Tag Archives: Markets

More eat.st at King’s Cross for the Olympics

25 Jul

As much loved as our Monday-Friday lunchtime market at KX is, some people just don’t have the time to get there in their lunch breaks. I often get messages from people asking, ‘Do you think I’ll be able to make it from Vauxhall/Bermondsey/Tottenham Court Road, queue for lunch, eat it and make it back in an hour?’. I always say, go for it – but slightly worry about the digestion process after….

Pic courtesy of Helen Graves

So, help is on its way – for all of the KX daytime non-participators, as well as the hungry people waiting to catch the Javelin to Stratford. From this Saturday, July 28th, and for the full 16 days of the Olympics, eat.st will migrate South to the foot of King’s Boulevard at Station Square, serving from 11am-8pm daily. Now that’s a window for all the hungry/greedy/adventurous and fun to jump through. Whether ‘working from home’, taking a long lunch or heading over after work, we aim to feed.

We’re starting off small – Buen Provecho, Sorbitium Ices and Elephant Juice over the first weekend, then rolling out between four and eight traders each day. As well as this perky little trio, we have on the rota:

Bleecker St. Burgers – new kid on the van scene, doing the straight-up burger/slider/fries thing


Buen Provecho – pork pibil? Ceviche especial? MMmmm
Daisy Green – fro-yo and quirkster toppings
Dosa Deli – stepping up to challenge Horn OK to their KX crown

Eat My Pies – and his lovely mum, Jackie, showing us how they and their Scotch eggs roll
Elephant Juice – daily appearance to quench the thirst/hangover of proper smoothies
Fleisch Mob – Austrian street food from all round adorable guy, Mark
Gurmetti Limited – custom-built van-ette doing the gurmetti thing. Propio bello

Horn OK – bhel puri and dosa heaven
Jamon Jamon – returning to the fold with paella pans on fire
Kimchi Cult – Cult classic and KX stalwart
Kooky Bakes – Ice cream Whoopie Pies, what else is there?
Molly Bakes – and did we also hear SHAKES?
Monty’s Deli – Another adorable Mark – this one doing the Reuben thing with some major TLC
Mother Flipper – yes, he does and they’re one tasty little package
rainbo – Choc Star allumni Shrimp & Ben bring their 1948 Ford pickup into town, with mad gyozas on board

Pic courtesy of Good for Lunch

Sorbitium Ices – Their menu is dizzying. These guys KNOW ingredients
Speckmobile – Butter me up, baby. Serving schnitzel that I dream of
Tava Wava – the Bedouin tent of spiced and fragrant wraps. Massive tawa. Also called Mark
The Ribman – for one day only – don’t miss the window for another Mark to bust out his ribs
Tongue ‘n Cheek – Heartbreaker, risk-taker. We love it.
URBAN-ICES – Triking in from Dalston, Carla will pull out lollies unlike any you’ve ever seen

Pic courtesy of Wilkes

VadaszDeli – the Latino/Hungarian thing works for us. Try it, it’s tops
You Doughnut – this pair roll some mean dough and then roll it in delicious glazes. Moreish
Yum Bun – the queen of the bun, Lisa slays them all

eat.st at Station Square, N1C – 28 July – 12 August, 11am-8pm, daily.

Follow the @EatStreet Twitter feed for more info on who’s on, when. This is a role-call of flavour you’re not going to want to miss.

Forward!

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KX now = Tuesdays too (and look who we have in the line-up)

15 Apr

King’s Boulevard is about to notch up another day of eat.st activity on its undulous slope. This is good!

Tuesday is the hot new day for curbside food crawling….

People have been asking us for ages to do more days. It seems that London’s appetite for eat.st isn’t ready to be sated yet and we’re so excited that the food and people behind it has been taken to so readily. Meanwhile, we have a crazy number of new traders wanting to join eat.st and come and trade with us on the Boulevard. But it’s a delicate dance starting a market from scratch on an entirely new street with mainly building sites all around and we wanted to give it a few months (and get through the winter) before ramping up the rota.

So now we’re ready to roll into Tuesdays!…And we have some brilliant new traders to bring into the fold. As of this Tuesday 17th April we will have slinging, slicing, dunking and grilling:

Mother Flipper – best burgers we’ve tried in ages. Owner, Manuel, is crazy for the patty and puts everything into it – and it shows. Watch the man behind it cook it and serve it straight to you. That’s some slathery magic right there.

(Thanks to Simon K for the pic)

Mussel Men – properly up eat.st’s alley. These cats know how to bring the theatre and the flavour. The swashbuckling Scots will be doing some musselly/muscly things up there. You need to see this.

And joining them will be pasta pioneer Beppinos after a brief two week hiatus (moving from Wednesdays to the new, hot Tuesdays)

(Thanks to Yummy Choo for the pic)

And back to the block (and much missed during their brief spell away to TCB), Banh Mi 11 and the baguettes of lunchtime joy.

Also, to all the crunch-enthusiasts and healthier leaning, we will be bringing in the award-winning French & Grace (formerly Salad Club), crossing the river to bring their particular brand of Britishness to the Wednesday slots.

So lots to get busy chomping….and stay tuned for news on what May is bringing: 5 day weeks on the Blvd. That’s Monday-Fridays, y’all!

For up to date rotas of who’s on when, head to the King’s Cross page on the eat.st website: 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…

The real polpette is in the far East

1 Nov

A trip East before bolting out of London in the Bora began with a guided tour of Hoxton Market with a Hackney regeneration officer. I listened with intrigue as he titillated me with twisted tales of E8 urbanism – who sold what, where it went, what’s left behind and the staggering cleavage that exists between the ‘authentic’ originals and the urban pastoralists who came along and reimagined a new Hackers.

I’m off to Ridley Road, I told him, To look for Luca.

“Three-quarters of the way in, park in the Sainsbury’s carpark so you don’t get rinsed out on the meters and don’t buy fish from any of the stalls along the front”. Then more gruesome tales ensued. A picture emerged of a highly questionable hotbed of open-air and not-quite-so-open-air trading. A postcode poll of the punters found them coming in from Northampton, Kent, Peterborough. Places that held nothing like the cacophony of stuff that Ridley Road regularly puts out there. Stories of international smuggling, trade routes used to pass along illegal, unmentionable, unfathomable goods.

“All put paid to now of course, all cleaned up”.

I doubt it, I thought, It’s probably just receded further into the crevices, the cracks…

Coming out onto Ridley Road from the Kingsland Shopping Centre there is an amazing amount of sky stretching up out there. No high-rises, no office blocks, just sky above a great rambling encrustation of stalls and holes in walls. I felt all way up high and out there – from the low-slungness of Brixton to this perched strip of Hackney that was just full of people. That’s the magic of a good market – it throws you together with everyone and our natural human predisposition for sociality gets off on it, feels reassured by it.

After I’d walked about the 3/4 of the road I did, indeed, find Luca, purveyor of the truth as far as polpette go – or so they told me. Up on the deck of the Ridley Road Market bar sits his set-up – a 2m/1m trad market stall adorned with New York deli boards announcing the menu:

We all love a good meatball, let’s not even try and pretend. And all the signs around the place were leading me to believe that this would be one of the good ones: The box of really serious looking bread thrusting out of a hanging box to one side, the bowl of green bean salad, glistening with salt crystals, the little pot of Tiramisu sat casually by the till – none of which has anything to do with meatballs, but you can soon spot someone who knows about food.

Just give me a bit of everything, I asked, All the sauces and all the balls. Luca obliged, lining the box with the ‘creamy polenta’ and then layering on the different sauces – gorgonzola, roasted tomato and wild mushroom (but leaving out hot peperoncino so it wouldn’t obliterate the taste of the ball).

Then came the balls – two of ricotta & spinach, two of beef. “Always beef, never pork”, Luca told me. On top of this went more sauce, baby spinach and the aforementioned green bean salad which was winking at me, despite the availability of the balls. I staggered off with this great brick of a box to a nearby bench and began excavating this beast of a lunch. I flicked the spinach to the side and didn’t get too involved with the polenta (not my thing), but finally coming into contact with those polpette, all roiling and moiling in such wholesome sugo, was a great moment for me up in E8.

Luca explained the addition of ricotta and 10% of parmesan. Yes, that’s what it is – that’s what makes you think of Italy where other versions never will. Served with real charm and generosity as well. This is a guy who is enjoying being street-side and it shows. Luca Italian lifts Ridley Road, and Ridley Road gives L.I grounding in a truly interesting place.

I hope that we might persuade him to uproot himself from time to time to come and join our gang. Luca Italian is right up our strada.

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!

Juicy little nuggets at the Real Food Market

28 Jul

I wasn’t even hungry. I’d had a rather extraordinary breakfast in the Colombian place in Brixton Village earlier. I’ve been afflicted with a touch of wanderlust lately and my mind keeps on roaming to that rough little jewel at the top of South America. Down we sat in the hot-house filtered sunshine of Brixton Village. I got all carried away with my long-buried Spanish and soon enough was ordering off-menu at quite an alarming rate. While my friends sensibly went for the desayuno calentadas, I honed in on arepa, chorizo, plantain, chips and eggs. What arrived was scary but I was determined to forge on ahead with this little vicarious safari none the less.

Afterwards I needed ice cream. We went to the amazing Laboratorio Artigianale del Buon Gelato, just in from Take Two on the Coldharbour Lane entrance. Bliss! I had chocolate with salted caramel -double-scoop, baby! Then I remembered that I had a date with Cristiano, stall-side, to finally get to pick up what he’s been putting down in this city.

Cristiano came and rootled me out one super-icy day last November. He was over from Italy on a research visit. As we slipped and slided from Goodge Street to my uni, he breathed hot, crazy, mad professor-style ideas towards me. Who is this cat? I thought. He is about to up-sticks and move his wife and child to London in order to better understand the life and culture of the street food world. I was all ears. Especially when I heard that his plan was to set up an offal-mobile.

Tongue ‘n Cheek would be the first recent purveyor of abandoned and undervalued cuts of meat to hit the London curb in decades. It would be tongue with salsa verde and ox cheeks with red wine and onion. Fabulous. this is the stuff I grew up on. I used to marvel at the textured grey studding that paraded along the underside of that incredibly long bit of boiled meat. We always had it with salsa verde and it was one of the few bits of offal that I could get down with in my house.

So here I was, not hungry, but faced with a delicious Wild Caper sourdough roll stuffed with slices of tongue and surrounded with that magical bright green sauce.

Properly summery and delicious in its simple execution.. For someone with such an out-there mind and such a discerning appreciation of food, for Cristiano it’s about doing something very easy but very well.

People walked past and peered into the pot…

…aghast at the sight that befell them.

I took a step back and took it in. Here is this great mind with amazing vision, hawking proper, unembellished Italian food and at the very early stages of his street food adventure – and, like others I know, he needs to be set apart from the crowd in order for people to be seduced by his food.

I am delighted that Cristiano has found eat.st and wants to play such an active part in it. We need people like him to grow this little firecracker. And I hope that we can assist him in getting to the right audience for this intricately thought out, well-delivered, deeply succulent food.

(Check out his blog HERE – and follow him on Twitter HERE)

I left Cristiano to it and made my way through the crowds to Street Kitchen – filling Bhangra Burger’s pitch for the day. It was my first visit. I’d met up with Mark Jankel earlier this year to talk shop. I’d heard some stuff about Street Kitchen last year when the image of him and business partner Jun Tanaka beaming from the counter of a borrowed Airstream had been splashed around. HMmmm, I mused – looks well contrived. I dismissed it as a PR stunt and went about my business. When he called me up and told me about the plan things changed. What I love about them is that they’re not giving it the big one about how organic or how sustainable they are, they just are. If people want to ask questions they will be told that every ingredient item they use is sourced from within the British Isles. That’s 100% – they don’t even use vanilla (much to Jun’s chagrin, apparently).

Mark whipped me up a lemon sole, crushed potato, beetroot and horseradish special. Oh lord, how could I tell him what I was currently packing? But then, on the first mouthful, how could I not finish the little beauty?

This is clean food. As clean as the look and feel of the branded trailer they’re towing. It makes you feel well, healthy, virtuous. And it tastes amazing. Simple, fresh and really well-seasoned. What the two of them are doing is very different to the rest of our traders. These are not itinerants or adventurers in love with the life of the streets – they are chefs with scruples who see an opportunity and are going for it. That’s great – breadth is good – and I look forward to having them along to the party.

Finally, just for fun, I got sidelined by the smell of the grilled cheese sandwich being racked up by these hands

Currently outcast from Borough Market for one of the ongoing disputes, their loss is the Real Food Market’s gain. He lured me in. No, no – I’m full, I pleaded. But I couldn’t resist. I’ve long hoped and prayed that one of the new school of street fooders would set up a grilled cheese sarnie-mobile. How amazing would that be from this country?! Someone could go to town on all those fine wheels we have. But they’d need to get it right – maybe starting with a lesson from this expert. Jesus, Mary and Joseph – that thing got me inspecting the back of my head.

Get yourselves down to the Real Food Market for some of these gems – there are plenty of them if you scout around…

eat.st crew at large for the royal wedding

12 May

Oops, just popped over to Portugal to check on the vinho verde situation and didn’t have time to report on this little situation before departure.

For anyone that’s that way inclined, what occurred on the Southbank over the royal wedding weekend for London street food in general and for eat.st in particular, was a hot mess that we reveled in.

As part of the Real Street Food Festival, eat.st brought some switch in the hips to the Southbank Square. Many of us traders knew each other already while some had merely appeared as visions on our email exchanges, possibly just culinary mirages…

Amid endless threats of rain we assumed our positions on the makeshift food court, ready to hit London with something spirited from it’s concrete contours. Showing out over the weekend were:

Simon and Britters of Luardos, doing the taco-lean like their stainless steel counters depended on it.

Anna Mae’s Smokehouse, fresh off the plain from Texas, couldn’t stuff those buns fast enough with their choppy coleslaw and mountains of pulled pork.

Mongo Denoon and his OK Catering Success appeared as ductile as ever within the borders of his extraordinary world of jhal muri. It looks like an enigma but the curious will be rewarded with untold riches…

Here’s the Choc Star van, dishing out sundaes like nobody’s business. As soon as one person has one and is seen parading that molten mini mountain of delight around the area, the van gets bombarded and the hot choc sauce goes a-flying. Stand back if you’re wearing white.

Would you trust these two with itinerant chocolate goods?

Street Foodie embarked upon his first weekend of slinging those puckish little Korean sliders. Kimchi Slider got re-christened ‘Tinchy Stryder’ and it just kind of stuck.

We love what they’ve done with the place – bringing something never before seen on the streets of London.

The Healthy Yummies girls turned the place into a Madonna-fest. If they weren’t flambeeing those fine, fine hand-dived scallops, they were taking it back to ’87 with dance moves to die for.

Giles of Stewed & Baked wheeled his maroon caravan, Mary, up from Suffolk and cooked up heartiness that took the edge off the fairly blustery Friday conditions.

Pink splitscreen VW, Lulabelle’s traveled all the way from Yorkshire to put on a right royal spread. Victoria sponges, coffee cake, lemon drizzle, sticky toffee cupcakes and cream teas had everyone wanting teatime all the time.

Meanwhile, over at Wholefood Heaven, Charlie and David the effervescent husband and wife team brought something that makes you feel like everything is going to be OK. Ex SAF and E&O chef David works soulful magic in that battleship grey H-Van. I’m a massive fan.

Inside that pot lies goodness…

And finally, Baba Gupta moved mountains to make sure his brand new, jangly Bhangra Bus was ready to operate. After a late Thursday night call where he revealed that he was somewhere on the M1 with no hope of making it to London in site (due to some unpronounceable engine problem), he eventually lagged in on the back of a mammoth pick-up truck early the next morning.

And we were so glad he did. They’re well messy, but Bhangra Burgers rock.

Some of us will be on the Southbank again this weekend – Friday 13th (oi oi)-Sunday 15th May, all day, knocking out the good stuff. We’ll be in the nook of the new high-line style staircase.

Over and out.