Meatopia, London

I’ve made no secret of the Mannings’ love of meat. So imagine our joy and delight to discover a festival dedicated to our favourite food! An American event brought to the UK by Hawksmoor’s Richard Turner, Meatopia we thought we’d missed out. But it appears it was so successful it returned this year and we were first in line for some tickets.

Held at Tobacco Dock in East London, it’s everything you want from a food festival (well a meat festival if we’re being precise).

Meat from chefs, restauranteurs and butchers from across the UK and further afield. No gas. Everything is barbecued, grilled, spit roasted, slow cooked. Get yourself some “meat bucks” and away you go. From beef rib to pig’s cheeks; pulled pork to barbecued chicken, it’s all there for the taking.

And it’s not just about the food. With DJs spinning great music to live bands, an array of alcoholic drinks, stuff for sale, and even some demonstrations for the keen cooks among us (not me really, more a keen eater), it’s a great day out.

With a glass of wine in hand, we watched Tuscan butcher Dario Ceccini take apart the hind quarter of a cow and show us the cuts a Tuscan family would use – basically all of it! From the shank stuffed with bone marrow and slow cooked, to amazing slabs of beef simply grilled, and even his own version of a steak tartare, it was the perfect afternoon’s entertainment. And that wasn’t the only demo, they’re continuous all afternoon in the aptly-named area dubbed the Cutting Room.

We went aiming to try all 22 of Saturday’s offerings (you get different choices on the Sunday – some from the same chefs, some different) and managed about 12 between us. Obviously they were all great but winning ones were Hawksmoor’s charcoal grilled flat iron steak with anchovy butter and a beef fore rib slow cooked over rum barrel wood chips with Sailor Jerry barbecue sauce from Dannt Cheetham, head chef at the White Rabbit in Dalston, London.

The smoked pigs cheeks with foie gras on a pretzel bun – by Lee Bull at Q Grill – were fab, although I could probably have left the pretzel bun. And grilled picanha with espresso BBQ sauce and grilled farofa by Andre de Luca of Brazil’s BOS was simply succulent and tasty. We salivated over a whole spit-roasted ox cooked over a wood fire for 24 hours but were told we’d have to come back the next day if we wanted to try it. A very tempting proposition!

So whether you’re a foodie or not, Meatopia is a must-do. A great chance to try different things, soak up a great atmosphere, learn a bit of stuff and listen to some great music. I suppose there’s only really one thing that’s important – it’s probably not best for vegetarians…….

We paid for everything we had at Meatopia. All these views are the honest ravings of a meat-loving Manning