Yesterday was the 3rd edition of Eat Drink Festival Lagos and my first, but I almost didn’t attend.
The Eat Drink Lagos blog has been a first point of call for restaurant referrals and outing goals. Folly and Nosa have created a gem there and you should check it out. The Eat Drink Festival festival is one of the products from their journey of eating through the hustle called Lagos.
Several chefs such as Chef Imoteda of Heels in the Kitchen and Chef Benedict, have popped up on my radar, thanks to the blog. So, when I heard there were going to be at Eko Atlantic City for the festival with menu selections, I was stoked. Plus, the EDL Lagos team did all they could to heighten the anticipation. They released a festival map, festival specials, the dizzying vendor list, and a special food tent announcement.
I am not a big spender and suffer from huge bouts of post traumatic shopping trips if I do. For this festival, a budget was the solution. 5,000 Naira ($16) was the spending cap. My strategy was to get a festival special from The Snail Place and Heels in the Kitchen totaling up to 3,000 Naira, then spend the remaining 2,000 Naira on my heart’s delight. To accommodate delicious emergencies, I had in hand 7,000 Naira cash. No failing POS machines and long ATM queues were going to get in the way of my tummy.
The day before, I had fought the temptation to spend my Food Festival money on ITAN, the musical at Muson Center. 5,000 Naira was the ticket cost and an old secondary school drama inclined friend was going to be there. Reluctantly, I sat at home and waited for Food Festival Day. Every food festival needs the right crew and I invited some friends. That was the beginning of the problem. Cancellations started pouring in on the D-Day and even the bam fam sneaked away.
Against all odds, So-So (who was recruited last minute) and I arrived at Eko Atlantic City. You see, I take these events very seriously and refused to eat all day except for a yogurt and fruit, saving tummy space. Friends, the long walk from the parking space towards the food tent made me question that decision. I huffed and puffed until this beautiful signage by Atelier Torerra came into view.
Since I could not decide between the fiery hot and coconut ginger chili flavored snails, I ditched the festival special and got two of them with a side of rice for 2,500 Naira.
Next, we raced over to the Heels in the Kitchen stand for the 1,500 Naira Festival Special. Sadly, Chef Imoteda had another engagement and couldn’t be there. Still, I got a taste of her culinary prowess in the wing sauce. The rib bites and Cajun wedged potatoes made the meal complete. They were out of the spiced zobo and I tried not to sulk about that because we arrived late (4pm). Something tells me, it was really good.
At this point, I was full. People were waving some brightly colored Popsicles, so we found the vendors, Royal Pops and got the Pineapple Orange flavor for 500 Naira. The Bubble Tii stand was equally tempting, but the long lines were not. Selina Teas was nearby, so I stopped by. I am glad I did. After loading up on some hibiscus, mint and ginger teas for 1,000 Naira, I sought out the Maggi Kitchen tent out of curiosity. Chef Benedict’s Italian food was calling my name, but I simply said a hello and kept walking.
There were so many familiar faces at the Eat Drink Festival. From old secondary school classmates to present colleagues, it was hard to linger and greet for fear that the food will finish. After 2 hours of absorbing the amazingness of the food festival, we began the long walk back to the car park, this time with full bellies.
When the muscled man at the entrance clicked the people counter device as we entered, he mumbled 6,000 and something. As we made our exit, it looked as if 3,000 additional people had shown up with hundreds more locked outside the venue’s gate. With the Eko Atlantic City filled up to maximum, security officials were not allowing any more attendees in by 6pm. Sadly, they were going to miss out of the awesome food and ambiance of the Eat Drink Food Festival. I, on the other hand had done pretty well with my budget and spent 5,500 Naira on festival goodies. My only regret was not coming earlier, but my belly and I were happy to say we made it to our first Eat Drink Festival Lagos.