Festival Eats Festivals Food Food&Drink Reviews

Review: Food at Shambala Festival 2019

Another year, full of optimistic meatless splendour; a fantastical combination of culinary cultures. Add this to fields of well-being respite, live music, workshops and discussions of politics and eco-agricultural advancements – the result… a positive whirlwind of rebellion. 

Shambala’s ‘Adventures in Utopia’ tagline never seems to fail in it’s delivery. With their envious range of worldly delights, roaming from the East to West, Shambala has 44 delicious vegetarian food and drinks vendors this year. Included in this, a large range of foraging and cocktail workshops led at The Garden O’Feeden tent.

One Planet Plate

Shambala Festival has always worked incredibly hard to source ethical and sustainable food traders, believing that our diets are shaping the world around us. It’s time to be well-informed and radical. This is an incredible thing to see and we would love to witness more festivals adopting this level of consciousness in the future!

Our impact on the planet when it comes to what we put on our plate is a complex issue involving water, travel, soil health, biodiversity loss, toxins, green house gasses, social impacts and much more. Therefore this year they have created a “A One Planet Plate” consisting of a meal that is responsible for under 0.5kg Carbon dioxide equivalent (C02e). 

When you consider that the UK dish average factors in at around 2.5kg per meal, a One Planet Plate is seriously low impact.

Who took part you may ask? Churrioso, Happy Maki, Uber Tuber, Wrappers Delight, Deli Posh Dogs, Pod Café, La Bonne Crepe, The Chai Shop Organic and PB&J Society.

From here, we share our experience from each food vendor with a solid vegan option.

Dosa Deli 4/5

Winners of the Best Vegetarian Dish award at the British Street Food Awards 2016 and winners of the ‘Peoples choice’ award at WOMAD 2015, Dosa Deli have continued to produce a high standard of festival fodder.

“Our vegetarian food is healthy, affordable, and homemade; showing you that you don’t always need meat. We are a street food duo dedicated to producing exciting, innovative and seasonal vegetarian dishes” – Dosa Deli

Dosa Deli. Photo credit Katie Field

The Fritter Shack 3/5

A wonderful array of wonderful salads and pakora; with watermelon taking centre stage across so many vendors this year. We tried the pakoras, creamy coconut Dahl and a mix of salads including their ‘watermelon, apple and mint’ salad for £7. Overall, we were mightily impressed with their bold use of coconut – however, much improvement is to be made on balanced seasoning for next year.

The Fritter Shack. Photo credit Katie Field

Crumble Shack 3/5

Looking to reminisce over your mothers apple crumble? Crumble Shack has you covered.

With a choice of vegan ice cream or fresh vegan custard, CS certainly gave us that warm homely hug. We would love to give them a much higher rating, but the simplicity of the setup and the decision to use microwaves has impeded our rating.

Crumble Shack. Photo credit Katie Field

Chubb Chubb 4/5

An East Asian hybrid using local produce, sourced and foraged within Dorset. This year, they return to Shambala with similar authentic flavours, a more sustainable ethos and a brand new menu!

Their super chubb box is our favourite choice, with Jasmine steamed rice, a sliced seitan hot dog, kimchi and pickled veg! Very flavourful indeed.

Club Mexicana 4.5/5

A food trend that hit the American street food scene back in 2015, Club Mexicana has brought us the very best of a plant-based taco revelation with its wonderful to-fish tofu fish taco. At 3 for £10 this meal is well balanced in flavour and certainly quick to eat!

Note: this vendor is 100% vegan and they offer curly fries!

Club Mexicana. Photo credit Katie Field

Ice Green 5/5

An absolute necessity for the blazing bank holiday sun.

At Ice Green, your summer dreams have truly come true. Finally, a vegan ice cream vendor with a wider variety of home made flavours than you could dream of and no sorbet in sight!

With toppings including fudge pieces, marshmallows and nuts, we opted for the hemp-cashew based rhubarb and custard ice cream, and their vanilla soft serve with vegan fudge.

We could not fault their offerings, not one little bit,

La Bonne Crepe 3/5

We were thrilled to see last years inspirational trader having both vegan sweet and savoury options. La Bonne Crepe have perfected a buckwheat dairy free, egg free batter, allowing each crepe to also be naturally gluten free!

Vegan options include their ‘In the field’ special, which consisted of mushrooms and leeks in a creamy sauce, then a great dark chocolate spread with optional banana and/or oreos. Along with the classic lemon and sugar combo, this vendor calls for all kinds of crepe eaters.

We would love to rate them higher, however their vegan cheese sauce was left somewhat bland; a simple tweak to their salt content or perhaps the introduction of additional herbs and spices would see them right,

La Bonne Crepe. Photo credit Katie Field

Pod Cafe 3/5

An idyllic location, with a persistently green, sculpture adorned lake, offering a range of hot and cold drinks and classic breakfast options.

Legs dangled in the hot sun, into cool pools of water and moss; what an impressive idea for an eatery festival hangout. We were saddened to see Pod Cafe didn’t live up to its claim of being 100% vegan as of this year (info found on the amazing festival app), however their vegan breakfast option was the best ‘full English’ style meal at the festival. 

Their coffee was arguably the worst – we visited several times, as we wish to be as positive as possible, but their coffee issues persisted. It was weak and complaints could be heard, repeated. Coffee is king for breakfast based vendors, simple to fix, tricky to maintain!

We will certainly return in 2020 to see how things have progressed.

Shamburger 2/5

Twenty-nineteen has seen an influx of popularised plant-powered burgers; naturally we had high hopes for Shamburger.

It was awesome to see that a plant-based burger with a twist, pressed using a cider press – however, it was a square ‘burger’ in a round bun. Their brioche buns were a great choice, but overall the burger was far too salty. Laden with Teriyaki with three shards of limp lettuce.

We would love to see a new and revised offering next year, if they return – perhaps the use of a marinade or even a teriyaki vegan mayonnaise?

Shamburger. Photo credit Katie Field

Yellow Turban Thali 2/5

An odd combination of freshly ground spices and a strong Korean classic, pakora with heapings of kimchi. It was interesting to see 3 food vendors making pakoras this year, a possible snack trend for 2020?

It was shame to taste an off-balanced dish, inconsistent in their pakoras and flavours. Perhaps looking at a more uniform sizing of their pakora would help with their consistency.

Yellow Turban Thali. Photo credit Katie Field

Lets talk: Coffee

The inevitable need to revolutionise our coffee culture has finally began to take shape in more conscious coffee shops across the country. We are so happy to see one such coffee company here at Shambala this year:

The Colombian Coffee Company

Tucked away in one of the many glittering nooks and crannies of the Shambala site, you could smell the passion of this alternative coffee trader. Four unique beans to choose from, with a team keen to recommend their favourite. Here we found Eduardo, one half of an Anglo-Colombian couple, who established this lovely coffee company in 2014.

Working with Unidad de Restitución de Tierras, they strive to help victims of the Colombian conflicts move from illegal crop production to safer and more sustainable coffee growing. Leading the trend on single origin coffee varieties, this little shack was a true gem.

We shared some of our concerns with Eduardo over his logistical processes; when you are looking at setting up a coffee machine and grinder, you must follow some key rules. With different beans, you need different settings – we sat and observed their service on several occasions and noted no change in the grind. This could be tasted in the extraction issues when sampling different espresso pours.

We love the kind of ethos and would love to assist in supporting them to grow and prosper – we also feel so strongly that it should organic shade-grown coffee. See our article on which products you should always buy organic here.

Note: Don’t forget to bring your re-useable hot drinks cups, and your water bottles for next years event, Shambala is plastic free, and only offers bio cups at a cost. 

End of festival debate- what if Shambala was to go Organic?

There was a painfully brief debate on Sunday afternoon, discussing whether it was possible for Shambala Festival to become Organic. This was incredibly exciting to hear Soil Association CEO and organic farmer Helen Browning, mention the idea of Shambala baby-stepping into a fully Organic festival in years to come.

Shambala Festival Director Sidharth Sharma momentarily touched on re-useable cutlery for future events, which could be an incredibly exciting prospect. Joined by International Head of Policy for Compassion in World Farming Duncan Williamson and others, the combined knowledge within the panel could have led to a 3 hour long debate!

Being such a massive topic, and with many things to consider, we feel an increased awareness of Organic farming would be necessary before people can feel comfortable paying a little extra for their festival meals.

We simply cannot wait to see what Shambala do in the near future, their ability to introduce important life changing habits within us, whilst creating a multi-dimensional party, is sheer poetic magic. Bring on Shambala 2020!

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