FOOD: Manchester Cheese Fest – A Festival Like No Other


When I hear the word ‘festival’ I think of porter-loos, wet wipes and tents which for someone who loves their creature comforts, is my idea of hell. However, when I heard about a Festival dedicated to my favourite foodstuff, namely cheese, and that no tents or porter-loos would be involved, I knew I had to check it out. 

Held at Bowler’s Exhibition Centre in Trafford, CheeseFest was two day festival that brought together artisan cheese makers and food stalls for a cheese extravaganza. The Festival has been touring all around the country and last weekend was Manchester’s turn. 

Just some of many cheese on offer from Fowlers
Anyone who knows me or this blog knows I’m a massive cheese lover, so in my mind you can’t go too far wrong with a cheese festival. After all, all you really need do is turn up and eat bloody cheese and folks, that’s exactly what I did. Admittedly, there wasn’t much else to do there other than eat cheese, try new cheeses, listen to a bit of music and watch live food demonstrations but I’m ok with that. After all there are worse ways of spending a day. I may sound like one cool customer but I have to be honest, I was looking forward to going to this for weeks and weeks. 

Not only do I love cheese, but I really enjoy discovering and recommending them. I’m always on the lookout for new cheeses to try or new ways of using it in dishes. 
Shorrock Cheese’ Lancashire Bombs
One particularly interesting stall called Shorrocks Cheese was selling Lancashire bomb cheese. For those that don’t know, the Lancashire bombs are wrapped in cloth, covered in coloured wax and left for a year and what results is a deliciously creamy tasting cheese. They come in two sizes with a variety that includes everything from garlic and herb, red onion, cracked black pepper and whiskey flavoured, which seemed particularly popular! I liked the taste of the luxury spiced apple and port bomb, with their traditional Lancashire bomb in its black wax, coming a close second. Here’s a link to their website if you’d like to find out more: Lancashire bombs

Sean Wilson’s Saddleworth Farm cheese

For any Coronation Street fans out there, local lad Sean Wilson, whose owns and runs Saddleworth Cheese Company, was on hand to give live demonstrations using some of this own hand made Lancashire cheese. 

Sean Wilson giving a live demonstration of his pizza making skills

One of the many food stalls at the Festival was the Mac Shac. Their mac n’ cheese was delicious and if like me, you didn’t want to commit to a full pot, they offered taster pots as well.  I went for the four-cheese blend without any toppings, but if I were to have it again I’d certainly try it with one of the extra toppings on offer, as they did look really quite good.

You can’t meet a good mac n’ cheese
The Mac Shac

Besides the Mac Shac, the other must try of the day was the Raclette Brothers. The London-based duo attracted quite a crowd with their popular dish and rightly so. I was salivating at the sight of their raclette cheese melted over garlic potatoes with cornichons and pickled red onion, a combination I’ve never had before and would certainly eat again. 
The Raclette Brothers drew quite a crowd

 I think this reason this Alpine street food stall was so popular, besides the delicious food on offer, was because they were offering something a little bit different. But more than that, they kept it simple and that’s key.

Below was the boyfriend’s lunch from Muffin Man & Co. With all the delicious cheese-related hot food stalls to chose from he opted for an all-day breakfast muffin with not a piece of cheese in sight! However, it did look and smell fantastic. 
Muffin Man & Co, with their all day breakfast Muffin

Other stalls on offer on the day were Bake My Brie. I was very tempted by this one as brie is a particular favourite of mine but by the time I’d reached this stall, I was starting to break out into a cheese headache. Bake My Brie is pretty much what it says, baked Button Mill Brie served with chutney.

Baked Brie anyone?
Bake My Brie and their Chutneys

 I couldn’t go to a Cheese Festival and not come away with some chutney for my cheeses. I took away some of Bake My Brie’s, homemade apple, blackberry and cinnamon chutney.

A selection of the cheese sellers on the day

You’re probably all wondering what cheese I came away with. Well, I settled on a strong Stilton from Oxford and a cheese called Cheddar Crunch that had a nice kick to it but which you’d still be able to eat in a sandwich or melted. Since we bought them Saturday the cheddar is all but gone and the Stilton won’t be hanging around too much longer either.

A sold-out venue

My only grumble in an otherwise enjoyable day was that the event was held in a tricky venue to get to. Sat in the middle of an industrial estate it wasn’t the easiest of places to get to if you don’t have your own transport. Fingers crossed that the popular of this event ensures that it moves to a slightly better venue with transport links next year because I’d certainly make repeat visits for my cheese fix.

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