PREVIEW: Cheese Festival, East Village

This Saturday is gonna be a good’un. For a few reasons. Firstly, IT’S MY BIRTHDAY and I’ll eat and drink everything in sight if I want to. Secondly, East Village in Stratford (aka my dream place to live) are hosting a Cheese and Wine Festival over the weekend in Victory Park. A birthday spent gorging myself on cheese and drinking lots of wine? I’m so game.

I’d clicked ‘Interested’ the second the event popped up on my Facebook feed, because…well. I just really, really like cheese. I don’t really do previews of upcoming one-off events here (although, question to the masses, should I?! Answers on a postcard. Or, y’know, in a Tweet), but when the lovely guys at East Village invited me along for a sneak peek at their cheesy delights, I couldn’t resist. 

Our preview evening took place in an E20 favourite bar, Tina We Salute You, and we were greeted with cocktails made from Black Cow’s Cheese Vodka. Yep. Trust me. It sounds weird, but the cocktail was tasty…and very strong.

Our starter and main courses came courtesy of the lovely Lottie from Feest London – first up, a deconstructed Bloody Mary with Parmesan Chards. I’m not normally a fan of Bloody Marys, but the tomatoes dipped in vodka with the cheesy, crispy chards were really tasty. And the main course was, quite literally, a bowl of cheese. Fondue, that is. With all kinds of things to dip into it from bread to full-on veggies, we polished off the gooey, oozy goodness pretty quickly. 

Dessert was the handiwork of a bit of an E20 celebrity, GBBO’s Tom Gilliford. As one of those rare non-GBBO-watchers, I learnt two important things about Tom he brought out his dessert and sat down for dinner with us. 1) He can hold down an excellent conversation about Buffy The Vampire Slayer, which is a quality I appreciate in any human. 2) His dessert-making skills are excellent. I mean, you’d kinda expect that…but really, his East Village Rarebit was amazing. A dessert-wine soaked brioche loaf with mascarpone and white chocolate, it makes you really wish he was your next door neighbour…

If you want to try the menu for yourself, on top of the free festival, there’ll be a CHEESE FEAST taking place on the Sunday evening at Tina We Salute You. Tickets are £35 + booking fee – find ’em here.

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The East Village Cheese and Wine Festival runs from 12-6pm on Saturday April 1st, and from 12-4pm on Sunday 2nd April. Entry is free and non-ticketed, so you can just rock up and stuff yourself silly with dairy and grape-based alcoholic beverages until you forget how to get home again.  

There’ll be loads of free events and demonstrations, including Tom doing demos and Q&As all of Sunday, as well as food and wine vendors selling their cheesy and wine-y wares. And if you like a good ol’ pub quiz, Tina We Salute You will be hosting a Cheesy Pop Quiz on Sunday evening, just £2 per person entry with the chance to win a £50 bar tab. So worth the Monday morning hangover.

After having some preview tastes of the festival, I don’t think I can think of many better ways to spend a weekend. See you there…mine’s brie and merlot, cheers.

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