How to scoff a Sicilian cannolo in under 10 seconds + is London street food here to stay?

Hazelnut cannoli from Casa Cannoli

Hazelnut cannoli from Casa Cannoli at Canopy Market, Kings Cross

So…. London street food. We all want a piece! Let’s all start a stall and make millions!

Mm hmm, sure.

Sadly, folks, while there are tons of success stories, passion alone won’t run your business, as this Canadian former street food trader and restaurateur atests here.

Aaanyway, recently I’ve spent a fair bit of time looking back at how the street food movement has developed in London over the last 5 or so years, both for my own research* and because I chaired last month’s panel discussion with KERB about ‘how street food beat the trend label and where it’s going next’ (remember I mentioned it in my last post?).

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Kerb Talks Part I

You might be pleased to know that – hooray! – the four panellists pulled off the first KerbTalk and you can watch the whole thing here.

We started by looking at how the contemporary street food ‘movement’ came about, including the explosion of social media and the financial crisis of 2008; we looked at how street food has always been around and in what guises, whether the recent changes mean it’s a ‘fad’ or here to stay.

Regan Koch, lecturer in Human Geography at Queen Mary University of London and collective culture expert, said that not only is the street food movement changing the way people consider dining but that:

“Street food has become the new heart – it can inject culture into an area, and bring with it investment, regeneration and progress”. He and others said that street food markets are often accused of being complicit in the process of gentrification, but what drives it is more about the enthusiasm of traders than anything else.

Later I asked the panel what street food can bring to an area; whether its future is a continuation of traders on the move, or as permanent spots under cover (read: food courts); how to provide better and easier opportunities for new traders of all backgrounds to enter the market; and, finally, where the best up-and-coming street food businesses are.

Canopy Market, Kings Cross

Canopy Market, Kings Cross

And now for that Sicilian cannoli (in the opening pic), whose flavour I can just about remember in spite of having seen it away in about as much time as it takes to take an iPhone snap.

The culprits? My sister and me, both in need of a delicious break from work.

Canelés by Babel at Canopy  Market, Kings Cross

Canelés by Babelle at Canopy Market, Kings Cross

The crime (read: loads of food): Well, sweet stuff first: It’s the two Cs today: a French canelé followed by an Italian cannolo. I’ve had some bad canelés but these, made by Babelle, were the dream. They had that amazing sponge-like middle, a slightly chewy caramelised edge, and a centre filled with, WAIT FOR IT, dulce de leche. I know… That one was a gift from Fabio (see below) but Flora and I then ventured towards Casa Cannoli for one filled with hazelnut ricotta. I vividly remember my first-ever cannolo during a year living in Italy, and this was as close to that one a I can remember: silky rich filling that tasted absolutely of top notch hazelnuts, and a dough case which even though it’s fried and hard kind of crumbles wonderfully under your teeth. Savoury: Indian Street Kitchen’s raan burger, which is a gem of a burger – spiced slow-cooked lamb with a rage of other flavours coming in from jalapeno, wasabi and crispy onions. It’s basically a party in the mouth.

Raan Burger from Indian Street Kitchen at Canopy Market

Raan Burger from Indian Street Kitchen at Canopy Market

We also had a shrimp burger from Shrimpy: good shrimps, nice bun, but in my view the bun does nothing for the shrimps as it masks the flavour. Give me a shrimp salad instead. Have I said shrimps enough? Shrimps shrimps shrimps.

The scene of the crime? Canopy Market in Kings Cross, held on the final weekend of every month (the next one on 24-26th November plays host to the World Cheese Awards so… if you like cheese obvs go visit).

OK but where *exactly* is that? It’s under the West Handyside Canopy, off Granary Square. Go right out of Kings Cross train station, up the Boulevard, then take a diagonal front right across the Square until you see the street food stalls…

Should we bother? Well that’s up to you, isn’t it? I get sent press releases all the time about new street food markets, but this one lured me in because I happened to be free that weekend, KX is a direct line from Brixton, and more importantly the market is run by Fabio Diu and Philip Lowery, the people behind the Real Food Markets who I met years ago when they were in charge of the food market on the Southbank, and I did a day’s trading there. So I had an inkling that the food would be worth the journey. Here they focus on MAKERS of all different sorts – both food and drink makers (street food, juices, coffee, patisserie), and creative makers (artists, illustrators, jewellery and textile makers).

Beef noodle soup, Singapore

Beef noodle soup, Singapore

*I’m writing this post from an office in Cambodia’s capital city, Phnom Penh, where I’ve come for a few weeks to work on some food writing with a friend who lives here. Having spent the weekend whizzing around some street food hawker centres in Singapore, and this morning walking round some of the stalls in Central Market in PP, I’m now planning which stalls to write up. Needless to say I’ll be covering some of my, er, VIIs (Very Important Investigations) on the blog in the coming weeks…

Keep an eye on the LSF Facebook page for more regular visual updates on where I’m eating street food at the moment.

LSF

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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.