London street food panel discussion, podcast, and recent best bites

Lamb stew plate from Open Sesame

Lamb stew plate from Open Sesame

I’m pointing out the blooming obvious here, but there are a hell of lot of delicious things to eat at London street food markets at the moment. Yeah, yeah we’ve heard that before, mate. But, seriously, think about it: five or so years ago there just wasn’t the gigantic variety of street food available that there is now, in markets, at events, festivals, and more. All of that has been made possible with the work of forward-thinking market managers and events organisers, street food traders, private and public landlords (not without its difficulties, of course), restaurateurs, and so on…

Now as those of you who have been reading this blog since I started it back then know, I like talking about street food. I’ve also mentioned KERB a fair few times, because I think what founder Petra Barran and her team have achieved in that time, in legitimising and celebrating street food, and in doing so making it fun and democratising food in the city, is amazing.

Well, 5 years on, the people behind it are celebrating – last week they held a birthday party with special street food dishes made and collaborations between old and new traders laid on. Last week they also released their new podcast series, KERB LIFE (download it on iTunes here), in which host Robin Leeburn tackles all sorts of topics, from how traders work to what makes the perfect street food dish (in which I also had a chat with Robin, featuring here in episode 4).

Tomorrow, they’re hosting the first in a series of panel discussions looking at the ‘evolution of street food,’ how it beat the trend label, and where it’s going next. I’m pleased to say that I’ll be chairing the first discussion this Wednesday evening at The Hoxton in Shoreditch (25th October, 7-8pm, ticket info here). Do come along and see what Tony Solomon (of Anna Mae’s), Simon Mitchell (MD of Kerb), Regan Koch (from Queen Mary University of London), and Zan Kaufman (of Bleecker) have to say…

And, finally, in order to avoid having this sound like I’ve got shares in Kerb (I don’t – just general interest), and because we are now zipping fast towards winter, I also wanted to have a quick look back at some of my favourite dishes from 2017’s spring and summer festival season. Because why not?!

So, in categories of Best Bites, Tip Top, and Great (I ditched the ‘Might Have Again’ because no-one wants to hear about the meh on here – or do they?), and in no particular order, here they are:

BEST BITES

Beef bourguignon burger with raclette cheese (Photo credit:  The Patate UK)

Beef bourguignon burger with raclette cheese (Photo credit: The Patate UK)


Beef bourguignon raclette burger and paprika fries,
Patate

Where: Kicking off the first night at Wilderness festival (but they also trade in London).

Why: Because having given us a tiny sample of the beef bourguignon, after half an hour of seeing if there was anything better nearby, I was drawn back for its richness and succulence (plus look at all that cheese on top). Boom.

Pork bao, Smokin Lotus

Where: Late one night in Shoreditch soaking up the booze with a trip to Urban Food Fest (now closed, thank goodness – it was an awful market – but SL now trades in London via Kerb)

Why: Finally, another decent fluffy bao (so many people seem to think it’s OK to make them heavy and starchy), with luscious, slowww cooked pork belly with pickled daikon, spring onions and coleslaw. Sublime.

IMG_8706

Daily dish from The Nomadic Food Co

Day boat fish, chard salad and kale, The Nomadic Food Co

Where: On the first full sunny day at Wilderness festival (but they do location catering all around the country).

Why: Simple – grilled Cornish sea bream with a slosh of butter plus samphire and capers on top, and fresh salads dressed with herbs, lemon and garlic that weren’t at all a chore to eat. A banging way to kick off a festival, especially as everyone around us was saying ‘oooh, that smells amazing.”

Everything combination box, The Spice Box

Where: Just after seeing Bonobo, on the second night at Wilderness festival (but they trade in London at Broadway Market).

Why: Full flavours that thwack you in the face but at the same time don’t tip into Too Much territory. It’s all what they called ‘Plant-powered Indian food’ and this case the sweet potato, peanut and spring greens curry took the biscuit.

Seychelles octopus curry, Vinngoute

Seychelles octopus curry, Vinngoute

Seychelles octopus curry, Vinngoute

Where: During London Food Month’s opening night (which was waaaay too hectic, with crazy queues, but the street food I tried tasted good. Vinngoute trades across London).

Why: Tender chunks of veg and octopus in a sweet, cinnamony and coconutty sauce – soothing enough to put make me put the queueing angst to one side and give co-founder Kristofer a big high five (and to introduce my pal Clerkenwell Boy to their glorious food).

TIP TOP

Jollof rice, spicy beans and plantain, Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen 

Where: During London Food Month’s opening night (available in Brixton, around London)

Why: I love Zoe’s food and, in this case, there was so much heat from the rice, set off against the sweet sweet plantain.

Chicken wings, BBQ Lab

Where: Early one evening at Dinerama, Street Feast (BBQ Lab no longer exists, as he’s moved to frying chickens at Thunderbird Chicken)

Why: This was the second time I’d tried these, and the wings were unchanged – tender and crunchy with a slick of tart hot sauce slathered over them. Super.

Open Sesame's lamb stew (see banner image for the full dish)

Open Sesame’s Persian lamb curry (see banner image for the full dish)

Persian lamb curry, Open Sesame

Where: Also soaking up a hangover but this time at Wilderness festival (now trading around the UK)

Why: Rich, oozing slow-cooked lamb mince with just enough of a kick to wake you up, but not so heavy that you need to nap again immediately after. Served with slaw, herbs, and homemade flatbread (see banner image above). Worth the wait.

Fish caldine with masala dahl, Goan Seafood Curry

Where: Soaking up a hangover on the last day at Womad festival (trades at events around the UK – also my favourite food fixture at Green Man Festival)

Why: It’s a must. Reliably good boxes of healthy-ish comfort food. As for the spicy dahl, why can’t I make it that well?!

 

 

Thai green curry with tofu, Thai Love

Thai green curry with tofu, Thai Love

Tofu Thai green curry, Thai Love

Where: First dish at Womad festival (trades UK-wide I believe)

Why: I’m wary of trying out Thai green curries at festivals because more often than not they’re limp and overpriced. This one, though the servers looked grumpy and had very little chat, had allll the required creaminess, sweetness, and hot and fiery flavours.

GREAT

Coconut flamingo rice, Cally Food

Where: Having just finished recording the podcast (see above), standing at Kerb Kings Cross (mostly trades at Kerb).

Cally Food's flamingo rice and chicken pot

Cally Food’s flamingo rice and chicken pot

Why: In spite of the little sign that said ‘please bear with us, we’re inKERBating’, and in spite of the fact it really did take a while to make, this Caribbean-inspired pot of grub was excellent – sweet rice, chewable chicken, and a dollop of his exceptionally good Shi-tuan chilli sauce that I want to buy a pot of.

The Samuel Hell Jackson fillet ‘burger’ with vegan brioche, Biff’s Jack Shack

Where: Just before recording the podcast, standing at Kerb Kings Cross (trades across London)

Why: Surprise! I’m not a vegan and I like burgers but this burger-that-wasn’t-a-burger was amazing and because of the light fry and the chipotle sauce, had a lot of the heat and smokiness and crunch that you’d get from a meaty alternative (but made with crispy fried jackfruit, of all things). I’m sold.

Menu at Biff's Jack Shack

Menu at Biff’s Jack Shack

Pastel de Nata, Claude’s Boulangerie

Where: On a Friday lunchtime at World Street Food Market, St Kats Docks (has stalls over London).

Why: My reward for finishing my trial food tour for Sidestory was just what the doctor ordered – a flaked pastry basket, bulging with vanilla-spiked, cinammony egg custard, and gone in a flash.

Classic bowl, Buddha Bowl / Wholefood Heaven

Where: Heading into the second night of Wilderness festival (they also trade around London and the UK)

Why: Because it’s a must. Given that we’d started the festival eating fiery slap-up things, and we’d been boozing a lot, we just wanted something filling that wasn’t heavily laden with meat. This, with brown rice, pieces of fried halloumi (well, come on), seeds and stacks of veg, was ideal.

Oatopia's white chocolate and raspberry flapjack

Oatopia’s white chocolate and raspberry flapjack

White chocolate and raspberry or chocolate and orange flapjacks, Oatopia

Where: As often as possible at Womad festival + Wilderness festival (trade all over the UK)

Why: Because if flapjacks are basically like muesli in solid form, these ones with fruit etc in them can be justified for breakfast and tea I reckon. So this is what we did, more than once, before taking some with us as train snacks. They’re colossal and you have to slosh through the mud to get to them (because the breakfast queues always get the most feet in front of them), but they’re not sickly and I like Oatopia’s huge range of flavours.

Slightly more regular updates on the LSF Facebook page, if you’re interested…

Leave A Comment

London Street Foodie mini logo

About

London Street Foodie is an ever-growing guide to the best places to eat London street food. There's a lot of street food waiting to be discovered right now; we'd like to help nudge you towards the good stuff.