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eat.st at the Exhibition Road Show for the Olympics!

17 Jul

Lots of news on where we’ll be during the Games – first up we bring news on a project we’ve been working on for some time…

The Exhibition Road Show is all about celebrating the shared space that has got Exhibition Road all svelte and suave. For nine days – 28 July – 5 August – the entire Road will be taken up with music, dancing, games, brass bands, drums, bars and….US! So, not only will people be able to quaff proper cocktails from our old friends The Soul Shakers, but they’ll be able to graze on an array of great food from eat.st traders and friends.

 

 

Each day there will be 20 food stalls and vans, carefully selected by yours truly, to sling it good and sling it tasty on this iconic street. They will rotate throughout the week so that, in fact, if you were really greedy/curious, you could come every day and still not get through them all. Read the role-call of deliciousness and weep!

ANNA MAE’S – Southern street food and the Cheesus Loves You thing
BANH MI 11 – We can’t get enough of them
BHANGRA BURGER – Indian spiced burgers and hot pakoras
BLEECKER ST. – NYC no-messing burgers and sliders
BOSCO & BEE – Brixton-based chicken magic from a wood-fired Piaggio
THE BOWLER – gourmet meatballs from the biggest swinger in town
BUEN PROVECHO – straight from DF, this is the way of the calle and ceviche to die for

CARIBBEAN CHEF – award-winning jerk chicken and Puma’s official Caribbean food trader for the Games
CRUMBS & DOILIES – our favourite cupcakes in all of London
DAISY GREEN – fro-yo, Aussie style, with toppings to twist your melons
DOSA DELI – brilliant Indian dosas
FISH & – all the way from Leeds, amazing fish & chips from Northern Streats creator, Mr Critchley
FLEISCH MOB – Austrian chutzpah and a bit of leder-hosen
FRENCH & GRACE – Award-winning duo of brilliant cooks doing their uber-wraps
GREEN GOAT – ‘sustainable street food’ and some of the best we’ve had.

GURMETTI – they had us with the voice and the Mo’s – then we tried their food…
HORN OK PLEASE – dosas, pani puri and bhel puri heaven
JAMON JAMON – paella Valenciana from the ‘Godfather of street food’. Don’t mess.
KIMCHI CULT – Korean fusion burgers and tortas
LULABELLE’S – homemade cakes and tea from our girl in Yorkshire

MOLLY BAKES – cakes and shakes – hold tight
RAINBO – hand-made gyozas from a 1948 Ford pick-up – this is a thing of beauty
ROOST – Cantten creator, Cass brings us chicken every which way
RUBY VIOLET – home-churned ice cream from North London, served from a gorgeous old Bedford
SAVAGE SALADS – GRRrrrr – proper
SORBITIUM – Our fave ice cream couple, Suzaanna & Pedro know how to do sorbets, sherbets and ice cream
SPECK MOBILE – Owners Franz and Marco really understand the importance of butter to cooking. Eye-rolling
STREETZZA – pizza perfectionist, Hubertus brings us his own style of the good dough
TONGUE ‘N CHEEK – under-rated cuts of meat with an Italian edge
VAN DOUGH – thick-crust pizza from a Citroen H-Van
VINN GOUTE – Seychelles creole deliciousness from this lovely family business

WELL KNEADED – Wandsworth-reared Firebread with mad-flavours and toppings
YUMI CO – the real deal takoyaki – no pretending

Can you stand it? Can hardly bare how much choice there’s going to be. Here are the times so you can plan your life around getting your chops round as many of this lot as you can:

 

ROAD SHOW Times

Sat 28th July: 1030 – 2300
Sun 29th July: 1030 – 2200

Mon 30th July: 1800 – 2200
Tues 31st July: 1800 – 2200
Weds 1st Aug: 1800 – 2200
Thurs 2nd Aug: 1800 – 2200
Fri 3rd Aug: 1800 – 2300

Sat 4th Aug: 1030 – 2300
Sun 5th Aug: 1030 – 2200

And there is MAD PROGRAMMING to keep everyone amused on London’s second busiest street – from late nights at the museums, to areal performances, marching bands, dancehall, a ballroom and games galore.

We’re excited! Follow the Tweets (@EatStreet) for the latest on who is on when.

See you there!

exhibitionroadshow.co.uk

28 July – 5 August

The #fifteeneatstreetparty went OFF!

4 Jul

After lots of planning and meetings and organisation and phone calls, the day of the #fifteeneatstreetparty arrived….and it was raining! We stood there on the wet cobbles, going “What if no one comes?” / “Is it going to be ok?”

The Bowler in his Marigolds….

Then Jamie and Gennaro arrived and with them a sudden crowd of people who seemed to migrate with Jamie everywhere he went.

The Fifteen graduates got the pig into the fires of The Cock in Cider – driven up from Essex by the heavenly Paul, ready to be given a good roasting for selling from their stall.

Our lot showed up like clockwork and slotted in, one after the other along the right-hand side of the street. Prep began and grills and barbecues, steamers and pots got fired up. Westland Place began to assume the gait of a spot where something was about to go DOWN!

The eat.st/Fifteen strip…

It’s all a load of scallops – Healthy Yummies

Red Herring and Toma Mexicano, prepping

And then the sun came, and with it the people, and then the lovely Gemma Cairney who played old school Destiny’s Child and Terror Fabulous from the upper-storey window of Fifteen – and soon enough it was one mass of moving bodies, troffing and talking about troffing, and dancing and doing the multi-queue two-step.

The eat.st crew slung HARD! Each of them confronted with a deep line of cravers, keen to get wasted on food.

And Fifteen Cornwall, Fifteen and Barbecoa got reet stuck in to the mosh-pit – embracing the curbside activity like they’d been doing it for years….

We want to say a big THANK YOU to Fifteen for inviting them to join us – it was a pleasure and we’re looking forward to introducing more of our lot to the jolly cobbles of Westland Place.

eat.st headed to Street Feast this Friday

22 May

People – we have a collaboration brewing. At the end of this week – Friday 25th May – eat.st will be shimmying up to the car park of Sclater Street, E1, home of the recent and perfectly formed Street Feast.

Members of the eat.st collective are no stranger to the seductive and gravelly ways of this new Friday night hotspot. Kimchi Cult, The Rib Man, The Bowler, BAHD, Hardcore Prawn and Homeslice have all been slinging there since the beginning, along with other great traders, serving up the good stuff, festoon-lit and flying.

This Friday, to add to the mix, will be a new group – especially selected by me, PB, for their freshness and swerve. More details on these seven to follow this week. In the mean time, for those of who don’t know (and for those of you who do), take a read of a piece of writing on last Friday’s Street Feast, by Jack Blocker – Food Waste Man – my cousin and one of my favourite writers on London fooding right now.

…..

While navigating the route to Sclater Street from Liverpool Street Station, I arrogantly peeked into Hawksmoor and St. Johns Bread and Wine, hopefully assuring the people inside that I would soon be eating street food twice as delicious and a fraction of the price of their meals. I was a bit tempted walking by Nando’s though. I have a couple of whole free chicken cards at the moment which I bought on eBay for a tenner. I caught my reflection in the door as I clutched my illicit vouchers. I stuck to the original plan.

After meeting my friends we realised that we had arrived far too early and took to Brick Lane for a few rounds. Once the epitome of urban trendiness, Brick Lane has recently evolved into a hang-out where young city-suits can indulge their edgier side. They get smashed on Jaeger Bombs and £5 pints, then make wild decisions to go out in Hoxton instead of Soho, or impulsively buy the new Keane record from Rough Trade East. Maybe even on Vinyl.  After we each bought a round of 3 beers for £15, we’d had enough. Good drinking sessions are often capped with bad food, so it’s fitting that this bad session ended with excellent grub.

The energy and aroma pouring out of Sclater Street pulled us along with a force stronger than ourselves – then security stopped us and made us finish our cans of K – then that force pulled us along again. I started with Luardos. Giant, Mission-style burritos filled with Carnitas, Beans and Guacamole. I instantly proclaimed it better than Chipotle, my measure for Mexican food made by non-Mexicans, and another statement that some say negates any opinion I have on food. My friend failed to finish his, so I readily took it off his hands ensuring my stomach was lined to protect it from the impending ribocalypse.

The Rib Man looked like someone you could trust to properly cook a dead animal. In fact, had he told me he just beat an animal to death with his bare hands before salvaging the ribs I was eating I would have believed him. This may also be because I put so much of his ‘Christ on a Bike’ sauce on my ribs that I began to partially hallucinate, seeing everything in purple for about 20 minutes. He explained that ‘Christ on a Bike’ has twice as many Naga Jolokia’s in it as the lesser ‘Holy Fuck’ sauce. Despite my drooling, tearful face, Rib Man had somehow managed to tame the world’s hottest pepper, giving the sauce a sweetness along with the heat. The ribs themselves were extremely tender but satisfying to gnaw. They avoided the ‘fall-off-the-bone’ cult that people inexplicably swear-by, letting me munch through to the marrow.

A couple of cup-cakes and a generous section of Margarita from Homeslice rounded off the night, and slowly brought feeling back into my lips. As my friends threw plastic cutlery at me while I lay recovering on the pavement, I thought of the Brick Lane suits. They had probably gone on to Hawksmoor and been told the wait was an hour, given up and headed to Nando’s, where they were forced to pay full-price as they failed to buy fraudulent loyalty cards beforehand. I had spent just fifteen pounds worth of genuine currency on all my food, the culinary victor slumped on the Sclater street curb, smoking a tab the bouncer gave me when he came to check if I was okay.

Street Feast: eat.st introduces will bring seven great new traders to the five already in situe to make a 12-pronged mega-hit; an assault on the reasonable as far as appetite is concerned and taking no prisoners.

25th May 2012 – 5pm-Midnight + Street Feast bar

Sugar Street Review guest blog post – Beirut Street Food

1 May

Thanks to Will Dobson of Sugar Street Review for sending over this ode to Beirut. Ever since my stint in Tel Aviv, 2003, and hearing tales of the magic of this neighbouring city – and the parties to rival Tel Aviv, I’ve wanted to get me a bit of that….

If at Eat St. the aim is to normalise good food, then we need only
look at Lebanon for inspiration. Not only is good food appreciated
there, it’s inextricably linked to the culture. It’s a way of life or,
to quote from Kamal Mouzawak, founder of Souk Al Tayeb, the first
organic farmers’ market in the country, ‘food is the best expression
of our tradition.’ As Beirut becomes more and more international –
it’s a city with a passion for sushi perhaps only rivalled by those in
the US, outside of Japan of course – what is wonderful is that they
still embrace their own culture through their cuisine.

Among the smart Italian and French eateries in Downtown there are
still any number of elegant and upmarket restaurants serving
mouthwatering Lebanese fare, while areas such as Bourj Al-Hamoud and
Mar Mikhail reflect the large influx of Armenians who fled their
homeland after the genocide. However, for amazing street food, then
Hamra, buzzing with students, international journalists and Western
tourists still leads the way.

Bliss Street, in the heart of the area, offers a wonderful
juxtaposition. The American University of Beirut, founded back in 1866
sits on the one side, looking like something straight out of Orange
County, with elegantly modern buildings, leafy passageways and views
over the Mediterranean. On the other are open shop fronts selling
manaeesh, freshly cooked on a saj (a convex-dish shaped griddle)
topped with za’atar, jibneh or nutella. This Lebanese style ‘pizza’
make a wonderfully fresh and flavourful snack, such a contrast to
ubiquitous kebab vans which cater for students here. Meanwhile, the
delightful scents of flavoured tobacco, mixed with burning charcoal,
freshly brewed coffee and jasmine, redolent of spring, waft down the
street.

Of course though, the food isn’t merely limited to this one street.
Everywhere you turn you seem to be greeted with another place to eat
and choosing can be tricky. However, every taxi driver seems to
recommend Barbar as the place to go and it’s easy to see why. This
Beirut institution is completely utilitarian in décor and serves
fresh, simple and tasty fare which epitomises what makes Levantine
food so special. As well as the ubiquitous mezze selection (including
fantastic fries), it’s the grilled meats which steal the show. All are
cooked on charcoal, imparting a delicious smokiness, and they’re
delicately spiced, subtly enhancing the natural flavours of the meat.
The lahme meswi (grilled lamb) is served with little cubes of fat
which just disappear in the mouth, while the spatchcocked chicken,
marinated in garlic and lemon, is succulent, juicy and delectable.

Lebanon is a country trying to come to terms with its past, struggling
to move forward from the atrocities of the Civil War. Reminders are
dotted throughout the capital, none more striking that the gutted
shell that was once the Holiday Inn, opened in 1974 as the most
luxurious hotel in the region and left ravaged as it become the focal
point of the fighting. However, as Beirut rejuvenates itself, nothing
promotes all that is good about this wonderful place more than their
cuisine.

StrEAT guest blog post – Monster trucks and munching pre-historic grubs

25 Apr

Guest blog post from Navina Bartlett of StrEAT

I love the UK’s street food movement so much. And I love what Petra’s been doing. She’s one of the visionaries, one of the ‘slog your guts out’ type people, who are passionate about street food. I wanted to find out where this movement was first cultivated, so I decided to head across the pond to check out Off the Grid first hand.

Off the Grid is the San Francisco equivalent of Eat.St – but on a much bigger scale.


Wow – pretty massive

Founder Matt Cohen and his team have been running regular food truck gatherings for over three years now. And they’d just mailed the spring schedule for the first weekly Fort Mason shindig when I arrived.

                                         Matt Cohen

Friday night shenanigans include a congregation of over 30 independent food vendors from countries like Peru, the Philippines, Mexico, India and Korea. Crème brûlée experts and purveyors of gourmet cupcakes are thrown in for good measure. I couldn’t wait to get stuck in and was lucky enough to have local blogger, @garysoup, as my knowledgeable guide.

Let’s start with the trucks. The bigger the better and they’re ALL custom wrapped.

Little Green Cyclo is a Vietnamese beast of mammoth proportions, with 27 items on the regular menu + another 10 specials available on and off. I personally opted to share a Masami lemongrass grilled pork banh mi with my new bezzie mate Dave (more about our fated paths crossing in the StrEAT blog post out next week).


Look at Dave next to that monster truck

Some of the other ‘big guys’ at Off the Grid include well loved veterans of the food truck scene – Chairman Bao (Chinese steamed pork buns) and Curry Up Now (with their veritable mix of dosa fillings including chilli gobi to ‘Am-ree-kan’ a combo of egg, ground beef & bacon (holy cow!). Then there’s Hapa SF which serves refined Filipino/Californian cuisine, by ambassador and head chef William Pilz. He conjures up beautiful dishes like sour diced pork sisig & marinated chicken adobo, all sold from the front of his truck.


Off the Grid has even more impact in real life

There are smaller vendors too – my personal favourite was Don Bugito whose specialty is pre-Hispanic snacks. Crispy cricket tostadas are served with mashed avocado, toasted sunflower seeds and pickled red onion (they also have a wax moth larvae option). The food is factually correct. How do I know this?

From CBBC’s ‘Horrible Histories’ of course – a credible source of ancient history as parents will know well!

Hmm, I look a bit like a bug, and I’m eating bugs

I loved Off the Grid. It has the same camaraderie as the UK scene and shows street food gatherings are  here to stay. It’s perfect for bringing communities together under the auspices of sharing and trying food. I’m really glad it’s catching on in the UK. Let’s just hope the rain doesn’t spoil our fun!

For all the latest goss from our little ole collective, knuckling down on the cool streets of Bristol, follow
@streatuk or sign up at www.streatfoodcollective.com

Fusion, smell-scapes and eat.st crew’s cross-pollination experiments

30 Mar

We’ve seen some interesting fusion lately on the curb, one of the most unusual being the “Ruebendilla” from VadaszMasaDeli at Hackney Homemade. There’s Nick at the griddle, throwing on his hand-pressed corn tortillas which he fills with salt beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese. It gets folded together and served with home-pickled pickles. The unmistakable waft of the maiz that has many a gringo, unaccustomed to such pungency, recoiling, is part of the magic. In our increasingly odorless cities which increasingly all smell the same, it’s nice to be able to pick out a sense of place – of somewhereness – in the air….even if that somewhere is a contortion. It breaks up the typical, the expected, the resolved and keeps you keen.

This is what we love.

And we love that Kimchi Cult are now fusing Korean with Mexican with their bulgogi steak or pulled pork tortas. Kimchi and cheese and bulgogi and pickles and guacamole in one hot, griddled package – really? Oh yeah, and every slathery, dripping morsel of it tells a story.

photo courtesy of jonnyfromtheblock

Stories + smells + eating + ideas = why I love food on the streets. When you order that sandwich or pizza or salad or wrap, you’re getting a window into the world of the person who’s handing that food over: where they’ve travelled, who they’ve mixed with, how they’ve spent their time, and it’s culminated in a connection between them and you & your lunch. These stalls, vans and carts may not be pinned to the ground; made still by brick and mortar, but the roots to other people, other worlds are right there, carried in to transform the pavement, albeit just for a few hours.

The reason we started eat.st was to bring great minds together through the food they make and give a name to this community. If you’re the kind of person who is happy to take off and fetch up wherever the hungry/greedy may need you, then you’re bound to have a bit of imagination and funk in your right thigh. So it’s no wonder that when pitched up next to each other that ideas will fly and flavours will mingle. Chief instigator, with his hallowed Holy Fuck sauce, is The Rib Man. Due to its cunning ability to reach into many food-stuffs we have seen this naga-lousy number rear its wicked little head among other species of street food:

Along the shaft of Big Apple’s hot dogs…bleeding through the meat of Egg Bosses Scotch Eggs…firing up beef jerky…seizing hold of butter…and now, a whole new prospect: The Holy Fuck rib meat Homeslice pizza. GRrrrrr, read it and weep, y’all. Or come to King’s Cross next Thursday 5th for its debut and eat it and weep.

But it doesn’t stop there because we have Jez and his grass-fed van, dispensing balls and ideas galore. He is working on some Holy Fuck meatballs (obvs), but is also straying into other cell structures – looking to lay his balls down on Homeslice’s ever-yielding dough…darting over to Luardos hatch for some meatball-burrito cross-pollination…even knocking on the closed-for-business counter of Choc Star (RIP) for chocolate balls.

Where will this strain head next? Who else will be linking up? London’s unsuspecting aura awaits being taken over by the new smells. Keep your noses clean and your bellies ready, things are about to get a whole lot more twisted!

(And we haven’t even talked about Tongue ‘n Cheek’s Heartbreaker burger. This will need a whole post of its own….)

eat.st is at King’s Boulevard, N1C every Wednesday – Friday, 11am-2.30pm and every Tuesday from April 17th: http://www.eat.st/kings-cross

 

Eating and exploring in Mexico

22 Jan

Just back from three weeks in Mexico. Lots of tacos, lots of tequila, lots of avocados, lots of mezcal. Lots of pork. Pork of every texture, shape, taste, cookedness – and coming out of every kind of torta and tortilla.

How many different ways are there of saying tortilla in Mexico? All roads lead back to them – albeit with different levels of crunchiness and shape. Tortilla with eggs for breakfast. Tostadas. Totopos, Tacos. Chilaquiles. Flautas. Giant tortillas covered in frijoles and cheese and eaten with arms outstretched. Blue ones, corn ones, flour ones. Papusas, gorditas, sudados (‘sweaty’ ones – liked them).

It’s all about the maize. Sin mais, no hay pais – Without corn, there’s no Mexico. And I love the way the food traditions of the Toltecs, Olmecs, Mayans and Aztecs have stood firm regardless of being raped by the Spanish. This is a country where you can see the culture, feel its history, in the rhythms of its street-side food prep and life of its markets. The smell of corn tortillas curls up from every other griddle and the slap, slap, slap of the dough being patted into neat little discs accompanies the other sounds that give those places their pulse: cumbia/merengue/salsa, and “elote! elote! elote!” shouted nasally from passing corn sellers, carts rolling past laden with veg and people shouting “Güera!” at you as you get in amongst it.

The vendadores set up from shopping trolleys, carts, baskets, tricycles. One guy had converted his VW Beetle (the Mexican national car) into a sugar cane juice-mobile. I stopped and chatted to him – turns out matey’s been to London and even had burrito action chez Luardos.

Mundo pequeño.

In Tulum town guys hook power to their puestas from nearby electricity lines. Nearly 30% of electricity is stolen in Mexico and I reckon the vendors have got the lion’s share. White light illuminates glistening meats and griddled tacos. The whole of Mexico favours the white light to such an extent that, from afar, cities make the sky glow silver, rather than the low orange of those over here. It’s kitchen-like, functional, a glow under which stuff gets chopped up, racked up, scooped up and sliced up. The street belongs to everyone and the warmth of the night makes you happy to stay and stay.

Watch how the Mexican eat their tacos. So neat. They say you can tell a lot about a person from the way they scoff it. Spot the tourista who’s over-loaded theirs, losing skids of beans through the bottom and meat shards over the top. They say that Mexicans are distrustful by nature but that all falls away when you’re at the stand getting your food on. Help yourself from the bowls of salsa, beans, papas, salads, then pay up at the end once you’ve counted up. When it comes to food the trust is right there – people who don’t know each other sitting like family round the same table.

One day I tried grasshoppers – chapulines – then hormigas – ants. Then they had me try a freaking dried (and very crispy) earthworm. Everyone on the stall stood around me encouragingly as I munched through it, eyebrows raised in anticipation of my reaction. ‘Ricisimo, verdad?’ they’d ask. ‘Mmmmmm!’ I’d reply.

In Mérida I spent the whole day with something to eat in my hand. From the little bags of fried pumpkin seeds that they open and throw chipotle and half a squeezed lime into (seriously delicious), to the corn ice cream (not for me). I troughed tamarind balls, flan, bags of chilli-d fruit and flors de Jamaica. Puerco profundo – the ‘deep’ bits of the pig all roiling and moiling around on a hot griddle, ready for chopping – was super-tasty and the botanas you get in the cantinas keep you loaded with food while you drink. This is tapas, Mexican style. For every beer come three plates of food – chicharrones/potato salad/cucumber salad. Or chopped hot dogs with habanero/macaroni with tomato sauce/frijoles. Kind of made you want to stay and drink all day….

In Laguinilla market in Mexico City we got lost under the yellow canopies. Pure, crazy gaud-fest amongst the 15 Años dresses – folds and layers and frills and ruches of every possible colour of satin for the girls’ big day. Made ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’ look like a dress rehearsal. Next door people ladled horchata from huge plastic urns into giant polystyrene cups. Further along the cochinita pibil stall lured us in as always. This stuff is the business: achiote and bitter orange marinaded pork, slow-roasted in banana leaves and served in toasted buns with loads of tang. Seriously, when is someone going to start a torta de cochinita pibil stall in London? I imagine one called ‘Porksville’ which gives the tired old hog-roast a run for its money. Spice and lime my pork up, man. It’s the only way to go from now on.

Then to cool down your inflamed mouth afterwards, a choice from the sorbet pallet of ice cream flavours in the trolleys going by. Those colours! Mirroring the houses and signs everywhere and calling ‘try me! try me!’.

You end up trying everything because it all looks and smells so good. This is not a country of slimmers, avoiding the bad stuff, this is a nation of proper eaters who don’t care who knows it. This is lusty, healthy, proper eating and its streets would be ghostly without it all.

I’m a fan. Bring on the next trip over there…

eat.st at King’s Boulevard – N1C, baby.

11 Oct

On a sunny day last Thursday, eat.st at King’s Boulevard opened itself up for business.

This has been the result of an ongoing dialogue between ourselves and the King’s Cross developers – taking place over a number of months. They had seen what we were about at other events in the City and wanted to bring a bit of what we were slinging to their brand new street.

It was back in July that I donned hard-hat, steel-caps, goggles, gloves and hi-vis to go lagging around what looked like a rather unprepossessing scenario…

What has since occurred – transplanted trees, set-design leaf hoarding, beautiful gravel underlay and a steady flow of PEOPLE – makes it look like a STARchitect’s utopian vision of mixed-use urban space. I rarely believe those ‘visions’ – can’t seem to reconcile what’s there now with what is being reimagined for the future. But here it is, happening, and there are all sorts sweeping up the Boulevard.

My personal favourite was the Korean guy in the future-Aztec poncho and Cuban heel/legging combo. I saw him striding around our micro-market, perusing the options and finally settling on a bit of Hardcore Prawn. He is joined by a whole swathe of quirksters emanating out of the new UAL Building. God damn, that place is amazing. If you’ve not been in you should drop in. You’ll either be pining to be a student again or trying to recall which dark recess of the place it was where you used to have it when it was Bagleys.

From along Goods Way come the food fans of Kings Place – many of them Guardian workers and looking to fill the hole that being ripped from Exmouth Market left in their lunchtimes. One guy Tweeted about King’s Cross having been an ‘erstwhile culinary wasteland’ until eat.st showed up. This is what’s great – how you can spend endless amounts of time and money on place-making from a structural point of view – but then as soon as you bring in the food the whole place springs to life.

It may only be four stalls at the moment and only two days a week, but we are just settling in to our new spot. We are open to suggestions from anyone who thinks they might visit it. This micro-market is here for a while and we want it to be used by all.

Come and see us here:

So you can get stuck in to some of the good stuff, enjoy a gentle perambulation up the Boulevard and get some fresh-ish air. The trees rustle well, anyway.

 

To find out who’s trading when head to www.eat.st/kings-cross – All traders and their menus listed under each Thursday and Friday in October.

After that we’ll have more for you. See you stall/cart/van-side soon!

What is street food?

1 Sep

That is the question.

I was interested to see what a vitriolic response Richard Johnson‘s ‘neocolonialist’ Guardian article on the subject incited the other day.

It seems that the subject of eating on the curbside carries with it all sorts of strong beliefs about food, culture and the rest of society at large. A longer conversation between Johnson and I ensued. He was mystified by how people could feel so strongly against some of his slicker British Street Food Award finalists. “I just believe in good food” he offered. “Me too”, I replied, “and I don’t believe that a stall/van/cart needs to be cutesy and twee-ified in order to be great”. “But I like pretty”, he argued, “I think a bit of bunting goes a long way”.

But a long way to what? And for whom?

Similarly, a journalist expressed an interest in my take on what street food is last week. Upon telling him, he seemed surprised. ‘That’s not a take I’ve yet heard from the others I’ve been speaking to”. I asked to know what the others had said, whereupon he quoted the following statement:

Street food is about bringing restaurant quality food to the masses.

Oof! I floated this theory on Twitter and people were by turns, confused, horrified, incredulous.

Honestly, I don’t give a damn about bunting. Nothing wrong with the stuff and we even have some of our own eat.st branded, but it plays absolutely no part in my appreciation for the food or the stories behind that of those I consider to be truly flying the flag for its outside slinging. And to think that the twee needs to be implemented in order to soften the blow of the undeniable ‘challenge’ of street food to certain paletes is worrying. Johnson has coined this the ‘street food revolution’, full of pioneers pushing the boundaries of taste and adventure. My fear is that his may be a manicured revolution that, far from being about pushing the limits of what exists, must conform to all that is already accepted and safe.

But it’s important, during these high times of ‘street-food’ mania where the very term is threatened by parody and tokenism, that we advance in a useful way. Then we can talk about progression in Britain’s food culture and a possible revolt of that which has been before. Good food being made available to any and everyone – however it comes – by appearing more consistently on our streets and in our public spaces. Now that would be a move towards the radical for Britain’s rather blurry foodscape.

For me, this is about the battle against the bland, about a dismissal of the exclusive and how food served in public contributes to the mental well-being of a city. And it’s also about the amazing traders who slog their guts out to bring the public something worth queuing for. Take Mark here…

A Hammer-loving ex-butcher from Hornchurch who was the fastest de-boner on his team. Then an accident prevented him from continuing, and so he turned to cooking meat and slinging it just down the road on Brick Lane.

The guy is on the strip from 3am every Sunday, slow-cooking those ribs and serving them until he sells out. He smothers those suckers with a homemade scotch bonnet sauce and hands them over in a foil-lined bag.

When I ploughed through mine I became so wrapped up in them that they were gone before I’d clocked it. Lips singing with BBQ sauce heat and fingers sticky with pork shrapnel, after that I became a Rib Man fan and signed him up to the eat.st family. Off he went to the football…

…and off I went to explore Stratford (Brother in the Land-of a place), glad that London has Mark.

I resist the temptation to define, categorically, what street food is and welcome the opposing views on it. Are we growing this thing or what? If you have anything to say, I want to hear it – so that it might stop being called a ‘trend’ and start being thought of as an integral part of our urban fabric and important evolution in our food culture.

Find The Rib Man HERE

Look for him at The Thames Festival (10-11 Sept) by St Katherine’s Dock

The British Street Food Awards take place at Harvest at Jimmys, 9-12 Sept – Here’s wishing all the finalists the very best of luck.


Masa Revolution – this documentary needs YOU.

19 Apr

I’ve just found out about the Masa Revolution happening over in L.A. Synchronicity is a funny thing. There I was, writing an essay for my Masters about the dualised street food scene in Los Angeles and its socio-spatial implications, when an email arrives for me talking about just that.

Award-winning journalist, Patricia Nazario, has produced, directed and self-funded the first stages of Masa Revolution, a documentary about how inexpensive Mexican street food inspired a pop-culture gourmet phenomenon. L.A’s social, cultural and economic cleavages are shown through the lens of food vending on its streets – who has the right to the city, how Latino cultures have ‘tropicalised’ public space and now, how the new-wave movement has been mediatised and harnessed for its creative pull.

It’s fascinating stuff and is destined for great things at independent film festivals. But it won’t be completed unless they can raise $20,000 for post-production – by the 4th of May.

Is this up your strada? If you’d like to help contribute to making this almost-completed project a reality then head to Kickstarter.com and pledge whatever you can – every dollar helps!

I’m excited about this project and hugely impressed by what’s been done so far. Follow that Revolution and learn about how a city is enlivened and challenged by the determination of its people to serve food in the open air.

Follow Masa Revolution on Twitter HERE.

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