Tramlines 2018 Food Diary

Until quite recently, the term ‘food truck’ was synonymous with ‘burger van’ in my mind. Years of cramming greasy chicken burgers into my mouth on the way to football matches had given me a false sense that food from a trailer was far from culinary art. Only over the last few years have I become aware of the food truck movement, with the likes of Kogi gaining an international reputation for slinging great food from a glorified caravan.

When I went to Tramlines last year, which happened to be my first ever music festival (I know!), I didn’t expect much from the food. In honesty, I didn’t really consider the food at all. Suffice it to say what I ate over that weekend blew me away, and I haven’t really stopped thinking about it since. Ask me to recall the bands I watched and it may take a couple of minutes, ask me what I ate and you’ll be taken through each meal in an instant.

I’m lucky enough to be going to Tramlines again this year, I’m salivating at the thought of the food I might eat this year. I’m quietly considering ditching last year’s money-saving strategy of taking a supermarket meal deal in for lunch, just so I can try as much as possible.

As well as being my first music festival, Tramlines gave me the opportunity to try poutine for the first time, thanks to The Gravy Train. Poutine was nigh-on impossible for me to miss thanks to honorary-Vancouverite, Alfie Robinson’s face lighting up at the sight of the Canadian favourite, immediately rushing over to see what was on offer. The Gravy Train offers, to my delight, a fair whack in terms of a vegetarian menu and I tasted poutine in all its glory for the very first time. Describing poutine as ‘chips and gravy with cheese curds on top’, whilst technically true, does the dish an outrageous disservice. The rich, mushroom gravy, with its umami flavour making me wonder whether they had given us beef gravy, and salty cheese curds play off each other beautifully in a way I genuinely never expected. Luckily for me, and unluckily for my health, The Gravy Train opened at Cutlery Works in Kelham Island later that year.

Another place we ate that weekend which later opened at Cutlery Works was Shed. The self-titled ‘plant pushers’ descended on the festival offering entirely plant-based meals, a much needed detox after the heaps of chips, gravy, and fries I’d eaten. Shed offer a great ‘build-your-own-bowl’, which they sold at Tramlines last year, allowing you to build up a bowl of wholefood salad. Alfie and I immediately questioned our decision to go for a small bowl, wondering whether it would sustain us enough for a long summer’s day at a music festival. About halfway through our ‘small’ bowls we were struggling to finish, the beans and pulses proving filling even for us. I wish, one year removed from Tramlines Ten, I could remember exactly what I had in that bowl, but it was no doubt a combination of beans, hummus, and topped off with crispy seaweed (as that is what I’ve ordered each time I’ve revisited). Shed is moving from Cutlery Works into its own location, and I can’t wait to go back.

There was vegan food a-plenty at Tramlines last year, and I was excited to try some proper vegan junk food. So, eating at Wholesome Junkies was a no-brainer. Alfie and I ordered a beetroot burger and a hot dog, respectively. My hotdog was hands down the best hot dog I’ve ever eaten, covered in lashings of sauces and topped with dill and bacon frazzles. It was honestly unreal. I haven’t been able to catch Wholesome Junkies since Tramlines last year, but I know they are sometimes at Digbeth Dining Club, so maybe I’ll have to check in with them next time I’m home…

Despite being understandably captivated with the junk food from Wholesome Junkies (the only food I took pictures of at Tramlines, for some reason) the thing I’ve not stopped thinking about since last year’s festival was the vegan katsu bao buns from Tiger Bites Bao. The fresh chillies in the bun made them lip-tinglingly spicy, but it was impossible to slow down when eating these buns. The soft, glossy bread housed crispy pieces of vegan chick’n and sliced red chillies. Then the whole thing was topped with katsu sauce. There isn’t a week that goes by where I don’t think of those beautiful little buns, and I wish I had taken pictures of them. Until we meet again…

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to this year’s Tramlines where hopefully I’ll take a few more pictures of the incredible street food I eat whilst I’m there. Until then I should probably hit the gym a little harder.

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