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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

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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