British Street Food Awards 2015 – what we ate
It was a smasher of a weekend. The British street food traders came, they cooked, they conquered. Meanwhile people like me went, ate, were part of the winning team in Lisa Markwell’s ‘Have I Got Foods For You?’ quiz (yes, this actually happened), and then waddled home again. Not bad going for a grey Sunday.
I could tell you exactly what happened, but most posts like that go something like this: cool event, great food, lots of people, awesome celebration of London street food. So instead I will say congratulations to founder Richard Johnson for pulling it off again, by GUM there was some good food this year (see my notes below) and let’s hope there’s even more of that in 2016. Also I’m offering bonus points to anyone who can recognise the boys in the picture above.*
Next week I’ll be running a post telling you all about my favourite London street food dishes from 2015, some of which haven’t made it onto the blog yet because I’ve been distracted by… eating it. So keep your eyes peeled for that dropping into your inboxes.
Now, here’s what I ate last Sunday:
Herring Laksa from Sea Dogs
I don’t know whether it was because it was the first dish I tried at the British Street Food Awards day or because I simply chose well, but this was some of the best laksa I’ve enjoyed in a long time. It’s obviously not as typical as the ones I found in Singapore – duh – but it’s still pretty representative of the original dish, which is like a spicy rich coconut curry broth, filled with vermicelli noodles, garlic, onions and a bit of veg. Instead of the usual squid and prawns, the clever Sea Dogs team had filled theirs with British herring, Devon crab and Cornish seaweed and the result was gorgeous, and deeply satisfying to slurp. Oh, and about two hours’ later, these guys won ‘Best Snack’ for their seafood popcorn, followed by the Best of The Best prize from the judges.
Sea Dogs, run by Beth Newsome and Jim Cossett, trades in North Devon; seadogfoods.co.uk
Braco – British Taco – from The Roadery
I’m a sucker for food mash-ups – well, I am for the ones that work well and aren’t just some silly excuse for someone to write a headline about, anyway. The ones I like are those where chefs take a great dish from another country and re-create it using British ingredients, the Sea Dogs’ laksa being a good example. It doesn’t always work, and if we had all day I could list countless versions of BAD ones – but in this case it did. Here the nice people inside The Roadery van took the idea of a Mexican taco, baked their own ‘shell’, which was actually flatbread, and filled it with 10-hour sous vide Longhorn beef tongue, clemantine salsa (inspired!) wild blackberry hot sauce, and sourced cream. Now, I’m really not into the sous-vide thing, because it can result in a very bland meat texture, but it turns out that sous-vide-ing – or bathing – tongue for 10 hours can benefit it. The overall effect was softness, balance, and a touch of light citrus. Yum.
The Roadery, run by Dan Shearman, trades at Brockley Market on Saturdays and at KERB West India Key on Wednesdays; roaderyfood.com
Crispy Pork from BangWok
You know how sometimes you go to a market and the chef will have laid out an already-cooked version of the dish in front of you, the idea being that you can see if you actually want to buy it? Well, they’d done this on the BangWok stall and it didn’t look very appealing. But you know how it is – someone else had heard that someone else had said that the crispy pork was meant to be good, and so we ordered it. And you’ll never guess what? The pork was really good – crispy and sticky and unctuous. Founder Dong grills it at the back and then serves it on top of neatly arranged piles of crunchy lettuce, grated carrot, a chunk of ace sticky rice and peanuts, with a sweet citrusy dressing all over it. After you’ve mixed the whole thing up, the sauce coats the whole thing, and you get a great combination of crunch, tart, sweetness, and stickiness. It’s a brilliant, punchy dish. Incidentally, their short rib beef massaman won the British Street Food Awards ‘Best Main’ prize.
BangWok, run by Dong Chuaibamrung, trades mainly in Leeds and occasionally in London; bangwok.com
Crema Catalana creme brûlée from The Crema Caravan
“We serve creme brûlée burnt to order,” says the tagline above the little serving window of this van. ‘Ooh, let’s have original vanilla,’ says Sudi who I’m with that afternoon. Oh, they’ve sold out of vanilla. Ok, ‘what about salted caramel brownie?’ asks pudding specialist, Felicity. Nope, sold out of that one too and the pear cardamom palmier. Blimey, these guys must be good. ‘Ok, we’ll have a Crema Catalana, then’. So I hand over my £3.50, watch as a man called Callum – now very, very tired from two days of torching puddings – burns a little pot of cream in front of me, and then we all get stuck in. Sudi reckons it is too orangey for her, but still manages to finish half before passing the rest to her son, while Felicity says she isn’t really into orange flavours, but likes this one quite a lot. I think it has an awesome sugar coating, which I bash through with my plastic spoon, and enjoy the orangeyness and the good, thick cream. Needless to say I finish the whole pot. These guys later win the British Street Food Awards’ Best Dessert prize.
The Crema Caravan, run by Callum McDougall and Mel Duncan, trades in Edinburgh, Scotland; thecremacaravan.co.uk
*The two awesome guys in the picture are Jez Felwick, owner of the excellent The Bowler meatball van and restaurant, and Andy Bates, who used to run Eat My Pies stall in Broadway Market and is now about to set up a British restaurant in Miami, USA.
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