Lyon has for a long time been considered as the culinary capital of France, if not the World. Situated in the south-east of France, on the banks of the mighty Rhone river, it is ideally located to benefit from a variety of fresh produce. To the north, Charolais beef or Bresse chicken as well as cream and butter.
To the east, the Alps are known for cured meats, cheeses and charcuterie and then to the south, seasonal fruit and vegetables and olive oil. Combine all that fantastic produce with a massive wine region, Cote du Rhone and slightly further south wines such as Chateau Neuf du Pape, and you literally have food heaven! Lyon is the third largest city in France, after Paris and Marseille, and is a truly vibrant city.
When I came across an advert for a food festival in Lyon it was only natural that we had to get tickets. Unfortunately, due to World events over the past 18 months we have had to wait, but, finally, across the weekend of 17th-19th september we got to go to Lyon. The festival was billed as à Street Food Festival, which is of particular relevance to me at present as I continue plans with setting up my own food truck.
We booked tickets for the Friday night and all day Saturday and set out determined to make the most of what was on offer. We arrived in Lyon by train Thursday afternoon and, after deciphering the local transport network of trams and underground, set out to explore. Lyon is a big university city and blends a mix of traditional 18th century architecture with very modern, impressive edifices. To be honest my wife and I toured the city with wide-eyed excitement – we really did feel like hicks from the sticks!
Friday evening we arrived at the venue for the festival, disused factory units with graffiti that gave à real vibe of street food before we even entered. As with all large events in France at present everybody has to provide proof of either à double Covid vaccination or à negative test within the last 72 hours and mask wearing is encouraged – which clearly was not going to happen with so much food and drink on offer!
The festival had been billed as having 100 chefs with a section for African food, Asian food, Food Trucks and live DJs and bands. In addition there were due to be 200 ateliers, workshops, including wine tastings and cookery classes with the likes of the Institut Paul Bocuse.
The expression, “like kids in à sweet shop” could not have been more appropriate! We had arrived early so were able to take a tour of the venue before the crowds arrived. Each food stand was offering a couple of different dishes for about 5 euros each. There were the usual burgers, of course, but then there were some very special dishes. There was no way we were going to be able to sample everything, so we thought we might try some of the more different options available.
On Friday evening we had Panang Curry, Pulled Pork Burger (amazing!), Nattin (a Vietnamese dish), an African chicken dish with the most amazing spicing and I added extra hot sauce! and Tacos with Andouillette. In the wine district we drank Cote du Rhone and listened to the buzz and the DJ while we planned what to eat next. Later in the evening we headed to the Oktoberfest Hall for some beer and an extremely good live band. After five hours of food, drink, music and crowds we headed out to catch the Metro back to our hotel but we still had tickets for Saturday.
Saturday proved to have a different vibe. On Friday night it was loud with two live bands, DJs, the bars were busy and there was a real festival buzz. Saturday was chilled with more families and the music toned down. The sun was shining and in the outside area the feeling was like a garden party. We also had a treat with Anne-Sophie Pic present. She holds the most Michelin Stars of any chef in the World – her various establishments currently have 8 stars! – and she brought her brand new food truck.
We started our culinary adventure at the BBQ area by having a Pulled Tiger Pitta. Not a real Tiger! but a Corsican speciality of Tiger Veal barbecued and served with Tzatsiki and Corsican cheese – delicious. We continued with a dish from the Institut Paul Bocuse (Paul Bocuse was an extremely well renowned chef from Lyon who died in 2018).
A griddled piece of salmon served in a homemade bread topped with a special sauce. We had to try something from the Pic -up truck so went for a pulled pork burger with a homemade bun. To be completely honest probably not as good as the pulled pork burger from the night before, but still darn good.
Overall I have to say the experience was tremendous. A well organised event in a superb venue with some fantastic chefs and an atmosphere of people wanting to enjoy themselves. It seems to have been a long time since we have had events on this scale and I sincerely hope they continue. Next year the Lyon Street Food Festival is scheduled to take place in June and I am seriously hoping to get my own food truck there for a couple of days!