Street food winners and losers
What a few days it was. If you weren’t there jostling for a space in the queue, you were probably on Twitter following all the action from somewhere else in London. Or perhaps it all passed you by.
If that happened, I’ll give you a quick rundown – first of the British Street Food Awards and then of the Ribman’s hot wings contest on Wednesday.
I made it along to #fifteenstreet in Hackney on the sunny Saturday afternoon – ideal streating weather. I arrived to see stacks of people queuing for food of every variety – mussels, fish pies, ice cream, tacos, pork buns, cake and pizza. Some were happy knowing that soon juices would soon be dribbling down their chins; others were pissed off at having bought tickets and been faced with the prospect of a 20 or 45-minute queue even for a snack. Next year – and I hope they will do it again next year as it’s a great event – I think some sort of timed entry or crowd control would be useful.
With this in mind, I took the reverse approach and queued for ice cream first (everyone else was doing mains first, you see). A sturdy vanilla cone held up two mountains of ice cream – a ball of salted caramel and peanut butter with the rather punchy Guinness and gingerbread. I’m not sure the two combined very well but I’d return for the first in a flash if Ginger lived in London. It had just the right amount of sweetness with an occasional nutty crunch. Ginger’s Comfort Emporium later won best breakfast for toast and marmalade ice cream on top of an orange blossom sorbet. Next time…
Green Goat Food’s scallop cream tea (see pic below) was an exciting take on the English afternoon classic. I liked the sweetness and gooey texture of the strawberry sauce with the plump, freshly cooked scallop. Nice work, boys. Their nomination for best snack was well deserved.
Around the corner, the #Ginstock party was taking off. Busy as it was, the mood was easy – with alcohol inside them, people began to mind less about queueing and more about which gin they preferred. My favourite was Sipsmith at the Zetter Townhouse but the rhubarb-y winner served in its blue and white striped cup made by Powder Keg Diplomacy was a lovely British tribute. After that I didn’t eat another thing. Blame the gin…
Looking at the final list of winners, I’m pleased that so many were Londoners. What a testament to street food in this city: there was Simon at Luardos who won best breakfast with his Huevos Rancheros breakfast burrito; Well Kneaded‘s Firebread Calzone, winner of best pie; best snack went to Yum Bun’s pork bun. (I didn’t tried that here but did do over the winter. It’s delicious); and Best Burger was a chicken one from Street Kitchen. I love their attitude and food, as some of you may have gathered.
Richard Johnson, founder of the British Street Food Awards agreed it was a good weekend for London street food.
“Well, half the finalists were Londoners. I think that reflects the state of the street food scene in Britain — the most diverse work is still coming out of the capital. One observation I would make is that you could pick out the London traders — they were better at dealing with a queue. More experience maybe. And less chat. The traders from outside London had more time to talk about provenance, etc — but when you’ve got 50 hungry mouthes to feed, it’s a question of a little less conversation, a little more action…”
For a full list of winners and information, click here
AND NOW FOR THE HOT STUFF…
And then a few days later, another London Street Foodie favourite, The Ribman took off to the Blues Kitchen in Camden to challenge people to eat chicken wings with his hottest sauces.
It all looked so innocent to begin with (see above). As Mark The Ribman chuckled over his beer, knowing he’d put a tonne or two of chillis into five bottles of hot sauces, tables of contestants looked on nervously.
The first round came and went, the second – the Holy Fuck sauce round – was harder, the third some said was easier than the second and by the fifth some were finished. When everyone except one man made it through to the end, Mark admitted he was going to have to add some more fire to his potions if he wanted to return next year.
Here is some photo evidence:
Here, Louis from the Pizza Pilgrims realises that Mark’s Christ on a Bike sauce is a lot harder to manage than the PP’s nduja pizza. Below, it isn’t a murder scene but the debris following a hard-fought battle.
If you’ve got time, watch the hilarious video here