The Vamos! Festival is something I’ve been aware of happening in Newcastle, but never taken time to go to the events. As it is a celebration of Spanish and Portuguese speaking cultures, and Him Indoors is Brazilian, I decided to be proactive this year. I didn’t know Vamos! had a decade long history, and understanding the aims of the event meant I was keen to support it. The Toon is more culturally diverse than I think I ever realised, and meeting Raf last year certainly opened my eyes to a world beyond the Tyne. I’m even attempting to learn another language; albeit slowly!
It was announced in April that Kid Creole & The Coconuts would be headlining this year, but I was unsure of any other things planned. I started following the Vamos Twitter account in order to keep informed of what was going on, and discovered that there was a lot more to the festival than a couple of high profile events. I was invited along to the Ouseburn Fiesta to meet up with Nik Barrera, the co-director and creator of Vamos, and to also sample some delicious grub.
This was the first time I’d visited The Toffee Factory, and it seemed like a great venue to host this event. We were greeted by the fantastic Runaway Children’s Samba Troupe, who were suitably noisy and got everyone in the mood for a beer. This came from Wylam Brewery, one of Raf’s local favourites. There were cocktails on offer too, but as I was driving I stuck to good old Fentimans. I appreciated that the local producers were still being supported at such a multi-cultural affair. The Chocolate Smiths were also in attendance, meaning my purse was considerably lighter by the end of the evening.
We were treated to a performance by the fantastic Mariachi Las Adelitas, and the whole venue stopped to watch. It was so different to anything I’d seen before, and they really captivated the audience.
At first the Toffee Factory was quiet, but it started to fill up as the evening progressed. The wonder of The Late Shows is that all the venues are open until 11pm, meaning you can ‘pop’ between events. The weather was quite changeable that evening, so we ducked in and out between the light showers.
Of course, no blog by us would be complete without some sort of food being consumed! There was food available from Little Mexico, who are based in Hexham. They were selling a delicious chicken mole, which makes me think a visit is in order.
We talked to Sara Lourenco about the project Vamos gave to Newcastle College students to create a Mexican inspired menu featuring chocolate, and it was great to see them at work. They were really passionate about what they’d accomplished, and I was impressed. They did everything from costings to actually catering at the Toffee Factory, and it didn’t seem to phase them! It was the first time I’d tried Arepas, which are a flatbread made with ground maize. It was reminiscent of cooked polenta, although they were more preferrable to me. The shredded beef mole was good, especially as it had an ‘earthiness’ from the inclusion of the chocolate and beetroot. I was quite naughty and ate it all before I remembered to take a photo, but managed to catch the lads ‘in action’ boxing some up for another punter.
We’re looking forward to sampling more from the students on the 10th of June for the Chocolate Noche 3 course inspired menu. Canny Food will be live-tweeting photos of the food being served at the Chef’s Academy during the event. Tickets are still available, priced at £25 per person. There is also a daytime picnic scheduled on the 13th June, which will be great for all the family. Priced at just £8 for 2 adults and 2 children, we can’t wait. The performance of Bumba Meu Boi is sure to be our highlight.
Thanks for reading,