be entrusted with the vital task of lining the stomachs of an enthusiastic and knowledgeable crowd.
The largest wholesale meat market in the UK sits on a site that has been a social fulcrum for London for nearly a millennium. Through the ages, it has served as a meeting place, pulpit and gallows, witness to the tumultuous history of one of the world’s great capitals. Its present day function as a vital culinary and commercial hub dates back 150 years and this is to be celebrated towards the end of August.
Of course, food will be central to the festivities with plenty to choose from the pop up barbecues and smoke pits. Other attractions include a roller disco, live music and a special one off performance of the ever popular Horrible Histories production. Vintage ice cream vans and free water stations will be there to keep thirst at bay.
With the Grenfell tragedy still fresh in the memory, the various communities that make up the area around Notting Hill will be keen to show solidarity and to maintain dignity. That isn’t to say that Europe’s leading celebration of Afro-Caribbean culture is turning “respectable”, the sound systems are still rickety and the floats are still crowded, but the organisers will focus on the resilience and warm-heartedness shown by everybody in the neighbourhood.
Notting Hill Carnival is a riot of sounds, smells and tastes. Bass-heavy sets from the various DJ booths, sizzling jerk chicken and cool rum cocktails are a great way to see out the London Summer. The live stage is just under the Westway flyover and is the ideal place to catch a selection of homegrown and international reggae performers.
How often do you overhear someone talking about a little place that nobody knows about that also happens to serve “Unbelievable Caipirinhas”? Cocktail bars have always had an exclusive vibe about them and tend to be best kept secrets by those in the know, but in the internet age, shared knowledge leads to progress and a better all-round experience: hence, the Cocktails in the City event.
Sited in the picturesque environs of Bedford Square Gardens, the festival is of the view that if the public know more about what goes into their drinks, then they will tend to look at going to a cocktail bar as an event in itself and not just an afterthought. Over twenty top establishments will be demonstrating their produce, techniques and recipes over a two-day period. Live music and pop-up food outlets will also be on hand.
When it comes to outdoor cinema experiences, you would be hard pressed to find a more atmospheric venue than Somerset House. Imposing surroundings seem to demand a more thoughtful approach to programming and this is definitely the case here. Apart from a fine selection of some of the best movies in recent years, there are introductions from directors, producers and celebrated actors.
Each evening starts with a DJ set that is tailored to suit the mood of the film. There are pop-up bars and food stalls in the courtyard that can also supply bespoke picnic hampers to take into the viewing area. Films to be aired include art house pieces like Being John Malkovich, documentaries like 20 Feet From Stardom and memorable star vehicles like Carol which features a brilliant performance from Cate Blanchett.
Advertised as a “Week-long love affair of meat, drink, fire and music”, Meatopia takes cooking steaks to a whole new level. Although the name suggests some kind of Viking blood celebration, the event itself is carefully planned and meticulously staged. Top chefs will be showing off skills and techniques that can be adapted and emulated by enthusiasts and novices alike.
DJs and a live music stage are set to create a unique atmosphere as an army of experts sear, smoke and sizzle their way through some of the finest cuts of meat you’ll ever come across. The American contingent will be particularly well worth the visit. Looking like off-duty bikers, they have a commitment to the perfect bbq process that is almost as fierce as their tattoos.
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