Penang has a lot of festivals. Whether it is the big religious festivals of Chinese New Year, Thaipusam and Hari Raya, or the secular George Town Festival, Penang International Jazz Festival and George Town Literary Festival it sometimes feels as though one festival is barely over before the next begins. 2017 sees the launch of another one, and when you think about it, it is strange that it hasn’t been done before in this food-obsessed island. The first ever Penang International Food Festival is coming this month.
The organisers want to use the Festival to establish, or perhaps consolidate, Penang’s reputation as the food capital of
Southeast Asia, by offering the entire range of tastes, flavours and textures of Penang, from humble hawker stalls to creative western restaurants. They have organised it around three main events, “Savour the Past”, “Enjoy the Present” and “Relish the Future.”
“Savour the Past” is devoted to street food, with old-style hawkers serving old favourites all along Beach Street (Lebuh Pantai) from 5pm-11pm on Saturday April 15th.
“Relish the Future”, from 28th to 30th April, 10am to 10pm at Gurney Paragon Mall promises to explores the cutting edge of food, by giving chefs, baristas and mixologists a chance to experiment, collaborate, exchange ideas and invent the food of the future. This will take the form of competitions in cocktail-making and cooking.
In addition to the three main events, numerous “Pop Up Events” have been organised. In the workshops category, we are offered the opportunity to learn how to make wooden chopping boards and spice racks on Sunday 16th and Monday 17th. Contact Pokothings at Hin Bus Depot for more details and to register (+6012-526 3690 or www.facebook.com/pokothings). On Wednesday 19th, the Tropical Spice Garden is offering a Malay Cuisine cooking class on Wednesday 19th and an Indian cooking class on Tuesday 25th. (+604-881 1797 / firstname.lastname@example.org). On Saturday 22nd, Wholey Wonder is offering a session entitled Plant Based Cuisine and Yoga Anatomy, including an introduction to plant-based cheese making (+6010-404 1201/ +6010-402 1201 / email@example.com). All workshops are priced at RM50.
A number of local restaurants are offering special dinners to showcase their menus, and TGV Cinemas at Gurney Paragon are showing two food-related films, The Hundred Foot Journey on Friday 28th, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs on Sunday 30th. The price of RM 30 includes snacks related to the film shown. Register at goo.gl/c6aYSj and goo.gl/c6aYSj respectively.
On April 16th, the usual Hin Bus Depot Sunday market (11am-5pm) will be themed “Eya”, All About Coconuts, with its stallholders challenged to use coconut in their food offerings, and the body care products and decorative items on sale. And the Down to Earth Life Market at Straits Quay on Sunday 23rd (2pm-7.30pm) is promising a better-than-usual farmers market of organic and environmentally friendly products.
Last but not least, there are several tours and trails on offer. On Monday 17th, an all-day Urban Farm Tour will take participants to Balik Pulau, to make goat milk mantou (steamed bun) with goat milk at the farm, and to visit a nutmeg factory to see how the fruit is made into jam, ointments, cordial, juice, pickle and so on. The tour will also visit an organic farm, and of course will include lunch. It is free of charge. The same day, the Muslim Friendly Food Trail will take place, with trail-goers eating their way along the Street of Harmony in George Town. This trail will run a second time on Monday 24th too. The charge is RM 50. The Wet Market Tour on Friday 21st is an exploration of the newly renovated and historically important Chowrasta Market. This tour is free of charge. And finally, the Orchard and Ecolodge tour on Friday 28th is another all day tour to Balik Pulau to harvest your own food (the farm grows cloves, chicken, fruit and vegetables) and have them prepared by a chef for lunch. The charge is RM 50. Registration for all these events can be made at goo.gl/d0oNys, and as places are limited it is recommended to book early.
The full calendar of events is below, and you can obtain more information by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or checking their facebook page at www.facebook.com/penanginternationalfoodfestival or their website at piff.com.my.